Friday, February 29, 2008

David Archuleta's 'Imagine'

David Archuleta had a fantastic performance Tuesday night. My entire family was blown away by his unique take on John Lennon's Imagine. However, the arrangement was not his, according to this story:
David Archuleta's 'Imagine' wasn't just imagined up - IDOL BANTER - Los Angeles Times -

I agree that copying another singer's style is perfectly acceptable, but he wanted it to look like he came up with that arrangement, instead of crediting the originator. I guess none of the other contestants in the past have done this, but usually they copy the arrangement from a more prominent artist.

Regardless, it was a very good performance, and he's easily the most 'American Idol'-ish contender, but I'm a little less enthusiastic about him knowing that his amazing rendition was not his own.

Mini Review - Croozer Dog Trailer

My wife picked it up at REI yesterday and brought it home. I hooked it up to my bike's rear axle, then she put the dog in the trailer and zipped her up. I rode down our driveway and back up and she didn't freak out.

We let her out and I readjusted some things. She kept hanging out near the trailer but stayed about a foot away. She clearly was not traumatized by the event, and acted like she wanted to go again. We put her back in, then I biked to the end of our street and back with my son on his bike. I couldn't see the dog, of course, but my wife said the dog sat on her haunches the whole time, just looking out at our son and the scenery.

My legs burned on the way back up our steep driveway. I added toe clips to my bike so I could use more power as needed--glad I did. I could get up the driveway with the gears in 1, 1 (first gear in front and back), but just barely.

This thing folds flat so it easily fits in the car. We'll have to try it at a bike trail this weekend.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Alanis Morissette 'My Humps'

An oldie but a goodie. I was joking with my son that he should sing "I'm a little teapot", and sing it very dramatically, whenever he tries out for American Idol. They had never heard this as an example of what I meant (it's a singing competition, doesn't matter what the song says), so I played it for them.

Croozer Dog Trailer (for bikes)

My wife wants to tote our dog around while we ride. This looks like the only option.

Croozer Dog Trailer from

Monday, February 25, 2008

Bicycles: The Conundrum

Sigh. I have the 'buy something new' blues. My bike, like I said, was super-cheap. REI has it for $480 normally, but I got my specific one for $300. The only problem with it is that it has a medium frame (max 5'10"), and I should have a large frame (max 6'1") for it to be perfectly sized to me.

Our son rode our bikes in a couple of small parking lot loops before I put them back in the car from our big ride on Sunday, and really really wanted one of them. Since my bike is a little small we thought about giving it to him and buying me a perfectly sized bike.

I thought about it and just couldn't spend $480 for a 2" difference in frame height, especially since the handlebar is adjustable vertically enough to compensate. However, REI now has a 20% off sale, and it only applies to K2 (what I have) and Novara (REI brand) bikes. That would make my new bike around $380.

I decided to maybe upgrade my upgrade, so I looked at all REI bikes between $350 and $450, but kept coming back to the one I already have. Either they had no shocks or crappier ones, no suspension for the seat, or twist shifters instead of triggers.

We finally realized that we didn't get good bikes until almost 40, so he can live with his bike for a while. I agreed and decided to stop shopping and love the bike.

(see previous posts for details about the bikes)

Bicycles: The Pleasure

The new bikes are much better than the Columbia ones for riding on pavement. The two families were able to make four complete laps around the park. None of the adults had to get off of their bike to get up a hill.

My wife even wants to skip work today so she can ride some more!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Bicycles: The Terror - Columbia Trailhead, Townie Electra, K2 Easy Street Deuce

A local parkway closes once a year for a "Run the Reagan" event. After the runners clear off it's traditional to "Ride the Reagan", getting out your bike, scooter or Rollerblades to follow in the runners' footsteps. Our 20-yr-old K-Mart bikes were beyond repair, as I found out after three hours of hard work, so we decided to buy new bikes. We were going to by bikes at Target, but I wanted to see about getting a "real" bike first. We went to The Sports Authority and walked out the door with Columbia Sportswear Trailhead Disc bikes:

We were going to pay $350 ea. but walked out the door paying $250 each, not bad! These are real dirt bikes, real in the sense that they have knobby tires, short firm frames, small seats and low gearing (can be pedaled very slow). I thought it was fine because that's the kind of bike I wanted. My wife couldn't ride it up the street and blamed it on not riding for a couple of years. We used to ride for hours back when our kid was little so it's not that she couldn't ride bikes. I was excited the bike had front suspension, sequential shifters and disc brakes. She liked the color.

