Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Bad dining in Mobile

October 14, 2009

For the past 2 months I’ve been neck deep in my new startup (I’m not a found, but I am employee #5,  which is still the ground floor). We’re involved in green transportation, but beyond that, we’re still in stealth mode, so I can say no more.

I’m going down to Mobile about every week or so for face to face meetings; getting kind of bored with I-65, especially when there’s no time to go exploring.

On TV in Mobile, no matter where you turn, there are always these ads for a restaurant called Craig Sorrel’s, in Pine Grove. It looks like they’re filmed with a Flip cam in one take and uploaded to the TV station as is.

Luckily, one of the funders has lived there all his life and told me in no uncertain terms “don’t go there”, though we did drive by just for grins.

Basically Craig Sorrel thinks he’s Wolfgang Puck. There was a set of ads this trip where he claimed to “bring the taste of Old Italy to your palate” with a new appetizer: Fried Mozzarella Sticks. Now I used to work at a chain restaurant and I have an eye for menu items that are easy to freeze and microwave. These Mozz Sticks come from Sysco, frozen, in boxes of 250. Old Italy my ass.

Last year, Sorrel added nutritional information to his menu, one entree at a time, and would report updated progress in his radio ads. “What’s the point?” my colleague said.

We drove by the restaurant and the parking lot was empty. On a Saturday night. “It’s always like that,” said my colleague. “Nobody goes there.” A maitre d’ in a tux too small for him stood stiffly at the door.

Craig Sorrel’s latest ad makes me wonder if he’s gone funny in the head. “My bistro now has a dress code,” he intoned. “Effective today, for those without a jacket and tie, our host will redirect you to the side room and can only order from our lunch menu. For access to the full dinner menu, please upgrade to a jacket and tie! Please note that the lunch menu is designed primarily for casual eating. As such, it does not offer access to finer dining items, like boneless buffalo wings and our jalapeno poppers.”

Obviously Sorrel is unrecoverably delusional and should be put away for the safety of the community.

Our Five-Year Mission

August 3, 2009

Some people are ragging Carl Rogers about “Operation Emboss”, griping that the changes are occurring very slowly and with disproportionate fanfare.

My POV: although it’s well recognized that Carl is riding into the sunset (though vientology will live on), many are underestimating the sheer effort needed to accomplish the hand-crafted embossing of hundreds of vientological images.

On April 4, 2009, Carl announced that Operation Emboss was 1.71% complete. On August 3, it is now 7.63% complete. In a span of 121 days, that’s a 6.22 percentage point increase. Doing the math shows that Carl will finish up on…

June 29, 2014.

Do all of us have the persistence and vision to propose, and accomplish, a similar 5-year project? I doubt it. Hell, in 2014 we might all have rocket cars. Or, more likely, gas will be $100 a gallon, which is not as bad as it sounds, because with inflation, one dollar itself will be $12.50.

More like CalWrong, am i rite?

July 29, 2009

The newest thing at wwtl.com

Construction of a flyover ramp, between eastbound California State Route 92 and northbound Interstate 880, has completed. Traffic in Hayward may now merge more smoothly w/ the mainline Interstate, as opposed to usage of a single-lane cloverleaf ramp that existed for decades prior…

I’ve never been there, but I found a CalTrans page with a good explanation of the 92/880 project, with aerial before and after shots.

So it looks like wwtl.com has a pretty good scoop here: a new milestone in this important project.

Leave it to Timothy J. Lee to throw cold water on it:

Only a portion of the flyover is open, as a bypass of the straight through eastbound 92 overpass that is apparently being removed. Eastbound 92 to northbound 880 traffic must still use a cloverleaf ramp. The part of the flyover that actually flys over the 92 overpass on the way to northbound 880 is not built yet.

So wait: everything Carl said was wrong?

I went to his page: http://wwtl.com/ca-92.html to see a picture of the construction, but there isn’t one. It’s just a blurry pic of Rt. 92.

