Thursday, April 28, 2005

Homework: Click This Link!

This week, Scalzi gives us another one of those assignments that I just couldn't wait to go home and write up:

Weekend Assigment #57: Share some of your favorite Journals, Blogs and Web sites not on AOL Journals. Come on, we know you go off the school grounds from time to time. Tell us where you go. 'Cause we want to go, too. Even just one pick is fine (no more than five, though. Pick the best to share). Also, just in case this was a temptation, my site off AOL should not be one of your selections.

Extra credit: Find a link you think your mother might like. What is it?

Can do.  I really don't read many blogs off AOL.  I keep up with a lot of my friends on private message boards -- which, in their own way, are somewhat journally.  (Shout out to any of my friends from over there who may be lurking here.)  But there are an awful lot of websites I visit frequently, which I am more than happy to plug to the great AOL-J reading public.

Item:  Television Without Pity  It's a no-miss if you watch TV with that special love/hate relationship many of us have with our idiot boxes.  If you ever miss an episode of your favorite show, just go here and you'll find such an incredibly detailed summary, you'll feel like you've actually watched it.  Well, no, you'll feel like you've actually watched it with some of your smart-mouthed friends.  Television Without Pity is heavy on the snark.  For example, in this week's summary of the American Idol results show, after indicated Constantine is sent home, the summary reads, "Paula ages, seriously, eight years in the moment this occurs."  Cracked me up something wicked.  Note for the TOS-concerned:  many bad words here.

Item:  Rotten Tomatoes  Sure, when a movie is coming out, you can take a look at what one critic has to say ... or even two or three.  Rotten Tomatoes combines hundreds of critics' reviews in a handy, easy-to-digest format, letting you know the overall percentage of critics who think a movie is good (fresh) or bad (rotten).  It also includes a choice line from each review.  Look up the reviews for rotten movies, they havesome of the BEST slams.

Item:  The Straight Dope  The online home of columnist Cecil Adams.  Cecil Adams will answer questions on any subject, and he'll research or experiment his way to the answer.  Also funny as hell.  I often find myself just pawing through his old columns -- reading answers to questions I would have never thought to ask.  (Also, Cecil seems to have attracted a fairly high level of intelligent commentary in his message boards, which have a much better content-to-junk ratio than a lot of what you'll find on, dare I say it, AOL boards.)

Item:  TalkinBroadway  Because I am a theatre geek.  Sure, I could get my theatre news from any number of Broadway sites, but TalkinBroadway's message boards also give you the rumors and the gossip -- and isn't that half the fun?

Item:  Decent Deals  There are a lot of websites out there that purport to list sale prices and freebies -- the problem is, you don't know which ones to trust.  Decent Deals was started up by one of them dudes I know from a private message board, and I know he's genuinely in this to help you out -- not to make a commission or steer you toward anyone's lousy products.  He just lists good deals he knows about (heavy on the tech, but not exclusively so) -- and updates the site more or less daily.  I've bought stuff he's linked to easily half a dozen times, and the site is always worth a quick peek.  (Except now -- for some reason, it's down tonight.  Boo.)

Extra Credit:  A link my mother might like.  Heh, that's an easy one.  Acme Klein Bottles  This because my mother is a certified math geek and has, for years (actual years) wanted a Klein Bottle of her very own.  (When I found the site a few weeks ago, I was so excited to tell her!)  Just goes to show you can get anything on the internet.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Bowling and Slide Rules

Went bowling the other day.  It was at one of those hip, modern lanes where everything is computerized.  Everything.  Hell, you could just touch a button to make little barriers pop up to prevent your ball from going into the gutter.  Saw some kid's ball zig-zagging all the way down the lane, bouncing off those barriers three times before it finally hit the pins.  It wasn't bowling, it was billiards.

What got me, though, was the computerized score-keeping.  They didn't have that when I was a kid -- I grew up actually knowing how to keep score.  And I realized all these kids (and plenty of the adults, too) really have no idea how to score a game of bowling, and would be totally lost dealing with someone getting two marks in a row if the scoring computer suddenly broke down.  And I felt sad about it.

Not because these folks couldn't score their own game at an old-fashioned lane, but because they just don't have the understanding of how this system works -- which will ultimately lessen their appreciation of the game.  Sure, they're all about knocking down as many pins as possible, but there's a little more to it than that.  You should be able to watch two guys bowling and know exactly what one guy needs to do to be able to win the game -- you should be able to figure this in your head, rather than waiting to see the score appear on the computer screen above.

