Sunday, September 24, 2006

Yet another not too exciting month

Well September is nearly over... another month goes by. Since it's been nearly a month since my last completely random and uneventful blog, I'll throw out a "what's been happening" update blog.

It's Football Season
So what does that mean? Well, yet another year of Husky Football, for one. The Dawgs through some miracle are currently 3-1 overall. Somehow this team manages to win football games, though certainly not without some abysmal playing in the first half of most of their games. Those 3 wins are equal to the sum of the total number of wins in the past two seasons combined. All goes to show that there's light at the end of the tunnel for the Huskies. I marched the Varsity/Alumni game with the band, which was fun. All in all, just like everything else has been.

It's Curling Season
Yes, another curling season is getting ready to begin. My second year curling stands to be even more fun and exciting than the first. Today I helped at an open house at the curling club. I was teaching people how to curl, but so few people showed up it wasn't too much work other than just sitting around today. But there are at least 5 more open houses that I'll work at in the coming weeks, so I'm not too disappointed. Alas, the sport of curling's best advertising is when you see it on TV during the Olympics, and outside of that, you just have to be lucky enough that someone stumbled onto it in the newspaper or online.
I'll be curling in three leagues this winter, on Sunday, Thursday and Friday nights. As usual it will be a very busy time, but it's not like I have much else exciting to do most of the time, so it will be fun.

Shows and Concerts
This week was incredibly busy... somehow all my tickets lined up on the same week. On Tuesday night I went to see the musical "Bombay Dreams" at the 5th Avenue. I'd describe the plot, but I've since determined it was vastly irrelevant. The show revolves around the world of Bollywood in India, and Bollywood stars, and of course, bizarre Indian pop music. But it was entertaining, worth the price of admission, and without having much more to say about that, it received 3 out of 5 stars on my entirely-subjective, non-scientific scale.

Speaking of, I should better define my entirely-subjective, non-scientific scale which shall remain nameless until I come up with a witty and creative name for it.

5 stars - Amazing! Among the finest performances you'll find anywhere. Worth the price of admission, whatever the cost.
4 stars - Outstanding. Certainly not a disappointment, but I wasn't compelled to leap to my feet at the end of the performance.
3 stars - Entertaining. Nothing spectacular, but nothing disappointing either.
2 stars - I came. I saw. I left. Worth the price of admission, if admission were free.
1 star - Someone might like this, but not I. I wouldn't go back by choice, but not quite bad enough I'd get up and walk out.
0 stars - "Make it stop!" "Now there's two hours of my life I won't be getting back." Deporable. Nobody should be subjected to this.

Back to my week... on Wednesday night I went and saw the touring production of Wicked, the musical based on the book that is sort of a prequel to the Wizard of Oz. This show was absolutely amazing. This show had a 10 night run in Seattle and has been completely sold out for months, and there's a very good reason why. Absolutely one of the finest musicals I've seen come through town. An unconditional 5 out of 5 stars.

And last night I went down to Benaroya Hall for the Seattle Symphony's pops concert with all George Gershwin music. The highlight was the performance of Rhapsody in Blue with the guest pianist who was fabulous. The rest of the performance was also very good. This is a tough call on how many stars to give it... so I'm going to give it 4-stars. The Rhapsody in Blue performance was easily a 5-star performance, but the others were good, and didn't disappoint, though not as amazing. I need to reserve my 5-star rating, it just wouldn't be right to give it out too often. :)

With that, I've had enough to say now. There, I blogged, everyone who reads this happy now? Good. :)

Friday, September 01, 2006

Consumer profiling

As anyone who has purchased anything on in the past knows, once you start buying (or even just browsing their site), they start "consumer profiling" you. They want to know what you look for when you're shopping online, so that they can point you towards other items you might be interested in but didn't think to look for yourself.

This is good in principle, I suppose, if not a little creepy. Of course they do this by trying to match your shopping patterns up with similar people shopping on Amazon. Say Jimmy-Bob in Texas buys Season One of the West Wing on DVD, as well as a Black & Decker toaster. And say several other people do the same thing. Suddenly Amazon sees that I've bought The West Wing on DVD, and what do they start recommending for me? You guessed it, toasters. What does the West Wing have to do with toasters? About as much as Joan Rivers has to do with "natural beauty". But Amazon's magic consumer profiling algorithms will make the link and suddenly think it's all related.

The example I just gave was fabricated, yet typical of the types of things that happen. But to give a real example, Amazon also looks at what you buy, and recommends similar things that you might be interested in. About a year ago, I bought a new video cable on Amazon to connect to my TV. I just needed one cable and decided to buy it online since it was cheaper. Now, however, Amazon thinks I'm a connoisseur of fine video cables or something. Not a month has gone by where I didn't get an e-mail advertisement from Amazon for some cable (even the same as the one I already have, perhaps I need another?). When does the madness stop?

The big question is: does it work? Have I bought something on Amazon that I didn't realize I needed until Amazon pointed it out to me? Yes. I'm sad to say it's true. Probably for every recommendation that completely misses the mark, there are 3 or 4 that are dead-on accurate. I guess nothing's perfect, you just notice the few inaccuracies far more than the majority of the correct ones. And maybe -- just maybe -- it's time for me to buy a new toaster.