This is not a shining day for vientology.

Overrated / Underrated; Sine Salad

July 28, 2009

So which highways get too much love, or not enough?

Our boys at American Heritage have weighed in, a couple of times.

In 1998, Douglas Brinkley pontificated on a couple of Louisiana highways.

  • Overrated: I-10 in New Orleans, for its role in Claiborne Avenue “negro removal” (Randy Hirsch will disagree)
  • Underrated: US 61, for its role in history and the blues.

In 2002, Phil Patton chimed in:

  • Overrated: US 66.
  • Underrated: I-40. Because it crosses the country, and 66 doesn’t.

For my opinion, I could cite a couple of Alabama roads, but I’ll look cross country as well.

  • Overrated: US 66. Even though it was already mentioned.
  • Underrated: US 41. It’s a north-south route, does not reach a border, but is still 2,000 miles long. It goes from Miami to Tampa, Atlanta, Chattanooga, Nashville, Chicago (Lake Shore Drive), Green Bay, and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. It’s going to become an interstate in Wisconsin, and will even keep its number. It also serves 6 NFL teams.

Moving on: Sine Salad.

This term, invented by a guy named Comrade Yamamoto, refers to a sign assembly with a large number of route markers. This one in North Carolina (11 markers) is a good example.

The movie “The Day the Earth Stood Still” (mediocre) had some action on the nonexistent I-67 which was supposed to be in New Jersey. Then a truck gets dissolved by nanobot bugs (sorry, spoiler) that then start to work on a fake highway sign:

Sine Salad in the Movies

Sine Salad in the Movies

Now, I’m just a dumb guy from Alabama. But I could not figure out where exactly this sign is supposed to be. If you can, drop me a line.

Breaking boundaries … and links

July 28, 2009

The Carl Rogers Crackup Vigil continues. I can’t help but remember the movie “A Beautiful Mind”, where Russell Crowe is a genius, but every crazy thing he does is a cry for help. Also, he can’t get it up.

FYI to all WWTL.com visitors! All the photographs and videos shared through Usenet use a temporary “picture frame” (technically speaking, API wrapper). So, if you visit one of our announced photographs videos a few months after it has been announced, you’ll get a 404 error. I stress, your browser is not the culprit… (unless you manually hack your browser to death in attempt to appear cool. not!)

In a nutshell, 404 errors mean the page you’re looking for no longer exists. To help guide you to what you’re originally searching affter, you’ll be redirected to our main page where you can search through our top-to-down menu… and yes, click on our ads. Capisce? 🙂

I feel like a dog full of piss at a fire hydrant factory… where do I start?

All the photographs and videos shared through Usenet use a temporary “picture frame” (technically speaking, API wrapper)

This is a plain old HTML link (such as http://wwtl.com/tmp/1337/, which goes to a picture of Colorado Highway 115 taken at night with no flash). “API wrapper” is something a kid with no experience pads his resume with.

So, if you visit one of our announced photographs videos a few months after it has been announced

So, if you rush out a post so fast you can’t be bothered to proofread it

I stress, your browser is not the culprit…

It’s a broken link, don’t get your panties in a bunch

(unless you manually hack your browser to death in attempt to appear cool. not!)

What?

So Betty, the lead cheerleader, would pass up the varsity quarterback to hook up with someone who hacked his browser to death to look cool (and succeeded.) What?

In a nutshell, 404 errors mean the page you’re looking for no longer exists.

The lone sentence that’s correct (information, grammar and spelling).

To help guide you to what you’re originally searching affter, you’ll be redirected to our main page where you can search through our top-to-down menu… and yes, click on our ads. Capisce?

In a nutshell: Carl breaks public links, which guys like Jakob Nielsen have been telling people not to do for about 20 years. Why do his /tmp URLs need to expire at all? Is he going to run out of 4-digit numbers to use at the end? Is there a limitation in his “API”?