We missed our exercise yesterday so my "I'll try it" friend agreed to ride to her house on the new bikes while the rest of the family members rode in a car. She almost threw up she was so exhausted from the trip, so maybe it was the BIKE, not the RIDER that was making it hard for my wife to ride.

My friend bought a custom Electra Townie a few months ago and loves it. Its main feature is that the pedals are forward of the seat tube, so it's semi-recumbant. It was also a pretty color and was very unique. She rode the Reagan without a problem, so she wasn't the problem.

She told my wife and convinced her that she needed another bike or she would never ever ride. She agreed, so we conspired to return the bikes and buy better bikes at REI. I was actually happy with mine, but if I had the only true dirt bike then I wasn't going to get to use it anyway. Besides, although mine rode fine as far as I was concerned, the brakes were the crappiest discs made, the shock was the crappiest made, and was Columbia in name only, not Columbia quality in any respect. Not bad for $250 though, and no bike at REI was $250. I decided that I wanted to get a low-end good bike instead of a high-end crappy bike (a low-end BMW 3 series is better than a top-of-the-line Chevy Cavalier), so I decided to get one for $350, which is was we were going to pay for the Columbias anyway.

My wife bought a Townie Electra 21, the same brand as my friend:

She bought the man version because she didn't like the shifters and the white seat on the female bike. The top tube is so low that it's practically a girl bike anyway. She rode and rode it in the REI parking lot and fell in love with it. $430 at REI.

I bought a K2 Easy Street Deuce:

Mine was literally the first bike you come to in the store, and was on clearance for $300. It was a 2007 model and had some very minor cosmetic blemishes, so I guess it was a return since it's $480 new.

These bikes are 'comfort' bikes, not 'dirt' bikes. they are designed for street use, not 'single track' use. However, they are capable of riding on rooty dirt trails, just don't do any jumps! They have single-wall rims which means that they are heavy for their size and more succeptable to fatal dings. The manufacturer of my bike's rims isn't proud of them and calls them 'girl bike' rims as a joke.

These bikes both have trigger sequential shifters, which means you can click with an index finger or thumb to go up or down a gear, one-at-a-time. They make shifting fun.

We're going to a local bike park to see how we like 'em. I'm thinking we are going to be happy.

Columbia Trailhead Disc - the evil bike
K2 Easy Street Deuce - my new decent bike
Electra Townie 21 (men's) - Sonya's new decent bike (you'll have to dig through the site)

Friday, February 22, 2008

"Yes We Can" vs "John He Is"

The original:

The parody:

:) Go Obama.

Expert On Anteaters Wasted Entire Life Studying Anteaters


Expert On Anteaters Wasted Entire Life Studying Anteaters

Of course, it's The Onion.

BruntonVapor AF Stove

I prefer alcohol stoves myself (super light weight, extreme simplicity, bio-safe, barely flammable fuel) but small multi-fuel stoves still look cool. Review - /reviews/Cook Gear/Stoves/Brunton Vapor AF Stove/Test Report by Jennifer Koles

Beer Tasting

Tonight's beer tasting is exclusively home-made beer by participants in the group. I'm hoping Kevin's delicious fruity beer wins, but there's not really going to be a contest. We don't brew, so we will bring our spicy corn dip.

(the pic is from instructions for brewing beer 3100 BC)

Brewing - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


My church is holding a fasting fund-raiser for the youth group this weekend. Starting now, noon 2/22/08, through 6:00 tomorrow night they will not be allowed to eat or drink anything other than fruit juice every 2 hours or so.

We stuffed my son with a couple of pieces of bacon & eggs for breakfast, and he's going to sneak a bagel between classes before lunch. After his school lunch is gone he'll be officially fasting.

I have to admit I'm proud of him and all the other kids participating in the fasting and the lock-in.

Bonus: HE is contributing $50 of his own money and expects us to match him (of course we couldn't say no).

