Monday, November 29, 2004

Light bloggin'

Another week with very little worth blogging in my life. I went home for Thanksgiving weekend, saw my parents and brother, and some friends. When I got back, there was a present waiting for me: a wireless router. I signed up for a new one-year commitment on my Verizon DSL service and got a $5 per month break, and a new 802.11b/g router for free. Not a bad deal, considering the router was something I had been planning to buy for myself anyway. Too bad I ran out my laptop's batteries following my fantasy teams over the weekend and left my charger at work on Wednesday. Now I've got to wait until tomorrow to really give it a whirl.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Signs of the Apocalypse, Part II

Execution video for sale

Just what the world needed...snuff films, available in a video store near you. I don't care that the producers claim it's to "counter Fahrenheit 9/11" or any such bullshit. This is just sick--making a fast buck off other people's suffering, death, and grief. After all, despite all their claims of nobility, I didn't see any mention that one thin dime of the money they're making selling this crap is going to the victims' families, armed forces/veterans support groups, or any other worthy cause. This is just another get-rich-quick scheme that happens to be spun in anti-Michael Moore silk.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Signs of the Apocalypse, Part I

As I get ready for work in the morning, I nearly always watch Fox and Friends on the Fox News Channel. As I was coming out of the shower this morning, the guest was NL Cy Young winner Roger Clemens. But he wasn't there to talk about baseball--oh no. He was there to talk about his commercial for the newly merged AT&T/Cingular Wireless company. Oh, and to plug the fact that most of his relatives were going to be getting some sort of Cingular "Razor" phone for Christmas this year. Are you really that hard up for cash, Rocket?

Tuesday, November 16, 2004


Eli Manning to replace Kurt Warner as Giants' starting QB

It's about time, says I. After abysmal perfomances three weeks in a row from Kurt Warner, I was actually hoping coach Tom Coughlin would make this move before last week's game against the Arizona Cardinals. I didn't get to see that game, but reliable posters in the Giants newsgroup said that the main reason Warner was sacked six times on Sunday was that he was essentially hanging onto the football in the pocket until three additional hairs of his stubble turned gray. Kudos to Coughlin for making a change before the season became a complete writeoff. I don't hold out a lot of hope--the defense (and specifically the pass rush) are in a world of trouble with Strahan gone for the season. But if Manning can avoid mistakes and perform even marginally well, maybe he can rally this team around him and inject a dose of enthusiasm into a squad that's lost three of their last four games, yet is still in contention for a wild card spot. Good luck, kid. Hopefully you can show us that you were worth our team mortgaging their future on you.

Another new link

Hanging out with Squidly on Saturday, I didn't just come away with a paintball gun...I also came away with a cool new website under my belt. The Squid clued me in to a personal photo repository site called Flickr. There are free and for-pay accounts available--I'm sticking with the freebie for the time being. That allows me to upload up to 10 megabytes of photos per month, which is plenty for me, since I don't own a digital camera of my very own. (I took yesterday's paintball gun photo with an older Kodak DC280 that I borrowed from work.) Add in the ability to add little tags to annotate the photos, and you've got a very cool website for the extremely reasonable price of absolutely nothing. (There are tons of other features that I haven't even begun to play with yet, too.) So yet another neat site finds its way into my permanent links section.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Bushmaster pics

Here's a picture of my new baby:

Click it for a closer view.

Big Fat Obnoxious Boss 11/14

This episode was even funnier than the first. I hope the winner enjoys the cash prize, because none of these people are going to be able to get a job in the business world after this. It's not even that they're put in stupid situations--the reactions and idiotic things that they say about these stupid situations is what makes this show so funny.

They eliminated Christine--I say "good". All the whining about not wanting to fib even a little bit to sell their soup really got on my nerves. Plus she's not nearly as hot as Whitney or Elli. Hopefully, they'll get rid of Tonia next (on top of being unpleasant on the eyes, she seems like a bossy know-it-all), then whittle down some of the guys. (Hey, I'm a straight guy; I'd like this show even more if there were no male contestants at all.)

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Chili Time!

I found a great chili recipe on a site my friend Faxman introduced me to, Beer Advocate. (I've added the site to my permanent links collection.) It looks really good, so I'm trying it out--with a few minor modifications of my own, of course. I just took a sample far, so good!

