Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Midnight Souvenirs

Peter Wolf. You may not recognize the name, but you have heard his voice. He's the former lead singer of the J. Geils Band, the group behind a number of 80's hits like "Centerfold" and "Love Stinks". Since leaving J. Geils Band in 1983, Wolf's career path has been along the road less traveled. It's a road that isn't lined with radio hits and platinum records, but it's a road that lead him to become a more accomplished musical artist and "Midnight Souvenirs", is a continuation of the maturation process which culminated with his 2002 release, "Sleepless". "Sleepless" was noted as one of the Rolling Stone's 500 greatest albums and it sold only 40,000 copies.

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

A Homecoming

One of the highlights of DJing the wedding last night was being able to spend some time with my old friends, Dave and Melanie. Dave and I went to high-school together and ended up as room-mates in college. After we graduated and Dave married Melanie, we still hung out quite a bit, and I became a regular visitor to Peoria after they moved there, and Dave's sister-in-laws and brother-in-law became part of my own extended family. Dave and I don't get to see each other much, now that we've both got children and careers and other responsibilities, but every time we do, it's like things haven't changed.

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.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Back Again: DJ TommyMac

I ventured out to Peoria tonight to DJ a wedding for a good friend of mine. It had been just over a year since my last DJ appearance, but I was confident that I'd have the place hopping in no time. I brought my daughter along to help out with minor stuff, like lining up the bridal party and handing out request cards.

DJ TommyMac Rockin' The WaterHouse.
On this particular occasion, I made extensive use of the Internet for my music selections, especially during the cocktail hour and for dinner music. While the guests were eating their meals, I played a Youtube playlist that I had created which contains songs from several different crooners. This helped out quite a bit because it allowed me to sit down and eat without having to worry about changing the music. After I finished eating, I played some adult contemporary mixes I made and had stored on my Mp3Tunes account.

Once the ceremonial dances were done, I opened up the dance floor to everyone by starting off with Swing The Mood by JiveBunny and the Mix Masters. It hit the right note and got the room going. When I slowed it down for the first time using big band era swing ballads, there was little response. So, in order to get everyone out on the floor, I grabbed a bridesmaid and we showed them how to properly move it to "The Way You Look Tonight". That got people going.

The rest of the night saw me packing the dance floor as if I hadn't been out of practice at all. At one point, when the dance floor started to resemble a human sea, I leaned down to my daughter and said "Look at that. Your father did that. It's a very powerful thing to be able to inspire a crowd like that".

It was an early night because the venue closed at 10:30pm, which was fine by me. I got a lot of compliments from everyone and more than once heard from people that it was the best reception they had ever attended.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Alright, I Fell Off The Wagon

I think that a week-and-a-half without my cell phone is long enough. I can't say that I was starting to get annoyed that people were unable to reach me on the merest whim, but I can say that my not being able to make phone calls at my own conveneince was starting to get to me. The most annoying experience had to be when I came into work on a Saturday morning and found that the door to my building was locked. I had to hike around a bit in order to find an open phone so that I could call one of my colleagues to let me in.

So, as of this morning, my cell phone is active once again. I'm going to try to be more responsible in using it and try not to consult it every few minutes. Technology is neither good nor bad, it's what we do with it that determines the outcome.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Hampton Chain of Friends Sweepstakes

This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of Hampton Hotels. All opinions are 100% mine.

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I'm meeting up with some old college friends next weekend. Back in the day, we were quite the band of brothers. We had a large circle of friends that spanned the campus. That's why I'm so excited about the Hampton Chain of Friends Sweepstakes. The grand prize winner of this contest gets a free stay for themselves and 100 of their friends at a Hampton for one weekend. Not only that, but the winner will also receive $5000 to help pay the tax for the weekend! I can only imagine what I'd do with a whole hotel full of my friends. I'd have to invite everyone I knew from college, and you can bet that I'd throw the biggest party that any of us had ever seen. There would be some football played in the hallways, water polo in the pool and a potluck in the parking lot.

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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Va-Jay-Jay?

While moving through the check-out line at my local grocery store the other day, I was faced with the cover of Cosmopolitan's September issue. There, slapped across the nether regions of Jessica Alba was the most stupefying made-up word in the English language: va-jay-jay.

