Transplanted Life
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Christmas '08
Man, I missed a whole holiday there. Thanksgiving wasn't terribly exciting, though.

The big present under the tree this year wasn't really a surprise - Kate and I split a Blu-ray player and a bunch of movies. She took a little convincing, of course - as much as she likes movies, she's not nearly as big on the technical stuff as me, and she didn't really think that there was that much difference between it and DVD. She's not alone, and no amount of me throwing numbers and specs at her was going to convince her.

So, I kind of tricked her. I bought a cheap HD DVD player and movies off eBay, and once we sat down to watch some of those, she was noticing the difference. For a while, picking up really cheap movies as various places cleared out their inventory was enough - truth be told, it's kind of ridiculous what you can get. The 1920x1080 resolution of HD isn't that far off from the digital projection in a movie people that some folks inexplicably prefer to film, and it doesn't take a lot of searching to find HD DVDs that sell for less than a ticket to see the movie in theaters would have cost. Anyway, that was fun for a while, but when Criterion started releasing Blu-rays, that was game over; she had to have Chungking Express.

Oddly enough, she still doesn't think the improved picture is quite as amazing as I do, but she really likes the improved sound. I tend to think that the whole lossless audio thing is 50% placebo effect - you tell someone the quality is improved, and they'll convince themselves that they hear it - although if that was true, you'd think people would be snapping them up for the video, too. My pet theory on that is that audio lets people convince themselves that they're special - anyone can see an improvement when when the picture's got six times as many pixels, but noticing a difference that is well past most benchmarks for human hearing? Only the selected few can do that.

Still, Kate's reaction to certain movies on HD just re-establishes how cool she is: She does dig that HD is good enough that you can actually see the grain structure of the film. I've talked to a bunch of people who see HD and want it all to be smoothed out and look like the Discovery Channel, as opposed to, you know, what film looks like.

So, pretty normal Christmas, as such things go. For me, at least. For others, it was a bit odd.

Telly and Amy, for instance, flew out to California so that the Sanadas could meet their biological daughter's boyfriend. It's not that Amy and they are particularly close - she really does tend to stay away - but they still wanted to meet. As Telly explained it, when you're one defective condom away from having grandchildren, it's good to have a handle on everyone involved.

I get that. As much as my mother tells me that the nine months she spent carrying Carter's body doesn't compare to the years she spent raising me (a tremendous simplification, but I certainly like to hear it), she does keep tabs on him, Nat, and her grandson.

Telly found the whole thing sort of surreal, even beyond what anyone connected to Amy's and my lives sees on a regular basis. Of course, part of it is that Telly has never flown before, and he found that pretty crazy, both being up in the air and the entire airport experience. I told him he should try international travel, and he didn't even want to think of it.

The visit itself was uncomfortable; Mrs. Sanada doesn't speak much English, and though Amy has been taking some language courses, it was hard to communicate without her father working as an intermediary. The whole thing was kind of awkward, not like any "meet the parents" he's ever done, more like two sets of strangers, one trying to force themselves to worry about the other's feelings and the other trying to do the opposite.

On the other hand, they got lost often enough to confirm that Amy didn't have any residual knowledge of the city from before. One down, she says, and the rest of America to do.


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