Tuesday, December 28, 2010
I defiantly slathered the hot sauce onto a spoonful of chili. The sauce was flavorful and certainly brought the heat. I thought very little of the lingering effect as I put my coat on and prepared to stroll home. Soon, I felt as if the sauce was melting a hole through my cast iron stomach. It was a mere 20 degrees out yet I was sweating bullets. My legs began to buckle as I trudged through the snow. The only thing keeping me from collapsing into the snow was the distinct fear that I would wake up to the ghost Sir Alec Guinness telling me that I had to go to the Dagobah system.
By the time I pushed through the front door, I was crawling on the floor. I made my way to the bathroom where I ended up flushing the chili, the sauce and a large percentage of my pride down the toilet. Whatever was in that sauce was not meant to be digested by us mere mortals; it could only be consumed by Prometheus himself.
Monday, December 27, 2010
Friday, December 24, 2010
There has been quite a bit of critical panning of the film and unadulterated nerd rage over it. This is bound to happen with any "big picture" film like this. Tron: Legacy is supposed to be a look inside the head of a technocrat, and this particular technocrat is a person whose mind is a generation ahead of what most critics have any connection with. A lot of the story is in the visuals, yet people who don't pay attention to the dialog or just dismiss it as nonsense because it invokes concepts many people sneer at, such as Zen philosophy won't get the story. They will see the screenplay as vague and poorly explained.
That's not to say that the screenplay is Shakespeare. It needs some tightening up here and there. A number of things need to be justified and explained better so that an overage of thought isn't required to work backwards and rationalize why some things happened. Still, there are some great ideas here that work very well which, in some ways, makes up for a less-than-perfect script. A recurring theme in the story centers around the illusion of perfection which makes complaining about the flaws ironic if taken too far.
We also need to remember that the iconic character in the film series is not Tron (whom, granted, we see very little of), it's Kevin Flynn. He's a hero to a generation of geeks, and is the originator of the modern "space cowboy" hacker persona. I love Jeff Bridges in this film, but, let's face it, the guy is old. After so much time, we can't expect him to slip back into the role, hence the inclusion of Sam Flynn and the "Legacy" part of Tron: Legacy.
What seeing the elder Flynn does for us is give us the idea that we're on a tour of Flynn's vast imagination set in a postmodern environment that we never saw. Kevin Flynn no doubt had all sorts of adventures on the Grid that we never had a chance to witness. Because of that, there's more than a bit of sad nostalgia when we see that Kevin Flynn is past his prime.
In short, it's a beautiful, visually stunning film with a lot of subtext and more than a few flaws. However, it was worth the price of admission and, like the original, will benefit from multiple viewings.
Thursday, December 23, 2010
A few centuries ago, Christmas celebrations were little more than community-based or church-centered observations and did not approach the level of festiveness that we see today. Indeed, the were highly reverent, utterly boring observances. Christmas just wasn't considered that big of a deal after the pagans went underground and the Puritans got hold of it. Easter was the higher holy day.
All of that changed in the late 1800's after the publication of a little novel called "A Christmas Carol". You know the story. Even if you haven't read the book or haven't seen a classical movie adaptation, you must at least be aware of the Mickey Mouse or Billy Murray versions. Even Mr. Magoo blindly attempted an interpretation. Anyway, after the publication of "A Christmas Carol", Christmas had a revival. However, instead of a stolid religious observation, Christmas became a family oriented festival of generosity.
Whether or not you attach a religious significance to the holiday, the traditions that have developed over the last 100 years are important because they bring us together as a nation. Christmas has become a time where we can express our love to friends and family and recognize our good fortune in life by giving to those who are not so fortunate. It is also a time for children to bask in their innocence while allowing adults to briefly re-live those carefree days of youth.
In short, Christmas is here and it's not going anywhere. No matter which side of the argument you're on, you need to let it go. Quit yer bitching and have yourself a glass of spiked egg nog and enjoy yourself.
Monday, December 20, 2010
One of my favorite stories about lunar eclipses involves Christopher Columbus. He and his crew had been stranded in Jamaica for a few months in 1504. Initially, the natives welcomed him and his crew and provided them with food. At some point, however, the crew stole from the natives and the food shipments stopped. Consulting an almanac he had with him, Columbus noticed the date and the time of an upcoming lunar eclipse. Columbus then requested a meeting the native tribal chief and told him that his god was angry with the local people's treatment of Columbus and his men. Columbus said his god would provide a clear sign of his displeasure by making the rising full Moon appear "inflamed with wrath".
I can almost hear the chief laughing in Columbus' face. Of course, the red moon appeared on schedule, and the natives were both impressed and frightened. They came running from every direction to Columbus' ships laden with provisions, praying to Columbus to intercede with his god on their behalf. Columbus timed the eclipse with his hourglass, and shortly before the totality ended after 48 minutes, he told the frightened indigenous people that they were going to be forgiven. When the moon started to reappear from the shadow of the Earth, he told them that his god had pardoned them.
Friday, December 17, 2010
So, while wearing a goofy Santa hat and a pair of festive sunglasses, I took up the apron and bell and started my tenure as a guardian of the red kettle. Donations started coming in almost immediately. One young child passing by admonished me for not singing. I resisted the urge to sing "Hells Bells" and struggled to think of a Christmas carol that I knew all of the words to that hadn't been written by the creators of South Park. The best I could do was muddle through a few verses of "Let it Snow".
About thirty minutes into my ringing, I pivoted around wrong and aggravated a leg injury I had sustained while I was in college. I bit my lip hard to avoid screaming out in pain. I couldn't put any weight on my leg. I leaned back against the wall to balance myself, still ringing the bell. Moments later, an elderly man hobbled over to me, looked me up and down and said "You know, you're allowed to take a break, son". I smiled and indicated that I would be okay after a minute or two.
