Monday, July 16, 2012

Playing with Legos and a camera

Today it is hot. The little thermometer on my computer says it is 98F and the air conditioning says it believes the computer since it (the A/C) hasn't had a break all day. So, since I didn't have to work today, it was a day spent in the house. Well, mostly. See, it's been very dry here this summer. (How dry is it?) It's so dry the grass is wonderful shade of brown and slightly unpleasant to walk on.

Anyway, I was bored and I told my son to get a couple of Lego minifigs so we can set up some kind of photo shoot with them. This is what came of that.

The first one I tried to make it look like he was stranded in the desert. Minus the sand, of course. 

Then I found a little hole in the ground so I shoved one of the guys in there and did these. 

Yes, I'm a dork. And now I'm hot. 

Monday, July 2, 2012

Thanks, Jerk

Last week we went out to Navy Pier, in Chicago of course, to take the kids on a short boat tour of the skyline and watch some fireworks. The kids were pretty excited. Well, actually, our son was excited to go see the fireworks while our daughter was excited to go out for dinner. Priorities.

It was kind of a hot day but the breeze off the lake kept the temperatures reasonable, so it turned out to be a good time. I took my camera to try to take some decent pictures off of a moving boat, and I did get a few.

Here is a view as we leave the pier and look back at the city. Trump's hotel is there off the left.

I've never been on the Seadog boats, but they look fast!

As we headed north we had a good shot of the Hancock as dusk was setting in, and as I mentioned on Twitter, Chicagoist used my photo. I was unreasonably happy about that.

Then the fireworks started. At first we were pissed because the boat turned into them and we couldn't see a thing even though we were the first ones on the boat and asked where we should sit for the best view. Then the boat turned and we had a good view. Well, except for the guy that decided to stand up the whole time. Probably because he was late and had a bad seat. Tough cookies, dude. (Yes, I said dude.)

Can you see his outline here?

How about this one if I drop the black level? See him now?

He stood there the whole time. Now, granted, we could still see pretty well and these pictures wouldn't have been perfect anyway, but they would have been decent. Oh, then when the finale came we were heading back in straight into the fireworks so this was the view. So, if you go on a fireworks sit in the front of the boat, not on the sides like the guy told us.

Enjoy your July 4th celebration!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Fun With TV

Since I've been on the afternoon shift the last week, I've been up a bit later watching TV. There is some fun stuff out there now. I ran across "World's Worst Tenants" the other night on Spike. Now, you know if you want quality TV you need to go the Spike and find something that starts with "World's Worst." I was not disappointed.

First of all, the show is staged. I don't know if they state it in the beginning of the show, but it's pretty obvious. It may be a re-enactment of some real events, but it is not happening real-time. The main eviction guy is awesome. He looks like he is about to bust out of his shirt any minute. Or out of his skin, I can't tell which will give out first. But, his best feature is his hair, what little of it there is. The best way I can describe it is a goatee that is on the back of his head. Just watch the clip below and I think you'll agree this is the best, or worst, television has to offer.

And, of course, there are the commercials. You know I love an incredible product that you can find in stores(tm). The GoJo Hands Free Headset is just such a product. Do you hate wearing an inconspicuous headset that make you look like you are Borg? What about those headphones that fit comfortably on your ears? Do you hate them too? Well, the GoJo Hands Free Headset is for you. Looks it's a big piece of plastic that smashes the phone against your face. Isn't that great? Look, you can use it at the gym! People will never notice! I mean, why would you use headphones at the gym? That's just silly!

Obviously the best part of the commercial is the guy putting the laptop against his head. I can't wait to see people using this with an iPad. You know it would happen if the iPad had a speaker on the front.

This is what I do at night. I think I need some kind of therapy.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Chicago Architecture Tour

Two weeks ago Jenn and I stayed in downtown Chicago to get away from it all. In other words, spend some time without the kids. While we were down there we went on a tour to see the architecture along the Chicago River. There are some cool old, and new, buildings down there that I tried my best to do justice to with my camera. It turns out it is not all that easy to take a good picture from a moving boat. Who knew?