Lost Dog?

A couple of funny 'lost dog came home' stories:

Was Bennett the pooch dognapped by aliens? - Leamington Spa Today - Back to Home Page

Loose Dog Told Where To Go - May 3, 2007

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Edge (FOX TV series)

I miss this show. Can't find it on DVD or even on a torrent.

The Edge (FOX TV series) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Lotus Exige S

Looks like something I would like.

Lotus Cars USA 2007 Exige S

Dodge 2009 Journey

Looks like something my wife will like.

Dodge - 2009 Journey - Crossover, Wagon, SUV

Blackberry Pearl

I don't know if I ever mentioned it, but I love my Blackberry Pearl! It has replaced my Palm TX, which is now only used for reading and surfing before I go to bed.

It integrates with my work's OWA (Outlook web access) site so I can communicate via e-mail with workmates no matter where I am. It also seamlessly integrates with the Outlook calendar, even to the point that it automatically adds mettings when I receive requests via e-mail.

I have the black one. My wife just got the red one for St. Valentine's Day and has used it more (read: leanred how to use it) than any other phone or PDA she's ever had.

Research In Motion


Pandora (after Pandora's Box from mythology) is a music genome front-end. All you do is create a "station", include one or more bands, and start listening! It takes essential measurements of the artists you select (major harmonies, simple guitar, droning synth, etc.) and finds other songs that you might like.

I was introduced to it a few months ago by some music lovers at work, but didn't get into it then. However, the population of users at work has grown to the point that I realize I must have missed something. I am impressed with it now and have already found out about 10 new bands I never heard of before that I really like.

Profile for Pango - Pandora

Pit Zips!

One of my friends has been looking for a female jacket that breathes, with pit zips a plus. She decided it was never going to happen until she saw my (male) jacket that had everything she wanted: Breathable, packable, waterproof, pit zips. She dug around and found one for over twice the price I paid for my man-jacket, but at least it's what she's dreamed about.

Mountain Hardwear: Quark Jacket

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Gravity Light

I want one! Four-hour run time, no batteries, no power cord, just a manual movement of the weight to the top of the lamp.

News Story Virginia Tech News Virginia Tech

Logitech Driving Force GT Wheel

Nice! Too bad it's not for the PC.

Logitech Driving Force GT Wheel Uncrate

Saturday, February 16, 2008


Hang gliding! Saw it on Georgia Traveler today and thought it looked cool. $199 for training, 5 training hill flights & one tandem flight (12-20 minutes), or $139 for just the tandem flight.


Cloverfield Monster Toy Revealed

Cloverfield Monster Toy Revealed | /Film

sQuba underwater car

sQuba Uncrate

Friday, February 15, 2008

2009 Acura TSX

Oh, yeah! The lease on my currently wonderful TSX will be up around March 2010, so there will be a 'fix the mistakes' model to get after this is released (new cars typically come in Sept of the prior year, so 2009 will be here Sept 2008).

2009 Acura TSX Uncrate

25 Children Injured in Pileup - On Foot at School

Wow. :)

Pupils treated in hospital as 25 are crushed in freak accident at school - News

Review - A Simple Plan

I watched this movie again last night. Wow.

I'm not a big fan of Bill Paxton. I think my first experience with him was the weasely car salesman in True Lies. However, he won me over in this movie. His ability to change expressions is very convincing. For example, there is a point in the movie where he and his brother try to trick a friend. His brother decides that he can't do it, and starts to make fun of his brother to the friend's amusement. The look on Bill's face when he realizes what his brother is doing toward the end of the scene is fantastic--I had to rewind a couple of times to appreciate the exact second his mind changed.

I have never seen a bad Billy Bob Thornton movie. This is typical of the offbeat, down-to-earth character he likes to play. Here, he is slightly underdeveloped mentally--he can drive a truck, but he can't hold down a job and has never kissed a girl. The long stringy hair, Buddy Holly glasses and extra-yellow teeth complete the package. His ability to naturally stumble on his own words, to act like he truly doesn't grasp a situation, to show what he feels as though he were an 8-yr-old child is very convincing.

