Automatic shower cleaner

A few weeks ago we were at Target and stumbled upon this:

Automatic shower cleaner

Now this appealed to me in a number of ways.

  1. It is gadgety in nature.
  2. It hangs (nod to Andy V. and Jon M.).
  3. It simultaneouly appeals to both my desire for cleanliness and my laziness in regards to doing work to achieve said cleanliness.

You know those products you can buy that you spray after you shower that prevent residue from accumulating? This is basically that packaged with a little battery-operated rotating sprayer that hangs from your shower head. There are two bottles of cleaning solution included with it. You pop in one bottle of cleaner and the included AA batteries and hang it from your shower head. When you are done with your shower, you press the Blue button and the unit beeps for 15 seconds, giving you ample time to get out of the shower and perhaps have a “Lost”-like moment where you contemplate if pressing the button really does anything (note: you do not have to press the button every 108 minutes). After 15 seconds, a nozzle thing rotates around and sprays your shower with showercleanery goodness. You can certainly hear the sound of something happening but if you have your doubts, you can do like I did and stand on your toilet and watch the thing go to work. It’s not exactly the Fountains of Bellagio, but it’s kind of fun to watch once or twice.

Yeah, you could just buy one of those shower cleaners in a spray bottle and spray it around after your shower, but my experience was that I would buy those and then use them two or three times and then forget about them. For some reason, we enjoy pressing the Blue button and we’ve been doing it for two weeks, so this is clearly superior. Interestingly enough, and I am not making this up, one of the things in our shower that is getting cleaned is a bottle of one of those primitive manual shower cleaners, an irony that was lost on me until my wife pointed it out to me five minutes ago. What’s more they have a web site ( and we all know that any product that has a web site has got to be a pretty respectable product.

Suggestions for American Idol

I enjoy American Idol, but it also annoys me.

First off, they must lose those cheesy Ford commercials. Aside from giving absolutely zero useful information to a prospective car buyer, the stupid campy themes and the silly costumes and even sillier plastered on smiles just really grate on me. If one of the purposes of commercials is to create in your mind an image, then I must say that those commercials have convinced me that Ford is something like a circus, without the acrobatics and juggling. Ford Motor Company, if you’re listening, please know that I’m not particularly interested in Ford automobiles at the moment, but if I were, those commercials surely would’ve changed my mind, as I don’t think I could sleep at night knowing that I subsidized such silliness.

Second, their voting system seems whacked. There is just something wrong with having people vote for their favorite and then kicking off the person with the lowest number of votes. It seems like a logical system, what’s wrong with it? Well, let’s see, the 5 or 6 times that somebody was kicked off which was such an obvious shock that they had to just about apologize and warn us that we must never assume our favorites are safe and we must continue to vote for them. The American public remembers these warnings for probably 1 week and then we revert to taking it for granted that everyone realizes that our favorite is the best. The problem is that with the current system, people tend to choose between two strategies: voting for their favorite or voting to save the person who is not the best but appears to be in danger of leaving the show. The latter could be called “the sympathy vote” and it leads to people neglecting the obvious favorites out of the false assumption that everyone else will vote for them. It seems to me to be not unlike UI design: if users continually don’t grasp the system, then you should fix the system rather than trying to fix the users. Consider the classic UI design Principle of Least Astonishment — the assertion that the most usable system is the one that least often leaves users astonished. American Idol astonishes the American public all too often, and not in good ways. E.g.: the untimely departure of Chris Daughtry (my one consolation is that Chris no longer has to appear on those inane aforementioned Ford commercials). My idea is to have us vote for the person that should be kicked off – more straightforward, no surprises. I know you’re probably thinking that this is just too sadistic and that soccer moms and teenagers (particularly renowned for their emotional sensitvity and aversion to any form of cruelty) won’t take to it. I think it will work. Look up schadenfreude. The word is imported from Germany, but unlike wienerschnitzel, I think we can really master this one.

Third, after singing covers for a season, at the end of the show the final two sing “their first singles”. These songs inevitably sound like they were dispensed from some kind of pop single vending machine. The algorithm for creating such songs seems to boil down to something like this:

  1. Choose theme and lyrics that epitomize achieving one’s greatest dreams. Good words to use here: dreams, passion, faith, high, soaring, eagles, and clouds. Words to avoid: failure, disappointment, death, politics, and taxes.
  2. Choose a random Celine Dion song, take the chords and apply them to step 1. Michael Bolton also would work quite well here. The singer, not the character from the movie Office Space.
  3. Make sure that song begins soft and slow and builds to a magnificient crescendo.
  4. When song has reached the absolute peak of above-mentioned crescendo, now it’s time to append a key change.
  5. Now that the key change has kicked in and the answer to the question “how much higher could this song go?” is “none more higher”, it’s time to bring out the choir of gospel singers. If anyone in the audience is still left standing, then those ladies in long blue gowns will finish the job. Blue is critically important for the color of the gowns as it is the wavelength of light that induces awe.
  6. Note that pyrotechnics and confetti are great, but should only be used once the winner of the show has been proclaimed. Visual effects are great, but should be saved for the finale. Personally, I think a dancing gorilla could really put things over the top here, but no one has been brave enough to try this yet.

Still a yankee

After seeing this on Jeff’s blog, I decided to take the test myself and got pretty similar results, which I guess is not too surprising since Jeff is originally from New Hampshire and I’m originally from New York and we both now live in the Silicon Valley of California.

Your Linguistic Profile::

50% General American English
30% Yankee
15% Dixie
0% Midwestern
0% Upper Midwestern


Tonight we watched 3 more episodes of Firefly, a defunct sci-fi/western show, the predecessor of the movie Serenity (which we plan to watch after watching all the episodes of Firefly). Firefly is the work of Joss Whedon, who is probably most famous for Buffy the Vampire Slayer (which I have never watched).

It’s an interesting show in that it’s futuristic and involves spaceships but it also has a distinctive Western feel to it, featuring twangy music, bar brawls, cattle driving, outlaws, and train robberies. If that’s not weird enough, the characters occasionally speak snippets of Chinese (usually in place of where expletives would go – apparently the reason for this is that in the futuristic world of the show, the reigning government is an alliance between the U.S. and China). Some of tonight’s episodes threw in some other elements like stiff Victorian style soirees and a Salem-style witch hunt.