Paintball Gun

I've been waiting for this for a long time.

Over the spring, some friends and I took up the sport of paintball, and after my first time out of the gate, I was hooked. I started with a Kingman Spyder Victor II. It's a semi-auto marker with a CO2 propulsion system. It was a pretty nice gun...really, not bad for entry-level, and I wouldn't hesistate to recommend it to a new player starting the sport. It works quite well for woodsball, but once I started playing speedball, some of its limitations became all too clear. Variations in the velocity caused my shots to frequently be inaccurate--it was OK for body shots on an exposed player, but if a player only had a head, or foot, or pod sticking out of the bunker, forget it--my only hope was to "spray 'n' pray".

At the start of the summer, Squidly got an Angel Speed, and his play got noticeably better immediately. Of course I wanted one...but his budget was a bit higher than mine. I read some other reviews, but couldn't find anything that looked good in my price range. What was I to do?

Another friend of mine came up with the answer. In August, my other paintball companion Faxman got a Bushmaster BKO from Indian Creek Designs. It's a LOT less expensive than the Angel, and performs amazingly well for the price. (In fact, it's been referred to as the "poor man's Angel". So I waited...and bided my time.

Once I had the funding together, it was time to talk to Squidly. He's got some friends at his local paintball shop (MI Paintball in South Jersey), so he was able to get me a bitchin' deal on this gun. I went up there today, and came away with a red 2004 BKO of my very own. While I was there, I color-coordinated it with a red gun cover, a red bottle cover (this gun uses a low-pressure nitrous system--exceptionally accurate for those pinpoint shots on heads, hoppers, shoes, etc.) and a red Empire speedball jersey (which was on clearance to make room for 2005 apparel. If you're in the market, now's the time to buy.) We topped off the afternoon with lunch and a quick pint at Squidly's local sports bar. A big thanks to him for arranging the deal and taking time to go with me and hook me up. Look out, Faxman--I'm comin' for ya!

Now...I can't wait to give it a field test. Anyone know any good paintball fields in Delaware?

(Look for pictures this week.)

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Pressure Chief

I love all different sorts of music, but there are two or three bands that I put above most of the rest, and it's always extra-exciting when one of them comes out with a new album. One of my absolute favorites is Cake, and I picked up their latest, Pressure Chief. If you've never heard Cake's music before, they're really hard to shove into a category; about the closest I can come is alterna-bluegrass-country-funk-rock. A few of their songs got a bit of radio airplay; their biggest hit was "The Distance" from 1996's Fashion Nugget. From my experience with them, their albums are great, their concerts less so. I had a chance to go see them a couple years back at the Electric Factory in Philadelphia, and was extremely disappointed, though my disappointment had little to do with their performance.

It was a decent crowd, and a lot of people were yelling requests (including me--I wanted to hear "Mr. Mastodon Farm" from their first album). But after a little bit of the first set, their lead singer, John McCrea paused in between songs to say, basically, "We've got our set list planned, so stop yelling requests because we aren't going to play them." Then he got pissed at the crowd later in the show because the crowd wasn't very into the show.

That aside, I still love Cake's music, and I'm really digging this new album. Without a doubt, it's better than Comfort Eagle, although Pressure Chief is nearly as short (just under forty minutes). Acoustically, it sounds a lot more "polished" than the band's earlier works, and that seems to have been a trend as the group goes along. Prolonging the Magic is very quiet, and you have to crank the volume to really hear it. From there, they seem to have increased their production values a little more with every release. And this isn't a bad thing at all. They remain very true to their original sound (and their sound, in turn, is very original). They bring in some interesting instruments from time to time (if I'm not mistaken, I believe I heard the return of the musical saw from Prolonging the Magic). There's not one particular track that jumps out at me as "ready for radio airplay", but I'm especially partial to "Wheels", "Take It All Away" (Cake's take on the breakup song), "Dime" (a really clever song, even before you start thinking about the dime as metaphor), "The Guitar Man" (a great ballad-about-life-in-music), and "End of the Movie" (a song about getting older). A great album--a must-have for Cake fans, and worth a listen for anyone looking for something a little different.

