June 30, 2004

All Venture Capital Panels for Startups Are The Same

Some yang to go along with Ventureblog's ying.

I didn't attend Guy Kawasaki's The Art of the Start conference, despite the umpteen email soliciations urging me to attend (just look who's going to be there! Imagine how much you'll learn! Why, you may have already won!). And now, Guy's emailing me with post-conference upsells: I might have missed the conference, but that's no reason to miss the conference! Why, now it's possible to buy 8 recordings for the low, low price of $35.00, that's right, $35.00 gets you eight MP3 files you can download and listen to on your own! Sorry, at this point I have seen and heard enough of these panels and lectures to say with a fair degree of certainty that they are all the same. So in an effort to save you a bunch of time and aggravation, here's a transcription of the eight recordings. I believe that it is essentially a transcription of all past and all future venture capital startup-howto -wannabe panel sessions, so read it and free yourself of the need to ever attend such an event yourself:

"Welcome blah blah blah how to get going from just an idea blah blah blah critical success factors blah blah blah how to jump-start your company blah blah blah blah blah blah pure talent and winning ideas are never enough blah blah blah blah blah blah how deals happen blah blah blah what it takes to get rich like me blah blah blah we actually really don't know any more than you do blah blah blah but we're real good at fooling you blah blah blah I mean, what has Garage Technology Ventures actually done lately blah blah blah what's hot and what's not in 2004 blah blah blah Powerpoint is dead blah blah blah why it's important to make killer Powerpoints blah blah blah blah blah blah if you have to get on an elevator to make a pitch, you're an idiot blah blah blah it has nothing whatsoever to do with how great your business idea is blah blah blah it is completely and totally about who you know, and more importantly, who knows you blah blah blah it doesn't really matter who you know actually blah blah blah it's all about who knows you and think's you're "the guy" blah blah blah if nobody thinks you're "the guy" you might as well pack up and go home blah blah blah there are not really any rules to get funded blah blah blah they either like you or they don't blah blah blah if your idea really is that great, nobody will get it blah blah blah and you'll spend years beating people over the head in an effort to get them to understand it blah blah blah and the people who say they do understand it are not the ones you ought to be doing business with in the first place blah blah blah the people doing the funding really don't know that much blah blah blah but they know a lot of people which is what their true value is blah blah blah don't even bother trying to raise money for your venture unless you don't need it blah blah blah optimizing success factors blah blah blah minimizing risk factors blah blah blah VCs are basically bosses, and the CEOs of startups are essentially project managers for projects the bosses gave green-lighted blah blah blah if you aren't projecting 50million in revenues by year 5, don't even talk to us blah blah blah if you're projecting 50million in revenues by year 5, you don't know what you're talking about blah blah blah always be honest blah blah blah you gotta hype it to get us interested blah blah blah team is everything blah blah blah revenues are everything blah blah blah if it isn't shiny it won't get our attention blah blah blah systematic approach blah blah blah market definition blah blah blah executive summary blah blah blah we are now $35 richer blah blah blah and you are $35 poorer blah blah blah thank you and good night."

Posted by brian at 06:16 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 28, 2004

50 More Inches, Then Yer Talkin'

Steve Jobs introduced the 30" Apple CinemaDisplay this morning at Apple's WorldWide Developers Conference. Not quite what I've been waiting for:

(Originally blogged about the dream 80" CinemaDisplay a year ago. So, we have 50 inches to go...)

Posted by brian at 11:04 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 27, 2004

The Case of the Disappearing Republican Oath

A long time ago I posted a note in my Nettle blog that I was going to document my observations on the user experience of American political websites. Well, I've been meaning to, but got busy. Finally getting around to it. Sort of.

What follows is less about user experience and more about plain politics, I suppose, which is why it's not in Nettle and is instead here in brianstorms.

Every now and then I surf Democratic, Republican, Green, and Libertarian websites to see what they look like, what messages they're conveying, how sophisticated they are, how deep they are in terms of content and functionality, and what's changed since the last time I visited. I'd take notes, save bookmarks for stuff I found notable, and "move on," so to speak.

This report was going to be about what I found from surfing around Republican websites. Instead, it's about a document I found on some of the sites. Read on . . .

1. The Republican Oath
So the first thing that caught my eye after surfing around The Republican Web was the recurrence of The Republican Oath --- a short document of beliefs and tenets reproduced on many Republican websites all over the country --- regional, state, and local. Here's the Oath, in full:

  • I believe that the proper function of government is to do for the people those things that have to be done but cannot be done, or cannot be done as well by individuals, and that the most effective government is government closest to the people.

  • I believe that good government is based on the individual and that each person's ability, dignity, freedom and responsibility must be honored and recognized.

  • I believe that free enterprise and the encouragement of individual initiative and incentive have given this nation an economic system second to none.

  • I believe that sound money policy should be our goal.

  • I believe in equal rights, equal justice and equal opportunity for all, regardless of race, creed, age, sex or national origin. I believe that persons with disabilities should be afforded equal rights, equal justice and equal opportunity as well.

  • I believe we must retain those principles worth retaining, yet always be receptive to new ideas with an outlook broad enough to accommodate thoughtful change and varying points of view.

  • I believe that Americans value and should preserve their feeling of national strength and pride, and at the same time share with people everywhere a desire for peace and freedom and the extension of human rights throughout the world.

  • Finally, I believe that the Republican Party is the best vehicle for translating these ideals into positive and successful principles of government.

Now, we can debate all day long and into the night the content of the Oath. We can debate all day long and into the night whether that Oath should have the word "Republican" anywhere near it. We can debate whether or not every line, every single sentence in that Oath is betrayed by the actions of the current administration, and for the Oath to appear on any Republican website is the height of hypocrisy. Let's not debate all that here. It's been done elsewhere.

We can also debate whether or not, with minor modifications, the Oath pretty much describes a set of ideals and beliefs that the majority of Americans --- regardless of political persuasion --- would embrace, support, and live by. I've shown that Oath to die-hard progressives and liberal thinkers, and some have told me, lose the last line, and they'll agree to and support that Oath in a flash. I must confess that find it hard to disagree with much in the Oath, minus the last line.

I disagree with the last line because I've always thought that America itself was supposed to be the best vehicle for translating those ideals into positive and successful principles of government.

Someone somewhere (google it if you want) once wrote that it was notable that the word "democracy" doesn't appear anywhere in the Oath. It is indeed notable, in my opinion. But still, I suspect that if all Americans, including the politicians and those in government, really lived each day according to this Oath, the country, not to mention the world, would be a lot better off. Don't you think?

2. The Oath on the Web
The Republican Oath appears at the national Republican "Team Leader" site, as well as eleven official state-level Republican sites:

States with GOP Websites Containing The Oath

When I started looking for the Oath, I assumed it'd be on every Republican site, starting with the mothership, GOP.com. Amazingly, the Republican Oath cannot be found on the main GOP.com site. Apparently it used to be there. When asked why it wasn't there anymore, the communications office of the Republican National Committee, the headquarters of the GOP in Washington, D.C., told me there was a GOP website redesign in January and its removal was "inadvertent."

