Sunday, April 30, 2006

Dollar Tree Ducks

Until this past weekend, I had never been into one of those "dollar" stores. Or maybe I had, but it was so long ago I don't remember. I any case, girlfriend and I were sent on a mission to procure plastic storage containers for familial organizational purposes (step-sister was moving) and so we took the $40 we were given and made off to find the most we could get for the money. I was skeptical that a dollar store would have what we were after thinking we could do fine at Target, but I agreed to take a look at Dollar Tree first.

I must say, I was pleasantly surprised. I imagined the place would be stuffed to the rafters with junk. And there was plenty of junk. But... there were also some surprising finds, including the plastic storage containers we were after (40 in fact; $40 = 40 containers... amazing). But, best of all, I found these Easter ducks. I spend from 5 to 10 bucks a piece on similar stuffed toys for the dog when I get them from PetSmart. And these were a buck. So, I got 20. Since the dog goes through about 1 a month (they get tossed when the stuffing starts to come out or they just get too gross), I figure I am good on the stuffed toys for the next year and a half. Sure, they're all ducks, but what does he care? It will be Easter all year round!

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Listening To - Danny Elfman

So Lo. Pure old vintage Danny circa the Oingo days. All I can say is Gratitude.

 

Filler-up with Corn

This is a good article by those wonderful folks over at Popular Mechanics on the different options available to replace gasoline in motor vehicles. They compare cost and efficiency as well as likelihood of infrastructure development for ethanol, methanol, electricity, bio diesel, natural gas, and a couple of others. The skinny: there are no perfect options, but of those that could actually work today and in the near future, bio diesel looks like a good bet. Another interesting point is that once we begin to seriously pursue gasoline replacement we can count on the oil producing countries to lower their prices. But, they know we aren't serious yet. A good article.

 

What Happened to Global Warming

I thought it was "global warming." What's this "climate change" business that Al Gore is talking about? Methinks mesmells a change of tactics. Maybe someone knows that the Earth is not warming as much or as fast as we've been led by the nose to believe? And I'm not one of the naysayers that don't believe it's happening - the global warming thing. It is, and many studies have shown that over the past 100 years or so the earth has warmed and that CO2 emissions are likely the primary reason for that warming. I believe we should reduce CO2 emissions and search for other innovative ways to reduce atmospheric CO2. And I think we need to start now. But the problem is over-hyped and over-sold with fear-mongering as the primary tactic. The reason? Newsies love the doom and gloom stories and "climate change" advocates want the gravy train of research dollars to continue. Plus they feel justified in over-hyping the problem in order to motivate governments and industry to do something about it. Me, I'd just like the truth.

This is a great little article from the BBC. Of particular note is their investigation into how a published article from Nature on the probable effects of doubled CO2 in the atmosphere on global temperature (an increase, but not catastrophic) was blown wildly out of proportion by the news media and how those who knew better decided to keep quiet. Disturbing, to say the least.

Fear-mongering does not help the cause, it hurts it. If Florida isn't under water in 10 years, I have a feeling people are going to think they've had their chain pulled.

 

Learn English

If I decided to emigrate to France, the first thing I'd do is learn French. Hell, I'd learn it before I went or enough to get by doing basic things to start at least. In the United States we speak English. If you come here and intend to live here, learn English. The whole "melting-pot" concept that has been integral to the American success story is based on a common language - English. Keep those things that are important to your cultural identity, wherever you come from. Go to a church that fits your beliefs (or speaks your native language). But, when we're at a PTA meeting together, you and I have to be able to communicate. Period. So immigrants, if you want to be successful here (and I want you to be), buy into the melting-pot and learn English. Don't aggregate into insulated communities. The idea of children reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in Spanish is ridiculous. It goes against the melting-pot.

 

DVD Fun - Zoolander

I don't have a long review because this one is just a silly Ben Stiller flick. Yes, I liked it. Yes, it's funny. Ben Stiller does his thing being goofy as Derek Zoolander the fashion model extraordinaire, but on his way down. Will Farrell is hilarious as the EVIL Magatu, exploiter of child labor, and Owen Wilson plays the air head Hansel, the new top male fashion model. Plus Jon Voight is quite funny as Derek Zoolander's coal miner father ashamed of the life his son has chosen as a fashion model. My one beef was the weird group sex scene with the reporter, Matilda Jeffries (Christine Taylor). There's no real explicit nudity, but it just sort of didn't fit and I didn't see the need for it in an otherwise clean-ish comedy. Maybe it's just me, or maybe it was because my Mom and Dad were watching with us. In any case, just beware if you pick this up on the way to Granny's house.

Friday, April 28, 2006

I Could Just Spank Myself

 

I have heard it voiced that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office will issue a patent for even the silliest things. I have my doubts. Take for instance patent number 6,293,874, this very useful "User-operated amusement apparatus for kicking the user's buttocks" or "spanking machine" for short. I know I have had many times in my life where I have made some dumb decision and I could have used a good spanking. If I had an apparatus such as this to deliver a good spanking to myself, it would be of great value. Unfortunately, Sears does not carry it yet (although my "spanking machine" search turned up the strange result of this guy).

I think such an innovative example of American ingenuity really refutes the claims that the patent office is going down hill.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Google-fox

I like Google. I love the Firefox browser. Nice to see they are working as a team.

 

Recipe Blogging - Everyday Chili

This is my basic chili recipe for quickly putting together a batch (when I don't want to soak beans and such). Usually I'll put some in the freezer to eat over the following month. Lately, I've been leaving out the bell peppers because GF hates them. I like them, but they are certainly optional as is the extra garlic.