It turns out that the old timer had been a long time bell ringer for the Salvation Army but had to eventually drop out due to failing health. "It's always nice to see someone volunteer to help keep the crap pot boiling who isn't homeless or a convicted felon". He continued on to tell me about how he worried that the kettles and the ringers were becoming little more than scenery and background noise during the Christmas season. He blamed some of this on the so-called innovations that had begun to crop up. "You know, they have self-ringing kettles now? Some kettles even take credit cards", he told me.
My new friend took a moment to belt out a few verses of "Silent Night" with his towering tenor. All the while, people shuffled by. Some of them donated, some of them didn't. And before he left, the old timer gave me some advice: "Stay warm. Celebrate any donations, but don't take rejections personally. Keep a smile on your face. And, above all, keep that bell ringing". I'd say that's good advice for just about any situation.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Avid readers of this site will certainly recall examples of how this particular machine likes to troll me. So, it wasn't without a great degree of hesitation that I approached the machine. I made sure that the power was on and that the buttons were working correctly. I then opened up the beverage receptacle and ensured that there was not already a cup sitting in there, as it had happened to me before. Nervously, I put my dollar in and picked my selection. Good old 1-H-3. French Vanilla.
The machine whirred to life and I heard a cup drop down. I looked into the receptacle. Crapola! The cup was caught in the chute. With lightning reflexes, I reached into the receptacle and put the cup in its proper position just as the coffee began to flow. Thirty seconds later, I was drinking a cup of hot, delicious French Vanilla flavored coffee.
This victory alone was enough to fill me with the Christmas spirit for the next few weeks. Now, I'll have no need to visit with those three ghosts Jacob Marley keeps bothering me about.
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
A certain quote, attributed to Benjamin Franklin is making the rounds in reaction to this debate. If you've followed the debate at all, you've probably seen some variation of it: "Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety". It's a good quote. It succinctly sums up the argument against the new TSA enhanced screening procedures. The trouble is, it's not necessarily attributable to Franklin. The quote appeared in that form on the dedication page of a book titled An Historical Review of the Constitution and Government of Pennsylvania authored by Richard Jackson. The book was published by Franklin in 1759.
It would also be correct to use this specific derivative of the quote: "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety". The quote, in that form, appeared sometime in early 1775 as part of Franklin's notes for a proposition at the Pennsylvania Assembly. When he wrote it down, however, he wrote it between quotation marks. Was he intending to quote Richard Jackson? Franklin had admitted that he himself was responsible for some small parts of Jackson's book, so perhaps what Franklin write in 1775 was the quote in its true form.
The two quotes above are almost certainly descended from something Franklin wrote in Poor Richard's Almanack in 1738: "Sell not virtue to purchase wealth, nor liberty to purchase power".It doesn't quite convey the idea with the same passion as the previous quotes, but the seed had been planted, to be sure.
It's all just minutia anyway, right? The exact wording doesn't really matter so long as the thought is still conveyed correctly. What's really important, in this case, is that we ask ourselves whether or not we are willing to give up certain freedoms in order to feel secure. And, if we are indeed willing to give up those freedoms, were we truly free to begin with?
Monday, December 13, 2010
Being a computer guy is a lot like being a doctor. Customers are always asking me to diagnose their computers based simply upon a laundry list of vague symptoms. Unlike most doctors, however, I'm expected to make house calls. There just isn't enough free time in my busy schedule to allow me to visit every single client I have who has a computer problem. That's why I think that PC Remote Access is an excellent product.
Proxy Pro 7 Remote Desktop Software allows you to remote control any computer in real time that is connected to the Internet. This means that you can remote control Windows based computers as well as MACs and Linux computers. Even if that computer is hibernating, the program can take advantage of Wake-on-LAN capabilities to wake the computer up so that you can work on it remotely. And there's no need to worry if the computer is using a firewall or is hiding behind a NAT device because Proxy Pro can work right through them.
This program is ideal for people working at help desks or in any sort of distributed computing environment. And you need not worry about security because Proxy Pro 7 connects via 256-bit encryption which is the highest in its class. This means that any potential hackers who might be listening in on your network will be easily thwarted.
Using Proxy Pro instead of relying upon visiting every workstation in need is both cost effective and saves time. You don't have to take my word for it. Download the 30-day free trial and see for yourself.
Sunday, December 12, 2010
Despite its reputation for inciting spontaneous bouts of white-trash boxing matches, I figured that a party at Chuck-E-Cheese would be a cakewalk. I was more concerned about remembering to buy birthday candles and was kicking myself for waiting until we were on the way to Chuck-E-Cheese to do so. I ran in to a Wal-Mart near the Chuck-E-Cheese, grabbed a pack of candles, and was on my way to the party in no time. My parents would be meeting me there with my daughter. I arrived early in order to set things up and found that the place was packed to the gills. A feeling of dread began to sink in.
When my parents arrived with my daughter, my father looked around at the unholy human sea that surrounded all of us and said to me "Tell your mother to call me when you're done" as he turned around and walked out the door. Lucky bastard.
The insanity was kept to a minimum while my daughter and the rest of the kiddies in our party ran around playing games. Although the chaos was nowhere near the level that I had read horror stories about, I began to understand why Chuck-E-Cheese serves alcohol. Still I thought everything was going to be okay and we'd have a calm, breezy party. It wasn't until the big birthday presentation that discovered how epic a screw-up I had committed.
Just after the animatronic birthday show stopped, we lit my daughter's candles. She tried to blow them out, but they just re-lit. They then began to spark. This freaked my daughter out and she screamed louder than I had ever heard her scream. The room was packed so tight with other party goers, she couldn't get out of her chair to escape. I tried to blow out the candles myself, to no avail. It was then that I realized that, in my haste, I had bought trick candles.