May be, but nearly seven months later, it is still missing. And the fact that only one-fifth of all the Republican state websites in the U.S. have the text of the Oath somewhere on their sites suggests to me that the Oath is slowly, quietly, being swept under the carpet in the era of Dubya.

3. Searching for Clues

"People aren't talking, and it's the way they're not talking that's unnatural."
-- line from the film All The President's Men

This Oath has had me intrigued. Who wrote it? When? Where? Why? What were the circumstances? Does one have to swear to the Oath before one can become a Repulbican? Is there a secret handshake? Does it originate from, say, the 1800s? Was this an Abe Lincoln original that I'd never heard about before now? Might be. I have no idea.

See, that's the mystery. So far I am unable to find out anything about the origins of The Republican Oath.

Start at the top, I always say. One would think that someone at GOP national headquarters would know. So I called the RNC. They don't know. I called them several times last week. Spoke to a different person in the communications office each time I called. Each of 'em were equally stumped. Got the same story each time: "That's a good question!" and "I'll have to ask around!" and "We don't have historians here at the Party, so, it's not like we have anyone who would know..." and "We'll get back to you!"

So far they have not gotten back to me.

I called Ed Gillespie's office. He's head of the RNC. His admin person said he was out of the office and busy. I left a message. Funny, you'd think she'd cellphone him the moment she heard it was the brianstorms blog calling. Oh, I forgot to mention that to her. That must be it. :-)

Not getting anywhere with the RNC HQ, I started contacting officials from Republican Party organizations all over the country, mainly by email. Phil Palisoul, Executive Director of the Republican Party of Los Angeles County, was one of the few to reply to my inquiries. "I had no idea the oath even existed before you told me about it," sais Palisoul. "I have asked around but no one seems to know where it came from, or who wrote it."

Jay Mandraccia, an official with the Oklahoma Republican Party, wrote back with, "Sorry, Brian, I'm not famliar with this document. Could you forward it to me? Thank you." I forwarded him a copy. "Thank you. I'll do a little research and let you know what I find out."

Still waiting to hear back from him.

Dawn Phillips, the Communications Director of the Oregon Republican Party, responded saying, "Thanks for your inquiry. We'll ask around, but I'm not entirely sure either." (Too bad, since the Oregon Republican Party actually has the Oath on its website.)

Thought maybe Newt Gingrich might have had something to do with it. I emailed him and some of his staff at Gingrich Communications. Kathy Lubbers wrote back, saying, "To my knowledge, Speaker Gingrich did not have anything to do with this oath."

Dead ends everywhere. I sent out well over 100 emails to people all over the country beginning last Tuesday. I've gotten about six replies so far. I guess a 6% response rate, in the era where spam accounts for over 80% of worldwide email, is a good number and I shouldn't complain.

Late Friday night I got a reply from Wayne MacDonald, the Vice Chairman of the New Hampshiore Repulbican State Committee (New Hampshire does not include the Oath on its website). He said, "That's a great statement of principles, but I'm afraid that I don't know where it came from. Good luck in your search. Have you tried the Ripon Society?"

Never heard of 'em. Went to their site, got their email addresses, and fired away. I eagerly await hearing from the Riponistas. Who knows, maybe they wrote it.

4. Looking in the Library
I love libraries, and I love librarians. They totally rock. They love finding stuff, and they love solving a mystery. And best of all, they do it for free! I knew they'd find my inquiry a juicy one. So I called up UCSD's main library's "Ask a Librarian" (as in, "Go Ahead, Make Our Day") service, and told them of my quest. When I got to the part about not even the Republican National Committee in Washington knew anything about the Oath or its history, I knew I had them hooked. So over the next few minutes, we went through Lexis/Nexis. Nothing. Readers' Guide to Periodical Literature. Nothing. WorldCat. Nothing. Melvyl. Nothing, nothing, nothing. Reference after reference, with no hits.

It really is remarkable, if you think about it.

So I asked the Librarian to gimme the call letters for where Republican-related books are generally shelved at the Library. She gave me the codes. I wrote 'em down. I thanked her profusely (did I say that Librarians totally rock?). Got in the car, and drove to UCSD.

Hopped on the elevator, went to the sixth floor, and found the stacks for books on American Politics. There were quite a few books related to Republicans. I didn't know where to begin, so I just started with the biggest one, a history of the GOP. Nothing. No mention of the Oath.

Some fifty dusty books and a few sneezes later, I gave up. There was not a single reference to "The Republican Oath" in any of the books on the shelves.

So that's where things are at the moment.

I wish I had a punch-line to the story, but I don't yet. I hope that more of the Party officials will respond to my inquiries. It would especially be nice if someone from one of the San Diego area Republican groups would get back to me. (So far, nobody in SD is talking. Nada. Nothing. Zippo.)

5. A Brief Digression
While rifling through books on all things Republican, I came across a 1995 book called Restoring the Dream: The Bold New Plan by the House Republicans. Towards the end of the book was a single page with something called A VISION OF AMERICA. I thought you might find it quaint, if not interesting. Remember, this dates from 1995, a time that looks so very innocent now:

It is the year 2003. It is Monday morning. No American was murdered over the weekend. Every child in America is attending as first-rate school in which he or she is learning in an environment of safety, not violence. Where there was once the desolation of public housing, there is now the pride of home ownership and urban renewal. Teenagers are not having babies out of wedlock or doing drugs; they are in high school or college preparing to compete and win in the information age. America now lives under a tax code that rewards work, risk taking, saving for the future, and entrepreneurship. Businesses are moving into rather than out of our cities, which once again are becoming symbols of America's economic might. In short: America is back at work.

And as Americans get in their cars to go to school or work, they turn on the radio and celebrate the morning news flash report: for the first time in more than thirty years, the U.S. government ran a budget surplus last year. This is the future that we envision for America. It is called the American Dream.

6. No Help from the Democrats
I thought, wouldn't it be awesome if I solved this Oath mystery by talking to the Democrats -- maybe they knew? So I called the Democratic National Committee in Washington, D.C.

Unlike the RNC (whose website has names and email addresses and phone numbers for the separate divisions of the organization), the DNC just has one phone number and no names and no individual emails.

When you call the DNC, you get a switchboard operator. You tell her what person or department you want and she puts your call through. Each time I called the DNC, I had this vision of a switchboard operator from say the 1920s pulling out patch cords and inserting them in other plug holes on the switchboard in front of her.

Each time I tried to reach the Communications office, I got a recording for voice mail. The message said if it's urgent try a number for the Director of Communications. So I tried his number. Voicemail recording. Tried later in the day. Recording. Tried next day in the morning. Recording. Tried midday. Recording. Basically, I never go through to a human at the Democratic Party headquarters other than the switchboard operator.

Contrast this with the RNC, where no matter when I called, no matter what time of day, someone in the Communications office answered on the FIRST ring.

Note to Democrats: hire more people. Get more phones.