Ingedients:

* 2 pounds ground beef (I use 5% fat ground beef, but you can also use ground turkey)
* 1 teaspoon butter
* 2 large white onions, chopped
* 2 green bell peppers, seeded and chopped
* 1 habanero pepper, chopped
* 2 (15 ounce) cans kidney beans, drained
* 1 (15 ounce) can black beans
* 3 (15 ounce) cans tomato sauce
* 1 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes
* 1 tablespoon chili powder
* 2 teaspoons salt
* 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
* 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic (optional, for the garlic lover)
* 1 drop super-hot hot pepper sauce (or a few drops of Tobasco)

Directions:

1. In a large pot, cook the ground beef over medium heat until evenly browned. Drain off grease, and set aside.
2. Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. Saute the onions, green pepper and habanero pepper until onions are translucent. Remove from heat. Transfer the onion mixture to the pot with the ground beef, and set the heat to medium.
3. Add the beans and tomato sauce and diced tomatoes to the beef mixture, and season with chili powder, salt, garlic salt, garlic, and hot pepper sauce. Bring to a simmer, and adjust seasonings to taste if necessary. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 1-2 hours, stirring occasionally.

 

Apes Demand Their Rights

From the Spanish Herald:

The Spanish Socialist Party will introduce a bill in the Congress of Deputies calling for "the immediate inclusion of (simians) in the category of persons, and that they be given the moral and legal protection that currently are only enjoyed by human beings." The PSOE's justification is that humans share 98.4% of our genes with chimpanzees, 97.7% with gorillas, and 96.4% with orangutans.

We also share a very high percentage of genes with mice (you know... the whole "mammal" thing). I think that they should demand their rights as well. Once they have their "human rights", then they will surely call for and end to any of the nasty research on them that humans are always doing trying to come up with their stupid cures for silly deseases like Cystic Fibrosis and Muscular Dystrophy and Multiple Sclerosis. Not to mention the common cold or that goofy bird flu that might mutate in a human to human transmittable form any day now. So yes, by all means lets give all the animals their right starting with the chimps (but we should definitely prioritize so let's give the cute and furry ones their rights first, because they're sooooooooo cute and cuddly. The lizards and snakes will have to wait their turn.).

 

 

Lazy Gadgets

Too lazy to flip someone the bird? I know how you feel. Good thing that Wired has a whole gaggle of cool inventions for the ulta-lazy individual. My favorite: the automatic ice cream turner. It just wears me down twisting the cone around in circles to get the newest drip.

 

Listening To - Cowboy Junkies

200 More Miles. If you like the Cowboy Junkies, you will love this album. It's a bunch of their best material from a number of live performances spanning the 80s and 90s. It's just a great live album with excellent recording quality and some cool band banter. My favorite though isn't Sweet Jane or Misguided Angel , but their rendition of Hank Williams' I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry. And I just love Margo Timmins' wonderful, sultry voice in a big-overall-general kind of way.

 

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Microsoft Blunder

Was Internet Explorer Microsoft's greatest blunder ever? Dvorak thinks so, but I'm not convinced. Yes, they have spent untold amounts of time fighting holes and worms and viruses and other exploits, but I think the Internet is still evolving and even though we aren't doing our word processing (most of us) through a browser at present, there is much innovation yet to come. Portland Oregon will have a total coverage wireless network in a couple of years for everyone to use for free (with expanded services for a fee of course), so who knows what will be possible in the future with that sort of connectivity. I'm not saying that IE has been a good business decision to date or that I use it (I don't, I use Firefox), but I think it remains to be seen how much we will do through the browser in the future and maybe Microsoft has some tricks up their sleeve. Just my 2 bits.

 

DVD Fun - Best in Show

Do you have movies you watch like you listen to CDs? You know, watch them over and over for whatever reason. I don't have too many. Most movies I see I don't need to see again. But, Best in Show is one of the few movies I do watch again and again. It's got the quirky Christopher Guest mockumentary comedy thing going and the dogs and, well, I just love Parker Posey. The movie takes the absurdly serious world of competitive dog showing and follows a group of eccentric dog owners and their dogs through the big Mayflower dog show. Guest himself plays the owner of a championship bloodhound who practices his ventriloquism on the side. Parker Posey and Michael Hitchcock play a uber-yuppie couple in therapy with a Weimaraner they believe they have traumatized because it saw them having sex, and Catherine O'Hara is a girl with championship terrier and a long history who keeps running into past lovers that none-too-delicately recount their intimate past with her in front of her current husband (Eugene Levy). And if you like dogs at all, you should see this one just for the wonderful dogs, comedy aside. A good one - check it out.

 

CIA Media Mole

"This CIA officer acknowledged having unauthorized discussions with the media in which the officer knowingly shared classified intelligence, including operational information," CIA spokeswoman Michele Neff said.

I don't know about you, but I kind of want the CIA to be able to do its job catching bad guys. It makes it lots harder to do if people who work for the CIA, and signed agreements saying they would not share secrets, and know that what they are doing is illegal, take it upon themselves to share whatever they feel like with the media. I don't give a rats ass who this woman was helping or hurting politically, we all lose if more planes go crashing into buildings. In this time of struggle and extra caution we should not allow any government organization to run out of control, but the CIA needs to be able to find and eliminate the bad guys and this means playing in the gray space and keeping secrets.

And if you doubt there are still bad guys who'd like a crack at blowing themselves up to kill you (and they don't give a rats ass about what political party you belong to either), just look here or here or here.