"Oh crap! CRAP! CRAPOLA!!!", I exclaimed as I searched for something that would douse the flames. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a mysterious figure grabbed the cake, held it out of sight for a brief moment and returned it to the table, having extinguished the trick candles. I looked upon this figure with awe and wonder as I asked "Are....are you an angel?". It was Chuck-E-Cheese.
It's memories like these that makes me glad that I've gotten a small reprieve from the craziness of the kiddie parties. For the foreseeable future, I expect the parties to be somewhat calm affairs. That is, at least until she becomes a teenager.
Friday, December 10, 2010
This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of GlideTV. All opinions are 100% mine.
It's the Holiday Season again, and you've no doubt got a few people on your list who seem to have everything already. If that certain someone enjoys watching Internet videos, you'll want to seriously consider purchasing the GlideTV Navigator. GlideTVis for anyone who wants to connect their computer to their HDTV so that they can watch Internet videos from the comfort of their couch instead of from behind a computer screen, or, worse, hunched over a laptop.
The GlideTV Navigator acts like a remote control, replacing your keyboard and mouse. It features a sleek touchpad yet it also fits comfortably in the palm of your hand. Combined with the included software designed for your HDTV, it makes it easy to both find and watch Internet videos on your HDTV. Just connect your computer to your HDTV and let GlideTV do the rest.
Personally, I'm thinking that my father would love this. He's always watching Internet videos on his dinky little computer. Being able to watch Internet videos on his HDTV while relaxing on the couch would go a long way towards helping him relieve the stress on his lower back. And, at just $49, it makes the perfect gift.
But, don't just take my word for it. Check out GlideTV for yourself. Even better, "Like" GlideTV on Facebook and you can enter to win a FREE GlideTV Navigator to give as a gift or keep for yourself. It doesn't get any better than that!
Thursday, December 9, 2010
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
This past Sunday, my daughter and I visited the museum, took a look at all of the Christmas Trees, strolled down Yesterday's Main Street and looked at all of the cool exhibits. At the end of the day, I thought it would be nice to have a picture taken of my daughter by the huge Christmas tree in the middle of the museum. It was up on a platform which was roped off and sported several signs warning people away from sitting up on the platform. Seeing that the area was clear of museum rent-a-cops, I put my daughter up on the platform and steadied my camera for a shot. This would make a great Christmas card.
I felt a finger tap me on the shoulder. No doubt I was going to get a stern lecture from some disgruntled security guard. I steeled my nerves as I turned around. To my surprise, I was met by a kindly looking elderly lady. She commented that my daughter looked beautiful next to the Christmas tree and that I should have my picture taken with her. She offered to work the camera for me. I figured I'd let her. It would be nice to have a picture worthy of putting on the Christmas card this year. Besides, if she tried to run off with my camera, I was fairly confident I could take her in a fight.
I thanked her for her offer, handed her the camera and offhandedly said "Okay, but if security catches us, I don't know you". She looked puzzled but lined up the shot anyway. One swift click later, we were done. My daughter and I jumped down from the platform and I retrieved my camera. I thanked the nice elderly lady and walked away just in time to see a security office heading in our direction. He stopped us, motioned us back to the lady who had taken our picture and said to her "You shouldn't allow your son and granddaughter up onto the platform. It's off limits".
I smiled at him and replied "What are you talking about? I've never seen this lady before in my life. Merry Christmas to you though". With that, my daughter and I walked away, leaving the old lady and the security guard with puzzled looks on their faces.
Monday, December 6, 2010
Change your Facebook profile picture to a cartoon from your childhood. The goal? To not see a human face on Facebook until Monday, December 6. Join the fight against child abuse. Copy & paste to your status and invite your friends to do the same.
In an act of unapologetic cynicism, I changed my profile picture to one of Homer Simpson strangling Bart. As of this writing, I'm down 3 friends.
I think that the vast majority of people who are changing their profile pictures to cartoon characters are just doing so for fun, but a sizable minority actually think that they're accomplishing something. This campaign is little more than a blatant act of armchair activism that has enough people convinced that they've done something when they actually haven't done anything at all.
It is indeed a very sad thing that, at this very moment, children all over the world are being abused. However, I guarantee you that those children don't care what your favorite cartoon character is or that your changed your Facebook profile picture. But, that's not the point, right? The goal of this campaign is to raise "awareness" about child abuse. Are there people out there who aren't aware of child abuse? And what exactly is "awareness" anyway? How is it measured? How do you know when you've become more aware?
It will no doubt be argued that enough of discussion about the issue has been raised and enough people have been motivated to do a little research into child abuse and enough people have been somehow inspired to donate that the campaign served its purpose. After all, any forward movement is progress, right? I have to wonder, however if this campaign is doing more harm than good. Yes, some of the folks may be inspired, in a roundabout way, to donate to a related charity. However, I'm wondering if a greater majority of people will have felt that they have accomplished something simply by changing their profile picture and then will not be inclined to donate. Whereas, had they been approached by more traditional means, they'd have been more inclined to donate.
In the end, all of the evidence on both sides is anecdotal and this is just Facebook we're talking about anyway, so little of this really matters. Personally, it took me about two days to figure out why He-Man was going out partying Friday night, why Smurfette was home with a bad cold, why Scooby-Doo was reading "Shit My Dad Says" and why Rainbow Bright was going out to shake her bootie with her ladies.
Friday, December 3, 2010
The rep from EarnMyDegree.com was a good sport during the whole process even though it's obvious that he was incredibly uncomfortable. And he didn't seem to understand that my character is supposed to be male, despite the female sounding name.
