June 12, 2009

Will there be sphinxes shooting missles at each other?

One might imagine that the previews that were to appear before the new Star Trek movie were heavily negotiated, with the film industries best marketing and publicity people vying for that all important blockbusting promotional moment. Or, maybe, there was a 12 year old boy (the one present in many of us) who sad "Well, wait, how about we only allow movies that have robots shooting missles at each other?"

One producer like human might have offered, "Well, we have this movie about two people finding love and themselves on a journey in post World War II egypt"

To which our selector of previews must have replied "Will there be sphinxes shooting missles at
each other?"

"Well, no, that wouldn't fit the story"

"BRRRRZAAP, no go, get out of my office."

"Crap"

Producer #2: "Hey, what about robotic like body armor?"

"Will there be missiles?"

"Sure, it's GI Joe, can't have GI Joe without missles."

"Wait, will there be actual death? The problem with GI Joe was that it was always robots getting sploded."

"Well, it'll be pg13, so maybe a couple of dozen, mostly innocent bystanders."

"Hmm, okay.", twelverson might have said, "Who's next"

"Hmm, lets see...", his PA might have answered, "Terminator Salva.."

"Yeah, of course, don't waste my time. What else?"

"Hmm, Transformers 2?"

"PERFECT! You're the best. Let's go to lunch?"

Seriously, though, every single preview had robot (or robotic'd up people) and missles. Often being dodged. In a car provided by Ford, I think. Lots of product placement.

Speaking of which. I was human product placement, recently. At the time of this writing , I'm on the plane from Tokyo to SFO now, I upgraded myself to First, which on United's non upgraded fleet is downright insulting. On the way to Asia I had the good fortune to be on Singapore Airlines 777 with the new Business class, which begged the question on how First could possibly be any better, and it was like a slice of heaven with some papaya on the side. I like papaya. Which, btw, I had on Singapore Airlines. It was a damn sight better choice of fruit than a slightly browned bananna on the United planes.

I've been flying almost solely United now for years, I've built up almost 470k in the seat miles with the airline over the years, which is pretty appalling, and I'm likely to cross the 1/2 million marker soon. I kind of bragging, I guess, but why? Bragging about a half million miles on United is like bragging that you are the least inbred family member in some weird fundamentalist cult on the Utah/Arizona border. Or at least excepting the odd newly laid out planes (which are really very nice).

I didn't really go into this post looking to slag on United, my chosen carrier, which I obviously like otherwise why would I keep using them? I mostly wanted to talk about my trip. I was in Kuala Lumpur, Beijing and Tokyo on this trip. For the first two, it was my first time in those cities and for Tokyo my first trip over 24 hours. I spent about 3 days in each.

In KL, my lungs began the upward battle of smog triage on the cilli and villi of my lungs. I got to the point in China where I was actually worried about my ability to give my speech, which was alarming. In the end it worked out, but the pollution was formidible. Many have written about the pollution in China, so I won't bore you too much, a speech was given, I think it went well, and the organizers of Google Developer Day in Beijing did a simply bang up job. In some ways, it was the best organized conference I've been to in a long time.

I also got to meet up with some old pals, and the chinese governments open source promotion arm, which was cool. I walked the stalls at a hemmed in kind of mall that specialized in inexpensive electronics, mostly counterfit. For instance, I saw the "Iphone Air" which was a flip, pink, Iphone. You know? You must have seen Steve release that one at WWDC, right? The other one, the "Iphone Duo" was a bitchen 3g lookalike, with dual sims, 5 pages of apps (notably not the iphone apps) and support for micro sdhc. All for about 1000 won (I suspect I could have talked them down dramatically).

video

I picked up a 'Disney MP3" player, with 2gb of onboard ram
(with some craptastic songs preinstalled) for what amounted to 13$ (I had bargained them down from the inital price of $25). I don't know why I bought it, honestly, I'll probably just give it to Cory Doctorow next time I run into him, as he's into this kind of thing, but there were some amazing things in that mall. I haven't been that excited to simply walk around a mallesque collection of stalls since the first time I walked the streets in Akihabara some 8 years ago.

The thing I should have bought was this neat little rc helicopter for 90 won. (around 30$, down from an initial price of about 2.5x that) but I decided that I really didn't have space in my bag for it in its box.

Malaysia was very interesting. I did some normal stuff, like check out the Petronas tower, which is flipping georgous, but I didn't go inside. Between jet lag and work, I didn't want to spend the time and I don't have the same desire I used to have, to go to the highest spot in a city. My happiest times in all three cities were simply when I was walking around, by myself, getting mildly lost on the way here or there, understanding little beyond what street I'm on and which one I'll be on next.

It was kinda hot though. Food was super fun in malaysia once I got away from the hotels with a group of open source hackers the last night I was in town.

Tokyo, though, I got some -mad- walking in. Went guitar shopping with a dude from work, which was very fun. The first store we went to (the wrong one) was 6 stories tall, with each story being kind of small, consumlables-guitar-guitar-acoustics-keyboards-mixing/amps-lessons, it was neat. I want a pacemaker (looks fun, won't actually buy one) but it was not the right shop. Next street over we found 'Heartmann guitar' and , for the record, I played a little when I was younger, but I was -terrible- at it. I didn't practice and didn't learn much past a few songs. But that said, I was transfixed and shocked at some of the guitars they had. A 54 les paul, a 55 martin, it was amazing. These guitars were behind glass, but a part of me felt like I was in a museum. It was really something. And -boy- were those not cheap.

I spoke in Yokohama the day after at Google Developer Day Tokyo , which was neat. Going out after with my work friends was neater afterwords, and shopping for Mochi with Jason Chen was more awesome still.

But it was all so long, so much time away from Christine and the kids. So you'll see less of these kinds of posts after June. It's too much travel and so I won't be doing as much of it. Sorry United, my status will lapse. Sorry Starwood, you'll need to upgrade some other travellers rooms. 2010 will be the year my status expires, if I have my wish, and with hope, I'll never make 1m miles on star alliance. I will , instead, be home.

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