We can blame the writers of Grey's Anatomy for letting this genie out of the bottle. Shonda Rhimes, the creator and executive producer of Grey’s Anatomy brought the word into the lexicon, yet swears she never intended to promote it as a euphemism or slang term. She had fought to use vagina in the script, but ran afoul of the network censors. It wasn't long until Oprah got hold of the word which then guaranteed its overuse by legions of bored housewives across the country. Then, somehow, it catapulted into electronic dictionaries and other TV shows like 30 Rock and Jimmy Kimmel.


Maybe the swift adoption of the word is born out of a need for a pet name for female genitalia that women can use that is not overly clinical or crude. And people have been using cute euphemisms for certain anatomical terms for ages. Personally, I see it as a step backward. The use of the word, va-jay-jay seems so utterly childish, as if women aren't mature enough to use the correct anatomical term. It also doesn't help that va-jay-jay usually refers to the vulva and not the vagina, thus making the word even more absurd.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Re-Boost With Boost Mobile

This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of Boost Mobile. All opinions are 100% mine.

LexiMac is already telling me that she wants a cell phone and she's not even in junior high yet. Obviously, she's not ready for the responsibility of having one, but when she is, it looks like Boost Mobile may be the way to go. She's been looking at the Blackberry 8330. I have to admit, she's got good taste. I'd love to have one myself, as it's very important for me to be able to update my social network sites through my phone. Aside from making calls, social media connectivity is the main function I use on a phone. Since Boost Mobile is social in nature to begin with, updating social network sites like Facebook and Twitter is incredibly easy.

Boost Mobile's Re-Boost program may be the way to go for LexiMac. Re-Boost offers several flexible payment options; You can by phone, online or at any in person and you can use your debit or credit card to set up automatic payments so you won't have to worry about sending in a bill. Friends and family can even make a payment for you if you're a Boost Mobile customer. Phone plans are affordable to begin with, so when you do make a payment, it won't break your budget. For example, the Blackberry monthly unlimited plan, which includes unlimited nationwide talk, text, e-mail and web is only $60 a month.

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Sunday, August 22, 2010

Cellphone Deprivation Experiment: Day 7

I'm one week into my cell phone exile and, I have to say, all things considered, I'm doing pretty well. I haven't developed a persistent, heavy itch due to connectivity withdrawal. There have, however, been some unforeseen circumstances. I have lost mayorship of 4 places on Foursquare. At this rate, I suspect I may even lose the mayorship of my own house before the month is out. Geocaching has become impossible, as I am unable to get GPS coordinates so that I can find the caches. I've also noticed that some of my more persistent friends, intent on getting hold of me at a moment's notice,  have been calling poor Jason up in order to relay messages to me.

So far, so good, though.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Gighour.com: Do Simple Stuff, Earn Money

This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of GigHour. All opinions are 100% mine.

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Are you hoping to make a little extra money without having to deal with the hassle of a second job or the stress of undertaking a huge side-project? Maybe, instead of one big job, you'd prefer doing a number of smaller jobs and get paid accordingly. If that's the case, then you need to check out Gig Hour, a new website recently launched that connects people willing to do little jobs for less than $10 with those who are willing to outsource jobs for an affordable amount.

The gigs posted span a number of topics and disciplines. Perhaps you'd like to edit some photos in Photoshop. Maybe you'd be willing to translate an article into another language. Are you a skilled copywriter who can proofread and re-write articles? Then post your gig on Gig Hour, wait for orders and then make money. You can also browse requested gigs that others have posted that you may be able to perform. Once you've made money, you can withdraw your earnings to your PayPal account to spend as you see fit.

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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Shut Up, John Mellencamp

Veteran rocker, John Mellencamp is convinced that the Internet is destroying the music business. Mellencamp has said that the Internet is the "most dangerous thing invented since the atomic bomb". He insists that the rise in sales of digitally downloaded music along with the decline of CD purchases, combined with a music piracy via the internet, will destroy the industry in the long term. He's even convinced digital tracks don't sound as good as CDs.

