Monday, February 28, 2011

Birthday, Oscars, Dogs, etc.

Another month down in 2011. Sure, it's the shortest month, but at least it makes it seem like it will get warmer soon. It's March in the morning, it feels warmer just thinking about it.

So, Saturday was my birthday. I won't say how old I am now, but it is divisible by 7, if that helps. I had finished my week of midnights that morning, so I slept until 1:30-ish and got up to spend the day with the family in a daze while wearing sweatpants. It's the only way to spend your birthday, in my opinion.

I got some nice gifts; a pair of Bluetooth headphones, a few shirts for our Hawaii vacation in August and DVD's. What DVDs? Well, they were from out dog Quincy. So what else could the be but the TV show Quincy. See:

I used to watch this show all the time. For some reason I like some of the 70s crime shows. Then we had dinner from Wildfire. We ate in so I wouldn't have to shower. It truly was a perfect day.

Speaking of dogs, Jenn and I were wondering how we always end up with weird dogs. Our first dog was Cosmo, a golden retriever who thought he was human. Really, look at how he used to sit on the couch.

That is not normal. Also, he had this thing where he would introduce bones to one of his toys. Seriously. Whenever we brought a new bone home for him he'd take it from us, walk over to his favorite squeaky ball, whine, put it in from of the ball then make the ball squeak. For like two minutes. I am not exaggerating, if anything I am understating how long he would do this.This was real fun when he'd decide to do this in the middle of the night. It would scare the crap out of us sometimes. We would think he was trapped somewhere and we'd go downstairs and we'd find him bone laying in front of his ball.

So now we have two dogs. One of them, Quincy, also a golden retriever, likes to take his new bones outside. Nothing weird about that at all, if that's all he did. What he likes to do is bring them outside and just leave them out there then, about 2 weeks later, he'll bring them back in to chew. It's like he needs them to marinate or something.

He also has to be the last dog outside at night. He'll always go first, then we'll let Cruise out, then Quincy has to go back out. If you don't let him out he won't go to bed easily. My guess is he is checking to make sure Cruise isn't touching any of the bones he has marinating. Weirdo.

Cruise seems to be relatively normal, except for the fact that he was a dog rescued from the streets and is afraid of the rain. I would think he would be used to it.

I was going to talk about the Oscars, but what can I really say that a million other blogs and websites haven't already said? Except, whose idea was it to do the auto-tune thing? It's like your grandparents trying to be hip and giving you a Member's Only jacket 15 years after they were popular and they look even less hip than you thought they were. (Yes, that happened to me, but it was my dad).

Okay, I have to go look at some stuff for work.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Commercials of the future

I'm working the overnight shift again this week. No, I'm not looking for sympathy. Well, okay, maybe a little. Anyway, on this shift the TVs in the office (yes, we have TVs playing news channels or the Weather Channel) play the best commercials. I love a ridiculous commercial for a terrible product. But tonight it got me thinking, what will commercials be like in the future.

Imagine them 20 years from now. Sure, they'll be in 3d, so that is a benefit, I guess. Now when they have a commercial for a product that will make it easier to type on the computer, you can see the person acting out how difficult it is to type the old fashioned way by falling out of the chair and seemingly into your house. I mean, I can't count how many times I've fallen on my chair due to the extreme effort it takes to type. That is why we will all just speak into a microphone to type. (Yes, I know there is software out there now, but this will be cheap stuff that will really suck.)

Now, let's go farther. say 50 years. Now we are at holographic TV. The actors will be in your living room, hopefully not your bathroom you weirdo, and telling you how much simpler your life would be if you had a robot doing everything for you. Look how hard it is for this man to cut his lawn that just appeared in your house. He just tripped over a branch, the lawn mower shot out ahead and ran over poor Skippy the dog. If he had a robot to do his work that would never happen. Robot XG-5 constantly scans for branches in it's way and throws them into your neighbor's yard. What is your neighbor going to do about it? Robot XG-5 also knows Kung Fu. Plus, he's made of bullet proof steel.

You know how hard it is to fix a leaky roof with out plummeting to your death like the hologram just did a belly flop on to your living room floor? Well, Robot XG-5 can fall from a height of 50 feet without any damage. Just make sure everyone is in the house since they will most likely be killed if a 300lb robot fell on them. Better yet, leave the house all together. I'm not sure the roof will hold Robot XG-5 and he may end up on poor Skippy will he chews his bone in front of the TV. (Poor Skippy is having a bad day).

Now let's skip 500 years. Now the commercials are pumped right into your brain. Wirelessly. Remember how it too forever to get to Alph Ceti 6 to visit the in-laws? Half the time your dog Skippy would die on the way and have to be ejected out into space. (In the future dogs can't be put into suspended animation. I don't know why, I'm just making this up as I go along!) That's no way to travel. Plus the Cryo-sleep really does a number on you hair, not to mention your liver. There must be an easier way.

