Trygve.Com > Diary > JournalWeblogDiaryWhatsis - March, 2003
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World Conquest
March, 2003
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because ... well ... why the hell not ...?

it's a dirty job, but somebody's got to do it.

Tuesday, March 18th


In like a Lion, Out like a Light:

Looks like there's a couple of feet of snow outside and I'd almost worked up the enthusiasm to venture out into the weather and rescue my mailbox. My mailbox probably needs rescuing more often than most people's. It's possible that it just happens to be placed on a freak confluence of the earth's magnetic field that causes moving metallic objects (such as cars, trucks, and robotic versions of giant radioactive Japanese monsters) to slam into it.

(Let me hasten to point out that the above "magnetic field line confluence" theory is only a theory and should not be considered sufficient grounds for any person, corporation, or Japanese robotic monster to attempt legal action against my mailbox after slamming into it.)

I long ago accepted the futility of using the traditional "wooden post" mailbox-mounting technique and now use a concrete base, a cast concrete winged lion, and a standard metal mailbox glued to a cinderblock. Think of it as being a concrete version of Jenga: the pieces are stacked atop each other rather than being permanently attached, so any time a stray automobile or Mecha-Gamera careens out of control into my mailbox, I can just pick up the pieces and it's ready to go back to work.

My neighbors were not quite so lucky this time around. Usually moving metallic objects ignore the other mailboxes in my area and zero in on mine, but this time it looks like a snowplow did manage to come out this way and clear the streets of snow, ice, and the mailboxes that were along one side of the street.

So far I've gotten as far as to collect gloves, a coat, and the other usual armaments used to combat the cold, but every time I'm in danger of getting near the door, the phone has rung.

Hmmmm...maybe I'll just take this as a hint and worry about my mailbox tomorrow. Putting it back up now would probably be altogether too tempting for the snowplow drivers anyway.

Monday, March 17th


Going Trolling:

I've been saying for a few years now that we've left behind the Information Age and have now entered the "Litigation Age." I've long since lost count at all the "class action" suits I've supposedly won, none of which have ever involved any products or services where I'd actually felt like I'd been ripped off. It's hard to get much satisfaction from "winning" these class-action suits, considering that the first (and last) indication that I'd gotten that I was even a party to them was the notice informing me that I'd won the suit and my share of the judgment was somewhat less than the cost of a postage stamp.

At least the law firm that had taken on this case made out well.

If current trends continue, I figure that by 2020--if not sooner--we'll need at least two full-time lawyers for each and every US citizen. For purely mathematical reasons, this may be difficult to achieve. It may be that the only way to handle the coming lawyer shortage is for the US to fund programs in other countries to educate their citizens in US legal practice and get them admitted to the bar without actually bringing them into the country. (If they did set foot on US soil, then they would also become targets for legal action and, thus, would need to find even more lawyers for themselves.)

In the meantime, we can all do our part to reduce our legal exposure by avoiding any activity that might produce a useful product or service and, consequently, inspire someone to sue you about it.

This isn't a fool-proof defense, however. In fact, a complete fool probably wouldn't be deterred by it at all.

On Friday, I got a certified letter from Allyson Kissell, who introduced herself as the "Corporate Secretary as well as the Manager of the Legal Department" of Auto-trol Technology Corporation. Allyson starts out her letter with "Dear Sir or Madam" (apparently she's very confused about the whole male/female concept and how to distinguish the two) and follows with two pages of bizarrely overblown legal threats and demands.

Why? That goes back about three years when I'd had a spell of feeling frustrated over trying to extract some technical data and product support from a bunch of networking equipment manufacturers whose websites appeared to be competing hard and heavy for who could have the most nonworking functions, broken internal links, and missing files. In a fit of pique (that lasted approximately one hour and forty minutes), I created a website for a fictitious company, AutoTroll, which specialized in designing bad and annoying websites. The whole thing fits easily on two printed pages; it was amusing enough at the time.

In Allyson's letter, she claims that "" is violating their trademark rights and thereby unfairly competing with them. She states that unless I turn over the ownership of the domain and acceed to all their other demands within ten days, they're going to take "all necessary legal action."

Now, I'd never been to before, but I popped on over and, sure enough, all over their website they're constantly asserting that "Auto-trol" is a registered trademark of Auto-trol Technology Corporation, just like Allyson says in her letter. For some reason, though, the United States Patent and Trademark Office doesn't know about this. According to the US PTO, "Auto-trol" is a registered trademark of the Wagstaff Battery Mfg. Co, of Oregon.

The Auto-trol Techonology Company has registered a trademark for "Auto-trol Technology," but even that only applies to computer software for mapping and document management--not for satire about webpage annoyances.

It could be that their threatened lawsuit is just a warm-up; maybe if they can win against a fictitious company, they'll feel confident enough to sue the half-dozen or so real companies in the US that are legally doing business under variations of the name "Auto-trol" (with or without the hyphen).

They probably won't get anything out of it except legal bills, but I'm sure their law firm needs the money more than they do.

Thursday, March 6th


The Phantom Menace:

Somehow, technology has still not reached the point where curling up with a good notebook computer is as pleasant and comfortable as curling up with a good book. These days, though, I don't read nearly as many books as I used to, and the paper products that end up accompanying me to the bedroom are mainly computer/IT manuals and the occasional movie script.

One can hope I don't get them confused too often, but it you hear that "IPV6 Routing, the Motion Picture" is coming soon to a theater near you, at least you'll know what happened.