Mellencamp believes that the Internet will bring about the end of Rock 'n' Roll, insisting that only a few popular artists will be remembered in years to come. He adds, "After a few generations, it's gone. Rock 'n' roll - as important as we think it is, and as big as it was, and as much money as people made on it, and as proud as I am to say that I was part of it - at the end of the day, they're gonna say: 'Yeah, there was this band called The Beatles, and The Rolling Stones, and this guy named Bob Dylan...' And the rest of us? We're just gonna be footnotes. And I think that that's OK. I'm happy to have spent my life doing what I wanted to do, playing music, make something out of life, but forgetting about the idea of legacy."

Personally, I think Mellencamp is completely incorrect. The Internet didn't destroy the music business. The music industry destroyed itself when it failed to adapt its business model and embrace new technology. Music itself is just fine. In a world where the only way to have your music discovered was to send payola to DJs or be pretty enough to be shown on MTV, the Internet offered a better option. New artists are getting discovered on Youtube every day. While the Internet is contributing to the diversity of music the music industry itself is destroying Rock and Roll. The genre is being chipped away by greedy record companies who put profit over quality and who put their noses up at anything different and creative.

Mellencamp was once different and creative. Now, he's rich rocker whining that he's not getting richer. He's an old man who wants the Internet to get off of his lawn. He's a musician on the decline kicking up a fuss in order to draw interest to his latest release. He's a caveman who is afraid of the wheel. 

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Real Men Aren't Afraid To Buy Tampons

My girlfriend was sick the other day and needed a favor. A HUGE favor. No, she didn't want me to assassinate some third world dictator as a show of my affection. What she wanted was much, much more challenging.  She needed me to buy maxi-pads.

Some might argue that real men would not even consider buying feminine hygiene products for their significant other. For example, it's not something my father would have ever done for my mother. I'm pretty sure that the word "tampon" wasn't one he would ever want to utter. Myself, I figure that my lady puts up with my quirky self on a daily basis, so I can be considerate and buy the stuff for her. Besides, I'm secure in my masculinity.

There I was, in aisle 3A looking for exactly what she wanted. Some sort of ultra thin with wings. I had repeated it to myself over and over so that I wouldn't forget it and end up buying the wrong thing and then have to exchange it. I mentally scanned the products, remarking to myself that I was quite a long way from my beloved electronics aisle. I sorted through the products, doubtlessly looking like some sort of Tampax connoisseur to those passing by.  Finding what the girlfriend needed, I proceeded to the checkout aisle.

Honestly, the act of buying feminine hygiene products is, to me, about on the level of buying toilet paper. I think nothing of it. It's a necessity. It's so inconsequential to me that, when I got a weird look from the tweaker behind the cash register, I looked him directly in the eye and said "Hey, at least I got a woman".

Monday, August 16, 2010

Cell Phone Deprivation Experiment: Day 1

I remember the day I decided to get a cell phone. It was in 1999 and I had been bristling against the pleadings of my friends that I get one so that I could be easily reached. I liked the fact that there were periods of time where I would not be available. Looking back, I think maybe I felt that not being able to be reached at a moment's notice added an air of mystery to my persona. Really, though, I'm sure that I just didn't want to be bothered. Plus, I didn't want to have to deal with yet another monthly bill, essentially meaning that I would be paying some faceless corporation to enable the means for me to be continually harassed by cell phone calls. There was just too much cognitive dissonance for me to be comfortable having a cell phone.

That Summer, I got a call at work from my old college pal, Brock. He had gotten some great seats for a Jimmy Buffett concert and, at the last minute, someone dropped out so Brock offered me the extra ticket. In order to attend the concert, I'd have to go over to Brock's straight from work. In order to save time, he offered to pick me up at the train station. One problem: I missed the train. No big deal, right? I'd just catch the next one, 10 minutes later. Certainly, Brock would wait around. Right? RIGHT?

When I got off the train, Brock was nowhere to be found. He had said later that, upon seeing that I wasn't on the train I was scheduled to be on, he figured I'd gotten tied up at work and that I wouldn't be able to make it to the concert. Missing an epic time at a Jimmy Buffett concert with my friends was enough to convince me to get a cell phone so that nothing like that could ever happen again.

Since that day, my cell phone has almost become a part of me. I suspect that, if my insurance would cover the operation, I'd have the phone embedded in my skull and the display embedded in my forearm. I'm constantly looking at my Motorola Droid, checking e-mail, checking Facebook, checking in through Foursquare and sending txt messages. It's all too much. I've become TOO connected. I'm addicted to connectivity. It's time to go cold turkey, just for a while.