Thursday, December 2, 2010
This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of LG. All opinions are 100% mine.
Back in June, when I attended Microsoft's Tech-Ed event in New Orleans, there was a lot talk and excitement surrounding the new Windows 7 phones. Now, just few months later, LG has launched it's first phone to utilize the Windows 7 phone OS: the LG Optimus 7 . Thanks to the blending of Windows 7 and LG's own unique technology, you'll be able to do what you want while taking fewer steps to do so. But, don't just take my word for it, check out some of the great features for yourself:
- Integration with XBOX Live and Zune services which gives you access to both your games and music.
- A 5 megapixel camera with a includes a number of technological advances straight from LG like Intelligent Shot and a Panoramic Mode. It also boasts a 16:9 aspect ratio capture and playback for shooting and viewing movies in widescreen format.
- 16GB of internal storage, which is enough to store hundreds of MP3s, hours of video and hundreds of applications.
- An extra large 1500mAh removable battery which will give you several hours to surf the internet, read some e-books or play games. And let's not forget about talk time.
- All of these features are displayed on a 3.8 inch WVGA LCD display which allows you to see every detail in a photo. This display makes the Optimus 7 large enough for so that you'll feel comfortable web surfing, yet it's still slim enough to fit in any back pocket.
Monday, November 29, 2010
Several mechanic friends have indicated to me that there must be a short somewhere in the wiring. Slamming my ass down on the driver's seat in just the right way seems to clear the short and allows the car to draw the power necessary to start. Problem is, that method has become less and less successful over the last month. I resolved to fix the issue myself yesterday after several more failed attempts to get the car to start. I inspected the wiring and traced back what I could. It was little better than a bowl of spaghetti. It had been messed with quite a bit and I could see pin-pricks in some of the wires indicating that someone had been testing them. Someone had even patched in speaker wire at some point, probably a year ago when the car was in the shop for about three days. Still, none of my tweaking did any good. I was tired, hungry, and was at wit's end.
I don't problem solve well on an empty stomach, so I hiked down to the local Walgreen's to get some snacks and clear my head. When I emerged with my Doritos and Dr. Pepper, I found myself face-to-face with a Salvation Army bell ringer. He was dressed as Santa Claus and was singing Christmas carols. With a smirk and a shrug, I figured "What the hell....I could use some good karma right now". I dug into my pockets and put all the money I had into the kettle.
As I approached my house, the Dr. Pepper putting out the fire on my taste buds that had been started by the habanero Doritos, I noticed that the hood of my car had been popped. Had I done that inadvertently while troubleshooting? I opened the driver's side door and looked in...it wasn't possible to accidentally trip the release. I took another swig of Dr. Pepper and proceeded to undo the hood's latch, raising it up so I could access the engine. For a moment, I thought about checking the fuses, but thought better of it because others more mechanically inclined than me had already done so. Out of nothing more than instinct, I pushed the battery further back into its seating. Instantly, I heard the friendly ring of the car's reminder signal telling me that I had left the keys in the ignition.
"It's ALIVE!", I exclaimed.
Sure enough, when I sat down to start the car, the beast roared to life on the first try. So, what does this mean? Does it mean that the battery clips and contacts simply need to be cleaned? Does it mean that one of the connector wires is faulty? Is there indeed a short somewhere and pushing the battery back gives the wires in question enough slack to clear the short? I don't know. What I do know is that the Saturn S series, is persnickety when it comes to anything electrical to begin with, and, whatever the problem is, it couldn't hurt to buy a little karma here and there to help get it working
Friday, November 26, 2010
This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of LG. All opinions are 100% mine.
Readers of this blog know full well about my love for the Android operating system. There are a lot of cell phones out there that use it, but none of them are like the LG Optimus One. LG just recently launched the Optimus One, which was created in order to deliver the ultimate smartphone experience while allowing for easy accessibility for the growing number of consumers looking to purchase their first smartphone. Check out some of the great features they've included:
- A lightning fast, user friendly interface which allows for two to three times faster and smoother internet browsing, web-page loading, application pop-ups and multi-tasking.
- The LG App Advisor, which will recommend 10 highly rated applications for you every two weeks.
- A camera with face tracking and smile detector technology for taking that perfect photo to post to your Facebook wall or Twitter feed.
- A 3.2" wide HVGA screen back by a 1500mAh capacity battery for long lasting power.
- Synchronization with your Outlook Calendar.
Since the LG Optimus One uses the Android 2.2 operating system, the phone is already optimized to use use popular Google apps like Google Voice, Google Goggles, Google Shopper and Google Maps with Navigation.
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Monday, November 22, 2010
|Announcing The New Enhanced Screening Procedures|
Personally, I would have found it even funnier if the fine folks over at Blizzard had added "Don't touch my junk!" to the NPCs' repository of reactions to being searched. And, although it's a tad risque, it might have been fun to have a character, while searching an NPC, automatically utter "Is that a dagger in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?"
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Do you own a home? If you do, isn't it nice to have a a warm place to spend the night? Can you even imagine having to sleep in a cardboard box or spend the night in a shelter? We Americans often take for granted the items we own and the advantages we have been given. Imagine if all of that were to be taken away from you. What would you do? Could you survive?
In order to guarantee our freedom and to protect the advantages we as American citizens have been given, our United States Veterans put their lives on the line. If you'd like to show your support, Vietnam Veterans of America is accepting car donations. Maybe you have an old car that you're trying to get rid of. Perhaps you don't want to go through the hassle of trying to sell it. If that's the case, then donating your car to Vietnam Veterans of America is a great way to get rid of that old car while helping out some of America's veterans.