 

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

State Booze Monopoly

When I first moved to Oregon from California some years back I was taken aback by the weird little state stores you must go to in order to buy liquor. Beer and wine can be purchased anywhere practically. But, in both Oregon and Washington state, liquor is a state-owned monopoly, and so you must go to a state store during temperate hours to buy your bottles of booze at a state-set price (which is high). If it's 7pm on a Saturday and you forgot the Tequila for your Mardi Gras party, well you're screwed. Or, maybe not if you live in downtown Portland and you know the one state store that's open till 9pm. This is lame and inconvenient and hanger-on bologna from after Prohibition. Considering the 21st Amendment was passed a little over 70 years ago, I'd say it's about time to migrate into the modern era. Evidently COSTCO thought so too, and so did the judge. I'll toast that! Did I mention that I just love COSTCO?

 

Sexy Jay Leno

Well, Jay's certainly a funny guy a lot of the time. And I bet he's a cool guy to hang with as well. But, a sexy guy? Evidently Victoria's Secret thinks so naming him their sexiest male TV personality. I'm a happy heterosexual guy, but I think I have some idea about sex-appeal in males. This is not from being in touch with my feminine side but from watching GF goggle and fawn over movie actors. And she doesn't do that about Jay. Anyway, if you're a woman or gay ("not that there's anything wrong with that" as Larry David would say) and you get it, clue me in.

You Look Mexican - Lets See Your ID

The Prez says we can't deport all of the 11 million illegal immigrants that are estimated to be in the United States already. Well, duh. Not unless you want some kind of massive police action even assuming there was the available manpower for it (and there's not). I don't want that, and I bet you don't either if you think about the implications. But, for the love of Mike, we need to stop the problem from getting worse by tightening the borders and limiting access to some services. If you have to prove citizenship or legal residency to qualify for social services or get a job (for real, not just on paper), it becomes less appealing to come here illegally. And if you heighten the barrier to get across the border illegally (fence, more border patrol agents, more technology), you theoretically lower the number that do get across. It has to be a multi-pronged approach. I'd be satisfied to assimilate many of those that are here illegally now if there was a serious approach to gaining control of illegal immigration moving forward. Unfortunately, I think many of the politicians are not serious about doing something, even the ones blabbing about it because it's an election year.

 

Fun Houses

This house from the neighborhood is just too yellow and bright for me. And, I usually like purple, but for some reason not this purple. Too light I think.

 

Listening To - Kingdom of Heaven

I really liked this movie, but The Kingdom of Heaven soundtrack is awesome. It's easily one of my favorite albums right now. Harry Gregson-Williams does an excellent job of matching the music to the tale of love, loss, war, and redemption. It's beautiful. By the way, if you liked the music for Chronicles of Narnia, this is the same guy.

 

Sunday, April 23, 2006

The House Is - Very Colorful

I walk by this house every day when I go downtown for lunch. It's ahhhh.... mighty colorful. Not sure it's exactly how I'd paint my house next time around, but girlfriend thinks the colors are delightful. Yikes! Maybe I will be living in a purple and green and orange house someday. What do you think? What color is your house?

 

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Too Damn Big

Panasonic has a new toy. It's a 103 inch wide screen plasma TV. Of course you will need to rent a crane and add steel supports in the walls in order to mount this thing, but it will certainly be the biggest baddest boy in your neighborhood. On the other hand, why do you want to watch television on something this large? Yes, Star Wars - Revenge of the Sith or Jurassic Park would be awesome on this set, but the evening news?

My parents have a 60 + inch television built into the wall of their living room. When I'm at their house and a regular TV show is on, I find myself backing way back into the kitchen about 25 feet away just to make the viewing more normal. Maybe it's something you'd get used to, I don't know. Anyway, if you do buy one of these new monsters, give me a buzz - I'll bring the popcorn.

 

Brooke is Still Hot

All you youngsters out there might not understand, but Blue Lagoon was about the hottest thing I had ever seen by the time I was in 8th grade. And 99% of that hotness was Brooke Shields. Anyway, even at 40, and with a gaggle of rugrats, she's still hot. But, she's taken so I guess I don't really have a chance (that's the only reason though!). And GF would be pissed.

 

Bush Must Resign Now

"Veteran rocker Neil Young has recorded a protest album featuring an anti- Iraq war track with 'a holy vow to never kill again' and a song titled 'Let's Impeach the President'"

If this doesn't make Bush resign, I just don't know what will. Actually, I'm probably as disgruntled with Junior as your are, maybe for similar reasons, maybe for different ones. But some things just make me shake my head. As if the gravity of such a personality as Neil Young carries added weight. Springsteen, The Dixie Chicks, and now Neil Young. OH. MY. GOD. What next?

 

Listening To - Everything But The Girl

Acoustic. This is a simple, but gorgeous album that highlights Tracy Thorn's lovely voice. Half covers, half original tunes, but the covers are well picked to make the album feel whole and right. In fact, I think the best song on this album is the cover of Bruce Springsteen's Tougher Than The Rest. Simply wonderful.

 

Peeps - Free

 

Does anyone need these? They're free. You just have to come by and pick them up.

 

Friday, April 21, 2006

Dog Blogging

Mr. Frisbee enjoying the sun.

 

We Have a Reason to be Nervous

Mark Steyn in The Wall Street Journal on Iranian Nukes:

What's the difference between a hothead and a moderate? Well, the extremist Ahmadinejad has called for Israel to be "wiped off the map," while the moderate Rafsanjani has declared that Israel is "the most hideous occurrence in history," which the Muslim world "will vomit out from its midst" in one blast, because "a single atomic bomb has the power to completely destroy Israel, while an Israeli counter-strike can only cause partial damage to the Islamic world." Evidently wiping Israel off the map seems to be one of those rare points of bipartisan consensus in Tehran, the Iranian equivalent of a prescription drug plan for seniors: we're just arguing over the details.