Here is the Wrigley Building with the Tribune Tower behind it.

Another view of the Wrigley building. The color is slightly off due to the clouds and white balance. My bad on that. 

I don't remember the name of this place but I thought it look cool. Like a condo building from Cloud City or the Jetsons. 

The gigantic Merchandise Mart. This picture does not due justice to the size of this place. 

This is looking down the river and the Sears Tower now known as the Willis Tower, but that is tough for a life-long Chicago suburban person to say. 

This didn't turn out as well as I wanted, again, moving boat, but I liked the old look of the sign that is about to fall into the water. 

This is a look down the river to the old Montgomery Ward building. I forgot what is all in there now. Again, it is much bigger than this looks. 

I just like that this said "Sponge" on the old water tank on top. 

This wasn't on the boat tour, but this is the City Hall building. Imposing. 

I took more pictures but these were the ones that turned out the best. I highly recommend taking a tour like this if you ever come to Chicago. We took the one through the Chicago Architecture Foundation, which I highly recommend, but there are others as well. If you do go, don't be like me and not pay close enough attention. When I got home the next day I had to ask Jenn and look up which buildings were in the pictures I took. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Is that a razor in your pocket or are you glad to see me

This was my morning:

I got up a little late, hitting snooze and extra time was important, and jumped into the shower. I was still okay on time, but I needed to shave as I had skipped doing so for the last three days. I'm lazy, what can I say.

So, I go to shave. However my razor is not in the downstairs bathroom like it usual. Then I remembered I used it upstairs on Sunday since we were having family over and Jenn wanted me to keep that bathroom clean.  I went quietly back upstairs to check the vanity. It wasn't there. So I went back downstairs to look again. Nope. Now I'm starting to get behind schedule. I realize it has to be upstairs so I sneak back up to check again. This time I find it in the vanity. I swear it wasn't there the first time!

I do a quick shave and switch off the razor. Then off and on again. Again. And again. The fucking thing won't turn off! Now I'm trying to figure out what to do. I can't leave it running in the bathroom. The dogs will probably freak out and start barking at it and wake everyone up. I ended up putting it on the floor wrapped in a towel so I can finish getting my stuff together. It's still audible since the house completely quiet. Dammit!

Once I finish getting all my stuff together I decide I can't leave it in the bathroom so I take the stupid thing wrapped in a towel to my car. Luckily no neighbors were out there. As I drive to work I think of what to do with the thing. It's obviously no good anymore and I might as well get rid of it. At first I think I can stop off somewhere on the way and drop it into a dumpster behind a building. But then I decide that is no good. I'm afraid this thing is going to start on fire like all those battery-operated things you read about. With my luck I'd drop it into a dumpster, it starts on fire and I'm recorded dropping it in there. Next thing I know the footage will be on the news with the anchor pleading for information on the man who dropped a incendiary device in the garbage. So the dumpster idea was out.

Next thought: What about dropping it in the garbage at McDonald's on the way? I strike that idea for the same reason. I'll be known as the Big Mac attacker, or something. So I keep driving to work. I figure I'll leave it in my car and hope for the best. If it starts on fire I figure I have insurance so I'll be okay. Maybe.

By the way, it was running all this time. Breaking my concentration with it's incessant buzzing. Like the Tell Tale Razor. Once I make my last turn before I arriving to work it coughs up it's last remaining charge, I pull into work, get out of the car and hope for the best. I was pretty sure my car wouldn't be a smoldering heap of metal when I was done, but I wasn't positive.

By the way, I have had this razor for ages. It's a Braun that is at least ten years old if not older. All I ever had to do was change the foil once. I will miss it, even if it did make this morning crazy.