For over thirty years, Vietnam Veterans of America has been supporting our veterans and their families by providing them with food and shelter. However, during these tough economic times, they are struggling to keep up with the high demand for help. In order to help raise funds and to continue meeting the challenges of providing help to our veterans, Vietnam Veterans of America is now accepting car donations. When you donate a car to Vietnam Veterans of America, you will be helping those who have given so much for us already. Your charitable gift is also eligible for an IRS tax deduction.
For instructions on how to donate a car, make sure to visit the Vietnam Veterans of America's website. Our veterans need your support and, if you have a car that you are able to donate,
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Once you get past the Monday morning hype that Steve Jobs put out there, making the Apple fanboys get their panties in a twist over what they perceived to be a forthcoming announcement regarding the next step in iPad/iPod technology, this news may seem petty. Indeed, the casual music lover probably doesn't see this as a big deal. After all, most Beatle fans probably have all of their CDs and have ripped the songs into their iTunes library already. The reason why this is newsworthy is because one of the most influential bands in the history of popular music has finally embraced digital distribution. This is an acknowledgment that using physical media to distribute music is going by the wayside. The CD isn't going to disappear anytime soon. However, when we look back upon the scrapheap of history, the Beatles showing up on iTunes will be seen as one of the major indicators that the major music labels began to concede the demise of the physical media distribution model.
Now, if only we could get The Beatles to release The White Album Demos, Live at the Hollywood Bowl and the Threetles version of Now and Then.
Monday, November 15, 2010
"I've joined the legion of neckbeards ganking noobs on Call of Duty: Black Ops multiplayer", I bragged.
"So, wait, you bought a PS3?" Jason asked.
"No...I bought Call of Duty: Black Ops for the Wii", I explained.
A huge cackle of laughter exploded from the other end of the phone. "You bought Call of Duty: Black Ops for the Wii? You may as well have bought it for an Atari 2600, or maybe the PS2".
Okay, I see his point. The Wii is an underpowered, lobotomized gaming platform that no hardcore gamer would take seriously. And the Wii version of Call of Duty: Black Ops features graphics that are inferior to the PS3 and XBOX 360 versions of the game. And, yes, the Wii version of Call of Duty: Black Ops is missing a ton of features as well, including the ultra-cool zombie map, "Five", which features JFK, Richard Nixon, Fidel Castro and Robert McNamara fighting zombies in the Pentagon.
Still, I stand by my decision. As merely a casual gamer, I don't need the ability to record entire multiplayer theater encounters or the Kill Cam so that I can review the footage later. I don't need an emblem creator and my character doesn't need custom face paint. And the PS2-era graphics don't bother me....much. Honestly, for a guy who just wants something to occupy his gaming time until World of Warcraft: Cataclysm comes out, Call of Duty: Black Ops is an excellent game for the Wii.
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Monday, November 8, 2010
In the midst of all the discourse, I made a little video blog describing the things I like about visiting home. You'll find it below, in glorious widescreen, just above a list of music I recently added to my ipod.
Recent Additions To My iPod
San Francisco - Brett Dennen
Via Con Me - Paolo Conte
Too Late For Us Now - Roger Manning
Half Of My Heart - John Mayer
Acoustic #3 - Goo Goo Dolls
In Love With A Girl - Gavin DeGraw
Your Woman - White Town
Sunrise - Simply Red
Thursday, November 4, 2010
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Nice tactic. Had it been a chillier night, this stick bug's excellent camouflage may have gotten it tossed into a bonfire.
Monday, November 1, 2010
Something happened with his previous album, Way To Normal. Ben Folds stumbled. I only liked about half of the songs on Way To Normal, which was surprising as I could usually listen to one of his albums track-to-track. When I learned that Ben Folds would be collaborating with Nick Hornby in a quasi Elton John/Berni Taupin type of team, I was certain Lonely Avenue would mark a return to greatness. Now, however, after listening three times to Lonely Avenue, I have to ask: What's the punchline?
This album is a tragedy. There's so much talent between Folds and Hornby that you'd think that they'd be able to come up with at least one track that was listenable. They didn't, though. There's nothing on Lonely Avenue that I can latch onto. The album feels like a collection of over-produced first-draft demos. It's like Ben tried to force the lyrics into fitting the music and tried to hide the fact by adding too many layers to the production. The songs drag, fail to build and fail to go anywhere. It's just a bunch of words and music thrown together with no direction.
I hate to say it, but I enjoyed Ben Folds' collaboration with William Shatner more than anything on Lonely Avenue.
Sunday, October 31, 2010
- Wearing a sandwich board that says "HTTP 404: Costume not found"
- Putting a bunch of quarters in a bag and carrying a hammer. This would make me a quarter pounder.
- Taking all the cigarette butts that are littering my backyard and attaching them to an old baseball cap. This would make me a butt-head.
- Wearing my lab coat and stethoscope along with my pig-face mask and calling myself "Dr. Pigface". This went over fairly well at GenCon 2010.
- Walking around in my Samuel Adams shirt and cap along with an empty Samuel Adams glass and an empty bottle of Octoberfest and passing myself off as a man in need of a beer.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
It's obvious that this little car is ready to go to that great parking garage in the sky. I was just hoping I could squeeze another year out of it.
Monday, October 18, 2010
Now, don't get me wrong, the hot dogs themselves are pretty damn good. They're beef based, cooked very well and are reasonably priced. For me, however, the real star of Planet Wiener has to be the chili cheese fries. Too often, when you order chili cheese fries from other restaurants, you get bland chili topped over skinny fries. Planet Wiener gives you a generous portion of steak fries topped with chili and cheese that has a little kick to it.
For nostalgia sake, Planet Wiener might not eclipse the place in my heart that the old hot dog stand in my home town currently occupies. Still, it's an awesome place to grab a hot dog and fries.