The core of the problem is not that another country might acquire nuclear arms. If Norway got the bomb we wouldn't be happy, but I doubt anyone would be kept up at night worrying about them wiping Sweden off the map. And I really don't think it's particularly an issue of a Muslim country getting the bomb, but I can't think of a Norwegian equivalent in the Muslim world. It's an issue of this country, Iran, getting the bomb because of what they say and how they behave.

Like Steyn says, there are only bad options and worse options, but the problem is not going away. Read the whole thing if you have a few minutes, it's good analysis of the situation.

 

Nail Gun Suicide Attempt

From the Oregonian:

Three days after he shot the nails into his brain, doctors put the man in an operating room and took them out.

Surgeons cut from ear to ear, through the crown of his head, pulling the skin down to see the nails' heads. They started with the nail judged least threatening, just below the right ear. With a bone drill, surgeons chipped away bone around the nail until they could grab the head with pliers. They pulled it out....

After surgery, the man was a little swollen and had trouble moving his right side. But over the next week, his stiffness and swelling melted away. The surgeons were done with him.

"Then," West said, "we got the psychologist involved."

Good idea.

Who knew that nail gun suicide attempts were so common? Evidently, here in Oregon though, we now of the record of "most nails used" in such an attempt. Now there's one to be proud of. Anyway, before even reading the article I knew there was one thing involved for sure - meth. Kids, if this isn't a good example of what that crap can do to you, I don't know what is.

 

Wait to Bomb Iran

Edward Luttwack has an informative piece in Commentary on the current huff with Iran. He is essentially saying that Iran does not yet have the technological capacity or infrastructure to produce a nuclear weapon. We should therefore wait to take action in the hopes that the regime will fall on its own.

"Organization is indeed Iran’s weakest point, with weighty consequences: after a century of oil drilling, for example, the state oil company still cannot drill exploratory wells without foreign assistance. In another example, even though the U.S. embargo was imposed almost 25 years ago, local industry cannot reverse-engineer spare parts of adequate quality for U.S.-made aircraft, which must therefore remain grounded or fly at great peril—there have been many crashes. Similarly, after more than sixty years of experience with oil refining at Abadan, existing capacity still cannot be increased without the aid of foreign engineering contractors, while the building of new refineries with local talent alone is deemed quite impossible. Iran must import one third of the gasoline it consumes because it cannot be refined at home.

In sum, there is no need to bomb Iran’s nuclear installations at this time. The regime certainly cannot produce nuclear weapons in less than three years, and may not be able to do so even then because of the many technical difficulties not yet overcome."

But, what he also maintains, as do many others, is that a nuclear armed Iran under the current leadership is not acceptable.

"By the same token, however, it is irresponsible to argue for coexistence with a future nuclear-armed Iran on the basis of a shared faith in mutual deterrence. How indeed could deterrence work against those who believe in the return of the twelfth imam and the end of life on earth, and who additionally believe that this redeemer may be forced to reveal himself by provoking a nuclear catastrophe?"

It's a longish article, but it has good information on the history of the Iranian nuclear program. Iran has essentially been working on a bomb for 30 years and almost all of the significant advances they have made were purchased from Pakistan's A.Q. Khan, the infamous nuclear secrets smuggler (who stole his secrets from Europe). Read it if you have the time.

I think I lean more towards this view than Mark Steyn's behead-the-regime-now view.

 

Make $$ - Think Like a Woman

"Expressed loosely, being smart makes women patient and makes men take more risks."

Warren Buffet may not be a woman, but evidently he thinks like one. Do like Buffet does and be patient and wait for the sure thing. Me... I'm still looking for that email I got this morning telling me to BUY, BUY, BUY RIGHT NOW! some damnfool penny stock. Gotta take some risks right? I am a man after all.

 

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Bye Bye Scotty

Scott McClellan is saying bye bye. I can't say I'm sorry or surprised. I used to cringe watching him get smacked around by the not overly-sharp press crowd that camps out in the White House press room. He is probably a really nice guy and all that, but the press just chewed him to pieces. He could never quite keep up. Maybe if Rumsfeld gets hounded out of Defense, he can take the job?

 

Death Rate Down

Wow! The death rate in the United States is down drastically. I'm guessing it's still somewhere around 100% though ultimately (har, har). That reminds me of a comedian I heard years backing saying that experts say smoking takes 10 years off of your life. But it's the last 10 years. What are you missing? Drooling all over yourself? Okay kids, just joking - you shouldn't smoke.

 

American Idol - Not

I watched American Idol for the first time in my life and this guy Ace evidently got kicked off or whatever. GF explained to me later that he still will get rich and famous because he's gone, but not really gone... I didn't understand. Anyway, he got to sing at the end of the show before they bid him adios and he was awful. How did he get this far? Is it just me? Am I missing something here? And why do people watch this show?

 

Go to College Kids

You don't want to end up with this job (unless you really do I guess). But, maybe this is how he's working his was through college? I try to be polite and wave back.

 

 

Morning Jolt

Tired of waiting for the coffee to brew for that first cup of joe? Me too. Time to start absorbing my caffeine right through my skin in the shower. Too bad they are out of stock right now because I want a box of twelve at least.

 

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Can You Write a Check for That

Whatever your tax problems are, they're not as big as this. Ooooops. Maybe they should have done a little more research. Yes, that's a large "B" as in "Billion."

 

Listening To - American Beauty

American Beauty. I like the movie, but I like this score even better and it stands all by itself as a classic. It's fun and interesting and instantly recognizable if you did see the movie.

 

I Want to GO!