7. That's All for Now.
I hope to have a Part II installment of this blog post when I have more news. Until then, ask every Republican you know: do they know the Oath? Have they heard of it? Can they recite it? Do they know where it comes from? Let me know what you find out.

Posted by brian at 10:35 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

June 26, 2004

The Rise of Documentaries

I suppose for many moviegoers in the United States, Fahrenheit 9/11 will be the first documentary film they've seen (and maybe the only they'll see) this year.

Then there are moviegoers like me -- who have been seeking out documentaries for years.

According to this Top 100 Documentaries list (top in terms of box office receipts), I've seen 50. That's surprising, actually --- I thought it would have been more. I certainly wanted to see more, but some of these titles haven't shown up yet in San Diego. Others came and went before I could go.

Posted by brian at 07:05 PM | Comments (0)

June 23, 2004

The Return of the Trunk Monkey

I'd completely forgotten about a blog post I'd made back in September 2003. But then this week I got a check for $25 from CafePress. People out there apparently are buying the trunk monkey bumpersticker. Whoda thunk...

So anyway:

Continue to impress your friends! Put fear in the hearts of potential road-rage drivers! Buy more Trunk Monkey bumperstickers today!

Posted by brian at 09:52 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 20, 2004

Cory Discovers Asimov

BoingBoing has a blog post about a site that offers some free, albeit wacky TrueType fonts. It caught my attention because Cory drew attention to the Asimov font, which happens to be the font I've been using for the past 2 1/2 years for the "brianstorms" logo above.

Someone ought to do a Doctorow font. Now, what would that look like?

Posted by brian at 12:08 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 19, 2004

More on (Moron?) Bradbury

Exactly why, pray tell, can't the media ask the right questions? Why do they overlook things the bloggers don't?

For instance, now there's more news about Ray Bradbury. An AP Newswire story by Paul Chavez says Bradbury's now demanding Moore change the Fahrenheit 9/11 film title. From the article:

"He didn't ask my permission," Bradbury, 83, told The Associated Press on Friday. "That's not his novel, that's not his title, so he shouldn't have done it.

Why didn't AP ask Bradbury about I Sing the Body Electric? Or Something Wicked This Way Comes? For starters?

More about this in my June 4th blog posting.

Posted by brian at 04:16 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

June 18, 2004

You're Gonna Carry That Weight, A Long Time

Back in February 2003 I blogged about Paul McCartney's stealth concert in Rancho Santa Fe, as reported in this San Diego Union-Tribune story. A wealthy couple had commissioned McCartney to perform, as a gift from the husband to the wife on her 50th birthday. The cost? $1 million, which McCartney gave to charity.

I noted in this week's San Diego Reader a tiny mention of the fact that the couple has since divorced and is in the process of selling their RSF home. Go figure.

Posted by brian at 04:08 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 17, 2004

Showing Up

Depending on which Google search results you go with, Woody Allen once said that either 80 or 90% of success is just "showing up."

I've found this to be true. Opportunities present themselves if you look for them. And when one's doing a seed-stage startup, one spends a lot of time looking for opportunities wherever they are. Perhaps this explains why I go to tech conferences. It's not generally for the sessions. It's not the schmoozing or networking. It's because when a lot of bright people from all over the country or the world meet in the same room to discuss stuff, interesting and unexpected things happen. You wind up meeting people you didn't expect to meet, and those meetings in turn lead to other meetings and so on. All the hassle in going to the event in the first place pays off, miraculously.

Take for instance today's Meet the VCs breakfast, held at the Manchester Grand Hyatt in downtown San Diego. Run by the San Diego Venture Group, this event has become a pretty big deal.

A sea of banquet tables as people wander in at 7am

There were over 100 VCs at today's event, and over 600 attendees total.

The format of the event is interesting. Two or three VCs sit down at each table, along with a "table captain".

A partial list of attending VC firms

Two or three chairs around each table are covered white sheets (I'm surprised they weren't green). These are the "hot seats", reserved for the VCs. For 20-25 minutes, others seated at the table get to talk with the VCs. Then, music comes over the loudspeakers (the theme song from Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery), and the VCs get up and go to different tables and new VCs come and sit down.

Of course, while there were 100+ VCs there, and a total of 600+ people, that doesn't mean there were 500+ entrepreneurs attending to meet the VCs. Instead, I'd say there were maybe 250-300 entrepreneurs, and the rest were what I call service sharks --- headhunters, lawyers, bankers, financial consultants, and various hangers-on, also looking for money from the VCs.

The twenty-odd minute sessions with the VCs at the table were primarily spent with the "table captain" asking questions of the VCs --- questions about their firms, the kind of ventures they fund, etc. All stuff one can get from visiting their websites. Not the kind of thing one needs to go to one of these expensive, time-consuming breakfast banquets to learn.

But what one does learn is the word here, or the phrase there, or the name here, or the company there, that gets mentioned somewhere around the table. It also is a chance to actually see the VCs face-to-face. Find out who's really bright, high-bandwidth, passionate, probably more likely to hear about a seed-stage venture.

That's a sheet-covered "hot seat" at right

Before the sessions started, it was amusing to see the service sharks winding their way through the tables, searching for the right tables (they already seemed to know which VCs were assigned to which tables --- how'd they know that?). "Kleiner's at table 5. Let's sit here," one service shark said, pointing to a chair to the right of a white-sheeted chair, "and here," pointing to the chair to the left of the white-sheeted chair. Service velociraptors.

Then again, I sat down at Table 6 next to a white-sheeted chair too. :-)

The table captain for Table 6 wound up sitting to my left. Very nice guy. From Tech Coast Angels. I guess he hadn't read my writeup here in brianstorms about the "Meet the Angels" session I attended back on May 19th at TCA's San Diego headquarters (a writeup that wound up being included in the San Diego Reader article)... whew!

One thing I heard that was very interesting: from an old-time very respected San Diego VC: Asian colleges are now graduating more engineers than the U.S. "Hey, wake up, America!" he said, "You no longer own your own genius." He went on to say "Korea and Japan are so far ahead of us." He also said, regarding outsourcing to India, "it's the way it's going to be, guys, it's 1/10th the cost!" He believed there was no turning back. I also suspected he doubted America would ever regain its lead in high tech. A viewpoint I find I'm increasingly having: the 21st century is the Asian-Pacific Century. America's just another customer, take a number, and wait in line.

At the end of the session, all the VCs were shepherded up to the front stage of the ballroom, for a group photo.

The Group Photo (Blurry Version!)

I suspect the real value of the group photo is that it gives the rest of the attendees a chance to zero in on those select few VCs they really, really want to be sure to meet or say hello to before they all escape the room. At least, that's how I used the time, and sure enough, I tracked down someone I was hoping to say hello to. First thing he said was, "You really need to meet _____." I told him, "That's funny, a whole bunch of people have been telling me the same thing!" He said he'd make a personal intro. There you go.

Showing Up works.

Posted by brian at 08:50 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 16, 2004

The Dave Winer Remix

I waited and waited and nobody did anything so I went and put together a quick and dirty remix of Dave Winer's now-famous audioblog. Andy Baio has a good name for the remix: People Just Love to Jump Up and Down (2 minute MP3).