Of course there is, this is the future after all. The new Galaxy 1200XL will get you there in a fraction of the time thanks to the new Relativity Drive. Now, with a push of the button you leave this reality, skip through multiple dimensions, then end up back in ours right at your grandmother's doorstep, so to speak. No Cryo-sleep. You arrive fresh without the need to eject a dead pet, or relative, into space. It's just that easy. There is a small chance you might go insane while traversing the other dimensions, but you'll get there faster! Order Today!

Okay, maybe I shouldn't post in the middle of the night...

Monday, February 21, 2011

Hey, look what cool thing I got to do.

I know I've told you all to go check out Functional Nerds before for their fun podcasts, but today you have an extra special reason to check them out. I have a music review up over there. Isn't that cool?

How did this come about? Well, quite a while ago I saw a post up over at SF Signal about music. I don't remember the actual post, but I know I commented about some of the music I like. Later on in the day I got a tweet from John Anealio (I think he wrote the post at SF Signal, but I could be wrong) saying we had very similar tastes in music. Turned out we did. John is know for his SF Songs that he writes, as well as his work on Functional Nerds, of course. He also has a regular feature on Wired about music.

Anyway, a while back I was talking about the latest Spock's Beard album on Twitter and John came back and asked me if I'd like to write a review for the Functional Nerds. So, John got me in touch with Patrick Hester to set me up to post the review. Now Patrick is the co-host with John on Functional Nerds, but is pretty much the go-to guy for SF podcasts. Well, actually podcasting in general as he helps produce several right now. Patrick is also posting tips on podcasting now as well, not to mention writing.

So, to make a long story short, that is how my review is up at Functional Nerds. So go over there and read it and comment. Please.

Special thanks to John and Patrick. And thanks to all of you.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Busy week again. Enjoy some pictures!

It's been a busy week with stuff at the kids' school, getting ready for the second attempt at our son's birthday that was cancelled due to strep throat and all the other stuff that goes on in life.

Anyway, I thought I'd share a few photos from the last week or so.

Here is Quincy and Cruise celebrating Valentine's Day in their own way. This didn't turn out exactly like I wanted, but I like Cruise's eyes in the background.

Here is an old farm and smoke house in the area. The smoke house is actually on the National Register of Historic Places. Cool, no? More on this later.

And last we have the full moon. No werewolves were harmed during shooting of the last photo.

Have a good weekend. I'll be back Monday with some cool news. Really!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

Let's all enjoy our made up holiday! Basically today is an excuse to eat candy. At least that is how I look at it. Well, more of an excuse anyway.

Back when I was a kid this would be a day where my mom would make us kids a regular dinner, like meatloaf, then her and my stepdad would have lobster or something else expensive. I didn't feel cheated though. I'm not a seafood fan. Of course, looking back on it, maybe that is the reason I don't like seafood. Maybe my parents put the seed in my head that I don't like it so I wouldn't ask for it. I fell for their Jedi mind trick!

Anyway, Jenn and I are doing exactly the same thing. The kids get some lousy pasta and we are having something a little more expensive. What exactly we are going to eat is still up for debate, however. We have a real problem deciding on food for some reason. As long as it's not lobster, I'm okay with it.

Happy Valentine's Day. Have some candy on me.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

We celebrated our anniversary. Again.

Wow, it's been a while, huh? I have a good excuse for not posting lately. Jenn and I spent the night out last weekend, which killed the whole weekend, our daughter was home sick from school, then Jenn was home sick. Sound good?

So last weekend Jenn and I went up to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin and stayed at the Grand Geneva Resort for a night. We won the night stay in a silent auction last year, so we thought we'd stay there and run in a 5K they have up there as part of their winter fest. Well, after our major snow storm only a couple of days before the race, we knew we weren't going to run, but we were certainly going to go up there anyway.

We dropped of the kids with my brother and sister-in-law and drove up there on a Friday night. It was a nice drive with all the snow, but it would have been even better if we didn't get stuck in traffic in Woodstock, IL. Which is home to the Swanky Spa. You know it's good if Swanky is in the name of the place. I didn't have my camera ready to snap a picture of the place, but the nice website with the bright teal background will suffice, I think.

Also, we passed through Hebron, IL which is home to the 1952 State Basketball Champs. They had a great water tower painted up with a basketball and everything. When we drove passed it I told Jenn that they might want to think of something a little more recent to be proud of, but then I read up on them a little. Turns out they won the championship and they had a total school population of 98 students. That is pretty cool. In the current age they would play against schools of similar size, which they didn't do then, so it is something to be proud of.