The rest of the cast's performances are lackluster, but they hold their parts well. Essentially there are three main characters, two supporting characters, one important bit part and that's it, so two strong actors is all it takes to keep it going.

There is one scene that is a little unbelievable (near the end, you'll understand when you see it), and there are probably more murders than 4.4 million would generate, but overall it's a very good movie.

Go rent it.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Mini Review - Fast Food Nation vs. Toxin

Fast Food Nation and Toxin are both pseudo-exposes of the meat packing industry. FFN wraps it in a Pulp Fiction style movie in which we follow the lives of several people involved in one way or the other. Toxin takes the form of a thriller. I liked the book Toxin much better than I liked the movie FFN.

My main complaint about FFN is the lack of cohesiveness. It starts off with an executive doing research but then his part just peters out with no real finish. The other characters just meander along until the unsatisfying end. Oh, and there's slaughters at the end (surprise!).

Toxin follows a father that investigates the mysterious cause of his daughter's death. He digs too deep and finds more than he can handle. Hopefully you will read the book so I won't spoil it, but there are dead cow heads everywhere!

Toxin made me feel uneasy about eating hamburgers for a while (not too long, though, mmm). FFN just left me confused and wanting closure. And what was with the creepy uncle? Yeech.

Fast Food Nation (2006)

Macworld | Yahtzee comes to iPod

Macworld Yahtzee comes to iPod

Monday, February 11, 2008

Blackhead Extractor

We have been looking for an 'old-fashioned' spoon blackhead extractor for a couple of years at local shops but have only found the crappy wire loop style. Finally found the real deal here--expensive but really cool looking torturous things!

Blackhead Remover Comedone Extractor Venusworldwide

GH3 Replacement Disc

Apparently some people are already getting their mailers. If you haven't filled out a request yet, go to the following site:
Guitar Hero III Wii Replacement Disc Pre-Registration Website

Note: You will have to send your current disc and they will send you a new one back. No comments on the website about how long that will take.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Clinton 1148 Obama 1121

Creeping closer and closer...

Election Center 2008 - Election & Politics News from

Mini Review - Funny Games vs. SPLHCB

I tried to get my friends to watch Funny Games but they stopped after the golf club to the knee.

They kept talking about the horrible 70's movie Sargent Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band movie (SPLHCB). Eventually they made me watch it, but I said I would only watch up to the golf club to the knee. Apparently that scene is when Peter Frampton sings his first 'big money' concert.

I really didn't think SPLHCB was as bad as they stated, but it was very unwatchable. I had no desire to see the entire thing and felt like I was worse off having seen what I saw. I kind of understand their point of not wanting to finish Funny Games now.

Laser fingers.

Clinton 1100 Obama 1039

WOW: So close!

I really don't have a problem with Hillary as a person, but if I have to choose someone who has a chance of actually being president (I consider myself a libertarian, but come on!) I am pushing for Obama.

I even have an issue with voting in a primary unless you truly consider yourself a member of that party, but I just couldn't let a vote for Obama pass. I put my vote in the ring and I just can't believe how close the race is right now.

Yeah, I admit, I am voting for him because he's black. Well, not really because he's black, but because his views match most closely with mine and he just happens to be democrat and just happens to be black. My dad told me that he would have voted for Colin if he ever ran, but that never happened.

I, unfortunately, consider myself prejudice, but that's from years of living in the South. I am working hard to make that go away, and I think I'm almost cured. I currently work at a company that is very progressive, with many of the managers being black and/or women. They are where they are not just because of their race/gender, but because they are skilled at their jobs. I realized long ago that skin color has nothing to do with skill.

So, why did I say I voted for a black man? It's because I'm sick of blindly conservative honkies running this country. I become ill every time I seriously think about what's going on right now. I know this is a big bandwagon, but I really did reject the idea of going to Iraq from the beginning. Saudis 'sploded the WTC, not Iraqis, not Afghanis! But, no, they are our good buddies, so we'll just ignore that. Maybe it's some sort of vendetta for "them arabs attakin' my daddy." I never want to hear NUCULAR again. I mean, really, any 6th grader that's learned about atoms knows about the NUCLEUS of the atom and about the NEUTRON, so why would they ever say the word NUCULAR? It's just an external expression of a fundamental failure to understand science. I really don't care if someone believes in God, but blindly ignoring science is not allowed if you are the leader of the world.



