Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy halloween!

This lovely artwork is from my daughter Rachel.

We both hope you have a very happy halloween!

This year, it is not supposed to snow here, like it does sometimes.

About praying

A little action I have done over the years is to use objects to remind me to pray for people I know.

This little guy's head was part of a carving of a man playing a cello that my uncle carved. The kids destroyed the rest of him, during various kid-like throwings of balls across the living room, etc. But we decided to keep his head, rather than throw that away with the pieces that remained.

Recently, I stuck him to the inside of our medicine cabinet in the half-bath that Heather and I share. So now whenever I see him, I try to pray for my uncle and aunt. He had a stroke not long ago. She has lots of arthritis-related problems. So this little guy tells me to pray for them.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The problem with Myspace

Load times!!

I have a pretty fast connection, and the music player takes forever to load.

If and when I have the opportunity to go to an artist's website instead, I'll always choose that option.

The bizarre package

My son bought Spore, via eBay. It came, about two weeks later - from India! The "envelope" was cloth, hand-stitched and sealed with wax. Amazing!

It worked fine and was a totally legitimate copy for the Indian market. Ben didn't like the game in the end, and we sold it on Amazon Marketplace.

The middle of that story was a huge hassle. The game requires an internet connection to install, and the computer we tried installing it on is not hooked up to the internet. I spent the better part of four hours that Saturday, trying to get it on-line. I would have thought that an HP computer that is about a year old would have no problem getting on-line. Wrong. Qwest, our ISP, were no help. After each of my three hours on the phone with them, they ended up saying I needed to talk with HP. I refused to do that, as the computer is long out of its warranty period, and it would have cost a huge amount to have HP maybe help. So we installed it on another computer - only to find that Ben didn't like the game.

Oh well.

ps The Amazon user reviews average 1.5 out of 5 stars for the game. I'd say you would do well to not buy the game.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

You gotta try some

GoetzeGoetze's Caramel Creams, that is.

Go here if they're not available in your area. It's actually a pretty cool website (the home page, anyhow.)

I ate them growing up and rediscovered them during our east coast trip, this past summer. During my recent visit, they were at Big Lots!

The white cream/sugar mixture in the middle is electric in the small buzz it gives. It melts away all too quickly. But the caramel that remains is pretty good. And I'm not normally a big fan of caramel.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Introvert vs. extrovert

One day I went to iGoogle and saw this little story. (I saw it but did not follow the link.)

Yes, in America, extroversion is a valued commodity. In the UK, it is the opposite; if you are extroverted, you are not normal.

I'm introverted. Maybe I should move to the UK! Well, we did, back in 1995. But I'm too much of an American - in other ways - for it to have become home enough for us to have stayed.

I find it amusing that some people make money changing others' personality characteristics. Having said that, however, it is a good thing for us to work on our rough edges to move closer to the center from some of our extremes. I appreciate the Meyers Briggs test and how it has helped me understand myself and my spouse better. (If you haven't taken the test, you might consider doing so.)

And by the way, I never did find out what a "belt flip" is.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Empty is sad

hell on the redRhonda and Mickey live in Texas. During their visit, we discussed the wonderful "Hell on the Red" salsa and how I can't get it here in Colorado.

Low and behold, a few weeks later, in our mailbox there was a lovely package with some of the wonderful substance inside. What an excellent surprise!

Alas, sadness seeped into the corners of my soul when the last jar was empty.

Aren't friends great?!

ps Hell on the Red has its own humble website, where you can get some shipped to your door, even if you live in Australia. So yes, technically, I can get it here.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Sarah Palin listened to me

sarah palinIn my September 8th post, I made the observation that Sarah needed to do something about her hair.

BBC did a photo essay showing that she must have read my blog that day. Or her stylists had.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Suggestion: clear its little head

I saw this one day, while I was working away using my Mac. (The menu at the top was not for the application that I was running!)

My Mac was just not a happy camper.

So yes, a reboot cleared its little head of all the woes it was pondering.

Another idea came to me from Macworld. If you are a Mac owner, go to Library > Caches. Select the entire contents of that folder and trash it. Restart.

Before doing this, I'd quit every program that is running. I have done it several times without any problems. However... Warning: Don't try this suggestion at home. (In other words, don't blame me if you have any resulting problems!) I'd recommend that you try it after doing a complete backup with a bootable external disk. For the technically-inclined, that means using a tool like SuperDuper with a Firewire drive.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Creativity in little things

socialmentionSocialmention is a new search engine tool. Frankly, it does little for me beyond what Google and Twittersearch already do better. However, when you load up a new page, you will see some of the messages shown here. I love that kind of creativity!

Could have been better

In August (way back when it was warm all day long), Heather and I went hiking to celebrate our anniversary. As I wrote about before, it was an amazing hike. The final waterfall, shown here, was amazing.

However, when we got to the end destination, there were just too many people.

I admit to a bit of selfishness. I wished we had been there alone or with a few close friends. What is it that makes me want to keep all the good just for myself? Maybe it's just a desire for feeling that we were enjoying it alone - and that the starving masses were stuck in darkest suburbia. In any case, it's hard to chalk that up to anything but looking after number one.