Now, I've experienced a loss of connectivity before, albeit a temporary one. During that last incident, I found that, two days into it, I was practically in fetal position on the floor due to feelings of extreme loneliness. I felt like I was missing out on things. So far, one day into the experience, I feel alright. Let's see if I can last a week without it, though.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

I'm A Pretty Decent Amateur Plumber

The toilet in the front bathroom had been clogged for about a month now. The youngling flushed something down there which clogged up the works to the point where water would pass through decently, but solid waste would get backed up and overflow the seating. I tried several different plungers as well as two different augers to no avail. I was going to have to remove the toilet and go digging.

There's a certain feeling of dread that overcomes anyone faced with a toilet problem that has limited plumbing experience. The toilet is considered the dirtiest place in the house, It's the place where you do things you don't mention in polite company. It's the place where you're most vulnerable. It's a necessity, yet it's one we don't want to have to think about. And here I was, about to dismantle the throne. If you find yourself in a similar situation, here are a few tips:

  • Turn the water off at the supply hose off you do anything else. Also, get what water remains in the bowl and the tank out via flushing or sponges or towels. The less water that's in there, the less mess you'll have to deal with.
  • Remove the bolts at the base of the toilet. 
  • When you lift the bowl off its base, the wax seal will become visible. You'll probably need to replace this before you can re-attach the toilet. 
  • Once you do re-attach the toilet, make sure you seal it with plumber's putty or caulk it in order to prevent leakage between the floor and the base of the toilet. 
It turned out that my toilet was blocked by a plastic toy baby bottle. It was jammed in the toilet really good, and just far enough inside the toilet where I couldn't reach in my hand to get it. I could barely see it with a flashlight. So, instead of trying to hack and slash the toy out, I simply plugged one end of the toilet and poured acetone down the other end. After about an hour, the acetone had dissolved the bottle enough for me to flush it out using my garden hose.  

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Vacationing In Branson

This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of Hiltons of Branson. All opinions are 100% mine.


With schools all over the country shut down for the Summer, it is the perfect opportunity to start planning a family vacation. There's no better family destination than the entertainment capital of the Midwest, Branson, Missouri. There's always something fun to do there. Branson is home to 49 theaters which feature more than 100 shows and productions. There are also golf courses, lakes, museums and theme parks as well.

There are some great vacation packages available at the Hilton Promenade at Branson Landing and at the Hilton Branson Convention Center Hotel If you're a golfing enthusiast, you will want to take advantage of their Golf Package which includes a round of golf for two at Branson's newest golf course, the Payne Steward Golf Course. If you book between now and June 15, you can book two nights and get the third night free. Both hotels allow easy access to shops, boutiques, restaurants, and a river walk. They are situated very close to Branson Landing which offers waterfront shopping, dining and entertainment. I'd have to say that it is the attraction that appeals to me the most.

It wasn't so long ago that my folks packed all of us into the car and drove us down to Branson. I remember the highlight for us being the day we spent at Silver Dollar City theme park with the Branson Dinosaur Museum being a close second. My folks, of course, would cite seeing Andy Williams perform as their favorite part of the trip.

There's a lot going on in Branson this Summer. If I were to take the family there this year, I would want to be sure to:
  • Catch the National Kid’s Fest at Silver Dollar City which runs between June 6 and August 9 
  • Visit the Ripley's Believe It Or Not Museum
  • Check out Branson Landing
  • Take a stroll around the riverwalk
  • See Andy Williams, just so I can gloat to the parents.

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Name That Kitty

We are at an impasse. It's time that we name Mika's two kittens and we can't seem to agree. One suggestion was to name them Sammi and Roxi. Me, I'm pushing for Jake and Elwood: The Mews Brothers.

Of course, it would help if we could tell whether or not the kittens were male or female. We haven't quite gotten to figuring that out yet. So, either we name them both something ambiguous, or we end up rolling the dice and possibly having Roxi and Elwood.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Get Your Masters Of Art In Teaching Online From USC

This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of USC. All opinions are 100% mine.