I started thinking about all my math teachers who banned calculators from the classroom.  I always hated when they did that -- I figured, "hey, there's this perfectly good tool here to do the grunt work for you, why not let the tool do it?"  But they wanted me to learn how to do stuff the hard way first -- to have an understanding of the steps the tool was bypassing.

And when I see bowling scorekeeping going the way of the slide rule, I have a newfound respect for the calculator-haters.  It may seem like a small, insignificant thing, but we're definitely raising a generation of kids who have no idea how to keep score bowling -- and I can't help but think the lack of knowledge is their loss.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Me Time

I was (understandably) a little peeved about that whole car estimate thing (see below).  I mean, you walk into a shop expecting to leave the car for a few days for a $1000 repair and the dude comes back with an estimate that is way outside of your ballpark -- and you start thinking about where else you can take the car for an estimate, and why on earth didn't you take that woman's contact info., and maybe this is a sign that it's time to start shopping for a new car anyway ... and next thing you know you've tied yourself into a pretzel and you wake up at 4:30 in the morning with the sudden urge to comparison shop on

Yeah.  That's me.

So, Saturday, I'm in my what-am-I-going-to-do-about-the-car daze and I decide to just do a little something for me.  See, there's this particular exhibit I wanted to see at a gallery downtown near where I work.  Over the past couple months I'd tried to get a group of co-workers to go down there over our lunch hour, but the timing never worked out and the exhibit was closing on Saturday.  I was all set to give it a pass this year, but after the experience at the body shop, I figured I needed to center myself by taking a good look at ...

Movie costumes!

Our good pals at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising do an exhibit of movie costumes every year.  They include the five films nominated for the Oscar for costume design, as well as maybe 20 others.  The Doc Oc, pictured above, was particularly impressive.  (You can see the whole collection online here.  All the movie titles are links to the costumes.)  You're not allowed to touch them or take your own photographs, but you could get scarily close -- close enough to see all them little wires and switches in Doc Oc's mechanical arms.  Way cool.

Took me awhile to drive down there, and I wasn't at all sure it was a good idea until I walked in and found myself face to face with these guys

(The exhibit always has one carryover from the previous year -- the Academy Award winner -- in this case, Return of the King.)  Don't know why being face to big-scary-black-hole-where-a-face-ought-to-be with an Orc King was somehow comforting -- but as soon as I saw it, I just felt like I was exactly where I ought to be.

Saturday, April 23, 2005


A coupla weeks ago, this lady rear-ends me.  Well, not this lady.  Some lady.  I actually have no idea who she is, a fact which will come back to haunt me later in the story.  Because, you see, I let her go without taking her number, because I didn't really see any damage to my car.

Let's all hope that this lady "pays forward" my act of stupidit-  kindness.

Took the car to the shop today, to get an estimate on the itty bitty dent you could hardly even see.

As long as I was there, I thought I'd get an estimate on the old scratch.  OK, scratches.  Several months ago, there was an unfortunate incident with a post in the parking garage.  Good thing I have dent-resistant doors -- but they do scratch something wicked.  Anyway, I thought I'd get both things taken care of at once.

Estimator Guy asked who my insurer was.  I told him I was taking care of this myself.  He asked why.  I said that I had a $1000 deductible and I didn't expect the repairs to be much more than that.  He, at first, agreed.

But, he had to take a closer look.  And, y'know, he promised me an estimate for how much it would cost to fix it right.  I asked if he would also give me an estimate to "do a half-assed job."  He laughed, and declined.

He went into his little room and punched everything in the computer.  Came back with a total estimate of ...

are you ready?


Split pretty much evenly between the dent and the scratches.  I think he may have been, er, how to put this delicately... padding slightly.  I mean, the scratches are on the side rear door.  He put in the estimate labor for removing and re-installing the side mirror.  (Which would be, y'know, on the front door.)  Because, to do it right, he'd have to repaint the front door too.  To make sure the color matches perfectly.  And, of course, he'd have to take off the mirror to do that.  Riiiiight.