Anyway, how was your morning?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Sometimes there is something in your house that you walk past and you just have to go back and take a picture of it. This is one of those times.

I didn't dress Worf this way, my daughter did. It made me laugh. I hope it does the same for you.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Nyet! Michael Knight

Jenn is on her way to Moscow right now. I forgot to tell her to say hi to Putin for me. Me and Puts (that's what I call him) go way back. Anyway, I'm flying solo here for a while. That's why I'm sitting here in front of a keyboard instead of next to her on the couch. Wait, I can watch whatever I want now! What am I doing here?

Speaking of doing things, do you know what I did the other day? I watched the Knight Rider pilot movie thing. Why? I don't know. I had some time to kill and it popped on on Netflix so I thought I'd check out where it all started since I couldn't remember. I remembered that Michael Knight was not always his name and he was basically brought back from the dead, but that was it.

So I watched the two-parter "Knight of the Phoenix." Clever, no? I realized that the pilot was quite a bit darker than I remembered the show. The thing that threw me at first was the guy playing Michale in the beginning was not Hasselhoff at first, but they dubbed in his voice. Which I found interesting. Then, after being betrayed by a girl (isn't that always the way) she shoots him in the head! Ouch. Why not the chest or something?  Man, what a bitch!

Anyway, he's rescued by some dude that appears out of nowhere with a helicopter and is rescued. I just watched this the other day and I don't remember them saying why this guy came to find Michael and his Trans Am in the desert. Was he following him? Did he just happen to be flying over the desert looking for a special person to help him solve crimes?

Anyway, Michael wakes up and is pissed about having a new face. Dude, you are the man now, why so pissed?  Is basically what Devon and Mr. Knight say. Oh, and can you help us out? Oh, and none other than Oscar Goldman was the doctor who saved him. Yes, that guy from Six Million Dollar Man. It turns out Michael was saved by a metal plate in is head that ricocheted the bullet back out of his face. Ouch, again!

So, eventually he gets out the the garage and finds a car there. It's his Trans Am! Yes, KITT (Knight Industries Two Thousand, which sounds much cooler back in the 80's) was his car. They rebuilt it. They made it better, faster, stronger...I think you get where I'm going. I didn't remember that KITT was his car reinCARnated. (Okay, I'll stop.) The best line of the show is when Michael gets in the car and gestures toward the dashboard saying, "What's all this? It looks like Darth Vader's bathroom." Actually, he's kind of right.

Basically, he goes on to find the people who tried to kill him (evil computer geniuses) and saves the day and learns to get along with KITT, who is not so annoying and grumpy in the pilot.

After I watched the pilot I watched two other episodes to see the changes. The first real episode is odd in many ways. For one thing, Bonnie, the lady mechanic (crazy, I know!) is all of a sudden in the show like she was there in the pilot. I'm guessing there was some delay between these two so they'd assume people forgot. We TV watchers aren't so bright you know.

Also, he helps a young female lieutenant (crazy again!) out when her car conks out on the road. He drives her to the base where she is due to report to her CO who happens to be her dad. Several odd things happen in the very beginning of the episode. Like when Michael brings her to the base he comes all the way into the office with her where she is meeting her dad. Why? If I gave someone a ride, especially to a military base of some sort, I'd just drop them at the front door, or gate, or whatever.

Then, when she finds out her dad is dead, they cut to his funeral and Michael is there! What the hell? He doesn't know anyone there so why go to the funeral? Obviously, he isn't going to get anything from her now? Give it up dude. So, yeah, he ends up foiling some big arms theft ring after taking on many missiles. The end.  

The last thing I watched was the second season two-part premiere. I don't know why either, but when I saw there was an Evil Michael Knight in the episode and a giant truck made out of the same material as KITT, I knew I had to watch. The best parts of this episode was the beard that Hasselhoff to wear when he was the Evil version of himself who just happened to be the real son of the guy who saved him back in the pilot. Oh, he was sent to prison in Africa and never expected to get out. So, I guess that's why Mr. Knight made Michael look like his son? I think the guy needed therapy. He had the money to get a great shrink.