It's not that I drive really faster or dangerously, I'm just an impatient driver. When I'm on the road in my daily driving around going to and from work or attending to business, I want to GO. I want to get where I'm going and get it done. So, I find myself yacking away at other cars and drivers and traffic lights from inside the safety of my own little truck cab. And I say things at cars and people that I would never say outside my truck cab. I would never run up behind some nice old lady on the street and yell at her to get moving. Nor would I run up to a car and yell at it. So, why I do this (I suspect there are many others out there) is a mystery. A human psychology thing with an easy explanation I suspect.

Anyway, this guy has similar issues, but he decided to do something about it. I love it! But, best of all is the way he justifies and cost-analyzes the whole thing.

 

USB Disco Ball

Here are some of the most interesting USB devices. I think I like the disco ball best, although I haven't a clue when I'd use it. Maybe at my desk at work to lure unsuspecting hotties into my cubicle? And I think I could actually use the eye massager if I had one. You know, after a long day staring at the computer screen, pull out the old USB eye massager for a few minutes and you're good to go for a couple more hours. Where can I order one of these things?

 

Greasy From Ear to Ear

Well, sounds like these good 'ol boys have just ravenous appetites for pork. They're practically greasy from ear to ear with big shiny smiles on their faces (okay, I'm stereotyping.. I'm sorry). But, sheeeeeeesh guys, let's get a grip and realize we have BIG budget problems and a war on and lots of other problems that need attention. Of course we need to rebuild the Gulf Coast and help the folks that were affected (that's what we're about, right?), but this blatant gobbling at the trough is not helping. I'm willing to sacrifice for the important things, why aren't you senators?

 

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Varekai - Wherever

"Deep within a forest, at the summit of a volcano, exists an extraordinary world—a world where something else is possible. A world called Varekai.

From the sky falls a solitary young man, and the story of Varekai begins.  Parachuted into the shadows of a magical forest, a kaleidoscopic world populated by fantastical creatures, this young man sets off on an adventure both absurd and extraordinary.  On this day at the edge of time, in this place of all possibilities, begins an inspired incantation to life rediscovered."

We went and saw Cirque du Soleil's Varekai last Friday. This was the first time I had seen a Cirque du Soleil show in person and I was amazed at how easy the performers make the complex and difficult aerobatics look. In fact, I saw only one "mistake" in the entire show and it was very small - GF didn't even catch it. The show itself is interesting and very, very colorful, but a little slow to start (once it gets going though, it keeps going!). And I found it a bit difficult to follow the "story" although it made more sense to me reading about it afterwards (should have done that ahead of time). All in all it was very worthwhile and a wonderful thing to see in person. In fact, the last scene or act or whatever where the team of performers in fire-orange are shoot through the air past each other propelled from those giant see-saw things just left me gaping.

The one thing I'd do differently if I were to go again would be to buy the cheaper tickets. We bought the pricey tickets, but there was virtually no difference in the view, you can see everything from virtually every seat, and they're all good seats.

We will be heading to Las Vegas next month and have decided to take in one of the Cirque du Soleil shows there, probably Zumanity or O. Anyone have a recommendation?

 

Iranian President Stinks

Well... at least that's what the text message that he received told him and he's pissed. I certainly doesn't make me happy that citizens in Iran who poke fun of their leader face unpleasant treatment, to say the least. But, I think it's a good sign overall when they are pushing the limits and expressing themselves. Maybe there is hope yet. And does anyone have Iranian President Ahmadinejad's cell phone number? I've got a text message I'd like to send.

 

A Bad Guy

I've gotten a few emails from good folks who think I am wrong about Zacarias Moussaoui, the accused 9/11 terror accomplice, deserving the death penalty if that is what the jury decides. One fellow told me that Moussaoui is clearly nuts. Another person seems to think that Moussaoui was being prosecuted for what he "said." In other words, that he's being prosecuted because he says things like he wishes terrorists were driving planes into buildings every day.

I have no idea whether Zacarias Moussaoui is a looney bird or not. From what I have read, I think that he's delusional and warped by his religious beliefs and hatred of America. Maybe he couldn't light the right end of an M-80 if you gave him 2 tries. Evidently, Khalid Sheik Mohamed, the 9/11 mastermind, did not choose to use Moussaoui for the 9/11 operations whatever the reasons (unreliable?). But, is being an incompetent terrorist mean he is absolved of guilt? Or is he just crazy? I doubt it. But, some witnesses are saying that he had a bad childhood and that he's unstable (although he is evidently an excellent dancer and won dance contests with his girlfriend!). And, if he were to be found to be crazy by the judge or jury (I don't think that's his defense, but just theoretically), I would say he should not be eligible for the death penalty. In that case, he needs to be locked up and the key thrown away instead.

Moussaoui is not being tried for saying nasty things. He's being tried on very specific charges of planning terrorist acts and lying to federal investigators who questioned him before 9/11. He may not have known all the details of the operation, but he clearly knew there was an operation in play and who some of the terrorists were. I don't want to mince words here, but this is a really bad thing. If federal investigators could have gotten a whiff of what was up, possibly one or more of the hijackings could have been prevented. So, he had terrorist knowledge that might have prevented the deaths of one or more innocent people and he chose to lie about that to the FBI. He was planning other terrorist acts whether or not he had the competence to pull them off. And Khalid Sheik Mohamed thought of him as an Al-Qaeda operative in the United States (although at what level is unclear). This is why he faces the death penalty. Not because he raves in the courtroom about wishing for more American deaths or because he laughs at crying witnesses recalling their comrades lost in the 9/11 attacks. Although, I suspect this doesn't help him if he were trying to avoid the death penalty.