It took 15 minutes to do. It shows. I'm hoping it triggers others with more time on their hands to go to town and polish off something far better.

Andy's hosting the mp3 and having a contest to do the best remix!

Posted by brian at 06:14 PM | Comments (3)

June 15, 2004

Hear Hear, for Here Here's, or, The Quake

After reading the following sentence here:

San Diego Bloggers feel it here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here.

I had to post something, in the hopes that Joe Crawford would add one more "here" to the list. I mean, after all. Please?

I felt the quake here in La Jolla. The house groaned and complained. Everything moved laterally --- east-west. No up-down movement, just a sudden, fairly strong east-west, west-east, east-west jolt that lasted about four secohnds. Luckily the stilts holding the house up are supported by those cables forming an "X" between the stilts.

For what it's worth, Jesse the English Bull Terrier slept through the whole thing.

Favorite television news moment: the interview at professor James Abbot's home (he's the local SDSU geology prof that the media loves to interview). From the camera angle it's not clear, but at one point the camera zooms in on the good Professor's Macintosh screen depicting the USGS website, and a finger appears, pointing to the wrong quake off the coast. The quake was 50 some odd miles south- southwest of Coronado, but the finger was pointing to a red dot off the coast of San Clemente. D'oh! Good ol' television news people.

Posted by brian at 08:50 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

June 11, 2004

Venus and the Sun

Thanks to ceej for reminding me how great the APOD (the Astronomy Picture of the Day) site is. It really is worth a daily visit. Be sure to check out their archive!

Click on the link above to see a larger image from the APOD site (or click here to see the fullsize image in all its 1500x1500 pixel glory).

Posted by brian at 08:16 PM | Comments (1)

June 10, 2004

Ray Charles, R.I.P.

A great American passed away this week. Tomorrow is truly a day of national mourning, for which all flags should fly at half-mast . . .

. . . for Ray Charles. Thank you Ray, for all the love, all the music.

Posted by brian at 03:28 PM | Comments (3)

On The Internet, Everybody Knows Your Dog

In stores now! Own one today! :-)

(Click for a hi-res picture)

It's out! Jesse's famous! What a great cover!

The Reader did a great job. Thanks to Jim, Heather, Frank, and the rest of the team.

(A note to journalists, freelancers, and writers everywhere: my personal experience with the Reader team has been totally positive from start to finish. Very professional, courteous, and responsive. Everything a writer could ask for.)

UPDATE --- One little error I noticed in the text of the print edition. On page 48 at the top left. For the blog entry on the Chinese fortune cookie (see here and scroll down a bit), the Reader folks typed in the text of the fortune, rather than including the actual photo (they included it on the cover). But when typing in the text, they inadvertently corrected the mistake that was in the actual fortune, rendering my little comment moot. Here again is the actual fortune cookie. Notice the text doesn't make any sense because of the extra "be":

Posted by brian at 10:45 AM | Comments (7)

Madstone Bites the Dust

Longtime readers will remember my Madstone Theaters critiques in my Nettle blog. One of the things I was concerned with is that Madstone wasn't doing a good job marketing itself or establishing a brand that made sense.

Well, well, well. It seems they've up and gone out of business. Very quietly, I might add. Apparently the only news outlet that covered Madstone's demise was the Salt Lake Tribune.

I found out about it because yesterday I got a mournful email from a former Madstone San Diego employee, thanking me for my Nettle critiques from 2002. I think what she was saying between the lines was, "they oughta have listened to you."

Posted by brian at 08:21 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 09, 2004

HC Radio

Fred Wilson was blogging yesterday about HD Radio -- high definition radio. He mentions a USA Today story about HD Radio. He says, "I am getting a digital radio installed in my car in the next month. I can't wait to get the improved sound quality that this reporter from USA Today describes."

I have a serious beef with HD Radio and the company, iBiquity that's pushing it. A while back I contacted iBquity and asked them, isn't HD Radio basically about improved audio quality for the existing stations -- not a way for consumers to tune in to 500 stations? David Salemi, VP of Marketing at iBiquity wrote back:

From: Salemi, Dave
To: Brian Dear


For the first generation product you are correct. Over time, iBiquity will rollout other audio-based services such as on-demand traffic, weather, sports, etc. Additionally, NPR has been testing multiple audio content broadcasts using the HD Radio system (a main program and additional programs at the same frequency). It's defined by iBiquity as supplemental audio services. NPR calls its project "Tomorrow Radio". The recent notice of proposed rulemaking does address supplemental audio services. Hope this helps.


David Salemi
Vice President, Marketing
iBiquity Digital Corporation

Here's what I posted as a comment in Fred's HD Radio blog post yesterday:

I don't see what all the fuss is about HD Radio -- if all you get is improved sound quality. Who cares, if this means that all you'll get is clearer ClearChannel and louder Limbaugh?

Far, far more important to me is a vastly larger number of stations. I want CHOICE. I want to hear indie superstar DJs mixing tunes from their Macs at home. I want to tune in to live lectures and speeches. I want to hear sports programs. I want eclectic genres of music represented. I want lots of local flavor. I want public affairs programs discussing every issue under the sun.

Give me HC Radio (High Choice) before HD Radio any day.

Posted by: Brian Dear | June 8, 2004 05:13 PM

Today I noticed Fred has a new blog post up wherein he agrees with me:

Brian says in his comment to my earlier "HD Radio Is Coming" post that he wants HC Radio, not HD Radio.

He says that HC stands for High Choice, meaning more programming.

Brian is dead right. Sound quality is way better in HD Radio, but programming choice may be the ultimate value proposition.

What many people don't know is that the FM digital signal can be broken into many more streams and FM stations may begin to offer multiple audio streams on a single FM channel.

NPR calls this Tomorrow Radio and they've put a lot of information out into the public domain about it. I think this description of the technology on Crutchfield's site is one of the best descriptions.

Multiple audio programming streams on a single FM channel is not limited to NPR stations. I bet we'll see some interesting stuff develop in this area over the next couple years as HD radios start to penetrate the market.

My mind boggles that even the most sophisticated car, whether it's the latest sedan from Mercedes, BMW, Lexus, you name it, or a fancy SUV or a practical Honda or the latest Hyundai or VW or whatever --- they all have AM/FM radios that are no different than ones 30+ years ago!. Sure, you can say, "that's what XM Radio or Sirius is for". I disagree. Satellites are great, but I don't see 10000 indie DJs in high school cutting deals with XM or Sirius.

The fundamental problem with radio is that a few very powerful corporations have a virtual LOCK, a complete and utter monopoly, on the few stations on the AM and FM dial. And they want to, and intend to, keep it that way for ever, thank you very much. Their whole scam depends on scarcity of programming. If there were 500, or 1000, or 10000 channels of information available, why, think of the drop in ad revenue dollars. No way are we going to allow a 19-yr-old geek with a Mac and a big iTunes collection to broadcast his playlists in our market. No way are we going to allow the likes of Ken's Last Ever Radio Extravaganza all over the FM dial (that would be so awesome!). No way are we gonna allow the audio from C-SPAN I and II on the the radio.