Are you an educator or an aspiring teacher? Are you looking for a way to earn your Masters degree but are convinced that you just don't have the time, resources or finances to do so? Wouldn't you like to earn a Masters of Art in Teaching degree online from a university that is both nationally ranked and internationally renowned? It may sound too good to be true, but The USC Rossier School of Education’s MAT@USC offers all that and more.

When you choose to pursue your education online, you can attend your classes anytime and anywhere. All you need is a computer. Because of this, course materials such as lectures, notes and hand outs are accessible 24 hours a day 7 days a week. You'll be able to use those materials to learn at your own pace.

The MAT@USC program offers an online program that combines highly interactive learning methods that are combined with field-based experiences from your local area. US News and World Report ranked the MAT@USC program #22 in the United States and #9 among all private universities. What that means is that you'll obtain full USC student status and benefits which includes the opportunity to learn from the distinguished USC faculty, participation in commencement ceremonies and free lifetime Alumni Association memberships.

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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

History Channel Post 2012

With December 21, 2012 vastly approaching, I've begun to wonder what sort of programming History Channel will ofter after that date, assuming that we all survive. Personally, I think that the very notion that the world will end in 2012 and that the Mayans recognized and predicted this event is beyond absurd. Buying into that farce would be like buying a calendar at Wal-Mart and assuming that the world would end on December 31 because that's as far as the calendar goes. Still, History Channel has been inundating us with 2012-related programming for over a year. Once they've squeezed all the blood out of that stone, they'll have to come up with SOMETHING. Here are a few ideas:

  • Skim the bitter dregs of Hitler related programming with shows like:
    • Hitler's Dance Grooves
    • Inside Hitler's Outhouse
    • The Plot To Wash Hitler's Uniform
    • Beneath Hitler's Pajamas
    • Hitler's Secret Santa
  • Fall back on cheesy Nostradamus documentaries
    • Nostradamus Refuted 2012
    • Nostradamus: 2013 And Beyond!
    • Nostradamus' Psychic Grandson
  • Mine the 2012 hype even further
    • 2012: Why It Didn't Happen!
    • We Goofed: Dyslexic Mayans And The 2021 Apocalypse
    • History Of The 2012 Phenomenon
  • Find another apocalypse to focus on
    • 2016: The REAL 2012
    • The Apophis-Apocalypse
    • Two Covenants: Abraham, Jesus And The 2034 Apocalypse
    • The Unix Millennium Bug

That's not to say that all the programming that History Channel offers is complete dreck. I quite enjoyed watching their recent documentary on the War of 1812 and I have to admit that Life After People is a guilty pleasure of mine. However, it seems more and more that History Channel is manufacturing hype and disguising it as history rather than making programs on actual history. How long until we start getting crap like: Ancient Alien Pirate Ghosts?

Monday, August 9, 2010

Pictures From GenCon

GenCon was certainly a very interesting and unique experience for me. Even though I am not much of a "gamer", I enjoyed my time in Indianapolis and at GenCon 2010. Have a look at the slideshow below if you'd like to check out some of the photos I took. You'll find a good mix of partying, costumes and downtown landmarks.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Our GenCon Karma Circles The Drain

We probably should have known that the complete lameness of Bowling Night of the Living Dead was an omen of things to come. Before heading out to the GenCon Pajama Jammie Jam last night, Jason needed to stop at his vehicle which was parked in a parking garage across the street from our hotel. It turns out that we picked the one parking garage in the greater downtown Indianapolis area that closes on the weekend. Jason's car was locked in and there was no way we could get access to it. Thus, we spent the evening lamenting our bad luck and generally counting up the ways in which this trip has been cursed.

Thankfully, this particular story has a happy ending. Just as Jason was beginning to re-check into the hotel, the concierge made some phone calls to the security folks in charge of the garage and managed to get someone who could open the gates so Jason could get his vehicle out. Of course, this was AFTER the trip was technically over, so it may very well mean that our karma for GenCon 2011 is still as soiled as a newborn baby's diaper.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