Awesome! (photo from Whatculture!)

So, this guy gets the former Mr. Knight's wife to drug some of the foundation members to get the formula for the molecular structure of KITT's outer shell. It must be more complicated than that Magic Shell stuff, I guess. 

So, they gut this stuff and build a semi-tractor with this stuff. I guess they are going to plow through a militaryKITT gets whacked hard. He's smashed and upside down and Garth keeps driving? Where they heck is he going? He doesn't go in for the kill? Somehow after Michael gets KITT upright and driving through the desert all the people are gone that come to see Garth wipe out KITT and Michael. Where did they all go? Nobody thought to check and see if they were really dead? What kind of crap revenge is this? 

Anyway, Bonnie outfits KITT with some awesome laser, they have another showdown and KITT wins, or something. YAY! 

My final thoughts? The show definitely took a lighter turn after the pilot. Somehow KITT was turned into an old woman and Michael became a himbo. (Do people still say that?) 

Next up, I go back and watch The Greatest American Hero! (No, I don't. I don't want to ruin that for younger me.) 

Ha! I forgot I wrote about the "NEW" Knight Rider a long time ago. 

Monday, March 19, 2012

New leaf, turned over and such

Hey! Why does it echo here! here.

Okay, let's get this done. Yes, been a long time and all that. If anyone still has this still in their feed I'd be surprised. If you do, thanks!

First off, I want to thank Florinda, Stacey, Cookie and Dreamybee (not all their real names) for their nice words on my last post about the passing of my step-mom, Mary. None of you have met her, and I've only met one of you in real life, so thanks. That was really nice.

So, yes, my year started of pretty bad. Sure, I told you about Mary, but two weeks before that Jenn's cousin, who was my age (!), passed away and two weeks after Mary my dad's cousin passed away. It had not been a fun start to the year. The worst part now is getting my dad through the grief. He and Mary were married over 40 years; you don't get over that in a month's time. He's been pretty down, obviously, and since he doesn't have any hobbies to keep him busy, it's been extra tough on him. I know he'll be okay, I just wish it would be sooner rather than later.

Oh, I forgot! We had a little health scare with Jenn's mom, too! Luckily, it has turned out okay, but we had a few weeks of waiting on that one, too.

Anyway, that's been the year so far. That is part of the reason not much has happened here in this space. Sure, I've been slacking off for a while, but I really haven't felt much like writing anything. See how depressing this started out? Did I want to make all the (4) people who read this more depressed during the long, cold winter months?! See, I was helping you all along.

So, on to the present, and what got me to write here. Yes, it's been a crappy start, and I need to turn things around. In a few areas.

First, health-wise. I have to get back to the running. I was at the doctor the other day and found out I had gained 10lbs since December. I tend to eat, as many people do, during times of stress and I certainly did my fair share these last few months. Some of the weight gain was due to some medicine for my own (minor) medical issues, but not all. So, yes, get more excerise. I had signed up for the Shamrock Shuffle next weekend, but it is not going to happen. I just finally got over a 3 week-long cold and can't run that far without hurting myself. My plan is to slowly get the mileage up and run something in April. I have a few ideas of races, we'll have to see what fits into my work schedule.

Also, I have to kick Dr. Pepper out of my life. Sorry, doc, I love ya, but you are no good for me. You fill  me with empty calories and only give me a few minutes of pleasure in return. Yes, I could try diet, but why? Oh, and don't even bring up Dr. Pepper Ten. I tried it. It tastes like cough syrup. Also, the marketing for it is way too stupid for me to acknowledge it's existence.

Second, well, I need to do more of this here blogging stuff. Not only here, but I owe John and Patrick over at Functional Nerds some music reviews. They have been nice enough not to send me e-mails asking me why I've been such a loser, so I can't let them down any longer than I have.