He then suggested that Isubmit a claim to my insurance.  He encouragingly pointed out that I'd only have to pay the deductible and my insurance would eat the rest.  I declined.  "Why don't you want to submit it?" he pried.  "Have you made a lot of claims?"  (This question guaranteed he lost my business -- even if he hadn't lost it with the estimate.)

My car is five-and-a-half years old.  Its Blue Book value is about $5000.  This moron expects me to put $3500 into a fixing cosmetic damage to a perfectly drivable $5000 car.


Watching Jurassic Park 3 on TV...

Here's the thing:  If you ever just happen to find yourself in Jurassic Park, do whatever Sam Neill tells you.

(Who ARE these idiots?  He says "run," they stay.  He says "don't move," they run.  And of course the guy that clocked him on the head is first in line to get eaten.  People, people, people, listen to the dinosaur expert.  Sheesh.)

Friday, April 22, 2005

This week's homework: Futureworld!

For this week's homework, Scalzi asks:

Weekend Assignment #56: What will the Earth be like 50 years from now? Will global warming have swamped Florida? Will we switch to new energy sources? Will the people of the world be more prosperous, or will they be mired in a world of trouble. Look forward and predict what our children -- and their children -- will have to look forward to in 2055.

Extra Credit: Name one thing from today that people will be nostalgic for in 2055.

Reminds me of an assignment I did in Sixth grade.  We were supposed to partner up with another student and make a little model of a house from some other time or place.  Everyone else made log cabins, farm houses, or igloos.  My friend and I made an elevated transparent pod and labelled it "The future."  I'm not sure I really imagined houses of the future would look like that, but it saved us from having to do any research beyond watching "The Jetsons."

Where was I?  Oh, right, future.  Thinking about what has happened in the last fifty years, and the projecting those trends out into the future, I imagine the planet will have gotten, as they say, even smaller.  We've made such MASSIVE strides in communication, and I think that will continue.  I mean, someone is opening an internet cafe on Mount Everest -- I think that, fifty years from now, pretty much everyone on the planet will be carrying a cell phone that never loses a signal.  Travel has also gotten massively faster and cheaper in the last five decades, and I'd like to think technological advances will make that trend continue as well.

It would, of course, be incredibly spiffy if increased communication and transportation led to peace and love and solving the world's problems -- but we'll probably be just as messed up as we are now, only with better toys.

Extra Credit:  In 2055, people will be nostalgic for "the good old days, when you voted by pulling a lever or pushing a hole through a ballot."

Thursday, April 21, 2005

The TOS thing

The following is a comment I wanted to leave on Scalzi's Journals and TOS entry.  Unfortunately, it was over the 2000-character limit, so I'm just moving it here as a post.  If you haven't been following the story... a journaler had his journal permanently deleted for an alleged TOS-violation ... excepting it turned out that it wasn't a TOS violation at all.

So I said...

The thing that absolutely made my blood run cold about this was that an entire journal was deleted and can never be brought back.  When we all signed up with AOL, we agreed to TOS, but I honestly don't remember any agreement that 18 months worth of perfectly acceptable posts could be deleted based on a single TOS offense.

Of course, the fact that it WASN'T a TOS offense makes AOL comes out smelling none too rosy on this.  But I can make allowances for that.  That was a mistake, a misinterpretation, perhaps someone a little overenthusiastically jumping the gun.
(Of course, the fact that the journal was permanently deleted for a nonoffense is a pretty good illustration of why permanent journal deletion absolutely should NOT be used as a first-line penalty -- because mistakes CAN be made.)  But, I don't want to get caught up on the innocence issue here.  The fact is, the REST of the journal WAS completely non-offending.  I can't really see ANY good reason why AOL couldn't simply delete the offending entry when the CAT is convinced there's been a violation.  Seriously -- delete the entry you have trouble with and send the offender an email pointing out the offense (not just saying "go read TOS again") so that it doesn't get repeated.  We all WANT to be in compliance here.  Removing an entire journal is simply too draconian of a punishment even IF there was, in fact, a TOS violation.

The lesson that I'm afraid people will take from this is that if they want to protect their journals from permanent deletion is to never discuss any controversial topics which might upset anyone and trigger a superficially-plausible TOS-report.  We'll end up with an AOL-J community that is nothing more than a lot of teen idol adoration and pet pictures.