I also admit to being spoiled. It was incredible to be there - but that wasn't enough.

What experience did you have lately with unrealistic expectations?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Coffee deal of the decade

java timeIf you live near a Big Lots store, go there. They may have this brand of coffee on the shelves. It's only $3.50 for 26 ounces. Yes, that's more than a pound-and-a-half!

The great thing about this coffee is that it's pretty good. It's not as good as the premium brands at the coffee stores or your local supermarket - but it comes pretty close. And it is certainly a better deal than the premium brands at three or four times that price.

Big Lots has carried it off-an-on for about the last year. My local store has had it on the shelves for about a tenth of the time. So if you see it, buy a bunch!

Coffee snobs need not try it. The beans are ground at the factory. (I'm too lazy to grind my onw, anyhow.)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Saw the MacBooks

apple storeYes, I went to my nearby Apple Store - 3.8 miles, my door to their door.

I love the new MacBooks. They reek of quality. The solid construction is amazing. The ports on the sides are so clean. The screen - well, it's cool, but that wasn't the most impressive thing to me. I loved the tiny speaker holes and power button! (The speaker holes are on the MacBook Pro.)

The speed of the 2.4 ghz models was noticeably faster than my 2.16 ghz model, which is about 18 months old. (The new ones are running a different CPU chipset, as well as substantially improved graphics chipsets.)

Why did I put this weird photo of the store's facade? Apple has a "no camera policy" for the inside of their store. The only cameras allowed are the ones they sell. And even if you bought one there, you couldn't take a picture with it inside the store.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Thought for you

"In those few hours, we both caught that extravagant feeling of learning — the one that everyone gets when discovering is the priority. It’s the feeling that happens when we chance to wonder not just look. The feeling showed in how we sat. The more we felt the learning, the more we leaned toward the computer. We were plants leaning toward the light."

From here, by Liz.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Friday weirdness

Whenever I see a truck with these silhouettes on its mudflaps, I almost go livid. They reflect the most sexist attitudes around. You know - the kind of guys who spend a chunk of money at adult-only establishments every week after payday.

I was intrigued to see a Chevrolet Blazer with a breast cancer awareness loop thingee just below the silhouettes. I don't normally think of a male chauvinist as being sensitive enough to support breast cancer research.

But then, when I stopped to think, it started to make sense...

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Pretty cool watches

nooka watch...but totally impractical. And too pricey for my blood. (Besides, even though I like watches, I rarely wear one.)

Style does not always equal function. But I'm an old form-follows-function guy.

Go here.

Stop already

I'm SO ready for November 4th to get here.

One simple reason is that there will no longer be quite so many trees cut down to fill my mailbox with propaganda.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blog Action Day - Poverty

Today is Blog Action Day. The focus is poverty.

I'd like to focus on a ministry that is small compared to many, Adopt-a-Legacy. Brian and Heather Jamison are providing hope for orphans in western Kenya.

When a child loses their parents to AIDS, it is no fault of their own. How will they eat? Where will they live? These are hard and complicated questions to answer. Since Brian and Heather lived in western Kenya for more than seven years, they do have a pulse on some of the answers. They help Kenyans to help themselves.

Your gift to that cause is truly an investment in the future. Make a difference today!

Finally, many say something like, "We should look to the needs in our own backyard first!" I beg to disagree. Having lived in Kenya for five years, I know that the physical needs there are deeper and wider than those of the neediest people in America.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

New MacBook Review

Yes, new MacBooks and MacBook Pros are out.

They look pretty cool. My favorite feature is the smooth edge-to-edge screen.

On the face of it, there aren't that many huge advances over the just-obsolete line. The entry price point has been dropped to $999 for the base model (which is an old one - faster than the cheapest new one, curiously). But if you want a new one, you must ante up $1299. The screens are now LED - using less power than the old LCDs.

Forums seem focused on the loss of firewire for the MacBook non-pro line. That means no bootable external hard drive. But I see that as a minor loss - kind of like how Apple first rejected the floppy drive. In time, everyone followed suit. (My analogy breaks down in that firewire was never part of most computers.)

One thing I haven't heard anywhere is that I think it was a strange decision on Apple's part to blur the lines between their pro line and their consumer line. Both now look and act very similarly. For $500 difference, you get a larger screen, firewire 800, a slot to fit a wireless cell phone connector and not much else.

Apple has released a great little video in which the design team discusses the new MacBook. If you're into design at all, it's worth a watch. (The photo shows Jonathan Ive, the head of the design team.)

So if you've got $1299 burning a hole in your pocket, go for it! Better yet, hit the refurbs store and for the same money, get a faster just-obsolete MacBook Pro, for the same money.

Ikea badness

ikea clockWell, I raved about how great Ikea is to sell a wonderful clock for just 99c.

It died.

But what did I expect for just 99c ?!

So now the clock that is double-stick-taped to our car's dashboard is an old Casio watch that I've had for at least 10 years. It's a little hard to see, but it does the job.

What item did you get your money's worth out of recently?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Point A to Point B

porsche cabrioletIt was a beautiful sunny afternoon last week, driving down University Boulevard.