Veteran's Day

Today is Veteran's Day, and I'd just like to take a minute to say "Thank you" to all of the brave men and women who've served in the various branches of the U.S. Armed Forces to keep this country free.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Surreality Television

Let's get one thing clear: I despise reality TV shows. I watched parts of some of the early seasons of The Real World, but it didn't take long for me to get bored with even that. But last night a friend talked me into checking out the premiere of My Big Fat Obnoxious Boss.

And I admit it: I'm hooked. I was hooked ten minutes into the show. This is one of the absolute funniest things I've ever seen.

You see, the people they've chosen to be contestants competing for an alleged "dream job" all seem to think they're God's gift to the business world, not to mention the opposite sex (although I'll admit, most of the female contestants are pretty hot.) But in fact, they're vapid, naive, and just generally idiotic (at least in a common sense kind of way).

And the actors portraying the corporate execs expose them every step of the way.

In the opening cocktail party, for example, they passed off discount-rack sparkling wine and appetizers made from Oscar Mayer bologna, Spam, and Cheez-Whiz as fancy hors d'oeuvres. These empty heads were heard making comments like "The champagne tastes expensive" and "Some of the appetizers were obviously more sophisticated than I was." And the punishments just keep coming.

I only have two complaints: the decision of who gets cut each week is made by a "secret mystery boss" that it looks like they probably won't reveal until the end, and they're promising the "biggest revelation in reality TV history" when they finally do. C'mon, guys--this is supposed to be a parody of "traditional" reality shows. Not taking your own show too seriously is one thing; becoming an inadvertant example of self-parody just cheapens the comic value. (And for the record, a friend and I talked it over a bit, and the "surprise boss" guess we came up with is George Steinbrenner.) The other problem is that while the job isn't real, the substantial cash prize is. I'd laugh all the harder at the show if I knew none of these bozos went home with any compensation at all.

Stupid Giants

(I think I've used this title for a blog post before.) I didn't get to see the Giants-Bears game yesterday...I contemplated going to a sports bar, but after the outcome and everything I've read, I'm pretty glad I stayed home. Sloppy play, turnovers, penalties...I thought that was Fassel-ball and Tom Coughlin was supposed to take care of that. This is the same crap we've seen for years--the Giants sometimes get "up" for the big games against tough teams, but always seem to play down to the level of the competition when faced with games they should win easily. When they were 4-1, they had me fooled into thinking they might be a good team. Wrong. Good teams don't lose games to the Lions and Bears. They might luck their way into a wild card berth, but it's time to make some changes--specifically at the quarterback position so we can start getting Eli Manning ready to play next season.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004


And of course, I'll still be making boring old "regular" posts like this one in between Campaign Trail Tales.

One of my fellow volunteers steered me to a great political poll site called RealClearPolitics. It has just about every poll on every government official that you could ever want, and more. Zogby, Gallup, Rasmussen--they're all there, along with a whole bunch more that I've never even heard of. Most of it is probably only interesting to those who work in the industry and nerds like me who like to look at charts and graphs. Nevertheless, I'm entertained by it, so it gets a permanent place in my Links section.

MIA Blogging

I haven't done any updates for a couple of days because I've been back in the town where I grew up in southeastern Pennsylvania, doing some volunteer work for the Bush campaign. See, living in Delaware as I do, there was never any doubt that my vote was going to be cast for a losing cause. So when I found out that an old friend had a job working for the county's Republican party headquarters, I told him that I'd be interested in volunteering, especially during their "72 Hour Initiative" (which actually runs for 96 hours, from Saturday morning all the way through until the end of Tuesday evening. (I didn't work Sunday, though--I took a break to watch the Giants with my folks.)

It'd take a long time to write everything I saw, did, and learned, so rather than try to cram it all into one entry, I'm going to break it up into sections and post it here throughout the week. Names, of course, will be changed to protect the innocent, and a few things may be left vague to protect area-specific campaign strategies, but I think it'll be an interesting read nonetheless. If you're interested in the process and what goes on behind the news coverage you're probably watching as I write this (I'm currently flipping between the different network and cable channel coverages, spending most of my time on Fox News, with no less than five different Safari browser windows open to election coverage sites), then you really won't want to miss the next week or so of entries here.