We Learn About Zombie Stuff

Zombie Jason and Make-Up Artist David Thornton
One of the great things about GenCon, especially if, like me, you are not really into playing RPGs all day long, is the numerous informative events and workshops that occur throughout the conference. There's something for everybody in these events. Today, Jason and I learned quite a bit about making zombie movies. We attended a make-up effects seminar where we learned how to make some amazing effects on a tight budget. Jason even got in on the fun himself and volunteered to be a test subject for some of the effects. The goal was to make it look like he had an infected, rotting wound on the side of his head. The effect was achieved with a combination of latex and color palettes, was quick to put on and remained on his face through a full day of walking around GenCon and the surrounding area. It worked out really well and, as we walked around the exhibit floor later in the afternoon, people actually asked him how he got injured and if he was in any pain. The seminar was hosted by amateur make-up artist David Thornton. We learned quite a bit. I'd like to say that the seminar was worth the price of admission, but we didn't have to pay anything to get into this one.

After the make-up seminar, we attended a zombie directors panel discussion where directors from some well known independently made zombie features such as The Italian Zombie Movie, I Am Not Infected, and The Dead Matter discussed the challenges of making zombie movies. The zombie movie market is over-saturated these days and the challenge is often to bring something new and exciting to the genre. There were a lot of aspects to creating a movie that I hadn't considered, so I was really happy to get some valuable advice from everyone involved. I think we got a lot of great tips and some interesting ideas for us to use should anyone ever want to finance a zombie movie for us. Anyone? Anyone?

Friday, August 6, 2010

Bowling Night Of The Living Dead

Of all the events going on around GenCon, the one event Jason and I were looking most forward to was the Bowling Night of the Living Dead event at Jillian's which is a combination bar, arcade and bowling alley. The advertisement for the event stated the following:

Join downtown's scariest bunch of individuals for a night of spooky gaming fun! Jillian's Restaurant & Entertainment Mega-plex is hosting a Halloween themed cosmic bowling and video games night. We will turn the 45,000 sqft of space into a graveyard full of attitude with Vampires, Witches and Zombies. DJ, Door Prizes, Giveaways, Light Apps, (1) Drink Ticket and over the top fun will be provided

Suffice it to say, Jillian's is in great danger of being sued for false advertising. The space looked about as much like a graveyard as a kiddie party at Chuck-E-Cheese. None of the employees were dressed up and there were BALLOONS everywhere. There was no DJ, no door prizes and no giveaways. I do seem to recall there being some fun, but it was far from being over-the-top. It didn't even fill the glass halfway. It was quite obvious that the staff didn't give a crap about the event and that the organizer was just looking to cash on on the GenCon hype. I am so utterly disappointed.

The bowling alley at Jillian's is really odd. First off, the lanes don't seem to be as wide as one would normally expect. Second, our particular lane malfunctioned constantly and often tossed out an extra pin into the middle of the lane. I debated whether or not to dress up for the event and decided not to due to how hot my zombie mask tends to get. Under the circumstances, I'm glad I decided against it. I would have looked VERY out of place. We made the best of it, but, really, if I hadn't been hanging out with a group of friends, this would have been a complete waste of time.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Pub Scouts Take GenCon!

Jason and I are attending GenCon, which is one of the largest annual gaming conventions in North America. We're in Indianapolis, Indiana with about 28,000 other gaming enthusiasts. The events are massive, the exhibits are colossal and the body odor emanating from some of the more hard core gamers is absolutely epic.

With so many people in costume and with everyone being so anxious to get out and play some games, you'd think that the atmosphere in the area would be incredibly fun. It seems a little lame so far, though. This party needs an enima, and Jason and I are going to deliver it. And we taking the long way.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Get True Streaming Technology With faceVision

This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of faceVsion Technology USA. All opinions are 100% mine.


My parents and my brothers and I have all recently gotten in to chatting via Skype. It allows everyone involved to have a much richer conversational experience than a traditional phone call. Of course, video quality is so very important to us when we're making Skype calls. High quality video allows my parents to see how my daughter is doing, allows me to see how my nieces are doing and allows me to see how my father is doing. Since video is an integral part of my family's Skype experience, low quality video cameras or poor video streaming quality can easily ruin the call. Recently, my daughter wanted to show my mother that she had a loose tooth. Due to poor video quality, my mother couldn't see what my daughter was showing her.

Socialspark_productimageMaybe you've felt the same pain as I have when using Skype. 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 the FV touchcam N1 excels. The 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 touchcam N1 is available at the faceVision on line store. If you're using a Notebook based PC, you can purchase the FV ExpressCombo.