Instead, we have an FCC bought and paid for by the corporations, and the laws to prevent CHOICE from happening. Again, I remain astounded that in 2004, AM and FM radio remain as hokey and lo-tech as they were in the 1960s. The only reason is that a few powerful corporations have made sure it stays that way.

Improving the quality of the audio for the ClearChannels of the world doth not make a solution, in my humble opinion. It only prologs and exacerbates the problem. It is not progress.

It is just a shiner boot on the neck of progress.

I want choice. I want to hear from all voices, not just a select few.

The car radio in 2004 should be digital, for sure, but personalizable, and integrated wirelessly with my PC, PDA, wi-fi, etc. So I can tell it, "here are my preferences --- the stations I like, the keywords I like, the news I am especially interested in, the music I prefer. If I hear a tune I like, I should be able to press a button and buy it -- while driving -- and know with confidence that the tune is now on my iPod, or in my online storage vault somewhere, ready to download into iTunes at home. If I hear a great radio interview but I'm pulling in the driveway and the show's only halfway over, I should be able to tell the radio to save this program -- a la TiVo (RaVo!?) -- and I'll listen to the rest of it later, on my iPod.

This is HC Radio. So, where can I get it?

Posted by brian at 11:12 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 07, 2004

An Offer I Couldn't Refuse

Time to 'fess up. Something really interesting happened with this blog two months ago. I chose not to write about it in April, and I chose not to write about it in May, but the time finally seems right to do so. Here goes:

The brianstorms blog is going to be the cover story in this week's new edition of the San Diego Reader. It comes out Thursday morning!

As far as I know, this is a first. I am not aware of any other bloggers anywhere whose work has been re-published in a major metro area print publication, but, not just that, re-published as the cover story. This has got to be historic, don't you think? [UPDATE - 8 June - It turns out that this isn't a first. Amazingly enough, the San Diego Reader contacted another San Diego blogger just a few weeks earlier, and on 4/29/2004, ran a cover story featuring a month's worth of content. I completely missed this until today.]

Some recent issues of the Reader.

What follows is the story of how it happened. First, a bit about the Reader itself.

1. Cosmetic Surgery Weekly, a.k.a. The Reader.
I don't know what the Reader's revenues are like, but judging by the four-color high-quality hard-stock cover, the number of pages per issue (200+ in each of the past few weeks' editions), the fact that this is a large-format stapled newspaper, and the sheer volume of advertisements, I conclude this has got to be a revenue monster.

The advertisements tell a lot about San Diegans. Too much. If a Martian landed in a spaceship and picked up a copy of the Reader to better understand San Diegans, he might go away thinking we're a bunch of desperately vain, hyper-ennui sufferers, perpetually dissatisfied with our aging, sagging-in-all-the-wrong-places bodies. It's downright embarrassing. Just look at the ads:

Bariatric surgeons . . . Cosmetic Surgery . . . Hair extension . . . Hair coloration . . . Hair removal (with lasers!) . . . Photofacial Skin Rejuvenation . . . . Wrinkle reduction . . . Botox ($135 per area!) . . . Microdermabrasion . . . Diamond Dermabrasion (now with oxygen therapy!) . . . Glycolic Peels . . . Lasik eye surgery . . . Teeth whitening . . . Tatoo Removal . . . Massage therapy . . . Back pain . . . Neck pain . . . Ultrabronz(tm) High Pressure tanning booths . . . Breast augmentation . . . Breast reduction . . . Breast lift . . . Liposuction . . . Restylane and Hylaform treatments . . . Tummy tucks . . . Forehead and brow lifts . . .

On and on and on and on and on. Page after page after page after page of beautification services. Oh! And then there's the cell phone companies! Dozens after dozens after dozens of cellphone ads, many fullpage or doublepage. Just think: you could be chatting on your shiny new cellphone while you're sitting in traffic on the way to your mircrodermabrasion appointment!

Come Thursday, the words of your humble scribe will be tucked among these ads. How exactly my words will interest or intrigue readers so perpetually and desperately in need of facials, facelifts, and body modification, I don't know.

So how did this all come about?

2. The Offer
On April 12th, I got an email from a Jim Holman, who identified himself as the editor of the Reader:

To: Brian Dear
From: Jim Holman
Subject: Re: You in the Reader

Dear Brian,

I have been on your blog site and would like to run your blogs as a story in the Reader.

Just write about your days over a month's time, give us 8000 words that will give us enough typical days-- uncensored, not tailored to fit our readers-- just the authentic Brian-blogger.

Willing to pay $2000 for these 8000 words plus 20-30 postage-stamp-size photos sprinkled throughout the story.

Please email text and photos to me and I will pay upon acceptance (please send jpegs of photos and send separate from text).

Jim Holman
San Diego Reader

3. The Reaction
My first thought: scam. I mean, who is this guy? Why is he writing to me, right out of the blue? I don't know him from Adam. And, if this guy is from the Reader, then why was he using what appeared to be a personal email address (not sdreader.com)? So, I looked up the phone number for the San Diego Reader and called.

I asked for Jim Holman. The receptionist wanted to know what this was regarding. I told her I just a moment ago got this email from Mr. Holman saying he wanted to pay me for an article and I am calling to see if this is for real. She put me on hold and then sure enough, I was talking with Jim Holman.

4. The Deal.
He said he'd been reading my blog and was fascinated with this new form of publishing and he loved my writing and said, for the next 30 days just write stuff like you have been writing, forget about the Reader, and then collect it all together and submit it and if I like it I'll pay you $2000. I asked about rights: what kind of rights does the Reader ask for? He said first-time serial rights. (Come to think of it, I never did get anything in writing about that.)

So I thought, someone's willing to pay me $2000 for an 8000-word digest of a month's worth of this blog? Cool!

So I said yes.

He said, just do something like April 13th to May 13th, then send me something in mid-May and we'll see. I said ok and that was that.

My next thought was, BLOG IT! But then right after that I thought, nah, until I see the check, and until I see that this is for real, I'm gonna just forget about it and keep doing what I've always been doing with this blog.

5. From the 13th to the 13th.
So for the next thirty days, I blogged. It's all here, just click on the archives for April 2004 and May 2004. I wrote about Lindows, electronic voting machines, black boxes in cars, weird voicemails, my dog's 9th birthday, phone bill scams, getting back at direct marketers, an author's book signing, the Treo600 I bought, what if San Diego got hit by a 3000-ft-wide meteor, hawk-cams, campaign contributions, a local Startbucks, gas prices, politics, and on and on.

6. Bleh.
So a month passes by, and on May 13th I looked back on the past 30 days' worth of material and thought, Bleh! Who'd wanna read all this stuff? Isn't it kinda stale now? I mean, the only thing worse than yesterday's newspaper is last month's blog entries, right?

Why am I doing this? Who bothers reading all this stuff anyway? I was in no mood to go back and select 8000 words' worth of blog material. Which words to select? Which ones to throw out? Ugh.