 

 

Post a Guard at Starbucks

I guess it makes sense if you think about it. Pricey laptop computers make a nice target for thieves looking to turn a quick buck. Of course I keep an eye on mine if I take it out somewhere like an internet cafe, but it never occurred to me someone might just grab it and run. Or stab me for it! (but then mine is a 3 year old Dell with lots of scratches and doesn't close properly, so maybe I'm safe.) But, if you're planning a trip to San Francisco, and you were going to break out that shiny new Powerbook at Starbucks, beware.

 

Mailman Patch

Does your doggie like the mailman as much as mine does? Maybe you need a mailman patch. Tee hee hee.

 

Recipe Blogging - Spicy Spaghetti

Generally, GF and I haven't strayed too far from our batch of known recipes. This includes anything involving making your own pasta. We have a great fresh pasta place (they make it - you buy it) within walking distance, so we are spoiled on the Italian fare front. But, this past weekend we tried a new one, making our own pasta and sauce and it turned out just yummy. Plus it's fairly easy if you've got some time. And I think it would make a great making dinner date sort of adventure if that's what you're after (I know I was - wink, wink).

So here goes...

Pasta Dough:

2 1/3 cups whole wheat flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

Lukewarm water

Sauce:

2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1 fresh red chile pepper, finely chopped

1 tablespoon of finely chopped parsley

6 tablespoons olive oil

1 pound of ripe tomatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped

1/2 onion, finely chopped

salt to taste

 

For the pasta dough, sift the flour and salt onto a clean work surface and form a well in the center. Mix enough lukewarm water into the mix to make a smooth dough. Just add a little water at a time until it starts to become a dough - don't add too much. Knead the dough for about 15 minutes and then form it into a ball and wrap it in plastic wrap and set it aside to rest for 30 minutes. After the dough rests, roll the dough onto a floured work surface until it is a sheet about 1/8 inch thick. Cover the rolled dough with a dry cloth and let it sit and dry for another 30 minutes. Cut the pasta dough into thin spaghetti strips as thin as you can, but no more than 1/8 inch thick (the thinner the better).

For the sauce, saute the garlic, onion, parsley and chile in a large frying pan over medium heat for 2 minutes until the garlic starts to turn a gold color. Stir in the tomatoes and cook on medium high until the tomatoes are broken down (about 5 minutes). Season with some salt and remove from the heat.

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil over medium heat and add the pasta strips. Cook this for about 5 minutes until the pasta is firm stirring the pasta. Drain the pasta and then add it to the frying pan with the sauce and cook over medium heat until the sauce stick to the pasta. Serve piping hot with some yummy bread.

This should serve about 4 people.

 

Monday, April 17, 2006

Tom Cruise Q and A

Okay, this is a waste of time. But, if you have a few moments to chuck down the drain, you can see a couple of Tom Cruise snippets about his movies in general and the new MI III movie. He's asked questions which he attempts to answer with only partial success. What type of plane did you fly in Top Gun? F14. Wrong! Anyway, slightly amusing. But.. I am looking forward to Mission Impossible III which comes out in May. Excellent.

 

Nuke or not to Nuke

A month or so ago, girlfriend and I were out rock hounding up along the Columbia River past the town of St. Helens. There was a road cut on our map that looked interesting although we figured it had probably already been well picked over considering the cut was done about 10 years ago. When we got to the area, we realized that it was right across the road from Trojan nuclear power plant, which has been closed now for some years. The shadow of the huge cooling tower loomed over us as we stopped to take a look. We decided to see how close we could get, and the front gate was open, so we drove in and went all the way to the tower where there was a bunch of construction equipment assembled. I remembered that they were getting ready to disassemble the tower, the last large component left, the core having been removed a while back.

And it made me think, what a bummer. All the technology and work that went into this plant and here it was being taken apart. I realize these things having a fairly short life span, especially the earlier designed plants like most in the US, but Trojan was shut down about 20 years before it's time because of a deal struck between the utility that owns the plant and the groups that were pressing to get rid of the plant. There were some problems with the plant, and it had a small accident in 1992, but it could have been fixed. Mainly, it was just that environmental groups that finally did it in. Also, here in the Northwest we generally don't burn coal for electricity because we have a system of hydroelectric dams on the Columbia river. So, Trojan wasn't "technically" needed. But, even the hydroelectric dams have their detractors and their problems (silt build-up, fish passage) and eventually will need to come out. So, what's the long-term solution?

I thought this was an interesting opinion piece by one of the founders of Greenpeace that is now advocating nuclear power. He is picking the lesser of 2 evils when looking at global warming and nuclear power. And nuclear power has certainly got its own problems like where to store spent fuel and how to build the safest plants possible. But, I think he's right. Ultimately, we need a long-term source of electric power that does not choke the planet (or heat it too much).

 

Beam Me a Movie

I've mentioned this before, and I like the idea, but it looks like it's still a little spendy for my taste. The MovieBeam service allows you to have 100 movies on the player at any one time and exchange them for others as you wish. I assumed this kind of thing was on the way and that Blockbuster and Hollywood Video have only a few years to live. But, like with all new technology, the early adopters pay a premium. Cool though, if you can afford the player and service.

 

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Cool'n Down the Processor

Alright techno-geeks, this isn't new, but it was new to me and it's cool as hell. Overclocking a Pentium 4 chip to 5 Ghz by putting it in liquid nitrogen. Video games not playing fast enough? Well, this might be an excellent weekend project for those who can get their paws on the proper equipment. Lots of neat pictures.

 

 

Listening To - Armageddon

The Armageddon soundtrack. What can I say? I just like it and it makes for some good cookie-baking background music. And if you like this one, you'll probably like most of the other Trevor Rabin soundtracks. Good stuff.