I was going to the university to get some books for a paper I'm working on. (I'm in a master's degree program - a lot of added work on my plate, even though I'm just taking one class.)

So in front of me I see a new Porsche 911 convertible humming along. Slowly. $103,000. Then I think of how the chariot I'm driving is worth approximately 1/103 as much.

Three miles later, we both got to the intersection where I turned at roughly the same time. In fact, I arrived about a minute earlier. The function of both cars was achieved. Transportation.

That's the point, isn't it?

By the way, I say this not as a self-righteous thing (like how much better I am because I drive a humble car) - but rather I want to remind myself and you that the thing we already have may do the job just fine! We don't necessarily need the new, fast, shiny thing that we want so much.

Photo courtesy of the Porsche USA website.

Friday, October 10, 2008

A birthday present that gives twice

habitat for humanity denverHeather's birthday is just a week after mine. She requested a stainless steel sink. (No, she didn't want a bottle of perfume. She's very feminine, but she's not your average lady. Maybe that's why I married her.)

Anyhow, Habitat for Humanity has a store in Denver. It's amazing! People bring them stuff that they don't need, and they sell it - benefiting their mission to bring affordable housing to those who are priced out of the market.

So I got a sink for $9.61!!

If you're in Denver, call 303-722-5863. And get your next little or big home improvement thing there. If you're not in Denver, do some research to see if there is one in your city. Or, if you're feeling generous, here is where you can give to them.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Another little big guy

tattered coverindependent bookstoreTattered Cover is an independent bookstore chain in Denver. They have three locations. I happened to buy something there the other day, because it was convenient (and on my way to another business I had to visit).

I noticed the poster here, stuck on the back of one of the cash register monitors.

I just don't buy all the lines about how it is more righteous to buy things from an independent. Some are true - but not all. When you go to Starbucks or Office Depot, you are helping the people who work there to keep their jobs, too.

There's a feeling that if you shop at an independent store, you are helping the little guy. That is true when you visit the little mountain town coffee shop rather than the Starbucks on the interstate. But I'd wager that Mr. or Ms. Tattered Cover President lives in a bigger house than you do.

Having said all that, I do avoid WalMart whenever possible.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The little big guy

ace hardwareAce Hardware.

I dunno if they have one in your neighborhood - but they're great. You wanna buy a single screw? They have it. Bird feeder? For sure. Little red wagon? Yup.

Home Depot? NOT a chance. You have to buy a box of a thousand screws.

If I were independently wealthy, I'd buy stock in Ace, even if it was not a good investment. But I don't think they're listed on the stock market.

The double bonus for me is that my local Ace is a very short bicycle ride away.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Hot drink season again

hot drinkIt's so hard to believe that it's already that time of the year in North America and Europe again. Where did the summer go?

One of the things I missed when I lived at the equator was the change of seasons. Fall (Autumn, to those of you in the UK) is maybe my favorite season. I love the crisp feel in the air. I enjoy the colors in the trees. When I was a kid, I delighted in the smell of burning leaves. Alas, that's another thing that went by the wayside with the changes in culture.

(I admit, I like coffee year-round.)

Monday, October 06, 2008

A fun idea for your Monday

I found this one evening a few months back and saved it to share with you. (It was from a random flikr thing featuring "what is in your wallet?")

How thoughtful this person was!

(Do I carry a balloon in my wallet? No. But it's a good idea.)

For the detail-oriented out there, you will have noticed that the wallet owner lives in the UK.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Why I added this

It's kind of an ugly little sidebar thing. But I think it's fascinating to see who visits my blog.

Thank you to all you visitors! I may be visiting yours too!

Update: I think this tool only shows people who are registered with mybloglog.

Update 2 (Oct. 10): I took it away. Since the only visitors that it featured were those who are mybloglog members, that's not enough of you for me to keep it on this site.

Friday, October 03, 2008

The death of Sun Tour

sun tourMy road bike had a Sun Tour rear derailleur for more than 20 years. It finally died. Now it has a Shimano, like the vast majority of bicycles in the US.

Sun Tour went out of business back in the 90s, I think. But apparently they are back again. If you're ultra into detail on this, Sheldon Brown has an article for you.

My wife's old Trek road bike still has Sun Tour derailleurs. We got that bike at the Goodwill. It was a diamond in the haystack!

ps It broke my heart to throw away that old Sun Tour. (Since it had aluminum and steel mixed, it would be hard to recycle.)

Thursday, October 02, 2008

You have to be a REAL geek

tetrisPlaying Tetris in Terminal? (The TUAW story is here.)

I don't like to play games on my computer anyhow. It's one of those doors that if I opened up, it would be hard to close. So I just avoid it.

But if you're going to play a computer game, why not go for one with a decent interface that's built-in?!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Creativity, in an unlikely place

band stickersOne of the places I occasionally see live music at displays these stickers - above the paper towel bin in the rest room. Actually, stickers are all over that room.

I enjoy looking at them, just to stretch my boundaries a little. The artists are pretty much restricted to the palette of black and white. They are required to use the band's name. And yet a few gems pop to the surface, every now and then.

What unlikely place have you found creativity recently?