Thursday, October 14, 2010
Friday, October 8, 2010
We walked from my office to my bank, which is about a half a mile. I had to get to my bank in order to deposit my check so that I could pay for the repairs to my car. We walked along a back street, the afternoon Sun blaring down on us and reflecting back from the blacktop. When we reached the bank, my daughter and I both drank several cups of free water in the bank lobby. I deposited my check, kept a little money back, and we were on our way. This time, we had to walk to the mechanic, a good two miles from where we were. My daughter was a little trooper, but, with blisters erupting on my feet because of the shoes I was wearing, I felt like a Volga boatman. I think I even subconsciously sang a few bars of Эй, ухнем! to myself. We stopped along the way to get a bite to eat and to rest. More importantly, we talked. We talked about the past, the present, hopes, dreams and fears. I might even dare to say that it was the first REAL conversation we ever had.
Too often, there is this barrier between us. I'm the parent. She's the child. It's not unlike the supervisor/employee relationship at times. Yet now, sitting in an empty restaurant sipping on sodas, we were just two people caught up in the midst of a very difficult afternoon. We were on a mission together.
We pressed on. We got the car and drove to the store for some drinks. When we got back into the car, I went to start it, only to find that the battery had died. I groaned in agony at the thought of having to hike up to the auto parts store to get a new one. Screw that. I called Jason for a lift instead, as he was now off work. We'd had enough adventure for one day.
Monday, October 4, 2010
The visit from our praying mantis inspired the kiddo and I to look up some information on them. The praying mantis is thought to be a cousin of the cockroach, branching off their common ancestor, a predatory proto-cockroach with mantis-like forelegs, in the Cretaceous period. They are ambush predators who lie in wait for something that they can devour to pass close by so that they can be caught and held securely with the mantis' grasping, spiked forelegs.
One can't look up information about the praying mantis and not run into a discussion about sexual cannibalism. In captivity, female mantises have been observed devouring its mate's head during the mating ritual. Researchers initially believed that the removal of the male’s head was a reproductive strategy that enhanced fertilization while allowing the female to obtain sustenance. Other research has indicated that the behavior appears to be an artifact of intrusive laboratory observation.
Kiddo and I learned a lot about the praying mantis and were a little sad to find that it had left after a few days. It was nice to have a visit from an insect that wasn't related to a wasp for once.
Thursday, September 30, 2010
And, to be honest, it was. After talking for a mere 5 minutes to a Blizzard customer service representative, my account was restored. I didn't even have to tell him the problem, I just mentioned the chargeback, which made him look up my account and he saw via previous trouble tickets I had opened that my account had been hacked. Bravo. I was happy about that. The only real issue is that it took me over an hour on hold to actually get to a representative. One has to wonder, if a Blizzard customer service rep could so easily determine that I had been hacked and that the chargeback was not my fault, then why would I have to initiate a call in order to get it removed? With all the gold scammers running rampant on the World of Warcraft servers, and all the chargebacks resulting because of them, Blizzard obviously has their hands full. Still, it doesn't take much of a leap to put 2 and 2 together and figure out what had happened to me.
I guess it really doesn't matter. An hour on hold isn't a huge deal when you consider that the problem got solved once and for all.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
I went with the iBook app for now because I like the interface better, although the selection on the iBook store leaves a lot to be desired. Kindle offers a fuller catalog of older books but iBook has a prettier user interface and takes Paypal as a payment option. So, I purchased "Sh*t My Dad Says" by Justin Halpern and "Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs" by Chuck Klosterman. Reading them in the iPod touch is pretty easy and I don't find myself needing a larger screen in order to do so. In other words, I still do not want an iPad.
Monday, September 27, 2010
This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of Dual Electronics. All opinions are 100% mine.
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Sunday, September 26, 2010
Next year, though, we're all committed to getting together for a game. This time, the White Sox.
Saturday, September 25, 2010
Watch Jason's rant about the issue below.
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Putting on my very best professional voice, I called the hospital and was eventually connected with someone who had an influence on the hospital visiting hours policy. The policy is a leftover from the H1N1 scare last year. It was enacted to help prevent the spread of the disease to young children. I was informed that, since the scare is over, the policy is currently under review by a committee. And, we know that committees work at the speed of bureaucracy, so the policy just hadn't been re-written yet.
I prevailed upon the administrator on the other end of the phone to allow an exception for my daughter as I felt that a visit from her would be an essential part of the healing process for her mother. The administrator readily agreed, guaranteed that I would be allowed to bring the kiddo in for a visit and assured me that she would contact the appropriate nursing station to advise them of the situation. With that, I happily brought the kiddo in for a visit without being accosted by an angry nurse with a strict adherence to policy.
It's nice to work within the system when you can. I want you all to know, though, even if my request had been rejected, I still would have found a creative way to sneak my daughter in for a visit.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Anyway, Brent did a pencil sketch of me in the guise of a typical World of Warcraft human rogue character. It arrived in the mail yesterday and I have to say that I really like the result. It's drawn in pencil on good quality 11x14 paper. He successfully captured what I would call the "essential TommyMac elements" which includes the high forehead, the cockeyed self-deprecating grin and the side-ways head tilt. I haven't had anyone attempt to do an artistic rendering of myself since getting a characterture done of myself at Navy Pier some 15 years ago. Upon seeing what Brent Had come up with, I knew right away that I should have had him do the picture in color when I had the opportunity. There's always next year. Meanwhile, I'm very pleased with what I've got. It might even be suitable for framing.
Monday, September 20, 2010
I'm not sure where it came from, perhaps the remnants of an old achievement certificate I had gotten from work and put up in the closet. It doesn't really matter. All that mattered was that I now had the dilema of whether or not I should remove the large glass shard from my hand, or leave it in. What could I do? I pulled it out! And, the moment I did, blood gushed all over. I grabbed a shirt from my closet and held it to my wound.