But, back to me. We got up to the resort around 6 PM and decided to walk over to the steakhouse inside to get a reservation for 7:30 PM. They receptionist took our name and asked if we were celebrating anything special so Jenn said it was our anniversary. I was kind of embarrassed at first. But it paid off. When we came back they had a nice table set up for us with rose petals spread out on the table, we got some free champagne and free cheesecake. So, Geneva Chophouse, thank you. The food was great, as was the service.

After dinner we walked over to the bar that was next door to have a couple of drinks. Hey, we weren't going to run in the morning, and it was our anniversary as far as anyone there knew. It was a nice relaxing night.

Here is the view from our balcony then next morning. It was much colder than it looks.

Oh, and this is something we need in our house:

A TV in the mirror! I'd never leave the bathroom. Though, it is kind of weird when actors are watching you go to the bathroom.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

I'm somewhere else today

I'm filling in for Florinda as she heals from shoulder surgery. She let me talk about my favorite book that I've read over the past year; The Breach by Patrick Lee. Go to Florinda's site and read it quick. With the loss of readership she'll get from me filling in, she might not keep the post up long!

I'm kidding of course, she would never pull the post down. I don't think.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Snowmageddon It

We survived the Great Snow of 2011. All I have to show for it is some sore muscles from shoveling and snow blowing the driveway. I don't know our official total, but I know O'Hare recorded 20.2 inches. O'Hare is close enough to my house to count that as the total by me too. The main problem was the drifting snow. We have winds up to 60mph last night so we had some drifts of at least four feet. It looked really neat, until I had to clean it up. I think it took about two hours. I tried to take some pictures to give you an idea what it was like.

Here is a picture down the street about an hour before it started.

I should add that this storm didn't take its time to get going. We went from nothing to not being able to see across the street in a matter of minutes. It only got worse after that.

I took this crappy picture through the front window as it was really going.

The wind was so strong that I thought that light pole was going to crash down on the driveway. It didn't.

This is the street after it was all done and the sun came out. It looks nice here. Now it's all broken up with footprints and ugly piled up at the end of all the driveways.

Quincy and Cruise had a good time running around in the backyard. I wasn't sure how the would like all the snow, but we had a hard time getting them in the house most of the day, so I assume they like it.

Here is a photo of them playing in the snow.

And here is a video. I hope this works. I think this is the first time putting a video up here and I've had a Flip camera for over a year.

Overall, it was pretty neat to watch. The last time we had a storm like this was 1999 and I was at work and then slept through a lot of it. I slept through a lot of this too, but I got to see the thundersnow. Speaking of thundersnow, here is Jim Cantore almost getting killed by it.

I know New York and most of the east coast has it worse this winter, but this was a huge storm covering many states. I think as a whole this was one of the biggest winter storms in a long time. Let's wait until next century for the next one, okay?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

We're doomed

Yes, we have a major winter storm coming. And, if the forecasts all pan out, we are talking about a Storm of the Century. Which is correct since this will indeed be the biggest storm of the 21st century. So, it's not an exaggeration, or a lie, to say that.

Obviously the news has been all over this, the supermarkets are super busy and even Jim Cantore from the Weather Channel is here. So, obviously that means we will get an inch of snow and we'll all be disappointed.

I'm kidding of course. Nobody is backing down from this thing. I've heard that DFW in Dallas is already shut down due to ice and snow and it is all heading this way as the storm intensifies. The good thing is I'm off of work anyway so I don't have to worry about getting there in the morning. They are setting up hotel rooms for people so they don't have to drive home, but I wouldn't take it anyway. I live too close and my mom's house is even closer so I could always stay there if needed. Actually, I did that exact thing on the storm of last century when we received 21 inches of snow.

What are we going to get today? Well, it varies. Here are a couple of charts I pulled up.

In the second one I live within the band that says 18 inches. But that doesn't mean that's all I'll get. It could be more, could be a little less. The forecasts all say at least a foot, which wouldn't be terrible, to two feet, which wouldn't be so good. The worst part, for those going to work, is that this is going to be at it's worst over that late night/early morning hours and the National Weather Service is saying that it may snow so hard at times that the plows won't be able to keep up and road may become impassable. On the first chart it shows that it could snow as much as three inches an hour at time. I'm going to need to get up in the middle of the night to clear the driveway off about three times to keep up.

No matter what we get, we are set in our house. We have food. Jenn can work from home and the dogs will keep us warm. I just hope we don't lose power. We have a fireplace, but it is a wood burning one and we have no firewood and we have never had the chimney cleaned since we moved in 8 years ago. I don't want to die.

I'm planning on putting a ruler out somewhere to measure the snow because I'm a big dork. Hopefully I'll be back let you know how it went.

Oh, and here is a YouTube video from the Chicago office of the National Weather Service. You can see what we are going to get and learn a little bit about classic mid-latitude cyclone formation and what a baroclinic leaf is. There will be a test later.