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   Six Feet Under finale revisted
Monday, November 28 2005
This afternoon I re-watched that final episode of Six Feet Under, the one with Clare climbing into her brand new Toyota Prius and driving across the desert while all of the future is rapidly inflicted on the show's main characters. I can't help but cry when I watch that five minutes of mind blowing television. It's hard to say what makes the finale so powerful: my attachment to the characters, the music (Sia's "Breathe Me"), or the juxtaposition of the sped-up desert highway with a car so futuristic it could lie at any point in whatever anyone can imagine of America's future. Talk about product placement, that scene was a hell of coup for Toyota. I hope they paid HBO handsomely for it. (They didn't.) The Prius is there in all its fetishistic minutia: the dashboard power button, the tiny joystick gearshift, and that silent taxi down the driveway before leaping into the buffeting winds of all that will come to pass.
I'd like to return for a moment to the song that played during that final scene. In the show it was billed as the opening track on a mix CD-prepared by Clare's Rebublican boyfriend and future husband (whom she labels as "the most deeply un-hip person I've ever met"). As the song begins, our expectations couldn't be lower; the last time Clare's boyfriend's musical interests were discussed he was listening to Christian music. But soon it's clear that this is an achingly beautiful song, and it only gets better. The moody piano swells into an atmospheric dirge, is joined by a drum kit, and it becomes the perfect soundtrack for a scene featuring a futuristic car racing across America's desert to a rendezvous with inevitable death.
I had to go download Sia's "Breathe Me" and add it to the other stuff I've been listening to the past couple of days: a band called Jets Overhead and the only Death Cab for Cutie song I like: "Soul Meets Body." Jets Overhead is a straight-ahead rock and roll band with that sensitive, introspective vibe I love. Some of the straight ahead quality veers into the cliché, but they have a way of milking originality out of simple songs, stuff that reminds me of early 60s bubblegum pop (by way of Fleetwood Mac, then the Byrds, and then Joy Division). Some measure of their charm might simply be the muddy nature of their production values. For those who are interested, the bulk of their work is available as free MP3 downloads from their site.

At a client's house today I experienced a strangely unfixable problem. In Internet Explorer (Windows XP SP_2) the computer couldn't connect to any sites that began with https://, and in Firefox all sites (regardless of protocol) came back with a "Connection Refused" error. So I checked IE's settings to make sure all the security checkbox bullshit was checked (it was). And then I turned off any firewalls I could find (as with nearly all computers I see these days, there were several of them, all redundant wastes of computer resources). I never did fix the problem, though I did figure out a way to connect to secure sites using a proxy server in Australia.

Today I added hysteresis to all the comparators of my solar heat sufficiency control circuitry. I did this by feeding the output of the comparators to their positive inputs through 1.5 mega ohm resistors. According to the circuits I studied online, this will cause the comparators to be less responsive to small fluctuations in the input signals. Now they should switch on only after the temperature has risen some number of degrees into the on-switchable range, and then they should be resistant to switching off until the temperature has fallen some number of degrees into the off-switchable range.
I thought of automated ways for allowing the sufficiency circuitry to poll the thermistors every few seconds for resistance data and then freeing them the balance fo the time to be polled by the digital thermometers, but to make such a circuit I would have needed a 4016 quad bilateral switch, which I couldn't find in my IC collection. So I tabled the idea for the time being.

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