So I put it off. I was busy doing a startup company and this Reader thing was just not a priority. I wasn't in the mood to submit this stuff and get rejected anyway.

Days passed. I kept putting off submitting something to the editor.

Finally, early in the morning of the 18th I fired up Microsoft Word, fired up my browser, and copied and pasted 30 days' worth of blog stuff into a Word document. Of course, Word being Word, it was a nightmare: it was not easy getting all those images in, and it took a lot of time to place them in the text where they belonged. I was breaking one of the rules already: Holman's original email had explicitly stated, send the images separate from the text. Ugh. I was concerned the images would wind up detached from the blog entries they were originally connected to, so I just embedded them anyway. Anticipating that they might want them as separate files, I saved them all off in a directory.

I didn't even bother to edit the resulting Word document for typos. I was so sure this whole effort was for naught, I figured, why bother. What-ever, I thought. So I just saved the Word document, and sent Jim Holman an email with the Word file attached:

To: Jim Holman
From: Brian Dear
Subject: Re: You in the Reader


Attached is a Microsoft Word doc with about one month's worth of selected blog material from the Brianstorms.com blog.

Perhaps you could read it over and let me know what you think. FYI my cell # is 858-xxx-xxxx in case you want to call.

- Brian

7. Didn't He Tell You?
Later that day, the 18th, I went to a San Diego meeting of the Tech Coast Angels, a group that funds selected (emphasis on "selected") local startup companies. So I went, was very underwhelmed with the group, and went home and blogged about the event. I kinda liked this story, which I called "UpAgainst.com", so I thought, maybe Jim will too?

I sent him an email suggesting he consider that story as well for the article. (Of course, if he accepted it, that would mean we'd be way over 8000 words, as that story alone was about 1300 words.)

An hour later, I got a terse reply: "Ok, thanks."

At this point I figured, ok, get back to work, forget this blog stuff, the Reader is never going to print this stuff. I mean, why would they?

But then an hour later, I got an email from Frank Glaser, the Art Director at the Reader, asking me to please send him all of the image files separately so that he won't have to try to extract them from the Word document.

Waitaminnit. The Art Director's involved now? Why would the Art Director get involved unless the editor had accepted the story?

I grabbed the phone and called Frank's number. I told him I'd just gotten his email, and I was wondering . . . did this mean Jim Holman had ok'd the article? Was I in?

"Didn't he tell you?" Frank asked me.

"Um, no!" I said.

I told him I'd call Jim directly and confirm. So I called Holman's extension, reached him, and sure enough, this was a go. He liked the material, was still fascinated with the whole blog phenomenon, and was going ahead with publishing it. He told me I'd be hearing from his managing editor and, he added, "I think they're already cutting the check".

8. The Check.
Checks are good. Especially $2000 checks. They really did send one. First I had to call one of their accountant folks and give them my SSN and mailing address, but they did cut the check and they did send it and, well, here it is:

9. Shouldn't That Be Action?
At this point I began some back-and-forth email with the managing editor, Heather Goodwillie. She was spotting typos here and there, and at one point, wanted to know if the title of my blog entry from April 15th, entitled Startup in Acton, That's All They Got contained a typo or not. Shouldn't that be "Action"?

I wrote back:

Nope, it is actually "Acton". It's just a pun, albeit a very obscure reference: it's the opening lines in the lyrics to a song called "Stardom in Acton" by Pete Townshend, which goes,

Stardom in Acton,
That's all they got

Acton is just a suburb of London. The song is actually kind of appropriate for describing an entrepreneur launching a new company, hence "startup in acton"....

You can find the lyrics to the full song here (scroll down a bit): http://www.wdkeller.com/index21.htm

Thanks for catching that and asking. Let me know if there are any other copy questions.

"Thanks a lot," she wrote back right away, adding "our proofer will love it." (I guess the proofer's a Who fan! :-)

10. Curiouser and Curiouser
I remain very curious how the Reader, a print publication after all, is going to deal with formatting 30 days' worth of blog material in their publication. I asked them if they'd let me peek at the layout before they went to print. "NO," was the reply, in all caps. How are they gonna handle URLs? Especially the really long ones. I'm envisioning the typical superlong URL snaking its way through ads for laser hair removal, skin rejuvenation, liposuction, and microdermabrasion . . . We'll see.

I'll post a photo of the cover on Thursday once the issue hits the newsstands. If anyone outside of the San Diego area wants me to send them a copy of this week's issue, email me at the address shown at the far bottom of this page (I'd ask that you pay for postage, but I'll be glad to pick up a copy and send it to you).

One other thing . . . Christian Crumlish asked me on The WELL if he could have the scoop to this story, and I gave it to him. Here's his writeup on the Reader deal.

Posted by brian at 05:00 PM | Comments (16) | TrackBack

June 06, 2004

Tragedy in Bird Rock

(UPDATE) 16-yr-old Driver Dies in Mercedes As It Goes Over Cliff and Crashes on Rocks At Ocean

It happened around 630pm, right after dinner. We started to hear one of those big rescue choppers out over the ocean, along with sirens galore from police and rescue vehicles.

First thought: surfer or diver rescue.

Not this time.

We went and looked out back down to the ocean and we could see the helicopter slowly circling over Bird Rock neighborhood. Then, there were more and more sirens. This was something very unusual. More and more sirens kept arriving.

I drove down the hill to investigate. Large crowds, growing larger. The helicopter was very low. I noticed there was a rescuer precariously dangling from a cable underneath the helicopter.

It's difficult to see in the picture (all photos taken with cheesy wide-angle, low-resolution digital camera) but the helicopter was directly overhead and very close. There was a strong wind created by the downdraft of the chopper's blades.

Onlookers peer around the edge of a cliff, at the end of Forward St., one street down from the alley where the accident occurred.

Turns out someone driving a Mercedes drove down the Chelsea Place alley, which dead-ends right above the ocean, and apparently the car went through the dead-end, right over the cliff, smashed into a concrete level some 20-30 feet down, flipped over, landed on its roof, crushed roof, flipped again, and landed down on the rocks by the water.

Later I spotted an old neighbor friend who lives right near the site, and he had been one of the first on the scene. He told me all of the airbags had deployed i n the Mercedes (he said it was a year or two old -- a new model) and he said the recue worker dangling from the helicopter had yelled in code that the driver of the crashed vehicle didn't make it, which explained why the copter pulled the rescuer back up and then flew away.

Over on Dolphin Place, people were breaking into two construction sites to go over to the cliff to look south and see the wreck. A news reporter and his cameraman emerge from the construction site, telling people not to go in there as the owner is furious people are trespassing (um, they trespassed to get their footage -- film at 11 no doubt).
Cops and rescue personnel and neighbors all over the place. Another oceanfront lot on Dolphin that folks had broken into. One guy was still holding his glass of white wine as he climbed through the fence.

I'll add a link from the San Diego news sites once they um, get some sort of story up online.