I appreciate AOL's Terms of Service and its desire to have AOL be a family-friendly sort of place.  But I also appreciate that AOL seems to want to encourage us to discuss controversial topics in our journals -- and with that has to come an understanding on their part that sometimes the marketplace of ideas isn't always PRETTY.  If AOL truly wants AOL-J to be a place for OUR thoughts and opinions, AOL has to have a TOS enforcement system that isn't so arbitrary it stifles speech.

Monday, April 18, 2005

It's a space heater!

In the comments for the photographic entry just two entries down from here, I was asked (twice!) what that white item on the dresser is.

Surprising that, with all the fascinating stuff in the curio cabinet (is that a fan?  Yes, it is) you'd ask about something as exciting as a space heater, but, there it is.

My bedroom window is huge.  (The photo shows only two panels of shutters -- there's a total of four panels.)  And cold air gets in there.  And, seeing as the bed is near the window, it's pretty cold at night.  I keep the space heater blowing a nice warm stream of air between the window and the bed, and that pretty much does the trick.

Well, it did the trick until I went out and invested in the shutters -- which (when closed, obviously) do a good job of keeping the cold weather out of my warm, cozy sleeping environment.

However (no story is simple in these parts), I sleep with the bedroom door closed, and the central heating circulation isn't the best.  So, sometimes I use the space heater to warm my room rather than cranking the central heat up to 90.  Seems a more efficient way of heating the space.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

It's Two- Two- Two Assignments in One

For this week's homework, Scalzi asks:

>Weekend Assignment #55: The IRS, in its infinite wisdom, is allowing you to deduct one thing from your taxes that you haven't been able to deduct before -- anything you'd like. What do you deduct and why? Yes, anything. And your reason for deducting it doesn't even have to be good -- this isn't an audit, you know. I'm just curious as to what you'd pick.

Extra Credit: Do you wait until the last minute to do your taxes? Or did you have them done ages ago?<

My answer to this, sadly, is duller than dirt.  I would deduct all "miscellaneous deductions" without subjecting them to the 2% limit.  Oooo.  I know you're just falling over yourselves with glee at the possibility.

The thing is, every year I hunt down my receipts for the miscellaneous deductions -- the safety deposit box rental, the cost of the TurboTax, all that junk -- and, every year when I type those suckers in, I cannot take the actual deduction because they end up way under the limit.

It isn't like I care all that much about the amount -- it's less than $100, after all (the difference in my taxes, obviously, would be substantially less than that).  It's just all that time that's spent on gathering all that stuff together for what is ultimately no freakin' deduction.  Annoying.

Oh, and I filed early this year.  I actually received my refund check before April 15 -- I believe that's the first time in my life that I managed that one.

So, OK, boring answer.  But this week's assignment does remind me of another answer I had for last week's assignment -- the "Words of Wisdom" one.  And that is:  Be scrupulously honest on your taxes.

I admit, there's probably a little larceny in all of us.  And everyone draws "the line" someplace different.  Do you tell your waiter when he forgot to charge you for your Coke?  Do you tell someone when you found a ten-dollar bill in the street?  Everyone's had to make these calls, or ones like them, and we've all considered erring in our own favor now and again.

But my advice is simply not to do that on your taxes.  Do not mess with the Feds on this one.  If you're going to err, err on the side of the government.  Make it so that, if you're ever audited, the agent will come back to you with a sheepish grin and a check in your favor.  I'm serious, people.  There's a place and a time for lying, but it ain't on your 1040.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Tuesday, April 12, 2005


The AOL news screen has a story about Wisconsin debating cat-hunting.  (I'm posting this entry quick, so no time for a link.)

The theory, I guess, is that all those feral wild cats on the streets are killing off songbirds (and are otherwise a danger).

So they'd like to pass a law that a cat on the street ... even a domestic cat if it lacks a collar ... can be considered unprotected small game and ripe for the huntin'.

Now, of course, as a cat owner, you can prolly guess where my sympathies lay on this one.  I would hate to think that someone's nice, sweet, feline companion would get killed by accident.

But, as a more practical matter, I don't think the fine folks in Wisconsin who are working on this law understand the details of the relationship between a cat and a cat-collar.

To wit:  cat collars are MADE to be escapable.  A dog can't get out of his collar.  A cat can.  And that's the way it ought to be.  Cats can get caught in things, and they need to be able to wriggle out of their collars if necessary.  I'd feel really bad for the poor kitty in Wisconsin that freed itself from being caught on a fence only to get shot because it lost its collar in the process.

