Thursday, July 12, 2007

Idiots

So, I'm a HUGE proponent for separation of church and state. No, I don't think we go go around and deface all of the historical buildings and documents to remove references to god, but I do think we should keep religion out of the government as much as possible (I am a fan of taking "under god" out of the pledge as it was not in the original version and was only inserted as a show of our religious might against the godless communists (also, In God We Trust was made up in the 1910s as a way to assert some godliness into our money...)).

Anyway, some members of god's gang were out in force today in the US Senate, making asses of themselves. Based on my prior paragraph, you'd be able to pretty easily determine that I don't favor having any prayer at all before the opening of a congressional session. But, if you're gonna go ahead and have one, I think it should represent all the faiths that are followed by the American people (you know, the ones who the members of Congress are elected to represent...). But, god's gang seems to think that only jeebus himself should be present in the Senate, and interrupted the prayer offered by a Hindu priest in order to spread their word. That's tolerance for ya... Way to grasp the teachings of Jesus. Idiots.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Forced Vacation

I work for a car company and one of the "great traditions" is a shutdown period around July 4th where the plants typically stop producing vehicles and workers are either on holiday (UAW members) or forced to take vacation (salaried employees). I hate wasting 4 vacation days in July, when, to me, it's too damn hot for human beings to be doing anything except sitting very still in front of an air conditioner...

Anyway, I meant to post out here that I wouldn't be blogging for a few days (as I usually post when I'm at work in order to restore a bit of sanity to my day, if only for a few minutes), but I was in such a rush to get out of here on June 29 that I completely forgot about it. I could have put up a few notes when I was on vacation as we didn't go anywhere, but I was spending time with my family and working on yet another home improvement project. And, the first day back from a week off of work isn't the ideal time to take a few minutes to do some blogging.

So, I'm back in the groove again and I'll have some random sites for your enjoyment later today...

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Friday, June 29, 2007

Paid Post -- SCORE! Educational Centers

My son is only 19 months old, but I have already given some fleeting thoughts to his education. I know that I started "pre-school" when I was 3 (the pre-school was located in the daycare, so it was really just a slant on normal daycare -- I do have vivid memories of learning colors, coloring in the lines, tying shoes, etc though).

My wife and I both have masters degrees, so we obviously value education. The question of early childhood education is much more undefined than the traditional path of kindergarten to primary school to secondary school and eventually to college/trade school. Can a child learn in a structured environment when they are 2 years old? Does a classroom environment stifle creativity in the young mind by directing the children to pay attention to only what the teaching is saying? These are the kinds of things I worry about as a parent.

SCORE! Educational Centers can hook your child up with an Innovative Tutor who will work to help your child achieve their academic goals. They offer help for pre-K through 10th grade. Their programs include customized curriculum that is designed for your child, to address each child's individual pace and learning needs. They're owned by Kaplan, Inc, who are famous for their SAT/ACT/GRE/MCAT/GMAT/LSAT prep courses, so there's an established history of helping students achieve specific goals.

SCORE! Centers seem to offer about the perfect mix of education and individual attention and may be the way we go when we look to get our son onto a education path.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Chuck Norris

I hadn't visited the Chuck Norris facts page in awhile, and I was disappointed when the site I had bookmarked had been taken over by annoying pop-up ads and was otherwise not navigable.

But, a quick google search led me to ChuckNorrisFacts.com (I know, I probably shoulda checked that site first anyway). Maybe it's simply my juvenile sense of humor, but I can't read this list without at least cracking a smile, but usually audibly laughing. And I've seen the list at least 30 times...

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Ugh...

So, I just finished cleaning out my refrigerator. One thing I thought was that, if a stranger were to witness that chore, they would be able to quickly identify two things about me:
  1. I'm not vegetarian
  2. I need to clean out my refrigerator more often

I say that because in the process of cleaning out my refrigerator, I discovered various tupperware containers that held mold growing on a pork chop, mold growing on a hamburger, mold growing on a chicken leg and mold growing on some steak. That, in addition to the salad from 2 weeks ago that was barely recognizable and the honeydew that probably saw its last good day a week ago...

I'm certainly not hungry right now...

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Paid Post -- The Police

Recently, two of my favorite groups have reunited, released a CD and gone on tour. One band that I thought I'd never see live was The Pixies. I had seen Frank Black on one of his solo tours and I saw Kim Deal with The Amps, but I figured that was as close as I'd get to The Pixies. Then, they came out of nowhere a couple of years ago and went on tour. It was AWESOME!

So, the news that an even bigger goup, with more hits and equally compelling on a "love their music" front was going on tour with a new CD compilation made me think that I'd somehow pleased the gods and they were rewarding me with good music. That's right, The Police are at it again with their new, self-titled 2-disc compilation and a rather impressive world tour.