UPDATE -- The local TV news just came on and said there were FOUR people in the car --- apprently all young people. A 16-year-old girl was driving, and apparently she made a mistake and put the car into drive instead of reverse and drove through the dead-end fence and over the cliff. Apparently the three passengers were able to get out but the driver wasn't, and she didn't make it.

UPDATE II -- The San Diego Union finally has a story up on their site.

UPDATE III -- 9 June -- More details emerge on the accident and the 16-yr-old girl who died, in this San Diego Union story.

Posted by brian at 09:04 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Internet Fads

Wave Magazine publishes a list of what it believes were the top 10 Internet fads.

I guess I'm not hip. I've only heard of 5 out of the 10.

Posted by brian at 01:03 AM | Comments (0)

June 05, 2004


I had a dream. I was in a parking garage. It was way past midnight. Why I was there, I don't know. I think it had something to do with my having trouble writing a story for the blog. There I was, standing in the middle of the lower level of an empty, dimly-lit parking garage. Suddenly, I see a tiny light glow in the distance. A cigarrette burns. I walk over. It's Deep Throat.

Me: The story is dry. All I've got are pieces. I can't seem to figure out what the puzzle is supposed to look like. George Tenet resigns as the head of CIA, and says that he wants to spend more time with his family. I mean, it sounds like bullshit, I don't exactly believe that...

Deep Throat: No, heh, but it's touching. Forget the myths the media's created about the White House. The truth is, these are not very bright guys, and things got out of hand.

Me: Rove's come in from the cold. Supposedly he's got a laywer with $25,000 in a brown paper bag.

Deep Throat: Follow the money.

Me: What do you mean? Where?

Deep Throat: Oh, I can't tell you that.

Me: But you could tell me that.

Deep Throat: No, I have to do this my way. You tell me what you know, and I'll confirm. I'll keep you in the right direction if I can, but that's all. Just... follow the money.

Then I woke up.

Posted by brian at 07:21 AM | Comments (1)

June 04, 2004

Bradbury Schmadbury

BoingBoing reports that Ray Bradbury has been quoted calling Michael Moore all sorts of nasty things for "stealing" Brabury's book's Fahrenheit 451 title and naming the movie Fahrenheit 9/11.

Well, well. What would Bradbury have to say about his own "theft" of Walt Whitman's poem verse, to name one of his stories? I Sing The Body Electric, published around 1969, is actually a name of a famous poem by Walt Whitman.

And don't forget Bradbury's story The Women, why, that's the same name as the 1939 George Cukor-directed comedy film starring Joan Crawford and Norma Shearer.

And then there's poor Shakespeare, who is owed mega-royalties for Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes. That's a phrase right out of Act IV Scene 1 of a little ditty called Macbeth, maybe you've heard of it. Bradbury's hoping you haven't.

At least Moore had the courtesy to change the title a bit and add something original to it! Bradbury just went ahead and copied verbatim. He's got some explaining to do.

By the way, it took me 2 minutes to find these title "thefts". Imagine what I might find if I spent two hours.

Posted by brian at 05:10 PM | Comments (28)

June 03, 2004

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About La Jolla Real Estate

Every now and then I pick up one of those thick, heavy, glossy Dream Homes magazines that specialize is incredibly overpriced La Jolla, Del Mar, and Rancho Santa Fe homes. I read it mainly because of a lifelong fascination with architecture and design. But I also like to see what kinds of hyperbole the realtors are using this month.

What follows is a handy guide to translating La Jolla Realtorspeak into ordinary English (For those unfamiliar with the term, "scrape" means demolish or tear down; "scraper" means a house not worth remodeling. I first heard the term "scrape" used by a La Jolla realtor years ago.)

storybook setting --- definitely a scraper, but even scraping won't get rid of the neighbors' noisy kids

corner lot --- stunning, forever views of traffic violations

whimsical --- stinks of cats

remodeled --- couldn't afford to scrape the whole thing

charming --- rooms are tiny; 70-year old bathrooms

charmer --- see charming

storybook charmer --- all scraping will do is let you really see how small the lot is

absolutely charming --- city wouldn't permit a house to be built on such a tiny lot today.

all the charm of Old La Jolla --- great if you don't mind a) alleys, b) high-voltage power lines six feet from the bedroom window; c) tiny rooms

Old World charm --- see all the charm of Old La Jolla

price available on request --- if you have to ask, you can't afford it

cozy --- tiny, designed for hobbits

modern yet cozy --- perfect for those who imagine living on a small yacht

mountaintop villa --- pray we don't have another fire

light and airy --- noise from leafblowers during the day; major skunk situation during the night

huge lot --- mostly unusuable or condemned by the geologists

price reduced --- desperate to sell

new listing! --- just relisted after 91 days to fool the MLS!

gated --- frequent homeless / solicitor problems

fully gated --- constant homeless / solicitor problems

country living at its finest --- no DSL, cable TV iffy

location, location, location! --- lousy location

in the heart of the Village --- alley stinks of trash; what was that noise?

ideal for horses --- not humans

walk to shops, restaurants --- take the bus everywhere else, because parking's a bitch

swimming pool --- forget about doing laps

lap pool -- forget about swimming

community pool --- exhorbitant assessment fees; strong urine presence in water

vanishing-edge pool --- lot wasn't big enough for full-sized pool

infinity pool --- see vanishing-edge pool

bonus room --- don't tell the city, as there aren't any permits

shuffleboard court --- for when you miss your QE2 stateroom

hardwood floors --- in all the places you'd prefer carpeting

lush carpeting --- in all the places you'd prefer hardwood floors

build to suit --- sue to build

[any adjective] estate --- designed for old people

black-bottom pool --- conceals all the dead bugs, frogs, and leaves

Casa de [insert fancy Spanish plural noun] --- high maintenance home, expect to pay 4 servants with questionable INS clearances to run the place

usable lot --- no rake needed, just a broom

oversized lot --- house barely fits on lot

sought-after location --- sought after you scrape the place

backyard perfect for playing --- noisy neighbors

unsurpassed beach living --- really obnoxious neighbors

newly carpeted --- no lasting evidence of crime scene

newly painted --- in your least favorite color

perfect for entertaining --- as are all your neighbors' houses; you'll never sleep

unique Village property --- no parking

granite kitchen --- pretend you're Wilma Flintstone

Private Oasis --- constant plumbing and heating problems

classic 60's home --- nobody's bothered to scrape, the location is just too depressing

Olde [any proper noun] --- expensive

timeless beauty --- even the roaches are 50 years old

endless potential --- scrape it, sell it, let someone else build it

epitome of urban modern living --- high noise, high fees, high security, high surveillance, all that for what exactly?