 

 

 

Saturday, April 15, 2006

The Green of Driving Green

I have driven two different hybrid vehicles since they were introduced a few years back. The Toyota Prius, which is surprisingly roomy, and the new Toyota Highlander hybrid which is the same body design as the gas engine equivalent, but with the hybrid electric motor. I liked both of these vehicles although they both lack some of the pep that you are accustomed to with a gas engine. And I like the idea of better gas mileage more and more with gallon of the stuff going for around $2.65 where I live these days. But, I've always assumed that over the long haul, even with the tax incentives, that the cost of ownership would be higher with the hybrid vs a similar gas engine only vehicle. Well, it looks like I'm mostly right, except for the Prius (unless gas keeps going up). Kiplinger compares the cost of ownership with the different available hybrids and concludes that most of them will cost you a few bucks more over a 5 year period of ownership.

Still, I'm willing to paying a few dollars more over the years to drive a greener vehicle. And the pep issue is not a big problem for me either. If I purchased a hybrid it would be to replace an older but similar gas-burning sedan. And I have a gas-burning 4WD truck for when I want to go where no man has gone before (or just a few have anyway). And looking at what gas prices have done the past year, I'd even be willing to bet that they're only going up from here and that any of the hybrids would save me money overall in the next 5 years.

 

Spreadsheet in a Web Page

Alright, this may be a little more techi than usual, but have you ever thought it would be neat to be able to put a functioning spreadsheet into a web page? Dan Bricklin, the visi-calc guy, has developed just such an animal. Actually, it's called wikicalc and he bills it as a sort of hybrid wiki and spreadsheet. Best, of coarse, is that it's free. I have not tried it yet, but I'm going to get it and install it in the next several days (maybe this weekend). And this is just the alpha version, so it's not ready for prime-time yet. I looks very interesting and useful though.

If you're interested, you can read about it and download it.

 

Iran Keeps Escalating

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad:

"Like it or not, the Zionist regime is heading toward annihilation...The Zionist regime is a rotten, dried tree that will be eliminated by one storm."

Now I wonder what "one storm" he's talking about? See, this kind of rhetoric is the reason people in the West are so adamant that Iran should not be allowed to progress with it's nuclear program. North Korea is worrisome as well, but Kim Jong Il hasn't been running around lately saying he's going to wipe South Korea off the map, let alone do it "soon." And I say "in the West" because Europe and the United States are very much of the same mind on this. Many European countries may have disagreed with the United States about Iraq, but on this they are clearly just as determined. A nuclear-armed Iran is a very bad thing for the whole world given their current leadership.

It would be a very destabilizing force in the Middle East, probably initiating an arms race with other countries like Turkey and Saudi Arabia. They outright support terrorists hell-bent on the destruction of the US and Israel today. Why wouldn't they pass along material or possibly an actual bomb?

And that's assuming they don't plan to just out-and-out use a nuclear weapon as soon as they had it. Our recent experience with radical Islamism is that they do exactly what they threaten to do, and the current President of Iran is radical Islamist who is repeatedly threatening Israel and the United States with destruction. Plus there's the imbedded issue of martyrdom within radical Islam which probably negates or at least diminishes the concept of mutually assured destruction. In other words, "you use the bomb and you're toast" doesn't apply if they don't care about repercussions and believe they are doing the will of their God.

It's really unfortunate to be in this situation. I really believe the majority off Iranians actually like Americans. I dated a Persian girl in college who's whole family escaped Khomeini's Iran on camel-back across the desert and they love America. It's the twisted Iranian leadership that is pushing this escalation and confrontation. And don't kid yourself thinking it would be different if only big John Kerry had been elected. He would be in the exact same boat ol' Bush and Company are.

 

Mmmmmmm - Cars

I wish I could have been at the New York auto show this week. I love cars and I love to see all the new models and futuristic designs. But, this little Brazilian machine called the Obvio 828 caught my eye looking at pictures from the show and it looks like just the thing I need for all the in-town driving I do. Plus it's a "thybrid", running on gas, alcohol and electricity. It may be a little tight in the cockpit though and the bench seat sounds a bit uncomfortable. But, still, it's cool.

 

Friday, April 14, 2006

Listening To - Cold Mountain

Cold Mountain. I never did see the movie, but the music from the the movie is nice if you find yourself in a bluegrass/country frame of mind. And I must admit that I'm a country and bluegrass moron, but found this CD for 2 bucks so I picked it up and, well, it's pretty good. I really like the Alison Krauss songs, but my favorite is I'm Going Home by The Sacred Harp Singers - a real foot-tapping choral gem.

 

 

Bye Bye Hangover

Are you as tired as I am of getting falling down drunk and then have to deal with the hangover the next morning? Or how about the hours wasted driving the porcelain bus? Okay... I'm joking (but maybe you aren't). There is good news in sight. Synthehol is right around the corner. All the buzz, but none of those pesky side effects like puking your guts out or waking up with a half-eaten burrito resting on your face (or both!).

 

 

The Best Sandwich in Town

I think I have a problem. A food problem. I am addicted to the ham and swiss sandwiches on rye bread that they make at the Grand Central Bakery in the neighborhood where I work.

They start with fresh rye bread, put on a small amount of mayo and dejon mustard, add a perfect amount of ham (not sure what type, but Oh so delicious) and swiss cheese and lettuce - that's it. And it is wonderful. It's not stacked with 5 kinds of vegetables. It's doesn't have an inch and half thick slab of meat, it's just simple and it accentuates the wonderful taste and aroma of their fresh bread. Now.... I need to go.... EAT!

Recruiter Intimidation

If you don't want military recruiters on campus, don't take federal funding dollars. I have no problem with the students at UC Santa Cruz demonstrating their point of view on the matter and protesting the recruiters, but when speaking your voice turns to violence and intimidation, the school must step in and take action against those that are instigating the mayhem. Period. If they won't, then Congress should enforce the Solomon Amendment and withhold funds from the school.