It is at this point where my tendency to get wordy with my stories has to be over-ridden. You see, 12 stitches later, my hand is killing me and typing isn't helping the matter. So, I'm going to make a long story short. I drove myself to the hospital, got fixed up in no time, and counted myself very lucky that, when I fell, I happened to have my hand over my heart when I tried to break the fall. Had I not, the damage could have been much worse. So, it seems that Fate watches over fools, little children and people named TommyMac.
Friday, September 17, 2010
Luckily, I had a dollar bill in my wallet, which would be enough to buy a cup of French Vanilla cappuccino from the gourmet coffee vending machine that trolls me at every opportunity. My need for coffee was so great that I decided to risk it. I wish I hadn't. As fate would have it, a full cup of coffee was already sitting in the coffee vending machine when I purchased my beverage. This, of course, resulted in the machine filling the cup that was already there to overflowing, thus denying me coffee.
Not the best way to start a Friday morning.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Born in 1896, F. Scott Fitzgerald was a distant cousin and namesake of Francis Scott Key, author of The Star Spangled Banner. Growing up, Fitzgerald hated our national anthem due to the fact that it was sung to the tune of a popular British drinking song, To Anacreon in Heaven. Embarrassed by this blatant act of plagiarism and horrified that his distant cousin was lauded for his work, Fitzgerald took to alcohol and began to identify with a much closer blood relative: Mary Suratt. Suratt, who was first cousin once removed to F. Scott Fitzgerald, had, by the time of Fitzgerald's birth, already become infamous as one of the masterminds behind the Lincoln assassination. Seeing Suratt as a martyr, F. Scott Fitzgerald became determined to act. Yet he was fearful of being caught, jailed and forced into a life without alcohol. Fitzgerald meticulously planned a covert operation to disrupt the working of the American government by taking the lives of the wives of important government officials. He planned to do so though the use of contaminated feminize hygiene products.
F. Scott Fitzgerald's father had been a prominent salesman for Proctor and Gamble, which, at the time, sold candles door-to-door to housewives. As Proctor and Gamble grew into a multinational seller of consumer goods, F. Scott Fitzgerald used his father's connections to devise a plan with like-minded Proctor and Gamble research scientists to introduce to the market tampons that were too absorbent. So much absorption would substantially increase the growth of the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus, resulting in toxic shock syndrome and death. Fitzgerald had intended to see to it that Elanor Roosevelt, Sarah Jane Garner and even Bess Truman used the contaminated products, thus causing their deaths. This would result in a terrible distraction for the American leaders, keeping the United States out of World War II and ensuring a Nazi victory. It's not that F. Scott Fitzgerald was a Nazi sympathizer; he just wanted the world to remain in an era of despair so that his novels, which were primarily about struggle and strife, would keep selling.
Illness due to alcoholism would get the better of F. Scott Fitzgerald and his plan would not be put into action. Decades later, however, while rummaging through old files in the hopes of resurrecting old ideas, researchers at Proctor and Gamble stumbled upon the formula for the super-absorbent tampon that Fitzgerald had planned to use. Not knowing its origin, the Rely tampon was swiftly put into production in 1980. Thirty-eight deaths resulted from the toxic shock syndrome cases caused by the tampon.
Monday, September 13, 2010
But, what does this mean for me, personally? It means that some great opportunities to mess with telemarketers have been lost. I've gotten a few calls over the last week that have gone completely sour due to the Google Voice bug. Here are a few schemes that died because of it:
- Telling a representative from Capella University, an online educational institution focusing on business administration curriculum, that I wanted to pursue a singing degree with them. They are, after all, "Acapella University"
- After telling a recruiter from University of Phoenix Online that Thomas Mac had been killed tragically, I proceeded to pretend to rant and cry like a distraught relative. I insisted that it had been his dream to attend University of Phoenix Online and that University of Phoenix Online should enact a memorial scholarship for him. By the time I explained that Thomas Mac had been killed after being run over by a beer truck driven by the Incredible Hulk, I realized that Google Voice had dropped the call.
- I asked someone from Walden University if they had a Klingon-American studies program. Thanks to Google Voice, the question fell on deaf ears.
Friday, September 10, 2010
My mechanic couldn't be happier.
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of USC. All opinions are 100% mine.
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Tuesday, September 7, 2010
I briefly considered bothering the neighbors for a few cups, but as the one to my left had recently moved out and the one to my right would most likely turn to ash upon contact with direct sunlight, I decided that I had no alternative but to settle for instant coffee. Instant Coffee. It pains me just to type it. It's an abomination. So, it was with much regret that I stuck a mug full of water into the microwave and reached for the tiny package of Folger's Instant Coffee that had been hidden in the darkest recesses of my cabinets.
The concoction that resulted from my adding Folger's crystals to hot water can most politely be described as vile. It was like I had added organic fertilizer to water. Sure, it was coffee in the strictest technical sense in that it was brown, had caffeine and had once long ago descended from a coffee vine, but what I ended up drinking would no doubt be a violation of the Geneva Convention had it been served to prisoners of war.
Reluctantly, I choked the revolting bile down and hoped that it would kick in as soon as possible. If nothing else, it heightened my appreciation for real coffee and has motivated me to replace the old coffee maker as soon as possible
Monday, September 6, 2010
As I began to lose consciousness, something strange happened. My legs went numb and my mouth dried up. I staggered to my feet but then promptly fell to my knees. My heart rate kicked into overdrive and I began to hyperventilate. I recognized these symptoms. I was about to go into a panic attack. I've had them on rare occasions over the years, though this one felt much more intense than any I had ever had previously. I reached for my cell phone, took it apart into its component pieces and scattered them across the room, thus ensuring that I would not be panic dialing anyone.