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One other thing I'd like to mention: www.shop.facevsion.com is now running a back to school promotion with $10 off any purchase, using the promo code of FVTBTS2 while checkout. The promotion ends 09/30/’10

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

I Owe Blizzard.com A HUGE Apology

I'm Back, Bitches!!!!
I like to think that I can admit when I'm wrong. My World of Warcraft account had been hacked recently and I had spent quite a bit of time slogging through Blizzard's customer service, which is akin to hanging out in the 5th level of Hell, trying to get my account restored and my gear returned. I wondered how I could have possibly been hacked in the first place. And, as it turns out, it was all my fault.

I had gotten an e-mail that looked like it was an official Blizzard communication stating that my World of Warcraft account had been suspended and that I should follow the attached link to reset my password. I did so, which, is quite shameful, considering that I am an IT professional in my everyday life and that I deal with users of our e-mail system who fall for similar tricks asking them to reset their e-mail passwords. I used to wonder how people could possibly fall for such scams. And here it is, I fell for one.

I managed to piece everything together tonight when I got yet another e-mail purporting to be from Blizzard's EU division telling me that my account had been suspended yet again. I was just about to follow the link again when I thought to check the e-mail headers. Sure enough, the e-mail had been disguised as a Blizzard admin e-mail account, but it had actually been sent from Hotmail.

I feel so stupid.

And, to the fine folks at Blizzard, thank you for restoring my account earlier this week and you have my sincerest apologies for falling for the scam. But your customer service still sucks hard.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Two Kittens Remain

Late last month, one of the kittens that Mika gave birth to, died suddenly. Mia had seemed to be the healthiest of the three kittens yet, we discovered her bleeding from the mouth late one morning. We buried her in the backyard after giving Mika a chance to say goodbye. Everyone in the house was very upset over Mia's sudden death, and I too, who had been reluctant to handle the kittens so early in their development felt a pang of sorrow as Mika licked the back of Mia's neck and then walked off to tend to her remaining babies.

It's sad. I've never had to bury a pet before as the post-mortum arrangements of the pets I had growing up had been handled by my father. He always opted for cremation. I dug the hole for her, said a little prayer and buried her. I'm going to put a plant in that space when I get a chance.

The whole experience makes me wonder about the things people often say about the afterlife. Are all of our old pets waiting in Heaven for us when we die? If they are, will Mia be a fully grown cat or will she still be a kitten? Do pets even have souls or are humans the only ones blessed with such things? Do souls even exist?

Minds greater than mine have pondered these and similar questions for centuries and have yet to arrive at a definitive answer. The only way to know for sure is to discover the answer ourselves. I'm in no rush to obtain that knowledge.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Attack Of The Carpenter Ants

I feel like I've been Fate's whipping bitch this weekend.

I got a flat tire earlier this weekend and had to pull to the side on a country road. In the shadows of several cornfields, my poor car waited patiently for me to change the tire. Jacking the car up proved to be challenging because the side of the road wasn't much more than a collection of rocks and dirt. My first attempt at getting the car jacked up ended in spectacular failure as the jack slid out from under the car.

Undaunted, I cleared several of the small rocks away for another attempt. As I went about the task of jacking the car up, I started to feel an itching sensation all over my back and on my arms. I looked down to discover hundreds of carpenter ants crawling all over me. I had inadvertently disturbed an ant hill and the occupants were not pleased. I was being attacked mercilessly, yet I continued on with the car. It was a cool, breezy day yet I had broken out into an obvious sweat by the time I was ready to pull the lug nuts off of the tire. My back was itching terribly and I soon discovered that I had ants in my pants. I resisted the urge to dance all the way to France.

By the time I replaced the tire, several of the ants had found their way into Ass-crack Valley. Once I had lowered the car back onto the ground, some ants found their way to the Cumberland Gap. Several minutes after returning to civilization, I hobbled over to a chair and had a seat. About a dozen ants fell out of my pants legs. A cursory examination of my arms revealed quite a bit of skin irritation due to the bites, especially on my back. But, I survived, prevailed and flipped the bird at the smug face of fate, reminding it that I'm twice as good as it thinks I am and ten times as handsome.