By the way, even though I haven't been here much I have been on Twitter and posting some photos on Google + and I do have a Tumblr. I don't know if I've ever mentioned Tumblr here.

Lastly, and I should have put this with the Dr. Pepper stuff, but I need to fix my diet. With the way I've been eating lately I fully expect cheese to come out of my veins the next time I do blood work. The nurse will need to switch out the needle for one of those taps they use to get sap out of maple trees. I've been eating some salads for lunch at work, but when I come home all bets are off. I did good today, though. I went to the grocery store and didn't buy any candy. Believe it or not. I don't. (But it's true!)

In short, (if you skipped to the end, that's okay, I wrap it all up here) I need to get moving, exercise, eat better and write some more stuff. Besides, all I've been doing at night is sitting in from of the TV with my iPad and posting stupid tweets. This is way more important.

Oh, It's been like 80 degrees here for about a week now. It's been great, but a little too good. You know what I mean? Either the bottom is going to fall out and we are going to be covered in snow in two weeks, or we are unwitting participants in some kind of experiment. Maybe something like the Stephen King book, Under the Dome, or The Simpsons Movie. Could go either way. I have started to build my very own Doomsday Bunker just to be ready.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Sad Day

Today I got the call I was expecting, but was still hoping wouldn't come for a while yet. My step-mom, Mary passed away today. She had been sick for awhile. Actually we thought she wouldn't make it until Christmas, but I think through sheer will, she did. 

She's spent the last month at home with my dad, but she was no longer getting any treatment for either the cancer she had, or the bacterial infection in her lungs that she has been fighting for several years now. They sent her home with in-home hospice care, which is never a fun word, and couldn't treat her for her ailments because she was just too weak to handle them. The Friday before Christmas was the day they made the decision to stop the treatments. That was the day I went to the hospital thinking it was the last time I'd see her. Luckily it wasn't, but I'd obviously like more time. Much more. 

But, the thing is, she was in a lot of pain in the end. She was getting a ton of pain meds and that is not fun for anyone. Now she is pain-free. That is the blessing. 

Now, Mary was technically my step-mom, but my dad and her had been married 41 years. I'm 42, so it's not like I know anything different. Basically, it was like I had two moms. I never lived with my dad and Mary, but I'd say she was as close to a biological mother as you could get, without the actual biology. 

She taught me a lot of things over the years. She taught how to appreciate antiques (she had a ton of old stuff), she taught me latch-hooking when it was all the craze, she taught me that plants should not die when they are in your possession. I need to work on that last one. 

One funny memory. I was maybe 9 or 10 years-old and we were on vacation in Wisconsin. We rented a house, we needed it when all the kids were together, and I was the last one eating breakfast. She asked if I wanted another piece of French toast and I said, "Nah." But I guess she thought I said "yeah" and gave me another one. The problem was I was stuffed and couldn't possible eat another bite. She came back and said I better eat it since I asked for it. I didn't want to say she hear me wrong so I wrapped it in a paper napkin and went into the bedroom and threw it away. Being a smart kid, I didn't just toss it in the trash, I put it under the bag that was in the small can, thus concealing it. Really all I did was have her find it later. At least I assume. She never said anything, but there is no way she didn't find it. So I guess she also taught me to not waste food and that parents are smarter than kids. 

My big worry now is my dad. He's going to be alone for the first time ever. Yes, he's been divorced, but I don't think there was a long gap and this is much different.  The good thing is he has seven kids and many grandkids to keep him busy. That is our job now, to look out for him and try to fill the whole left by Mary's passing. Keeping him busy will help me, too. At least I hope so, because when I'm not doing anything that's when I remember she is gone. It's going to take a while to get used to that. 

Here's a picture of Mary with my brother and I from 1981. I think we were in Florida. Pardon the crappy scan quality. 