endless opportunities --- see endless potential

well-maintained --- sellers did their own plumbing, heating, electrical work; buyer beware

exceptionally well-maintained --- sellers paid fly-by-night contractors to do the plumbing, heating, electrical work; buyer beware

ultra-contemporary --- no matter how much you spend on repairs, the roof continues to leak

garden of eden --- plentiful assortment of ants, roaches, and spiders

architecturally pleasing --- obstructed views, so entertain guests with the weird floorplan

renowned architect --- quirky, eccentric idiosyncracies throughout that will drive you mad

lovely downtown views --- beyond the power lines and telephone poles you can just make out some hazy semblance of a skyline

separate guest quarters --- great when mom and dad aren't talking anymore

Cape Cod-style --- frumpy, old-fashioned, ought to be scraped

expansive views --- way overpriced

complete with picket fence --- recently fumigated

whitewater views --- see and hear military helicopters up close

vintage La Jolla --- total scraper; you're a fool if you don't tear it down and start over

pride of ownership --- scrape it and start over ASAP

quiet elegance --- boring, generic extravagance, as opposed to something really unusual

pampered perfection ---see whimsical

gated entry --- lots of homeless and solicitors

mountaintop getaway --- no DSL or cable TV

direct oceanfront --- high-maintenance, moldy, drafty, and cold

completely furnished --- DEA foreclosure, must sell quickly

delightful cottage --- great if you're rich, deaf, and can't walk

one look says it all --- don't look

parklike setting --- no view; creepy neighbors; lots of skunks

fairytale home --- features rodents of unusual size

eat-in kitchen --- dining room's so ugly nobody wants to eat there

gourmet kitchen --- expensive, imported stainless steel appliances with features you'll never use because the manuals are all in German

wine cellar --- house smells of mildew

spacious --- small

large --- medium

huge --- not quite big enough

fountain --- rarely works; attracts animals

immaculate --- stains, cigarette burns in the carpet; toilet looks fine but don't dare flush it

bedrooms adorned with trompe l'oeil --- custom artwork by painters of Elvis-on-velvet paintings

Sub-Zero fridge --- it was either that or a pantry, so, no pantry

abundant fruit-bearing trees --- get used to Malathion

truly one of a kind --- only house at this address

high-tech "smart home" --- house is never dark at night, thanks to the 24/7 blue glow of digital clocks everywhere, all blinking "12:00"

steps to Village --- Be mindful of the crosswalks and watch out for the drivers and bicyclists running the red lights.

historic --- ought to be scraped, but the paperwork's gonna be hell

beachfront access --- finest raw sewage odor in town

paradise --- make sure to add in the $2400/yr in gardener's fees to maintain

resort living --- long drive to the grocery store

stunning masterpiece --- grotesquely overbuilt, with a price to match

dramatically perched --- house on stilts; pray we don't have a quake, fire, or strong wind

private lake --- don't empty it; you might not like what you find.

romantic --- interior design uses a lot of fabrics; start investing in HEPA filters

Tuscan [noun]; Tuscany --- hot as hell; expect huge A/C bill

land, land, land! --- see endless potential

built-in outdoor barbecue --- needs to be rebuilt unless you like rust in your food

sparkling bay views --- at least when the neighbor's RV isn't parked in their driveway

move-in condition --- needs extensive fumigation, painting, carpet cleaning

exceptional craftsmanship --- Louis the XIV would feel right at home. Will you?

gated community entrance --- your movements monitored 24/7 by moonlighting rent-a-cops

fabulous --- you'll spend a fortune undoing the ugly interior design

desirable area --- the truly wealthy wouldn't be caught dead living here

exudes elegance --- great if you're into mortuaries

dramatic views --- watch your neighbors feeding and fighting

spectaular ocean views --- until next January, when construction of that 30-ft-high monstrosity across the street is completed

forever views --- if you squint all day and night you might eventually see something interesting

elevator --- never works; steep stairs

peaceful setting --- high crime area

extensively renovated in [fib about the year] --- tenting wasn't enough to get rid of the termites

filled with surprises --- hard to find where anything is, including light switches

fit for a general --- ideal for banana republic dictators in exile

enormous marble master bath --- huge water bill

carefree living --- very high maintenance fees

circular driveway --- plenty of parking for the repair trucks

spectacular sunsets --- house overheats terribly every afternoon

1-car garage --- ideal for that Model T you bought back during the Great War

2-car garage --- wide enough but not long enough to fit the Hummer

3-car garage --- it'd fit the Hummer except there are three separate garage doors, so forget it

steps to ocean --- noisy skateboarders at all hours of the night

Bird Rock Gem --- lot so small, you can reach through your window to neighbor's kitchen when you need to borrow the ketchup

Lower Hermosa Jewel --- so close to your neighbor, you can hear their toilet flush

traditional home --- tiny bedrooms stink of cat urine

highly desirable --- half the houses in the neighborhood are for sale, something's wrong

lavishly designed --- abusrdly overdone production inside; Liberaci's spinning in his grave

built-in entertainment center --- no place to put your bigscreen TV because it won't fit

easy access to freeway --- noisy

canyon view --- coyotes howling all night long; rodents of unusual size; skunks galore

beach living without the crowd --- but with the rats

reflecting pond --- mosquito problem

vaulted ceilings --- leaky roofs

such a pleasure to show! --- Agent lives nearby, will be pestering you for years to come

beautiful English gardens --- major snail problem

brand new --- 1-2 years old

new --- 2-10 years old

like new --- 5-15 years old

newer --- it was "new" several years ago

large master bedroom --- other bedrooms aren't big enough for infants

jacuzzi bath --- leaks right down to the foundation, but you don't know about it yet

glass-walled --- no privacy, plus the additional $1000/yr to keep them clean, including scraping off the remains of the occasional bird collision

sellers will entertain offers between $X and $Y --- real value of the house is X minus twice the difference between Y and X, or X-2(Y-X). Example: "Sellers will entertain offers between $2,800,000 and $3,199,876" means you're a fool if you pay a dollar more than $2,000,248.

Posted by brian at 07:15 PM | Comments (2)

June 01, 2004


Technorati claims that seven minutes after you blog something it shows up in their indexes as searchable. Oh yeah?

I'm not so sure. It's been a lot longer than seven minutes since yesterday's cicada story. I did a search for cicada, even a search for Drescher, and nothing related to the brianstorms.com blog shows up there. Miracle of miracles, if one searches for daily show reruns, Technorati does mention the brianstorms.com blog entry from May 27th. But Technorati says "Post created 2 days 15 hours 4 minutes ago" --- today is June 1st. Two days after 15 hours and 4 minutes ago was not May 27th.

What's up, Technorati?

When I created this post, I pinged the BoingBoing.net article that talks about Technorati. I just went to BoingBoing's site, went to the exact article (here's the permalink), clicked the link at the bottom of that article where it says Other blogs commenting on this post, and this blog is not mentioned.

UPDATE II. Now it is mentioned. Wait a sec. If you go to this page, and refresh your browser, you get different results every time. One time it might say that that boingboinbg page "has 5 links from 5 sources", then after a refresh it might say "has 3 links from 3 sources". Refresh again, "has 4 links from 4 sources". Sometimes brianstorms.com is listed, sometimes not. Sometimes it'll say "5 links from 5 sources" but only show three. Sometimes it'll say "has 2 links from 2 sources" but show five. Is this a bug? Am I missing something?

Posted by brian at 07:40 AM | Comments (4)
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