Election Center 2008 - Election & Politics News from

Bride Dies During First Dance

:( - Bride Dies During First Dance

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Norah Jones's three-day kiss

Norah Jones, the wonderful singer with no stage presence, is starring in a movie?

Norah Jones's three-day kiss - Telegraph

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Review - Funny Games vs. Straw Dogs

One of the podcasts I respect stated that Funny Games (FG) was a movie everyone had to see. I tried to watch Funny Games a few months ago and couldn't stomach it. One of my friends encouraged me to watch Straw Dogs (SD) which seemed like a cartoon compared to what I saw of the other movie. I had to see Funny Games to its conclusion.

I told her that Straw Dogs was like Home Alone compared to Funny Games and she just couldn't believe that comparison because Straw Dogs essentially gave her nightmares. I brought the movie to their house and they couldn't get take it after the golf club to the knee.

I will assume you have seen both movies. If not, you will get spoilers, although I will try to not give too much away.

Family goes to the country to escape city life for a little while.

A 'braniac' man, not one that uses his muscles for a living. The woman is strong, but is under appreciated by her man. This fundamental issue causes all of the problems that follow.

Cheeky twenty-something brats bored with there lives looking for some action.

The obvious confrontation between the pros and antis. Various things happen and many people die.

So far the two movies are identical. There is really only one difference:

SD took FOREVER to get to the good action, so-to-speak. FG gets going within the first 15 minutes.

SD: antagonists die. FG: protagonists die.

SD started out as an odd little movie with no really dark overtones to start. There are some shenanigans but nothing to worry about. The husband is so into his work that he ignores his wife, even after she points it out (ala The Shining). The guys working on the house have a history with the wife, and she excites that history by parading around topless in front of them. The cat shows up hanged in the closet, but the husband refuses to confront the hooligans--instead he goes hunting with them. It takes him hours to realize he's been duped, but it's much worse than being made a fool. The guy the wife used to like sort-of rapes her, but she almost seems to like it. She definitely didn't like the second guy going at her. She never tells her man about it, though. Skip forward and the couple is holed up in their house guarding a mentally handicapped guy from the hooligans. One by one the husband kills the protagonists with Home Alone-like antics: Scalding oil, broken glass, bear traps. Eventually the antagonists prevail.

FG started out much weirder. The prologue uses classical music, but the beginning credits use extremely violent German music for the background. Right away the family notices something odd but they don't worry about it until the dog wails. The husband comes in to find the wife confronting the hooligans but he doesn't support her right away. He eventually realizes she was right but it was too late--his kneecap gets busted by one of his own golf clubs. It really goes downhill (emotionally) from there.

My friends stopped at the golf club. Much worse things follow, but you never see anything. The beauty of the movie is the way it manipulates you as an audience member. The antagonists even break the fourth wall several times to communicate directly with you and to even alter the plot.

My heart was in my throat the entire time during FG. SD never really caused that effect. My friend stated that she couldn't imagine a movie that would make SD look like Home Alone, but she had to stop FG after the golf club because it was just too intense. Her husband said he could go his whole life without ever finishing that movie.

Alright, this is a really crappy comparison between the two movies. If anything I want you to see FG if you like any kind of snuff, torture or horror films. If you can't handle those then see SD--it will do the job.

It's been over 24 hours and FG still hasn't left my chest, so I still feel tense and uneasy about it. No movie has ever done that to me, and that's amazing considering you don't actually see any of the violent acts save the last one, which isn't violent at all, really.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Mini Review - Equilibrium

I kept thinking '1984' and 'Gattaca', with a little bit of 'The Matrix'. That about sums it up.

Christian Bale is okay in this role, but the movie is not really that great. My main problem with the movie is the core plot point: Emotions are outlawed and 'Prozac' is required (well, not that name brand, but everyone knows what they're referencing). Anyone that cries, is filled with joy, etc., is sentenced to death. I guess the purpose is to keep society calm, but everyone takes it, not just the proletariat, so I'm sure they are commenting on the use of these types of drugs and are not allegorically referencing communism or anything else.