Moreover, lots of cats don't LIKE collars.  Conveniently, technology has provided an exception -- that cat chip.  My cat has one.  An itty bitty chip was planted (with an awfully big syringe) in between my kitty's shoulder blades.  If she ever runs away (gasp! no!) and the shelter picks her up, the first thing they'll do is scan her (kinda like Maggie Simpson in the opening credits) and they'll know she belongs to me.  She's an indoor cat and, hopefully, won't ever get outside.  But I've taken this extra measure of protection so that she'll be sufficiently labelled, without having to deal with the discomfort of a collar on a daily basis.

Since technology has advanced to the point where collars are not necessarily an identifying feature of a domestic housecat, it's silly to assume non-collared cats don't belong to anyone.  And it's downright dangerous to say you can go out and kill 'em.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Tech Support

Here's the scenario:  I have a DVR.  It lets you record two things at once.  (That's one of its many benefits.)  I set it to tape all episodes of the shows I like to watch.  Because I don't entirely trust it, I verify its programming every week.  This week, it decided it was going to tape "House" on Tuesday at 9, but overlooked "Amazing Race" in the same time slot.  When I manually tried to add "Amazing Race," it said, "You cannot record three things at once, which one do you want to delete?"  Then it gave me a choice of deleting either "House" or "Amazing Race."  You will note that there were only TWO progams there.  I tried deleting both programs and starting again, but each time, it thought the two programs were three and wouldn't let me record both. 

With me?

Tech support wasn't.

I called the Tech support guy.  He had a heavy Indian accent, so I suspected my cable company had outsourced DVR Tech support and I was actually talking to a dude in India.  Which is all well and good, but he probably doesn't know what "House" is.

ANYWAY, he asks me what the problem is, and I launch into the story.  The upshot of which is " I'm only trying to record TWO shows at once, and it keeps thinking there's THREE so won't let me add the second."  All during the tale, he's saying, "Mm-hmm" and giving me the impression he actually understands what I'm saying. 

Then he comes up with, "You cannot record three programs at once; you have to delete one."

Am I talking to myself here?  I get visions of using email tech support, where you get back a form answer that has some vague relationship to some of the key words in your request, but really does nothing to answer your question. 

I say:  I know.  I'm only trying to record two.  It won't let me do this.  It thinks two are three.

Him:  Look at your scheduled recording list.  Is there anything there?

Does he think I'm a TOTAL moron?

Me:  Only one in that time slot.  Then I try to add the second, and it won't let me.

This does not compute, apparently.

Him:  No.  Hit your "schedule recording list."  Is there anything there?

I roll my eyes.

Me:  Of course there's stuff there.  There's a whole week worth of recordings in there.  But there is only ONE program in this time slot. 

Him:  The one you are trying to add is at the same time on a different channel?

(No.  It's the same time on the same channel.  I'm really impressed by ABC's ability to broadcast two things during the same time slot.  Geez, ya bonehead, what kind of question is that?)

Me:  Yes.  Same time, different channel. 

Him:  And there's nothing else in your scheduled programs for that time?

Me:  Yes.

HIm:  That's strange.  It isn't supposed to do that.

Me:  I know.  That's why I'm calling you.


Saturday, April 9, 2005

Be honest. How far have you gone?

When I'm out of toilet paper, I use Kleenex.

When I'm out of Kleenex, I've been known to use napkins.

When I'm out of napkins ... well, I would probably go to paper towels, but I've never actually had to find out.

How far down the list of Toilet Paper Substitutes have you gone?

Thursday, April 7, 2005

This week's homework: Advice

For this week's homework, Scalzi asks:

Weekend Assignment #54: Tell us all a single piece of wisdom you've learned from personal life experience. It can be a small thing, it can be a big thing, a simple tip or trick or the most important thing you've ever learned from life. But whatever it is, you should be able to state it in one sentence. That way people will remember it easier.

Extra Credit: Tell us: Would you have listened to your own bit of advice as a teenager? Be honest, now.

OK, here's one:  "Your parents meant well."

Now, OK, yeah, there are some exceptions.  Believe me, I know.  I work in the legal system and I see cases involving some really messed up people who truly should not be allowed to procreate.  I'm not talking about them.