However, most of what I do read suffers from the problem that by the time it's available in book form, it's already out-of-date. That's not just the case with computer books, it's a condition that afflicts most any of the sciences.

And so, comfort or no comfort, I sometimes find that to enjoy a little late-night reading, I'm sharing a bed with a laptop computer and its associated cables. Yeah, I know, I could get a wireless network adapter and notebooks do come with batteries--but the batteries in the laptop I'm using just don't last long enough to satisfy me. A few cables in bed are okay if you don't get them twisted up too much; bedroom kinkiness should generally not involve Cat-5.

I'm sure there are worse bedroom habits a guy could have. (I'll let you know when I think of one.)

Like everybody else these days, I'm excited by the recent results and analyses coming from the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) which has, out of the blue, pegged the universe's age at 13.7 billion +/- 1% (!) and suggested that the universe contains 4% baryonic matter (the stuff that makes up trees, stars, and baked goods), 23% dark matter, and 73% dark energy. To my mind, that's a pretty amazing result--not least because it involves an astronomer making a statement about something with an uncertainty of only 1%. That's weirder than a cable TV installer showing up on time or Congress passing a "tax simplification" act that actually simplifies taxes.

I don't believe I'd ever even heard the term "dark energy" used up until a couple of years back. Obviously everybody since Einstein has talked about the "cosmological constant" and speculation about hypothetical fifth forces is nothing new, but dark energy isn't necessarily either of these. It's also something that's gone from a newly-coined "fudge factor" created to match theoretical predictions with observations of supernova 1a events to being pretty well-accepted as physically real in just a few years.

Dark energy must surely be a topic especially appropriate for late-night reading, so that's been my bedtime fare for a couple of days. One of the most interesting and thought-provoking papers I've read is Phantom Energy and Cosmic Doomsday by Robert R. Caldwell, Marc Kamionkowski, Nevin N. Weinberg, which explores the possibility that dark energy is characterized by [ (pressure)/(energy density) < -1 ]. (A cosmological-constant-like dark energy would exhibit a ratio of -1, and most other flavors under consideration that are consistent with current observations are between -1 and -0.5.)

Perhaps it can be a little unsettling to read about the possibility of the universe being ripped apart, large-scale structures first, then galaxies, star systems, and finally atoms themselves, but even if this hypothesized "phantom energy" does turn out to be the dominant constituent of the universe, that kind of doomsday is at least several billion years off.

Which does leave enough time for a night's sleep. Once I get these cables moved out of the way, anyhow.

Saturday, March 1st


This little Trygve went to market:

Made it back from the 2003 American Film Market in Santa Monica. I had the best intentions of posting some updates while I was out there, but in between the hotel firewall that blocked ssh and ftp connections, days that were booked solid, and my own general laziness, it didn't happen.

(Not that anybody's likely to have lost any sleep over missing out on a week-and-a-half of my journal entries ... unless, of course, more readers than I suspected have been relying on my random ramblings to put them to sleep.)

So I'll just have to remember some of the high points of my trip in one big blogulatory blurt. I didn't have a lot of time for socializing while I was out there, but I did manage to sneak away from the film market a time or six. Went out to dinner on the last night I was there with Sean Young (and, by the way, she and her manager designed and maintain her website themselves, which I figure has to be pretty unusual for a star as well-known as she is). When we'd met, she asked me if she knew me from someplace; I didn't think so, but I did manage to restrain myself from making any "Blade Runner"-based jokes about synthetic memories. :-)

Sean Young et al

(l-to-r: Greg Joelson, Mark Steven Grove, Sean Young, Trygve Lode)

Maybe it's an entertainment industry thing--after a while, everybody looks familiar and sometimes it's hard to remember whether you'd seen them before in person or if it had just been on TV.

Earlier in the week I'd had a rather amusing instance of not being recognized: I was standing next to a poster with a fairly good-sized picture of me on it and someone came up and, pointing at the picture of me, asked if that was the actor who played the "Warlock" character in the Warlock movies. I had to tell him that it wasn't the same guy and though we did have a short conversation after that, he never noticed any similarity between the poster and the person (me) standing next to it.

Sometimes I got recognized as me...and occasionally I got "recognized" as someone else. There were certainly a lot of familiar faces attending the market, so maybe it's not so surprising that people would be on the lookout for recognizable people.

On the first day, I realized that I was sharing an elevator with bodybuilding legend Franco Columbu who was there to promote his own Ancient Warriors Films. Turned out that he was staying just a few doors down the hall from me.

Franco Columbu

(l-to-r: Franco Columbu, Trygve Lode)

I also got to enjoy having dinner with Tane' McClure, fresh from the set of "Legally Blonde 2: Red, White, and Blonde," and spend a while hanging around with Christopher Atkins (who, mysteriously, doesn't seem to have an official website; maybe we'll have to talk about this).

Among other things, Tane' was at the AFM to promote her new film, Trance, and her new film company, New Legend Films.

Christopher Atkins has signed up for a three-picture deal with Nandar Entertainment and I got to check out his new digs at L.A. Center Studios. When we were there, they were just getting started constructing the sets for Wes Craven's upcoming film, "Cursed," on one of their six soundstages where they'd recently filmed "Terminator 3."

With Christopher Atkins and the rest of the gang at Nandar gearing up for filming "Rogue Assassin" out here later this year, I hope they won't be too dismayed by how much smaller my place is than the L.A. Center Studios soundstages. long as I tidy up a bit first, maybe they won't notice. :-)

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