The problem is this: How do you draw the line? Several times you see the 'clerics' (the thought police) smile or look angry. Aren't those emotions? It's poorly executed, but I guess it would be an even worse movie if nobody had any emotions at all.

I'm not going to go into a lot of detail about the secondary points, like killing puppies, hiding 'Prozac', illegal mirror frames, etc., but suffice it to say they are either cheesy heart-string pullers, devices used in similar movies 100's of times before, or are as silly as the core emotion plot point.

The end was too Matrix-y. It worked for The Matrix because they could defy physics, but it was just silly in this movie. Oh, and the part where he pistol-whips six guards to death, ones that have guns and are inches away from him, was hilarious.

My suggestion: Read 1984 and watch Gattaca. I'm sure you've already seen The Matrix.

Equilibrium (2002)

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Washing Machine Smell

For some reason our jeans smell really bad. They have a sour smell like mold. Apparently this is caused indirectly by fabric softener--it's made from tallow, which is yummy to lots of microorganisms. I'm going through a cleaning cycle recommended over and over by people on this web page.

Washing Machine Smell

My First Mandoline Part II

I tried to slice lemons & regular potatoes and they all end up with thick and thin edges. I tried varying pressure through the cut, using no pressure at all, pulling, pushing, but nothing worked. This sucker's going back. I'll go for that Swiss one eventually.

Compare 2008 Pres. Candidates

Pretty neat. I cross-referenced my important issues with a couple of other sites and everything seems to match up. Pretty nice way to compare candidates.


Monday, February 04, 2008

Review - OXO V-Blade Mandoline

My wife wanted to make sweet potato chips for the game yesterday, so I finally had an excuse to buy a mandoline. I've wanted one for a while, but the need escalated when my friend kept saying SHE wanted one. Purchased the OXO V-Blade model, their lower-end mandoline, $50.

OXO International - V-Blade Mandoline


All of the blades store in the device so there's nothing floating around in a drawer. Well, the 'bonus' dicer blades and spacer don't store in it, but they have their own sealed container.


I tried a few slices to get a feel for the machine using the straight blade and they turned out OK. I saw the waffle fries on the side of the box and decided to try that. They did not turn out that well.

I sliced through two big fat sweet potatoes and never figured out how to make 'perfect' waffles. Usually they were too thick on one side and too thin on the other. Since I was alternating the direction on the wavy slicer that meant that one side was solid, the middle was normal waffle and the other side turned into little fingers of potato. I tried using different pressures, mounting the potato deep into the holder and barely attached, and swapping 90 degrees back-and-forth as well as rotating 90 degrees every slice. Nothing fixed the problem.

Logically it seems like this is caused by too much pressure at the beginning of the stroke vs. the end, but I tried to press evenly, and sometimes with no pressure at all, and it still had the same problem.

It also makes sense that it could be because the up-blade side is at a different angle than the down-blade side. The thickness is changed by adjusting the attack angle of one of the sides. However, the blade is v-shaped, so it seems like it would be thin on both sides and thick in the middle, and this might actually be what's happening but the part that hits the blade first is thicker than the last part, so it still seems like a pressure issue.

The blades are sharp! This wouldn't be a problem except that the blades are not dishwasher safe--they have to be washed by hand. I'll have to buy a scrub brush to clean it if I decide to keep it. Cut myself twice on the thing.

The plastic stains. Two huge sweet potatoes was apparently more carotine than it could handle, so most of the white runway is now orange. It's not something that can be scrubbed off, but maybe bleach of some type will clean it.


I am going to try a few more things tonight to see if I can master the waffle cut. If I can't then I will reutrn this and buy the Borner v-slicer online.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Home-made Karaoke part II

My single mom and our family friends came over for home-made karaoke and it turned out pretty well. I have to say that the Asian karaoke places know what they're doing because I spent the entire night twiddling the knobs to keep the singers sounding good while reducing feedback. I used the system I described in an earlier post, but without the photobooth app, since adults sang 90% of the time.

It was nice having the 9,000 song playlist but it became clear that some of the .kar files didn't have words and some of the song names I printed out were for .txt files (I made it filter out only .mid files, duh).