I'm talking about normal, non-deranged, non-criminal parents and the garden variety things their kids blame them for -- being too restrictive; being too permissive; being hypocritical; not keeping up with the times; punishing you when you didn't do it; and so forth.

And I remember one day, when I was with a bunch of other people complaining about the various and sundry ways our parents messed up our upbringings, and I suddenly had this epiphany that they meant well.  They were doing their best.  Nobody can be perfect all the time -- especially with an inexact science like child-rearing -- and they screwed up.  They were bound to.  But it doesn't mean they weren't always trying to get it right -- and were probably beating themselves up over it when they failed.

It's amazing how much easier it is to just let go of all that baggage when you just accept that there were never any bad intentions. 

Would I have listened to this as a teenager?  Probably not.  They were out to get me.  ;)

Wednesday, April 6, 2005

Memo to the World re: last night's American Idol

To:  World

From:  NZforMe

Re:  Broadway

No.  That isn't what showtunes are supposed to sound like.

Honestly, those performances were cringe-worthy.  Can't believe how all three judges (and most of America) thinks Bo turned in a good performance last night.  The man forgot the words to the song!  If he'd started muttering lines halfway through an Eric Clapton hit, everyone would pound him for it -- but, somehow, since it's "just a showtune," he gets a free pass.  My butt.  Learn the words before you pick up the mic.

And someone should send Nadia to see "Oliver," so she has some idea what "As Long As He Needs Me" is about.  She seems to think it's about standing by your man no matter what -- and proudly tells us that she herself has been in a similar relationship.  Um, Nadia -- the character is a prostitute in an abusive relationship.  You been there?

And sweet, clueless Carrie, who tells us that Broadway songs don't come in any genre, like country.  Clearly "Annie, Get Your Gun" must be full of bland torch songs like everything else on Broadway.  Silly me.  Amazing that Reba McIntyre did such a good job starring in it.

None of this matters, though.  Enough contestants (Scott, for instance) sang so badly even an America totally unfamiliar with Broadway will surely notice.

What kills me, though, are the random message board comments I've been reading that say, "What do you expect?  The songs were lame.  Nobody can sing them well."  Um, no.  The material was fine -- with several beautiful, touching songs that, in the right hands, can move you to tears.  The problem is a group of singers with no clue how to do anything other than plant themselves center stage and try to wring the biggest notes out of the material.  That ain't singing.


Tuesday, April 5, 2005

Quick Post re: Last Night's '24'

OK, so the previews for next week's episode of '24' suggest that the next focus of the terrorists' activity is the President's "football."

At first, I thought the whole "football" thing was a concept made up by Hollywood for movies like Chain of Command.  It isn't

Funny enough, when I was looking for the title of that 'Chain of Command' movie, I found this upcoming film -- Man With the Football -- whose writers are probably pooping bricks now that the plot of their upcoming movie looks like it's going to be the next eight episodes of '24.'

Monday, April 4, 2005

More Evidence that Disney is Smart

Perhaps I should amend that.  I mean, Disney's recent failure to reach an agreement with Pixar doesn't strike me as all that bright.  But sometimes, the fine folks at Disney go out and do something brilliant.  I give you Exhibit A:

OK, the image is a bit dark, but what you're looking at is me, riding the new Buzz Lightyear ride at Disneyland.

The ride itself rocks.  Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters has been a ride at Disney World for some time, but we only just got our version in Anaheim this past month.  And it is a terrific addition to Tomorrowland.  Note the item in my hands.  A blaster.  The ride is a first-person-shooter videogame, excepting you're conveniently inside the game.  Fun?  Oh yeah.

But what's exceptionally smart about the whole venture is that photo itself.  Disney didn't make my pay for that, like they do with photos from other rides.  Instead, when you get off the ride, they have a little line of computer screens, where you are invited to pull up your photo and e-mail it to a friend.  (As you can see, it includes your score for posterity.)  And it has a link to the website promoting the ride -- where you'll soon be able to play an interactive version online.

To review, then, they've changed the whole pay-for-a-copy-of-your-photo paradigm (which probably wasn't much of a moneymaker now that everyone can snap their own digital photos with a cameraphone).  Instead, you get the photo free, and they get marketing for their new ride/interactive game.