Okay, I have to try and get some sleep. I'll probably have more to say after this is all over, but this is going to be an exhausting week. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

This is why insomnia is good for me.

If you know me at all, you know I love a great commercial. And by great I mean terrible.  Well, I have not one, but two, for you today. But only if you call within the next ten minutes.

First up, exercise equipment. We all want to look great, right? We want ripped abs, if your a guy, strong shoulders, nice pipes, etc. Though, funny enough, we must not care about our legs, guys, as we never see a good machine on TV to get rid of the dreaded Bird Legs. Anyway, today we have a new exercise machine. One like you've never seen before. Well, you've never seen it if you are under 70 or healthy. Take a look and see what I mean.

Okay, what does that make you think of? Yes, it's a walker! Like you're grandma uses! If you pay attention to the first five seconds of the video you will swear the guy can't walk and is using it to assist him in moving about.

To be fair, maybe somebody who went through, or witnessed someone going through, some heavy physical therapy and noticed how much the upper body can develop in those situations. But, come on! Don't have some totally ripped dude walking around with the Ultra Walker like he got that strong doing dips and push ups.

Also, curls with this thing? Can you make it anymore awkward, Chandler? This thing weighs 30lbs, right? Can you imagine moving something around that weighs thirty pounds that is shaped like this? It has to be terribly awkward swinging that thing around the house to shove it under your bed, where it will likely sit gathering dust. Until you hit 80 and need it, that is.

Next up, a computer keyboard for old farts. Okay, there is a need for keyboards with large print, I understand that, but this commercial is the problem. And the website. They don't have a video I can embed (their loss) so I have to link to the page. Please, go and look at it. I'll be right here.

Done? First, the good. Like I said, there are people that need this kind of keyboard for various reasons. Also, it's waterproof. Or so they say. That's pretty neat! I'm a total slob and could use something like that in a hideous keyboard.

Now the bad. Look at the website again. Watch the images that pop up on the right side showing all the benefits you get by buying this keyboard.

First, why is the guy with an install CD all covered in grease and holding broken cables? What the hell did he do, pull shit out of his car to try and install some drivers? I mean, really. Who could possible get that dirty running some software? Is his house in the middle of a coal mine or something?

Second, who they hell Photoshopped (is Photoshopped capitalized?) the keyboard in those images where people are using them? Take a close look at the guy doing some kind of architectural design work. Look how freaking big that keyboard is under his arm. That this is like the size of a dashboard of a '74 Lincoln! You have to slide your chair over to go from 'a' to the number pad. And look at the keys! He can type with his elbow and not hit two keys at the same time. I'm going to need to get a second desk to put next to this one so I can fit that thing in front of my computer. I can't get that image off the screen, but here is one with the old lady that is almost as bad.

Look how far out to her right it goes! It's about as long as her arm! I know the real thing isn't the same since they show it in the video. Their graphic arts department (consisting of one guy named Fred who lives in his mom's basement) should be fired.

Lastly, I don't think bigger letters are going to make you type better. Get some Mavis Beacon software or something. Look, I suck at typing and I don't believe this monster will help me.

One more thing. I know you can't really tell here, but they purposely made the image of the regular keyboard blurry to trick you. "See, your eyes aren't what they used to be," they are trying to say. "You should really get one of these keyboards. You can see the keys better and the bright yellow keys will attract all the bees in the neighborhood. Hope you aren't allergic!"

But, on the bright side, you can get two, along with two mice, for the low, low price of $14.95. Plus shipping and handling, of course. Which will be triple the price of the keyboard. But, hey, you'll have a great new keyboard to use to write your angry letter about the shipping charges. Well, make sure to forward those to our Consumer Complaint department, also located in Fred's mom's basement.

Okay, I need to get some sleep now. I'll probably dream of some giant keyboard crushing me in my sleep and I'll have to use a 30lb walker to get around.