Not everyone’s as big of a fan of wwtl.com as I am. They aren’t going to go to the front page, scan the “top-to-down” menu, or click on any ads capisce. They’re just going to leave.

Have you guessed the name of Billy’s planet? It was Earth! Don’t break links!”

Huntsville, we had a problem

July 24, 2009

On the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing, it’s a good time to look into the history of an important city in the space industry (Huntsville) and its interstate spur (I-565).

Everyone who visits me from out of state asks the same question: why doesn’t I-65 go directly to Huntsville? Doing that would have made the spur unnecessary. To answer this, you have to look back to the 1950s, when the location of I-65 in northern Alabama was being discussed.

The city of Decatur was the headquarters and main factory for Grady’s Hoop-Skirts, the world’s leading manufacturer of such goods. In April 1957, Decatur Mayor Fergus Copperton swayed highway planners, vowing that his city was “the Detroit of hoop-skirts, and, like Detroit, will prosper forever.” Huntsville at the time was a small city of 4,500 whose primary industry was recycling pop bottles.

Things didn’t change until a meeting in February 1961 between the President and Vice-President while discussing ways to flush Castro out of Havana. This was weeks after the inauguration, and they were still eating takeout quite a bit. The conversation went something like this:

LBJ: G*ddammit! I just picked up these ****ing fries five ****ing minutes ago, and they’re room temperature! They taste like ****!

JFK: I never take fries home. They’re only good if you eat them right there.

LBJ: Well, my Big Mac’s alright.*

JFK: It’s all about the volume to surface area. The fries are thin and radiate heat too quickly.

LBJ: If we can put a man on the ****ing moon, why can’t we make french fries that stay hot for more than 30 ****ing seconds?

JFK: We can’t put a man on the moon.

LBJ: Yeah, that saying never made any ****ing sense.

JFK: But why can’t we?

LBJ: The moon part or the french fries part?

JFK: Picture it: the Russians have a bunch of Sputniks and some monkeys in orbit; we put Americans on the g*d damn moon. How would you like that?

LBJ: On the moon, alive.

JFK: Of course. And bring them back.

LBJ: Alive?

JFK: Yes, alive.

LBJ: All right. We need a space center in Texas.

JFK: Sure.

LBJ: Let’s get something for Alabama, too. Then I can twist Heflin’s arm on the Ways and Means thing.

JFK: Done.

LBJ: And a Jap masseuse for the VP mansion

JFK: What? That song is getting to your head.

LBJ: [falsetto] You took your love away from me. [Normal voice] Always gives me wood.

* This is an anachronism; the Big Mac was introduced in 1971. **

** The single asterisk means a footnote, not an LBJ profanity. So does two asterisks.

The George C. Marshall Space Center was built in Huntsville, and Alabama was in the thick of the space race. The only problem: getting to I-65 and the rest of the country was a painful stop-and-go slog down Rt. 72A. This problem continued well into the 1980s. Finally in 1987 construction started on an interstate-grade spur, to be called I-565. On Oct. 26, 1991, the highway was completely opened.

They’re planning extensions on both ends: a few miles east along US 72, and possibly many miles west, to Florence, following Rt. 72A through Decatur. If I-22 can happen, perhaps this segment of the long-planned Memphis to Atlanta highway (Corridor V) can also come to fruition.

More resources:

Malfunction Junction (not that bad)

Corridor V (Memphis to Chattanooga)

I-565 at wwtl.com (with a WHL-360 at the I-65 junction)

What’s new at wwtl.com

July 6, 2009

There’s always something new to report about the Internet’s premier vientology site, wwtl.com. (I’m a big homer for my own blog; but let’s be honest, it has not yet caught up with Carl Rogers’s pioneering site.)

* Updated FAQ. To be honest, most of the questions are rarely asked, but changing it to Frequently Unasked Questions would make it the FUQ. Noting that most questions are Administrative or Site-related would make it the AS-FUQ. And who wants to explain to their spouse that they’re checking on Carl Rogers’s latest AS-FUQ?