I tried to calm myself down by repeating my name and the name of my daughter over and over again, intermixing those thoughts with a chorus of Aupres de ma Blonde (nothing like trying to focus on the lyrics to a bawdy French tune to keep your brain from melting). My body was in full rebellion against my mind. My body wanted to sleep, but my mind was determined to stay awake at any cost. I managed to pull myself up and walked to the bathroom where I let part of the 72 ounces of Capital Brewery's Wheat Beer that had been working through my bloodstream out into the toilet. I felt no sensation. I began to wonder if I was truly standing at the toilet. Perhaps I was passed out on the floor, barely awake as I pissed myself. I pinched myself. Did I feel something? I couldn't tell. I did it again. Inconclusive. I began to pace the room back and forth, my fingers brushing against the wall as I searched for sensation. I heard myself snoring as I walked.
I snapped back to consciousness for a moment and stumbled back to the heap on the floor when I had earlier been trying to sleep. My legs gave out and I collapsed on the floor. My arms were completely numb. I was convinced that I was dying. Was I having a heart attack? A stroke? Whatever was happening, as terrified as I was, I was determined to fight it. I rolled over and my back scraped the cold tile. As I laid there, I felt like I had been put on a slab in the morgue. I was dead. I died in the home of a life-long friend. His kids would never be able play in that room again. My daughter would grow up without a father. My parents would outlive me. I'd have a craptacular funeral because I didn't write down anything that I wanted. There were so many things I needed to say to people. There was so much I still wanted to do.
No! I would not let this happen. My mind rebelled against the notion of dying and I once again crawled to my feet. I stumbled to the bathroom to pee again and to get a drink of water. Again, I pinched myself. Again, the results were inconclusive. Maybe I was dead and Dave's finished basement was some kind of limbo. Maybe I'd flush the toilet and the divine light of Heaven would shoot out of the bowl and show me the way home. Maybe this lack of knowing whether I was alive or dead was Hell. I went back to pacing the room in a sleepwalking stupor, my hands reaching out for any kind of sensation that would confirm to me that I was indeed alive.
I know now that it was the Sun breaking through the basement window, but, at the time, I thought it might be God coming to take me. I collapsed on the floor again, awaiting judgement. Before I gave up, I made a deal with God. If He let me live, I 'd right certain wrongs, live a better life, etc. The exact details of what I'd promised are a subject for another post. All I know is, the moment I said to myself "Okay, I surrender", I heard a door open and little footsteps coming down the stairs. It was my god-daughter.
"Is it time to wake up yet?", she asked.
"Yes", I said. This was the confirmation I needed. Whether it was all the result of an insomnia induced panic attack or a near death experience, I was indeed alive. "Yes, it is".
Friday, September 3, 2010
Thursday, September 2, 2010
With the economy being in the tank lately and our travel budget being close to nonexistent, the boss has been all about video conferencing. While video conferencing allows everyone involved to have a much richer conversational experience than a traditional phone call, it has always taken a significant amount of investment to get a system up and running. Small and medium sized businesses just can't afford the video conferencing solutions offered by major brands such as Polycom, Tandberg, and Radvision because of their high cost.
Maybe you've felt the same pain as I have when it comes to video conferencing. Thankfully, there's a solution out there and the folks over at faceVsion have it. How does a Skype-certified webcam that is capable of delivering full screen 720p streaming video over the Internet sound? That's exactly what the FV touchcam N1 offers. I have no doubt that, had I had one of these while my daughter was trying to show my mother her loose tooth, the video quality would have been excellent.
You might be tempted to go out and pick up some other webcam that has "HD" stamped on it, but the fact is that most of those supposed HD webcams cannot stream true HD quality over Internet. Sure, you'll get HD quality video, but you will only see it locally, you won't be able to stream it over the Internet. That's where FaceVsion Technology USA excels. Their built in H.264 hardware encoder is the key to making true HD quality video calls over Internet.
Don't just take my word for it. Check it out for yourself. The FV Express Combo HD Video Conferencing solution is available at the faceVision on line store. If you have a Gmail account and the FV Express Combo, you can make HD video calls over the internet. You can automatically sunc your Gmail contact list to your HD video conferencing contact list.
One other thing I'd like to mention: www.shop.facevsion.com is now running a promotion with $10 off any purchase, using the promo code of FVTBTS2 while checkout. The promotion ends 09/30/’10
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
With "Midnight Souvenirs", Wolf further mines the country, blues and soul vibe that went over so well on "Sleepless", but opens himself up more on this particular album by working with Shelby Lynne, Neko Case and Merle Haggard. As there aren't many radio friendly tracks here, "Midnight Souvenirs" as a whole is greater than its individual parts. All of these tracks work together to make a solid recording.
I realize that the album came out back in April, but I haven't had time to sit down and give it a solid listen until last night. If you're unfamiliar with the solo work of Peter Wolf, sample a few of the tracks online, and if you dig the Rolling Stones/Exile On Main Street vibe, make sure you pick the album up.
Sunday, August 29, 2010
Dave sat behind the DJ booth with me for a while watching me pick songs that would keep the dance floor moving. I picked a certain song which made him ask "That's an interesting choice. You sure you want to play that?".
"It's a similar sound and beat to what's playing now. It's a good follow up" I said. When the song in question came on, the dance floor erupted with excitement. I smiled at my old friend and said "Never doubt my power".
He smiled back and said "I never have".
It reminded me of all those years we spent through high school and college behind a computer pounding out BASIC, PASCAL, FORTRAN, COBOL and C++ code. Instead of the satisfaction of watching out work compile and successfully execute, we had the pleasure of watching our kids have the time of their lives together. It felt like coming home.