BJ’s

Speaking of blowjobs on sale at Target, there used to be a store on El Camino near 92 named BJ's more than twenty years ago.  Unlike stores around it, this one had no store front.  All it had was a door with iron grill that was locked until you rang a bell.  And guess what they sold.  Yup.  They sold exactly what their little sign said, BJs.

A few kids at my highschool heard about the place and, after a round of disbelief, a bunch of us went there out of curiosity.  We didn't have any money so we just sat around acting like it was all normal. Eventually we snicked enough for them to kicked us out.  Whoever ran that retail shop certainly had a sense of humor and the balls to open a brothel on El Camino.  An amazing part of San Mateo history.

Now where would you get this kind of news except from the blogosphere?  San Mateo Times?

Changing Habits

As I have written before, I stopped buying music entirely for a while now.  But I didn't understand why until recently.  Like everyone else, I used Napster when it first came out.  It was something new and the convenience was addictive.  I waned off Napster when RIAA started bitching but I was spoiled for good by then.

It was not that I got too used to getting music for free.  It was the sense of waste and lowered level of tolerance for mediocracy.  Post-Napster me was no longer willing to buy a full CD just so I can listen a couple of good songs.  My focus changed from albums to individual songs and having to pay for songs I didn't want stopped making sense.

My habit of stopping by music stores to browse also died off while I was into Napster.  Convenience and instant gratification of Napster was just too addictive and left an unrecoverable dent in my habit.  While there are quality differences, the differences don't matter except for only the truely great songs, the keepers.

Then there is the inconvenience of CD players.  To listen to anything, I have to find the CD and insert it into a CD player.  With MP3s, all that is needed is a double-click.  When you compare portable MP3 player versus portable CD player, the impact of changing habits really kicks in.

So it wasn't the P2P music piracy, but the Pandora's Box opened by it.  Simply put, I am no longer the same person I was before the Napster experience.  If the rest of the world have changed like me, music stores and music albums will soon pass.

Thanksgiving Vacation in the Virtual World

I took a vacation of sort over the long Thanksgiving weekend…in the World of Warcraft, a recently released MMORPG.  Oh My!  Multiplayer online world technology has advanced quiet a bit since the last time I visit it.  Aside from the usual bugs and loads (two hundred thousand players on the first day!), it was simply amazing.  Graphics, although cartoon like, was believably real and animation was very smooth.

Being too old to be interested in fighting and leveling, I concentrated mostly on travelling.  With a really low level character named Wowcow, I roamed about the world, sightseeing non-existant mountains and rivers.  The best city IMHO was Iron Forge, the Dwarven capital.  Very impressive.  Best land was also Dwarf country.  I just loved running across snow with snow reflected light glistening as I went.

Most of the travelling was done on foot, but the most enjoyable part, flying on the back of a mystical animal like wyverns or griffons, cost game money.  So I acquired the skinning skill as one of my primary skills since roads were littered with plenty of dead carcases of monsters other players killed.  I also got the tailoring skill because containers were in demand and expensive.

If walking across continents skinning roadkills and selling bags in towns doesn't sound exiting, it wasn't.  I just enjoyed being somewhere else for a few days where I had a completely different set of plans and worries.  Anyway, I am back in the real world now.  I doubt I'll go back on regular basis in the future but I think this is where the future lies.

Before the virtual world can become a daily part of our lives, it must first become a place to visit, a vacation spot if you will.  As a vacation destination, it has some definite attractions.  For example, it cost me $49 for the software and $15 for a month of stay in the World of Warcraft.  Total price of $64 beats even camping expenses.  There are no transportation, food, nor accomodation costs and rides are free.

Come to think of it, I think the place makes a wonderful place to retire to.  It's a place where they don't care what your age is and it doesn't matter if you are bedridden or not.  It's a place where they don't care if you are rich, powerful, or beautiful.  There are no wrinkles or white hairs unless you choose to have some as a matter of personal style.

When I get too old to move around, I'll jack myself into a world of my choice until it's time to check out.  My son and his family can come and visit me where ever they are.  Fighting along side them is as good as any Thanksgiving dinners I think.  And when it's time to go, they'll just get a dialog saying I logged out.  No sorrows, no regrets, just whining about server crashes.  It's a good exit as any IMHO.

Sharp End of the Social Network

While most people are fascinated by the power of social networks, we need to keep in mind that this power can be destructive and abusive.  Jacek Rutkowski, who made some particularly nasty personal attacks against Russell Beattie, is now facing an angry mob, one that spans the globe and do permanent damage, thanks to search engines and implements of the blogosphere.

While I think Jacek deserve some punishment, I am increasingly disturbed by the lack of device for control and the nature of the damage being compounded.  Jacek's name is now in ruin and, as a respected collegue recently fantasized while he was angry:

nobody in their right mind should consider hiring, or doing business with, or dating, this person.

I have little sympathy for Jacek, but I think there is too much power and too little control.  We all know we have this power to ruin another person on the blogosphere.  We covet it like Kim Jong-Il covets his Atom bombs.  And we act as if we are being generous by ignoring insults and attacks.  I can ruin that person's life forever but I won't because I am a nice guy.

Frankly, I don't know what the answer is or even whether there is an answer.  Russell tried other alternatives and clearly had no other options than to write a blog post.  Jacek abused the medium he had at his disposal and did much of the walking into the ring of pitchforks himself.  The net result is the abusive power of one against that of many, the sharp end of a social network.

But where do Frankensteins go after they are chased to the hilltop?