* [Present-day] video of the former Lincoln Highway. Writes Carl:

You will also learn in this video what nearby freeway absorbs traffic at the Altamont Pass region.

(Spoiler: I-580.)

Steve Firth asks:

Have you got a video of you sticking your head in a blender?

Steve, try this quick link.

In fact, one of the areas in which wwtl.com does not lead the world is videos of people’s heads in blenders. He is tied with most of MTR at zero. The closest you will get is Mr Yamamoto’s site, where a roadie for the Teutonic punk quartet GartenKill has a hot waffle iron close on his hand.

* IE8 support. Although IE8 has been out for only a little while (and you can get a Nickelback mp3, or if you’re in Australia, a chance to win $10,000), wwtl.com has been supporting this browser since March. Carl says:

While we support Firefox, Safari, and Opera, your visual experience at the WWTL is taken to a whole new level w/ the world’s leading standard — Internet Explorer.

If you don’t have IE8, take a look at this beautiful screenshot. Droool.

* Pictures from Dubai. Carl Rogers hasn’t actually been there, but he will have photos from a real live Dubaian – Pham Hung Son! Carl says:

You’ll be surprised to see how advanced the U.A.E. highway system is — in fact, it appears to be one of the leaders in high-speed travel and safety.

(Why? My guess: no women drivers.)

* A slideshow pause button.

Go ahead, press our new “Pause” and “Play” buttons! These buttons come in handy for people needing more time to view a certain road photograph … perfect for those who have just a few minutes to spare and want random access to roads in the Americas, Europe, Asia, and Australia. Talk about vientology at its simplest.

This is yet another wwtl.com innovation which may find an even greater applicability in porn. The others are:

  • drag and resize photo (obvious)
  • virtual coordinates (just where was that VIP party?)
  • CarlCam(tm)

For those haters that say Carl has jumped the shark: not so fast. Come up with your own innovations, then you can talk.

More information on I-220

July 1, 2009

Even though vientology is about sharing information, the skilled vientologist is still motivated to “scoop” the other sites by finding out information no one else has published yet.

However, sometimes no one else has found out anything about subject X because subject X is wrong, and you end up with egg on your face.

That’s why I wanted to find out more about Birmingham’s mysterious interstate 220.

You may remember seeing it on an earlier “Yellow Book” scan I posted from Froggie:

Urban routes, Birmingham

Urban routes, Birmingham

I want to clarify that the red numerals are my annotations, and are not original with the document.  So the northeastern bypass is definitely there, but “I-220” was my supposition.

So is there any real evidence about I-220?

I did find an interchange diagram in the ALDOT archives:

Planned Interstate 220 interchange, at Center Point Rd and Main St, Pinson, Ala.

Planned Interstate 220 interchange, at Center Point Rd and Main St, Pinson, Ala.

That is definitely I-220, at AL 75, with Main St at the bottom of the diagram. Dated 1960.

Saving the best for last… in the DOT photo archives, in an undated folder, I find this:

This undated, unsourced photo appears to show the end of an old I-220 freeway in Birmingham.

This undated, unsourced photo appears to show the end of an old I-220 freeway in Birmingham. The craftsmanship on the sign is not the best.

So what? It was not only planned, but built? Even a non-roadgeek would have to ask, “Well, where did it go?”

One final bit of information is from Cam Finnegan, a professor of civil engineering at UAB:

When I was little, we lived in Alton, and would drive up to Chalkville for pizza. Pikey’s Pizza (I think it’s called Pasquale’s now) had the best, really the only good pizza around, unless you wanted to drive all the way into the city. We took Chalkville Rd. from I-59 to get there. Back then (~1980) Chalkville Rd was 4 lanes divided like today, but there was nothing built up there as you climbed up the hill. It was like a freeway, and there were some freeway signs but I didn’t pay attention to the details. But I do remember asking Pop why the highway just stopped and didn’t keep going. He said it was politicians screwing things up.