You can catch up on all things Police with their Eyewonder banner and its embedded links. Through this banner, you can update yourself with the following features:
  • Videos
  • Track List / Jukebox
  • Tour
  • Enter The Contest
  • Send To Friend
  • Ringtones
Now, I wasn't lucky enough to grab a ticket for their show in my home area (metro Detroit), but I made sure I entered the contest through the banner trying to win a grend prize of a trip to New York to see them at Madison Square Gardens. While I'm gunning for the grand prize, the 10 first prizes aren't too shabby either -- a signed copy of their new 2-disc set (which includes a vintage poster).

I;ve been a fan of The Police for quite awhile. My dad was the one who introduced me to them. I can remember listening to their "Synchronicity" cassette while playing in the sprinkler in the backyard. As I got older and developed my own musical tastes (often quite divergent from my parents), I still always liked The Police. I've even gotten my hands on a 'Strontium 90' CD (Strontium 90 was a pre-Police group that included most of the member of The Police (and even some early versions of a couple of songs you'd recognize)).

Plus, I have even more reason to try to see them in concert on this tour -- I actually know a guy who is in their opening act. When I was in college, I worked at a used CD store (which is actually where I picked up the Strontium 90 CD). one of my co-workers was a guy named Pete, who was in a local band (local to Bloomington, IN), The Cutters. I was friends with Pete, the drummer, and Rob, the bassist from The Cutters. We always thought The Cutters were going to make it. They did get signed to a major labal and released a couple of CDs, but it never quite seemed to work out. So, they eventually split and went their separate ways.

Well, Pete was a pretty spectacular drummer, and he eventually got a call from an up-and-coming band, Fiction Plane. Pete's still with Fiction Plane and they are the opening act for The Police on this year's tour, promoting their 2nd full-length CD, "Left Side of the Brain."

So, make sure you check out The Police's Eyewonder banner and rush out to pick up The Police Cd. You won't be disappointed.



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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Starting to understand this whole blogging thing

I'm now 258 days into blogging and I am finally starting to understand how the blogging world works. Until very recently, I've been bumbling along posting links and writing my own observations without giving much thought to things such as pagerank and alexa rankings, etc.

Behind the scenes I've been doing some reading up on these things and, with a Google PageRank update expected on or around July 21, I've decided to get off my butt and figure out what I need to do to see my PR jump meteorically (or even just a little bit) from its current, impressive, ZERO. For those in the know, this is obvious, but for those who are a lot like me (i.e. clueless), links from other blogs and sites are how you increase your pagerank. But, thousands of links from crap sites won't do anything for you, while a few links from high quality (and likely, high PR) sites will help tremendously

So, I've started to read other blogs -- a lot of them. There are a lot of people out these with interesting things to say. I've left a few comments where I have an opinion or experience that is relevant. Those comments can help lead to some links back here. I've also been on the lookout for contests and whatnot where a link will be posted back to my site. (And, with that in mind, Live Learn Invest is giving away an iPod Shuffle (and a backlink) to a random person merely for mentioning Printed Circuit Board Quotes). So, you'll likely be seeing more posts on here that will talk about features and contests from other blogs.

Initially, this blog was about random things I had found in my internet travels. But, as I learn more, my travels are becoming less random and tend more toward blogs rather than weird news aggregators. So, I guess the thrust hasn't changed entirely, but has instead shifted slightly more toward blogging. I'm still gonna post the stange news I find on Fark and every now and then I'll update our home remodeling project (ordered siding last Saturday...). But, I'm also going to talk about some of the other people and other blogs on the interweb...

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iPhone mania

I tend to follow electronic gadgetry trends from the outside looking in. It's not that I'm not interested, it's just that I have a limited supply of disposable income and I usually choose to spend it on my son rather than the latest gadget. I know there are plenty of people out there who will dump their 3-month-old gadget to get the new-and-improved brand new replacement gadget. Those people amaze me in their disregard for their money (but, I'll gladly take advantage of them by buying their used gear on ebay if I'm in the market...).

Actually, I'm thinking of making the move to a PDA phone when my contract is up in November. I've been with Sprint for quite a few years (9, I think), and I don't have a lot of complaints. But, they've changed their package structure to match the competitors and, if I can get a better phone deal by switching, it might be worth it.

But, I'm pretty sure you can count me out of the iPhone craze. Sure, it looks cool and probably is pretty cool. I mean, the video screen and 8-gig storage capacity alone are pretty damn cool. But, I don't expect to have a desire to browse the internet on my phone, so that piece of functionality is lost on me (plus, I have no interest in the extra $40 a month for a data plan on my cell phone). So, basically, after I eliminate my desire for a good internet browser, the phone allows me to see videos vs other PDA phones that don't. I can get a Palm Treo 750 (or 755 depending on the carrier) with rebates for $200-300 right now, and by the time Christmas rolls around, I can probably get a used one off the internet for less (since Palm is already working on the 800 series -- again using first-mover castoffs to my benefit). I can't justify the $600 for an iPhone when I can get a $200 phone and a $50 4-gig SD expansion card to cover everything I want in a phone/PDA.

So, my thanks to Apple for continuing to advance mobile technology and convenience, but I think I'll stick to my boring flip phone until my contract is up. Then I'll upgrade to the last generation of PDA phone and let iPhone leave me in the dust...

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Cat Cam

I found this link a couple of weeks ago, but it was being linked all over the place and was rather slow due to high user demand. Now that some of the initial buzz has worn off, the site is loading much more quickly and is much more user-friendly.

Basic idea here is that a guy with a bit of technical know-how decided he'd like to know what his cat was up to during his "outings." So, he rigged up a cheap digital camera inside a plastic case and attached it to his cat's collar. He set the camera up to take pictures at fixed intervals and then downloaded those pics when his cat returned to the roost. It's pretty interesting to see what a cat doean and where it goes (and to see things a cat sees that we don't normally see).

Since I initally checked the site, the owner has added CatCam kits for sale (nice capitalization on your 15 minutes...). He also gives a little more informaiton on the process and some more detailed technical instructions on how to assemble your own CatCam.

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Saturday, June 23, 2007

Cool thing about blogging

So, one of the coolest things I have discovered in the short time that I have been blogging is the real sense of community out there. Just as in every community, there are a few jerks, but all-in-all, everyone I've "met" has been rather nice. So, having said that, I have put forth my blog for review by Adam at ah ok lah, who has promised to be unbiased and honest in his assessment. I've checkout out his blog and read some of his posts over on the PPP boards, and he seems to be one of the (many) good ones out there.

That honesty could play unkindly on me, since my blog isn't so much a "blog" as it is a collection of things I find interesting. You do learn a bit about my everyday life and I think the links do say something about my personality as well. Anyway, Adam, do your worst... And thank you.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Paid Post -- Reno 911 DVD

Calling all fans! Calling all fans! We have an alert. Be on the lookout for the new Reno 911! DVD, Reno 911! Miami The Movie in a store near you.

To launch the DVD and give its fans the ability to test their meddle against Reno's finest, the folks over at Fox have set up a website about the DVD launch and included 4 interactive games.

The DVD is unrated (aren't all of the best ones?) and includes lots of extras. Some of the extras (extended scenes and commentary) are relatively standard fare for DVD releases, but Fox has gone above and beyond with this DVD. Since the officers of Reno 911! are always looking out to protect the public and serve the public good, they have also included some public service announcements (PSAs) to help their viewers get through this thing we call life (I'm especially intrigued by the 'Shut the F*** Up' and "Some Fun Just Can't Be Downloaded' PSAs). The movie itself is well worth the price of the DVD without the extras, but who's gonna complain about extras? The Reno cops find themselves in Miami Beach during Spring Break (imagine the possibilities) for a national police convention. All is going well (ok, so all is going as you would expect with the Reno cops in town) until a terrorist attack disrupts the convention. So, the call goes out for all of the best cops to investigate. Instead, Miami Beach gets the cops of Reno 911!

The games give you, the fan, the opportunity to test your abilities against hypothetical bad guys you may face were you to sign up for the Reno force. In Midnight Shootout, which I chose (I like 1st person shooters, personally)), you get to see a scene for 5 seconds, during which you need to remember the location of the bad guys as well as the good guys. Following those 5 seconds, you are "blindfolded" and you have 10 rounds to take out the bad guys while not hitting the civilians or other officers. As you progress through the rounds you get to use different weapons (.357 Magnum, AK-47, etc) in different settings (Western Ghost Town, City Home among others) leading up to the final confrontation, an assault on gangs in the city with a rocket launcher (ooh! Watch out with those rockets!).

So please, if you're a fan of good, wholesome comedy (ok, well, good comedy at least), please run out and pick up a copy of Reno 911! Miami The Movie. Prior to heading to the store, you can get yourself ready at the DVD website by clicking the links above.



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Leon Payne

So, I finally got around to downloading iTunes onto my home computer (where the vast majority of my ripped CDs reside). So, I updated my iPod Shuffle with a random mix of songs from my computer. My musical tastes are wide and varied and include damn near every genre out there except country artists who started their careers after 1985 (read Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood, Josh Graycin (sp?), etc, etc, etc) and hip-hop (but I'm gainaing an appreciation for certain artists (Eminem, Jay Z to name a couple)).

So, I started to listen and I had a few heavy metals and techno tracks, followed by a little classical, a bluegrass song, some random Bugs Bunny bit and then I heard a song I'd never heard before (not entirely unusual as I have roughly 1,400 CDs). The music was kind of a light country sound, but the lyrics were what strikes you. They were sung sweetly and the lyrical sound went well with the music, but the words didn't match the sound all that well. So, I started to do some digging by doing a web search for a snippet of the lyrics and learned that the song was "Psycho," performed by Teddy Thompson, but written by Leon Payne.

I was really intrigued so I did a bit more searching and I found this site (which, I learned later, was nearly word-for-word ripped off from a newspaper article about the writer). What struck me more than anything on the page was not the written lyrics or the discussion of the lyricist, but that his daughter had posted a comment to clear up what appears to be a common misperception about "Psycho." Pretty interesting reading. If you haven't heard it, you should track down a version of the song (apparently the Elvis Costello version is considered to be the best rendition).

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