 

Thursday, April 13, 2006

I'm a Little Confused

So this past Monday we found out that President Spineless-turned-Evil was evil all along and involved up to his eyeballs with the whole terrorist thing from the beginning. But, he didn't actually count on Evil Terrorist Number One whacking President Palmer so that's why he was confused and dazed and couldn't make a decision to save his or anyone else's life at the beginning of the Prez job. It sorta makes sense I guess in Jack Bauer land, but somehow it doesn't ring completely true. Jack will still need to whack him. I give him maybe 2-3 episodes left to live - max (President Spineless Weasel I mean). As for the the killing, Jack knocked off a couple O' terrorists at the bank, but that was about it for his personal count. The cops whacked a few more terrorists as did the National Guard. Suffice it to say there were enough dead terrorists that I slept quite well Monday night - the world being a safer place and all. Till next week....

 

 

 

 

 

Begging for the Death Penalty

"Confessed al-Qaida conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui said Thursday it made his day to hear accounts of Americans' suffering from the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and he would like to see similar attacks every day".

Wow. The prosecution did it's damndest to screw this case up, but the defendant has virtually erased all those mistakes and ensured he will get the death penalty in just a few short days. It is telling though to look at the mind set of this man. He clearly sees this as war. And, of coarse, he's not alone. There are thousands just like him all over the world that would do whatever they could to kill Americans and damage American interests. And their idea that Muslims should rule the earth and infidels should be smashed under the heel is not some new reaction to Bush and Company invading Iraq. Certainly that gives them propaganda and recruits for the cause, but the cause goes back far beyond the current administration.

As for Zacarias Moussaoui.... good riddance. I hope the jury gives him what he deserves.

 

 

Muslim Playboy

I don't fault them for giving it the old college try. But, jeeeeze, it seems like a real uphill battle for Playboy magazine to break into new markets in the Muslim world. I suspect there are many, many Muslim guys that would love to peek between the pages (assuming it's got the nekkid stuff too), but we seem to see over and over again that in that part of the world opposition protest manifests itself in violence, death, and destruction. Too bad for them, because Miss May is hot (probably not safe for work).

 

Not Carrying a Man-Purse

If you are a male, you're probably in the same boat as I am trying to figure out how to carry the ever-increasing number of electronic gadgets that have become a part of everyday life. Man-purse? Fanny pack? Yikes! Personally, I still use a backpack for every day and a briefcase for meetings and such. But, there has to be a better way. And Lore Sjöberg at Wired has found just the thing: a bandolier!

" Bandoliers are comfortable, have very masculine overtones, and Chewbacca wore one. I could totally see dropping my miniature bleeping possessions into the pouches of a bandolier, cheerfully strapping it on, heading out into the world, and getting shot down by a paranoid security guard. That's why it can't be just me by myself; this needs to be a culturewide fashion move."

Awesome Idea.

 

DVD Fun - Undercover Brother

Last night's movie de jour was Undercover Brother. I wasn't feeling in much of a movie mood at all when I drove down to girlfriend's house, but she was (she always is). I pleaded for a comedy at least (and please, please not The Princess Bride again!), and so she entered the massive movie vault she keeps and came out clutching this in her paw. I never heard of it, but then that's not surprising. Well, watch it we did, and like it I did (there's my Yoda impression). It's not great, but it is mostly funny as a spoof of black stereotypes whether real or imagined. Basically, the black underground organization called the "Brotherhood" is working to stop "The Man's" attempts to undermine black culture. And the super-funky, all 70s, kung-fu master Undercover Brother is their new top agent. The "whitey" jokes got a little old, but Eddie Griffin as Undercover Brother with his massive fro and funk kept a smile on my face for most of this flick. A good one of you scratching for something funny, but don't set your expectations too high.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Things That Go Smash

Okay, this sound like a lot of fun. I won't deny it. Smashing a giant 2-ton probe into the moon at high speed is my idea of a good time. It's just in my nature. It reminds me of the time, as a 15 year old mischief-maker, me and a buddy filled an old tire with concrete and then set it rolling down the steep 5th hole of the golf course I grew up on. It was sweet. That sucker started rolling faster and faster and was probably going 40 mph as it approached the tee box at the bottom of the hill (no one was there - we were not homicidal) and then it hit the lip at the front of the tee and flew straight into the air completely jumping the box and making it's first bounce on the road behind. The second bounce was in the yard of the house on the other side of the road. There was no third bounce because the tire hit the garage of the house with a huge smashing sound and left a large gaping hole in the wall.

It took us a year of pulling weeds and mowing lawns to pay for that hole. And we learned our lesson. Smashing things into other things may be lots of fun, but it will cost you. You have to determine which things are worth smashing into other things.

This mission to crash a giant probe into the moon is cool. But it will cost $73 million. That's the estimate right now. And for what? To find out if there is water there? And by the way, does cheese show up on a spectrograph or whatever they use to determine chemical composition? Just wondering. The whole going back to the moon concept is wrong. I want to explore space as much as anyone else, but the moon is a big rock and not a place to build a space base to do anything. If we go to mars one day it will be from earth orbit, not the moon.

Want A Job - Don't Do This

Are you in the job market now or maybe just thinking about a move and shining up the old resume and interviewing skills? Well, here are some pointers on what not to do on the interview. Funny.

 

Listening To - HEM

No Word From Tom. Sally Ellyson's voice is just so smooth and delicious. Country? Not country? I don't care, just swaying to the music and trying to get one more stinkin report done. Nice, calm, good....