It’s like they gave up on building a freeway there, and just let it become a boulevard. Hope this helps.

Without a doubt, there’s much more that needs to be unearthed about Interstate 220. But I figured I’d share what I have to date.

WHL-360s in depth

June 22, 2009

Every time I show off a WHL-360 from Carl Rogers’ wwtl.com, people ask “How in the hell did he do that?”

Often the word they use is “Why”, but they really mean “How”.

WHL-360 is a proprietary, immersive, virtual reality 3-D rendering technology from wwtl.com. Instead of a photo, you have a 360-degree panorama that makes it look like you’re really there.

See US 89 in St. George Utah for an example.

Here’s how it’s done. First, run your photo through an  FFT with appropriate Nyquist ratio. Then, take the inner product of its finite elements:

Kronecker Product, in the context of WHL-360

Kronecker Product, in the context of WHL-360

Then reconstitute it and package in a QuickTime codec. Sounds easier than it really is!

For user without Quicktime, there is an open source version called VH-360 (Virtual Highway 360) – see vh360.sourceforge.com. This way you can still enjoy wwtl.com on your Windows Mobile device.

Let’s start with a watermarked photo from Carl Rogers:

Watermarked NJ Highway photo

Watermarked NJ Highway photo

Then apply the VH-360 transformation. The result is of course not as mind-blowing as WHL-360, but you can still see the general effect:

NJ photo in WHL-180!

NJ photo in VH-360!

Cool. However, the watermark is illegible. No problem, just re-watermark it:

WHL-180 photo, with new embossed watermark

VH-360 photo, with new embossed watermark

That’s pretty sharp-looking, for an amateur effort. To see the real thing, go to wwtl.com.

Hand-crafted JPEGs

June 20, 2009

Carl Rogers’ Operation Emboss has been proceeding at a lively pace. As each JPG is watermarked, we are closer to the day when we see wwtl.com “lift its ban on JPG file-sharing,” which means we can start putting them on bit torrent.

Even better (“a nice byproduct”): he is giving each and every photo personal attention.

All photos are hand-touched, one by one.

What makes this even more special? It gives me the chance to re-evaluate*each* photograph and judge their picture quality. If a picture does not have the right colour[sic] balance (shades, light, etc.), I correct it! As Operation Emboss continues, you may notice one of your favourite US Federal Route or Mexican Autopista w/ better image quality.

This is more dramatic news than the embossing itself. Just think of all those photos on wwtl.com, but with better quality! With the tricks Photoshop can do, there’s no limit to what could be fixed in those pictures.

Photo enhancement process, as seen in TV and movies.

Photo enhancement process, as seen in TV and movies.

Stuff that used to be affordable only to CSI departments is now a $400 desktop app, and in a couple years will be free (ad-supported) on the web. My favorite CSI episode was when there was a murder on a United flight, and the blonde chick took a picture of a Dodgers game from the LA Times, zoomed in on the retina of the third-base coach, got the reflection of the aircraft, zoomed in on that through a first-class window, bounced off the bulb of a champagne glass, and identified the killer by a telltale tooth filling. Enhance. Enhance. Enhance.

These days you can even rotate a picture in 3-D. Before: dang, got a photo from the wrong side.

Whoops, took her pic from behind. Too late to fix that... or is it?

Whoops, took her pic from behind. Too late to fix that... or is it?

Then apply the 3-D rotation:

How to rotate your photo in 3-D

How to rotate your photo in 3-D

And the result:

Same photo, rotated 180 deg around Z axis.

Same photo, rotated 180 deg around Z axis.

The old-fashioned photography skills (lighting, composition, framing, exposure, focus, etc.) matter less and less every day, because it can all be fixed in Photoshop.

Here’s the top 5 list of photos I’m looking forward to Carl Rogers making even better, at wwtl.com: