Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Hallow's Eve!

Just a quick post to wish everyone a Happy Halloween today! One of my favorite "holidays". I guess I'm too old to celebrate this one, but I love surfin the web and seeing all the creative costumes out there. I just found this one over on an Etsy contest - some really great ones there.
So Be safe and have a good time!

At this time of year I always have a bit of melancholy feeling for a "hobby" that I've since given up... Ghost chasing. Yep, I was part of one of those groups that would go into a "supposed" haunted place and look for signs of the paranormal. In 99.9% of the times that I went out to these places there were only 2 times that I can say that I was actually afraid. The first one was a sort of "unofficial" investigation with just my friend and I. We went to a local cemetery to see what we could see. We had been to this location several times in the past and always seemed to have something interesting happen (I got one of my best "ghost photos" there). But this particular night, we wandered into a new section of the cemetery, and I had an uncomfortable feeling. My stomach was physically upset (maybe something I ate for dinner?). But here's the weird part... I was standing at a sort of "crossroads" of 2 paths, when I thought I heard whispers. It sounded like 2 people were fighting off in the distance. My friend who was with me looked at me too and said "did you hear that?" "yea" I said. So I suggested, I think we should leave this area... he agreed. Later he told me he had heard the sound of a baby crying. (I did not hear that though). Never went back to that section again.
The other time I got "spooked" was really nothing but a trick of my mind... I was on an "investigation" of a historic building. It was an old canoe club that went back to the 1800's. At one point I wandered off down into the basement with a teammate. I was in charge of videotaping. Well, I wasn't really paying attention to my teammate, and they had wandered back upstairs. I was too interested in looking at all the boating equipment and junk that was down in the basement via my infrared camera. Then I realized I was alone (not supposed to be alone on these investigations). I pulled my camera down and suddenly realized how pitch black it was! I then sorta high-tailed it outta there :)
Do I believe in ghosts? I still ask myself that question from time to time. I've NEVER seen anything paranormal with my own eyes. BUT... I've heard "whispers" in areas where I should not have. I've seen "evidence" on film. I've heard strange "knocks". I have one AWESOME video tape of what I am 99% convinced is a spirit saying "hi" that still gives me chills when I hear it. So I guess I'm pretty positive that there is something paranormal out there.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


This item has been making a flutter in my "google news" updates for UFO related news. I don't hold much hope for any new information regarding this, but at the same time I'm glad NASA is being held accountable. I had never heard about the Kecksburg incident before until about a few years ago. It may have even been on the Sci-fi Channel that this Wired news item talks about. Turns out it was an event similar to the famous Roswell incident, but with much quicker military involvement (Guess they learned from the 1947 event) so it involved a quicker coverup. Nutshell... Something LARGE crashed into the rural woods in Kecksburg, PA on Dec 9th 1965.
As with almost ALL UFO stories it has a lot of the same elements... Supposed crash site in a rural area. Eye-witnesses giving mixed accounts of what they saw. Military swooping in and confiscating "evidence" - then as usual - denying any evidence ever existed. Then increased suspicious activity from the Government agencies regarding what they were doing there and what (if anything) may have been found.
Good wikipedia article on it here.
I hope to keep an internet ear open for developing stories on this one.
I'm gonna try a new feature of google here too... I'll try to "embed" a map of kecksburg, PA below. If you don't see anything, it's not you, it's probably Google working out the kinks.

View Larger Map

Monday, October 29, 2007

Movie: Dan in real life

I forgot to post about this movie over the weekend!
I'm going to give this one a reluctant "green light". I think the reason for this is mainly due to Steve Carell. Steve's a good actor... Well, he still (like many other great actors) is a bit one dimensional but still he manages to always pull it off. My biggest complaint about this movie is that it was SO SAPPY! It's basically a chick-flick - thus explains the sappiness i guess. But overall it's still a good story which is what I like. There were some pretty good one-liners in there too. The dynamic between "Dan" and his daughters was pretty funny. I've also gotta say that Dane Cook impressed me both in his acting and his singing voice!
An example of the sappiness? Well, the setup is that this large family gathers at the parents house in the resort town of Nantucket (I think that's where it was supposed to be). Well, the brothers and sisters are all 30-40 something, some have kids, etc... well it was kinda like watching a norman rockwell painting come to life. Family games, family talent show, family bowling, family football game, etc... Just a little over the top for me.

Sunday, October 28, 2007


I've been pretty disgusted with politics lately. I've been trying to kinda wash my hands of it all. I'm tired of all the rampant roughshod trampling of both laws, rights, and even truth, that the current administration is getting away with. And what frustrates me even more if that the people who are put in place to supposedly keep these guys in check are pretty much letting them do whatever they want (I'm speaking to you Democrats).
I'm baffled that "news agencies" are not seen for what they are... twisted propaganda machines.
Well, I read today's blog post via my bloglines subscription to "news hounds" and it's further "evidence" to me that I just want to wash my hands of it all. At the same time I'm scared that if we all just wash our hands, then the current administration will continue to just do what they want.
So first... this bit of disturbing news and video of some guys LAUGHING about dropping a bomb on Iran. Why is this such a big joke to these guys? (Including the prez, if you saw that video - in my best "lewis black" imitation... "Son of a Bi***" I was trying to find the video of this and instead stumbled upon Hilary Clinton laughing about the war with Iran.). Scroll down to the bottom video to see what I'm referring to.
[edit] I was gonna say "some guys" but that's not good enough... The man's name who is LAUGHING about bombing a country and taking our country into a third "war" is named FRED BARNES. Who is Fred? He is the executive editor of The Weekly Standard. Former senior editor for the New Republic. (I don't even want to link to these websites, but I will).
Here is his wikipedia entry, though it doesn't look like much is there. Here is his glowing bio on Fox News.
On the plus side...
I just heard a rumor that Kucinich is going to try to re-introduce the big "i" word again supposedly before thanksgiving.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Christopher Hitchens...

These two images won't make any sense to you unless you watched the youtube video I posted a few days ago, or I guess if you are familiar with Hitchen's work maybe.
I was watching the video (which is long, did I mention that?) and found myself staring at his unmoving figure for minutes on end. The colors of his face and light suit against the dark black background started playing tricks on my eyes. Then at one point, his hairline faded into the background, and this was what I saw! :) I just thought it too ironic not to take a little liberty with photoshop :) No Offense meant Chris.


This is how I feel sometimes too.

Not Guilty

Well, I got out of Jury Duty. I admit, there was/is a small part of me that wishes that I had stayed but the bottom line was that I just couldn't afford it. Turns out the trial that I was called for was some sort of criminal trial (I didn't get any details) and it was scheduled to last 8-9 days. So even if they stayed to the estimated time, I'd be out of work almost 2 weeks! I can't afford to do that. So, it was a fairly easy process to be excused. As a matter of fact, it was kinda funny... The woman gave all of us Juror's (yes, once you check in, you are considered a Juror) a sort of crash course in what a juror is expected to do. After this talk, she said "anyone who has a schedule conflict due to this being an extended trial, please see me in the back." Well, I was on the fence at this point. I didn't know if my being "self employed" meant that I had a legitimate excuse. I figured I would mention it in front of the judge and see what he said. But during the break, I was standing in the back of the room, when a guy next to me pulled the "jury woman" (I don't remember her official title) aside and started to ask her some of the exact same questions that I had. Self-employed, 8-9 days with no pay, etc... So at this point I spoke up and basically said "me too". She took both of our names, then about 10 minutes later, she called us both and said we were excused. Woohoo! I was a little surprised that they didn't even ask any sort of questions like "what do you do for a living" or anything. But, the bottom line (which she mentioned) was that if the trial went on for a length of time that we were uncomfortable with, it would not be fair to the defendant to have a jury member sitting there wishing the trial would just be over and getting frustrated. So, it all worked out for the best I'm sure. Funny thing too... both that guy and myself have the exact same job.
As I mentioned before... I'm also a bit relieved in the sense that I don't necessarily feel comfortable judging another person's actions and having the fate of his/her life in my hands. I'd probably stand up at the end of the trial and say "Your Honor? Can't the defendant just apologize and we can all go home?"
I did get the chance to read the questionnaire though... and chances are good that I may have been excused based on those... I had a real good friend back about 15 years ago who was a police officer and sheriff. I don't know if there is a time period on what they consider a good friend though. We just sort of drifted apart and our lives went a different direction. I also have a distant relationship in my extended family who is a police officer too. So because of that I may have been excused.
AND... There was one question that really bothered me the way it was worded...
"Generally speaking, do you consider a police officer MORE likely to tell the truth or LESS likely?" what? that's a loaded question if I ever heard one. What happened to "equally"?
I don't believe a person becomes more likely to tell the truth because he is wearing a uniform or wears a gun on his belt. I also don't consider them less likely either. I would like to believe that each person has an equal ability to lie and or tell the truth, regardless of their job.
One other comment... I thought "what are the odds"... I recognized a guy there that I knew from my old church of wow... maybe 20+ years ago! He really looked the same. He looked at me, and there was no sign of recognition, nor would I expect him to recognize me. I've changed a lot since then. But, I have to wonder... what are the odds of knowing someone also called for Jury Duty.
A few side notes:
I only saw 2 black people in all of the potential jurors (I'm gonna guess about 100 people).
I saw one Asian.
I saw 3-4 Hispanics.
I saw one Biker dude... had on jeans (as did I, several guys had jeans on), a T-shirt for a local biker club, and tattoos, and long hair braided in the back. (I overheard him say he knew someone on the list of witnesses, and defendants... I wonder if he knew the guy on trial?)
Everyone else was white, and I'd guess the average age to be about 45 and up.
At one point about 15-20 people raised their hands to say that they were state employees! That was almost 20%! That surprised me.

Jury Duty...

Well, I managed to escape the jury duty today (wed) but after calling into the automated phone service this evening after 5pm, I learned that I will have to go in tomorrow morning. Yuck. I'm glad that they are on "my time" at least, I don't have to be there until 10:45am, so that helps.
I'll be surprised if they do in fact choose me to partake in the jury. I'm starting to regret that I didn't try harder to get out of it, due to work. I'm "self employed" so all these hours that I'll lose to this, is money outta my wallet. I kick myself too, because I kinda mis-read the jury duty form... I thought I had to make myself available for only 2 days, but now have learned that I have to make myself available for the entire length of the trial, so if the trial goes on for a week or more, that's gonna be a huge hit to the wallet! I'm kinda hoping now that between my excuse for being self-employed and the fact that I have long hair and a beard, that they'll take one look at me and show me the door. Fine by me.
I also can't help but having this thought run through my mind... "judge not, lest ye be judged" or to put it in NIV terms... "Do not judge, or you too will be judged" Matthew 7:1

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Geek Reminder...

Ok, you can thank me for this later... This a friendly reminder right now to back-up your computer! I had put my back-up off for several months, and just did it on Sunday night. Once I did, I am glad to have done it.
Think to yourself... if your computer RIGHT NOW stopped working, and you lost all your data, photos, videos, email, etc... how much trouble would you be in?

In related news, I'm actually looking forward to the new Macintosh Operating System due out on the 26th code named "Leopard". I've been using Macs not long enough that I find it difficult to remember all these big cat names. First (If I have it right) there was Jaguar, then Tiger, and now Leopard. I wasn't totally impressed with all the new features, but there was one that really jumped at me. I don't recall if it had a name or not, but there was some way that you can monitor a section of a website for changes. That was pretty cool.
I got an email the other day from where you can save about $20 if you pre-order the system, but I've learned my lessons about being the first to jump on the new technology bandwagon. I'll wait at least a month before upgrading.

In other unrelated news...
I've got to call the automated system tonight to see if I have to show up for Jury Duty tomorrow. ugh. I'm starting to regret now that I didn't try harder to get out of it. Oh well. We'll see what tomorrow brings.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Google and youtube

So it's a lazt Sunday for me today. I really look forward to not doing a thing on Sundays. I may clean a little hear and there in my apartment, but overall I enjoy having a day where I can do what I want, or whatever I don't want to do.
So, I just finished watching a semi-bad movie called "next" with Nicholas Cage (imdb). I think this could have been a much better movie, but it was really hoaky to me. I won't even go into explaining it or critiquing it, just not worth it :)

But now...
I checked an old link I had bookmarked some time ago, and I just finished watching this hour long youtube video. Say what you want about the overall debate, but this guy is well spoken (meaning he knows his material), and says a lot of things that challenge one's faith and belief. It's a civil question and answer period as well, which is refreshing. I just have one thing to say about this... Faith (to me) is about not trusting in science and fact and logic. This is the essence of faith, and this is the inherent piece that most atheists can't get on an intellectual level. The Author's name is Christopher Hitchens (wikipedia). His new book is called God is not great with a subtitle of: religion poisons everything. With a title like that, you can tell he's not pulling any punches :)

This is a LONG movie at just under and hour, but I'd recommend you set aside an hour sometime and watch this.

Then I found this video too... much shorter and about politics and corporate America. Tru -dat!


So I was driving in my truck this afternoon, enjoying the nice weather (though it's still unseasonably warm here for Oct.) I had a cd in my truck's player from a cd I put together from some songs i have from itunes. When it hit me...
Since the beginning of time, I'm Positive that Man (and woman ;) have been playing some form of music. Even if it were something simple like drums. Then along comes sheet music. I don't know when sheet music was invented (wikipedia gives a vague answer here of before the 15th century). There has got to be what "thousands? Millions? of people in the world right now who are either writing music or at least active musicians right? So is it possible that we can finish writing all the music that can be written? I don't mean lyrics, I mean the actual harmony/melody. Ever since I posted that video a few days back of the kids playing "video killed the radio star" that tune has been stuck in my head! Has that melody EVER been done before in the history of music? What about another country? Is there some monk in Tibet right now, humming that melody and thinking he just made that up?
Just something to think about.

fyi> I think what triggered this thought was a recent clip I saw on Mtv (I was amazed to actually see someone singing on it!)... This girl was singing and gyrating on stage with original lyrics, but she was singing (or lip syncing) to a beat/melody that was originally done by the 80's band Soft cell called "tainted love." They I think remade the song from Donna Summers? - nope... wikipedia to the rescue again. The song was originally recorded in 1964 by Gloria Jones. Re-Recorded in 1975 by Ruth Swan, then re-re-recorded in 1981 by soft cell, and I just learned re-re-re-recorded by Marilyn Manson in 2001. Maybe this answers my question... if artists are just re-recording the same songs, maybe we have run out of music?
(side note: Both the soft cell video and marilyn's video are on youtube. I'm surpised to say that I found the soft cell video MUCH more disturbing than the Manson video.) Ooops, add one more to this list... the Pussy Cat Doll's remade the song also. ugh. ok... youtube has it all... Here is Gloria Jone's 1964 recording - though I suspect someone else added these images? And the hits just keep goin... here's another one by "Milk Inc" - never heard of her/them. Ok, I think I'll stop looking now... I just found the WORST cover of the song by "coil".

Friday, October 19, 2007

Maker Faire

Well, now that it's here, I am kinda sad that I didn't make plans to be there. Oh well, I saved a lot of money by not going I guess. But if you are in the area of Austin Texas, I'd highly recommend that you check out the Maker Faire this weekend! Sponsored by Make Magazine. I see that they are bringing in some of the same groups that were at the San Mateo, CA maker faire back in the spring, which is cool. The group "cyclecide" will be there with their antics. But most of all, it's just neat to see all of these creative people gathered in on spot. I look forward to reading about the event afterwards to see what new things I missed. I have to wonder too how much different the "vibe" would be from CA compared to TX. From what I hear Austin is a pretty cool place! :) Oh well, maybe next year.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Philly maps

I didn't hear any hoopla over this so maybe it's not widely known yet, but Google Maps just added several more cities to it's mind blowing feature called "street view". One of the cities added was "my" city of Philadelphia! (I don't live there but I'm close to it.) And find myself over there at least once a week when my art classes are going on. In fact if you want to see where I go to my art classes you can just hit this link here, then click on the "street view" button at the top. There will be a "little yellow man" icon somewhere on the map, just drag that man to the arrow and you should see the school. It's the second Open door to the right of the big "f" flag. If you scroll/walk east a few doors, you'll see the big stained glass window thats attached to the church that used to be there. It's an amazing building.
It boggles my mind as to the amount of memory and data they must have gathered to do this. Basically a panoramic view was stored about every car length. I'd love to see a documentary about how they did this.
Another reason why this is useful...
My friend just went to a restaurant last night for dinner in Philly. She couldn't remember the name of it. But she said it was on 4th and bainbridge. So I just opened up the google maps street view, went to that corner and looked around. Sure enough there is the "famous 4th street deli" :) Cool huh.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


A rather mundane post today :)
The other day, I was in the supermarket and I need to buy some new toothpaste. I've been using "Crest Whitening" for some time now and am happy with it. I don't think the whitening does a bit of good, but who knows, maybe my teeth would be much darker had I not been using it? I do drink a lot of tea. Anyway... I went to reach for the same flavor I usually get, when I saw a new flavor... Mint with Vanilla. Sounds kinda gross don't it? But I like vanilla, so I thought "what the heck, I'll give it a try." This stuff is awesome! Is it gross? you bet! :) But I find myself looking forward now to brushing my teeth, and find myself brushing just a little bit longer than I used to. It's very sweet, it's almost like brushing your teeth with cake icing! (That's the gross part). But c'mon! Who wouldn't want to brush their teeth with cake icing! :)
I tried to find a better photo of the product, but this small one was best I could find. (C'mon Crest, get some better product photos on your website! :)
NOTE: I'm not an employee of Crest. I've just always used their brand since I was a little kid, and never really had any cavities, so I figure, why change.

Hang Drum

I stumbled upon the above video when checking out the youtube homepage the other day. I don't know why, but this instrument captivated me. There are several more hang drum videos on youtube (with a bit better audio quality). It's basically like a "steel drum" turned inside out, but still pretty neat.

Tech Tags:

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Movie Time

I watched three movies over the weekend, and forgot to blog about em :)
I'll keep this short...

Bug> (imdb)
One of the things I really like about netflix is that it offers a rating system based upon the movies that I rate. In other words, It looks at all the movies that I have a 5 start, compares that to what other customers gave 5 stars too, then compares my ratings to their ratings. I sometimes ignore netflix suggestions, as in the case of "Bug". When I saw the trailer for this when it first came out, I was curious. It looked like a typical horror movie, so I wasn't gonna slap down $9 for a ticket, but when I saw it on netflix, I checked it out. Netflix suggested I wouldn't like it. It only had a 2 star rating out of 5. But again, I thought, I'll give it a try. Ugh. I should have listened. It was horrible. The acting was over-the-top, the storyline was confusing, most of it too place in a small cramped hotel room. But most of all the acting was horrible. I'd say skip this one at all costs.

Tibetan Book of the Dead> (imdb)
A documentary that I had high hopes for, but was kinda let down. I think I gave it a 3 outta five rating. There were parts that I found very interesting. Simply seeing how another culture lives is interesting to me. But it was also a bit depressing to me. It was about... Dying. That was part of the point actually... we (in the west) see dying in a negative light, sorrow, loss, pain, etc... But what the movie was trying to point out was that the "book of the dead" teaches that life is just a cycle and that death is just another step in the journey. They also believe everything is reincarnated (which I don't), so it was supposed to be a joyful thing of passing on, so that you could be reborn into a new life. Some of the things that struck me though... they followed the death of one man in the Tibetan village... There was still a LOT of sorrow and crying around his death. Whether they were Buddhist or not, they still felt sorrow for the passing of a loved one.
I think the movie could have been better overall, but again, there were parts that I liked so I gave it the middle of the road rating.

Ten Canoes> (imdb)
I probably would have NEVER found this video. A Friend of mine (who is also into movies), asked me to put this on my netflix queue for him. He heard about it somewhere and wanted to see it. I'm not even sure how to describe it...
It's a foreign film... Australia. It's partially subtitled and partially narrated in English.
It is fillmed in modern day (I think) but talks about an ancient aboriginal story. During the telling of the story, the film fades back to tell it (in color). When it fades back to modern day, it's in black and white. Kinda original and clever the way that worked.
Again, I really enjoyed the movie in the sense that it showed me a glimpse into another culture's lifestyle. SO different than mine! As a story though, it just quite didn't make it for me. It was a little long winded (the movie actually joked about that) for me. I can't really recommend it to anyone, unless you have an interest in aboriginals, or tribal stories. Again, a middle of the road rating for me.
I have to say, there was one line in the movie that made me laugh out loud... It was so unexpected, it took me by surprise...
Warning - graphic description below :)
So in the movie, these tribe members are mostly naked. The men had some sort of string thing, that I had no idea what it's purpose was, other than it looked very annoying to me. But lets just say they were all "commando" :)
At one scene, there are about 7-10 men walking through the outback on a hunting trip. As they are walking, they happen upon another stranger. A lone man from another tribe. He doesn't speak the same language at all. He's also mostly naked but is wearing a loin cloth. The tribe of 7 are talking amongst themselves as to who he might be and where he came from. Then out of the blue, one of the tribe members says, "look, he's covering his prick"... Then the next guy says , "maybe he has a small prick"... Then one of the elder tribe member says "Never trust a man with a small prick." - Maybe you had to see the movie to get the funny here, but I'm glad I didn't have a mouthful of milk, cause it would have come out my nose :)

Ed Brown update

So you may or may not remember that a while back I posted a few times about Ed Brown and his wife. Ed and his wife, Elaine, were "convicted" of tax evasion of over 2 million dollars. It's a convoluted story that I won't try to tell here, but I'll try to give you my nutshell understanding of it... The Browns believe that the Income Tax that we all "voluntarily" pay is unconstitutional, and in fact, there is NO LAW that says a person must pay tax on wages earned by their labor. Nowhere in the tax code does it say what "income" means in relation to individuals.
I have to say, I agree with the Browns on this - BUT I'm not willing to go to jail to fight it. On one hand I applaud the browns for their beliefs... BUT... they completely mishandled this whole thing. It eventually got to the point where weapons were involved, alleged booby traps around their property, threats being made against public officials (Such as police and judges), etc... I had intially supported the Browns, but after I learned more about them and their beliefs I backed away. I am very glad though, that the whole situation has ended peacefully and that no one was hurt.
What amazed me even more, is how the press did not cover this story at all. Until now... Now that the Browns have been arrested, I've seen it all over the news papers (via google news).

I guess I needed to post this follow up for myself. Again, I'm just glad it ended all peacefully.

Concord Monitor article that inspired this follow-up post here.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Blog action day

Bloggers Unite - Blog Action Day

Well, I've waited til the last moment to decide if I wanted to do this or not. I admire the idea behind it, but I'm torn as to their motivations. I also am feeling frustrated at the moment about the environment. I wonder if something as corny as posting this post on my blog will make any bit of difference in the environment.

But, in the off chance that it will in some small way make some sort of difference, I'll post here anyway.

I've been having a lot of difficulty trying to figure out what to do with a CFL that recently burned out at my office. I'm not supposed to just trash it because it has tiny amounts of mercury in it. But I've had to jump through several hoops to figure out how to properly dispose of it. I've narrowed it down to two choices. I can get in my car, and drive about 40 minutes (one way) to drop it off at my county hazardous waste site. I've also been told (via an eco-newsletter that my mom just signed up for) that IKEA will take old CFLs. I still need to look into this, do ALL Ikea's take the bulbs back? Do they have to be Ikea brand CFLs? Either way, I wish it were a much easier process to get rid of this thing.

My only other environment advice for this is simply two links: - I really like this site and it's designed so nice too.
and this one... - But I have to be honest here too... I have not signed up for it myself. Again, I don't trust the company, and am not sure on how I feel about just spending money to alleviate the "guilt" of driving a car.

I wish I could be more optimistic about this but it just caught me in a bad mood I guess. :)

Mapping life

Some time ago I learned about the "Long Now Project."
I have to admit, I've kinda forgotten about it. Well, someone must had dusted off their email subscription database, because I've gotten 2 emails from them in the last week or so. This mornings was really interesting (and a tad scary). There are hints of "science fiction" in this blog post, but as with most "real science" there always is.
I'll put the blog post in a nutshell for you with two cut and pastes...

Thus discoveries like the one last month of an
entire bacterial genome inside the DNA of a fruitfly is exploding the
old tree-of-life models of evolution. The emerging map replaces gene
lineages with gene webs.


Likewise new maps of brain function are raising questions such as,
“Can we model the brain, can we download it, can we transplant it,
can we reboot it?” Prostheses such as robotic arms used to be driven
by muscle signals, but now they are being controlled directly from
the brain.

It's a short blog post so I encourage you to go check it out here.
(Rats... I tried uploading a photo of a fruitfly, but bloggers photo upload option is down again. Seems I have more problems with their photo uploader.) To see some fruit flys click here.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

off the list...

This sort of thing is what makes youtube great for spreading information among us.

Friday, October 12, 2007


Just a quick follow up... I got back from seeing the Renoir Landscape exhibit a little while ago. I really enjoyed his paintings. Not all of them of course, but most of them. I also enjoyed seeing the exhibit with my mom too :)
I have to admit, I no next to nothing about Renoir (wikipedia). I've never been into the "classics" (art and books included). I think it's the whole "authority" thing :) But I gotta say, his paintings are really great. I also feel strange in how I'm being introduced to Renoir... He's mostly known for his incredible portrait work, yet my first introduction to him was of his landscape paintings. I think that's pretty cool.
At one point in the gallery, I thought "I'm here viewing one of the "MASTERS" of painting! - How lucky am I!" I wish everyone could say the same thing.
There was one awkward moment too... I guess since we went on a Friday afternoon, I would say most of the crowd was in their retirement age. So that was the first thing I noticed about the people around us... then I noticed the second thing... ALL of the people in the room were white, and ALL of the guards they had standing at each corner of the rooms were black. I don't know why that made me feel awkward, but it did. I did see some black people upon us entering so I know they were there, but there was just this one moment where it was really obvious. I felt like going up to the guard and asking him why? (like he would know).
Back to the paintings...
It was really cool to see his paintings close up. His style was very "impressionistic" kinda like Monet (turns out Monet and Renoir painted together). Lots of little tiny brush strokes, and daubs of paint when you look at it close. But when you back away from the painting it takes on a whole other look.
I really liked Renoir's choice of colors too. He used a lot of blues to paint his shadows which struck me.
The photo I posted above is one I found online, and it was one of the paintings I saw in the show, so that's cool.
If you happen to be anywhere near Philadelphia, I would recommend seeing his paintings.

Thursday, October 11, 2007


I really don't like this person. You know how there are certain people that just rub ya the wrong way? She's one of them. What I can't fathom is how she has turned her name, and thoughts and writing into something people pay attention to, much less purchase.

So, if you let her talk long enough, eventually she usually ends up with her foot in her mouth. A Skinny foot, but a foot none-the-less. Read this transcript from her recent appearance on CNBC's show called "the big idea".

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The ultimate consumerist guide

I'm going to just throw these links up for you to check out if you like. I'm mainly interested in this "ultimate consumerist gudie" that I just found (where else) on I hope I never need to refer to this, but I know I'll find it better having it on a link in my blog than just saving the link in my millions of saved links. I hope you never have to use it either.
Ultimate consumerist guide to fighting back.

This one I have yet to check out myself. I saw a button and clicked it. I'll have to check into it more later. But not too much later as it's only in 4 days.
Blog Action Day. (Oct. 15th)

Here's a neat post for those of us who consider ourselves "frugal" (Me, I think I'm just cheap).
What's your Frugal obsession?
My latest "discovery" is to mix my juice (usually apple cider) into a glass of water. Tastes better than you'd think.

Have a good Wednesday!

PS> Go check out my blogger friend V to see their new pondy pond. And a cool photo of a turtle. Turtles are cool. Not as cool as a cow, but probably second place in my book.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Back update and hole...

Quick update on my back... feeling better. I feel like my walking speed is up to about 86% now :) And if I sit or lie down, there is basically no pain. But It's still there for sure when I stand or walk. I had to go grocery shopping last night and that was a struggle. I started off pretty good, but as my canvas bag was filling up, it was throwing my weight off to the side and hurt. By the time I left the store I couldn't wait to get to my truck so I could sit down. :)
I had to laugh too, while at the deli counter, I set the bag down. The guy finished slicing the cheese and reached over the counter to hand it to me, I lifted my arm to grab it and felt a tinge of pain upon doing this. I think I winced a little, so not sure what the guy behind the counter thought I was doing :)

Quick update on the hole in my ceiling... it's fixed. The guy showed up today at 9:02. I called his office yesterday wondering what was going on. I don't know if he got in trouble or not, but he was there pretty much on time. I couldn't believe it though, after about 5 minutes he got a call on his cell phone and asked if I minded if he leave. ugh. Luckily he was only gone about 15 minutes so it all worked out. I was a little disappointed with the quality of work too. He just slapped up some half-inch x 2.5" trim. probably the cheapest kinda trim you can buy, with knots and all. Then he didn't even bevel the edges to a 45, just cut em to length and screwed them into the sheetrock (with nothing backing it). Oh well. I just HOPE my apartment complex doesn't give me a hard time about this when I move out.
The good news, is that now I can set my own squirrel traps!! When those little buggers come back when the cold weather hits, I won't have to depend on maintenance to set the traps anymore. Which is a HUGE relief. I guess the downside is now I have to go buy a ladder and a trap. Oh well.

I wanted to post a comment I found on someone's blog but have since lost the link. It was about youtube and copyright. If you read the user agreement to posting content on youtube, you basically are agreeing to not post anything that has been copyrighted in anyway. Yet as the blogger pointed out... 99.9% of all the popular videos on youtube are copyrighted material. It's a great example of "we will fix it only if you find it" attitude. I wish I could find that article, because I'm not doing it justice here, but you get the point - i hope :)

Well, Enjoy your Tuesday!

PS> I HOPE my back is better by Friday! I'm going to go see the new Renoir Landscape Exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art! I'm really looking forward to it. At the same time I'm kinda dreading all the standing I'll have to do to look at the paintings. I'll have to make sure to take my advil :)

Sunday, October 07, 2007

The Wrong Trousers...

I found this youtube video over on Dan Santat's blog.
These Kids are great! Ok, maybe the vocals need a little polish, but considering the venue and the crappy video recorder I'll give them a pass. They more than make up for it with their passion.

Oh, and read Dan's post here about getting older. It's both insightful and a tad bit depressing.

Last one standing...

I don't really understand this about myself...
I'm basically a pacifist at heart, yet I can really appreciate a good violent battle between men (or even women). For example, A good boxing match. I kinda got a little bit into the "ultimate fighter" show for a little while, but then I kinda lost interest in that - started to feel too much like professional wrestling.
So when I saw the promo's for this new TV show on (of all places) the Discovery channel called "Last one standing" I was curious. I think it's on Thursday nights, but I saw it tonight on Sunday. I really liked it! It was a little hoakey and the editing annoyed me (commercial break every ten seconds), but the show and premise I liked.
In a nutshell, they picked about 6 guys (some had accents, so I don't think they were all from America). These guys are athletes (though one is a BMX bike rider, not sure how he got in this group). But the "twist" is that these guys "from the west" go into these tribal scenarios to compete on tribal terms. Tonights episode, they went into the Brazilian Jungle to visit the Kalapalo tribe and learned how to wrestle. It was very interesting to see how these guys were accepted (or not accepted as some were not even allowed to fight) in the tribe.
I also liked the idea that I could learn something while watching this show. To see how another culture lives on this little blue planet.
Next week's show looks really great... they are going to learn "Zulu Stick Fighting"! Looks scary and cool! I have to laugh at this too, because I know my sister would Kick Butt in Zulu Stick Fighting! :) (when we were kids, we would have "fake" sword fights using sticks, and it never seemed to fail she'd somehow always manage to crack my knuckles each time. hee hee.

Check it out if you get the chance. Here's the official website on the Discovery Channel's website. (fyi, the discovery channel has a really difficult to navigate website).

Saturday, October 06, 2007


Well since my back has put me outta commision this weekend, I had a chance to catch up on two of my movies from netflix. (I'm amazed at how fast my back is getting better though. I hope to be moving around like normal tomorrow).

The Guardian>
I'm not even sure what made me put this movie in my netflix queue :)
I do like Ashton Kutcher... When he's not being so goofy, I think he can really act. And of course Kevin Costner is always a gamble on the rolls he chooses, but again, I think he can really act well. This movie was not a great movie, but I have to admit I got sucked into it. It has probably been made a 100 times before as far as glorifying a military branch, the small hero, the older wiser man passing the torch to the younger protege, etc... But, maybe that's why this story is told 100 times, because it makes for a good movie. It's very predictable but even so, I liked this movie. IMDB.

Jesus Camp>
Wow, I'm not really sure what to say about this movie. I just finished watching it so I may need some time to process it. It's a bit of a harsh documentary regarding the "evangelical" church. Most of the time, I think a documentary should be less judgmental and try to let the footage speak for itself. I think the film would have been more powerful had we not seen the 4-5 cut scenes of a liberal talk radio host throwing in his two cents regarding the "evangelicals". I found myself agreeing with some of the things he said, but I also felt like they were cheap-shots. At the same time, there were defintely scenes in the movie that were very disturbing to me. To see how these children are manipulated is a bit scary. Again, at the same time, what one person sees as being manipulated, another sees it as teaching. Isn't all teaching some form of manipulation?
The movie also featured Ted Haggard... in an odd twist of fate, Ted has been through a lot and I'm sure really hurt the evangelical movement. In addition to making a strong point for the people who made this movie.
So I'm left with a lot of confused feelings about this film. On one hand, I agree with a lot of the points the film tried to make. On the other hand, It felt wrong, and underhanded. I'm finding it difficult to explain why, other than to say that maybe it didn't seem fair in the way it portrayed the evangelicals.

A really interesting sidenote... I watched the movie through the credits (it had one of my favorite songs - "spirit in the sky")... one of the last few title shots was for the film company behind this movie.. it was "Loki Films" - Irony doesn't get much better than this... So the name of the production company that criticises the evangelical movement is named after a Norse God that is associated with Lies and personified evil and would "lead the enemies of heaven".
wow. The name jumped at me from a strange reference... I had remembered the character that Matt Damon played the "Angel of Death" - a.k.a. Loki, in the Kevin Smith movie called "dogma". I had to google Loki a couple times to figure out exactly who Loki is/was. I'm not sure how Loki from the Norse mythology got to be considered a "fallen angel" unless that was just coincidence.
Loki on
Loki on wikipedia.
Loki quotes from the movie Dogma.

Ok, I wasn't going to say anything about this because it sounds too conspiracy minded, but there were some other "ironic" things that jumped at me in the movie...
The Evangelical camp they went to was called "Kids on Fire" (On the website it is listed as "Families on Fire") - Is it me, or isn't that kind of a negative image? Um, brings up images of people burning in hell doesn't it?
Then to top it off, the "Jesus camp" itself was held at a campground in "Devils lake" North Dakota!
And lastly - One of the kids featured as being a "warrior for God" and a preacher, was named Levi. I couldn't help but to think of the one other person (except for the Levi in the Bible) that I knew of called Levi... Eliphas Levi. I'll remind you to rearrange the letters in Levi and tell me what that spells... See! I told you it was Conspiracy minded!

Friday, October 05, 2007


Quick update on the big hole in the ceiling from the Fios installer... It's still there.
They kept me waiting over 2 hours yesterday - so I left.
This morning, they sent a woman around at about 9:30 to tell me they'd be there at 10:30... At 11:15 still no sight of them so I left again. Grrrr... We'll see what Monday brings. I think I'm going to call Monday and ask them where I should send my bill for my time.

So this morning I'm getting dressed, and went to pull my shorts on (yes, still wearing Shorts in October!) When something in my back "snapped". Not an audible snap (thank goodness), but man, the pain that I felt was unbelievable. I almost fell to the floor, but instead Froze, wondering what to do. I made it over to the edge of my bed to sit, and boy did that hurt! I can only remember one other time when I felt that much pain... I accidentally stood up in the entrance to our garage and the garage door was half-way down, so I smacked my head into that. I literally saw stars that time. This time the pain was enough to make me sweat and loose my breath! After about 20 minutes of not moving, and wondering what I was going to do, I managed to slowly stand up. I was able to walk then (slowly) and after about an hour, I was able to move again. I'm still in a constant pain now, but it's dull - unless I stand up. I'm currently using my old 5-Iron golf club as a cane! :)
So wish me luck on a speedy recovery. Really messed up my plans this weekend.
Amazing, to me how you can be feeling 100% fine then in the blink of an eye, something gives. At this point, I'm hoping it's a muscle pull, and not a nerve, but I'm not sure. I think it's muscle, because it seems to be feeling a little better.

Hope your TGIF is going better than mine.
Cyen out

Thursday, October 04, 2007

people good...

So after my earlier rant today regarding people and how they can inconvenience your life, or simply just "not make any sense", I had a run in today with a guy who taught me something.

I've always wanted to wear a silver bracelet that was just a little bigger than my wrist. It would mean cutting the bracelet and welding/solder/brazing it together so it was attached to my wrist. I've always refrained from doing this, because I also have a mental image of what would happen if the bracelet ever got caught on something and didn't want it to pull my hand off!

Well, over the years, I've noticed that many of the guys who work at the gas stations in this area often wear silver bracelets. They don't seem to be anything fancy about them, just some grooves, or something simple, but I always notice them. I've wanted to ask them about the bracelet and where they got them, but never felt comfortable in doing so.
Well, over the past couple months I've been going to a new gas station because they almost always have the cheapest price on gas. I've noticed that two of the guys that work there are usually pretty nice. They say thank you, they call me sir, etc... One's a younger guy, and one's an older guy. The older guy has a silver bracelet and the turban also. So this evening on the way home I stopped in to get some gas. The older guy wasn't waiting on me, but he wandered over while counting some money and asked me how I was doing. (At least I think that's what he said, he has a very thick accent). I guess I had a look of puzzlement on my face because he asked me again and gave me a "thumbs up" signal. I smiled, and said, I'm doing well thanks.
So this was my chance to ask him.
I said, I liked his bracelet...
He smiled and said (I'm paraphrasing due to his accent), thanks and said it's "sick".
Sick? He repeated it again, then I remembered hearing about a religious sect called the Sikh. I nodded to say "ah, Sikh" to let him know I understood.
I said, I've noticed a lot of "you guys" wear them? (not trying to sound "racist" but it still came out sounding that way - to me anyway).
He smiled again, and said it's a religious thing.
Ah, so that was what he was saying "sikh". Then he started to point to his turban. This too, is religious, then he said "sing".
I got confused again, and thought maybe now he wasn't saying "sikh" but rather "sing". He then said that the leader of India also wears a turban and his name was Singh!
Ah, I said, still not 100% sure I was understanding him.
There was an awkward silence, then I realized, He said it was a religious thing to wear his bracelet but he didn't explain, so I asked "So, the bracelet, Why do you wear it? Is it like the cross for a Christain?" - He was very happy to explain to me...
He said it's a reminder to "not cheat". He said as one reaches out to accept money from someone, they look down and see the bracelet, and it's a reminder to pull your hand back and not cheat someone.
I thought that was pretty cool. I thanked him. Then he said, if he goes back to India, he will get me a bracelet :) (I'm pretty sure he was kidding :)
So I drove away with some new knowledge. I got home tonight and confirmed what I thought he was saying "Sikh" and "Singh". I didn't think to ask if the bracelet had a name or not.
I'm glad I spoke up, and I'm glad I met a nice Sikh to explain it to me.
Thanks to wikipedia the bracelet is called a "kara".

UPDATE: I've thought about this some more... I will look at these guys that pump gas in a different light now. I had always held a "grudge" or maybe it was a bit of prejudice that they wore those turbans. I thought "if you are going to come to a new country, you should try to fit in better" - but now, I know it's a religious expression. These guys are basically like a nun or priest pumping gas. And where else but America should someone be made to feel comfortable due to their religious beliefs. So, I'll make a conscious effort to remember that in the future, and not so judgmental in my thinking.

People Rant...

Ok, I've been pretty busy lately so no time to post. I'm gonna try to squeeze this one in real quick, because my rants are starting to build up!
The other day, my google quote of the day was pretty apt...
Society is like saltwater, it's fun to swim in, but difficult to swallow.
Another saying I like...
People! You can't live with them, and you can't cut em up into little pieces and put them in your trunk.

So first one...
The other day, I stopped up at the wawa convenience store to get some lunch. It was only a roll and a small container of chicken salad. As I was counting my money, the woman put the items in a bag. I paid her, then said , "Oh, I'm sorry, I don't need a bag" and proceeded to take my two items out and leave the bag open on the counter. The woman took the bag, crumpled it and threw it in the trashcan! I wasn't gonna say anything, but I just couldn't believe it. So I did...
I said, "You know, the whole reason I said I didn't need a bag, was to help the environment so I didn't have to through it out. You don't just give them to the next customer?"
She just kinda smiled and said "well, once I pull it off the rack, the bags are hard to open so I just throw them out".
I just shook my head and walked away.

I had a CFL (compact fluorescent Light) bulb go on me the other day at the office. I know that each of these bulbs contains a small amount of mercury (which is hazardous) in them. And when they go on ya, you have to dispose of them properly.
I've been jumping through hoops trying to figure out what to do with this thing.
I found one website that tells me I have to take it to my county recycle center (which is about 40 minutes away). So I'm trying to find someplace closer. First I called the recycle center... the woman who answered the phone told me to simply throw them out. Um, but they have Mercury in them... OH! Then you'll have to bring those up to the hazardous waste drop-off. Ok, I said, what about my local recycle center? She didn't know but gave me their phone number.
I called yesterday, spoke to a guy, he said "Oh, you can just throw those out" - but they have Mercury in them! - OH! Then I'll have to ask my supervisor call back tomorrow.
I call back today... Spoke with a different guy (not sure if he was the supervisor)... "Oh, you can just throw those out" - again... "but they have mercury in them" - Oh, I'll have to call the county then to find out. I'll call you back tomorrow.
Ugh! You try so hard to do the right thing for the environment, and this is what you get!
ME - having to remind my county authorities that these light bulbs are hazardous - thats scary.

Last one...
I get home from art class last night (which was great by the way) and found a letter on my doorknob. Turns out my apartment complex is getting Verizon Fios (Which I'm happy about cause then I can dump Comcast!). So the letter proceeds to tell me I have to let someone in to get access to run the wires! Ugh, nice warning!? I have a private lock, (last time I trusted maintenance by themselves in my apartment, I had stuff stolen). So I wait around this morning, and turns out, they don't need access to my apartment because my neighbor has the access panel in his closet to get into the attic! Great I said! A minute later, I hear them knocking on his door and his dog is barking like crazy! He's got a big dog that sounds plain nasty! HA I said, this should be good. I wonder what they'll do now? Well, a minute or so goes by, I can here them all saying "I'm NOT going in there with that dog in there!" - sure enough, I get another knock on my door. They want to cut a NEW access hole into my closet ceiling to get up into the attic. I was actually thrilled to hear this. That means that when I have Squirrel problems, I can set my own traps now and NOT have to put up with maintenance! So, the guy comes in, cuts a big hole, and a small Mexican guy jumps up into the attic. I said, "your gonna put some sort of door in right?" The supervisor says, we'll just put up some trim, and slip the sheet rock on top of that. Ok fine. About 11:30, the Mexican guy comes down and leaves. I figure he's going to get the trim, cause he left his ladder there. So I wait... and wait... and wait. Finally about 1PM, I say, "this is crazy". So I lock my door and leave. I saw the security girl, and said "I have to go, tell him to come by tomorrow morning to fix the big hole please" She said "ok."
So, now I'm curious if they will in fact stop by tomorrow, or not. If nothing else, I still have their ladder, so they should come back for that! :)

Monday, October 01, 2007

this is pretty amazing

I don't know if you will appreciate this, but since I'm into graphics and photography, this is pretty amazing. The term they are using is called "seam carving". I just heard about this via my email subscription to I just watched the above tutorial because I simply couldn't believe what I was reading. I still remain skeptical even after watching the tutorial, but even if it only works some of the time, it's really amazing.
I'm not a fan of uploading photos to just any ol' website, so I'm not endorsing Rsizr (yet). Simply just pointing out the technology.
SideNote: As always, this is on a PC only so far. I so look forward to the day when all applications will run on all operating systems.