Thursday, December 01, 2005

Hat tips

I wanted to post an opinion on the U.S. government's payment of Iraqi news sources for positive pieces, but Stephen Green puts it much better than I ever could. The days of an impartial and unbiased media are behind us--just about everyone is pushing some agenda or other these days, and if we're willing to accept that from private sources, why shouldn't we accept it from our government in a country where we're desperately trying to stop the population from being recruited by extremist terrorists.

Also, I'd like to thank Blowhard from the Ron and Fez show for linking my blog. His articles are always an interesting read whether you agree with his views or not, and he updates much more frequently than I do. Bad Beast, bad, bad Beast!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005


I'm a lucky boy--I got to go to the Meadowlands in New Jersey on Sunday to see my beloved G-Men take on the Minnesota Vikings with my folks. The weather was absolutely fantastic--the temperature was in the 50's when we arrived for tailgating shortly before 10 AM, and although I didn't check, it had to be up to the 60's by game time. I tailgated into a T-shirt, didn't even bring my jacket into the stadium, and only put my sweatshirt on at halftime because I was worried it might get beer spilled on it under my seat. My mother put together a great tailgating spread--homemade chicken barbecue and sausage soup. And the seats were great--in the back corner of one of the end zones, 17 rows up. We had a great few of the action in that end, and we had binoculars for when the game was on the other side of the field, though we hardly needed them. I also got some neat pictures of some of the on-field action which are now up on my photo site.

Unfortunately, those were the highlights. The Giants themselves provided mostly lowlights, losing to the Vikings in heartbreaking fashion. The offense and special teams played terribly all day, with only the defense keeping the game at all interesting. The offense finally got their act together late in the 4th quarter, putting together a great drive and 2-point conversion to tie it up with just over a minute remaining--I was convinced that they were going to win it in overtime with the momentum in their favor. But the defense promptly took a nosedive, letting the Vikings far enough down the field to kick the winning field goal, although I can't really fault them for one bad series during the entire game. That's just the type of loss that makes me really worried about Sunday's game against the hated Eagles. A couple of other observations:

-Early in the year, a lot of Eli Manning's errant passes were overthrows. He got away with more than his share in part because of the height advantage of his primary downfield threats--Plaxico Burress and Jeremy Shockey are both 6'5, and Amani Toomer is the shortest of the trio at 6'3. Of the four interceptions Eli threw on Sunday, two were tipped passes, and it seems to me that the other two were underthrown. It seems like maybe he's trying to make an adjustment in his throws. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt at this point and have faith that he'll get it worked out soon.

-Plaxico Burress is getting a lot of press as the best free agent pickup in the league from this past offseason, but I think Antonio Pierce was at least as vital, if not moreso, to the Giants' success this year. He's a real playmaker, which shows on the television broadcasts, but more than that, he adds a lot of fire to the team, which is difficult to see if you're not there live. He pumps up his teammates and does a lot to fire up the crowd to give the defense that "12th man" advantage during home games.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Saints owner

Saints' owner Tom Benson will not return to Louisiana

This guy is, to put it plain and simple, a paranoid jerk. Really, what sort of reception did he expect from a state that he just kicked all over the place while it was down? To even talk about permanently moving the Saints now, in the immediate aftermath of a natural disaster, would be akin to Wellington Mara making plans to move the Giants to Philadelphia right after 9/11. The reflections of the Giants' owner following his death last week really show what a classless individual the Saints' current owner really is.

And now, on top of being a douchebag, Benson has proven that he's, to put it bluntly, a pussy. Remember the fat kid who'd run wheezing and crying home to his mother, claiming he was beaten up when the other kids started calling him names? This is pretty much the same thing on a larger scale. Does he really think that the police and stadium security are incapable of physically protecting him from the drunken rabble that attend most NFL games? (Note that drunken rabble is used here as a compliment.)

Do yourself a favor, Tom. Sell the team and get the hell out of New Orleans. If you really want to put a team in San Antonio, well, I've heard they wouldn't really care over there in Arizona.

Thursday, November 03, 2005


My thanks to those of you who leave comments on my rantings and ramblings. I hate to make it tougher for everyone, but due to the comment spam I've been receiving lately, I've been forced to turn on word verification for the blog. From now on, when you post a comment, you'll be required to type a nonsensical phrase into a box before the comment will be shown, in order to prove that you're a human and not an automated program spewing shit into my space. Sorry about that, but that's the way it has to be until we're legally allowed to hunt spammers for sport.


Well, I think I've left this blog alone long enough. Almost a whole month? I'm afraid so--but I don't suppose any of my six readers are surprised.

What have I been doing with myself during all that time? Funny you should ask...

-I watched every pitch of the World Series--the first time in years I've done that when the Yankees haven't been in it. That was perhaps the closest swept series ever. Every game could have gone either way--especially the 14-inning extravaganza (after about the 10th inning, I'd have given the edge to Houston given their performance in the 18-inning NLDS game). I was dog-ass tired at work the day after that one, but I wouldn't have traded seeing it for the extra couple hours of sleep.

-In some sort of new record, I haven't missed a New York Football Giants game yet this season, and that streak will continue through Week 9. They started out winning some close ones, losing a blowout to the Chargers and one to the Cowboys that wasn't a blowout only because they tried almost as hard as the Giants to blow it, and looking particulary weak on defense through most of the early games--then came last week against the Redskins. Somehow, some way, it all clicked for them. The offense looked great, the defense shut down the previously hot Mark Brunell, and the G-men dominated for sixty solid minutes. I don't know if this was just a one-shot performance for their recently departed owner against a team that had previously overachieved and thus achieved an overrated status, but if they can keep up this momentum, they'll go far this season and postseason. (I'm not going to jinx them by speculating just how far.)

-I've played lots of WoW. This game manages to keep me sucked in for two reasons: number one, I've got it installed on my iBook so I can play it at work, and number two, this is the one that my gaming friends are playing. I've got a character at level 60 (currently the highest attainable level) that can do the ultra-challenging runs with "the crew", and two lower-levels for that ever-important sense of accomplishment. (Please, no comments on how pathetic the life of a person who gets a sense of accomplishment from a computer game must be.) This game eats up my evenings, and with the news of an upcoming expansion pack, I think that trend is going to continue for a while longer yet.

-I've read a couple of very interesting books, which I'm trying to keep up with over in my Recent Events section over on the right. I've got to recommend the one that's over there right now, Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential. This book is the basis for a sitcom currently on Fox (which I haven't watched), and it's a mix of darkly comical stories of life in the restaurant business and tips for would-be cooks (like yours truly) and for restaurant-goers everywhere. (My favorite: avoid the seafood specials on a Monday.) Bourdain really finds his voice in print, and it reads like he's telling you these stories over a couple of pints. Highly recommended reading.

My thanks for reading if you made it all the way through this--imagine how much more readable it could have been if I'd done small regular posts throughout the month. I'll try to do better next time.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Thuuuuh Yankees Lose

Yee-freakin'-haw--at least another week and a half of that idiotic Rally Monkey I was bitching about last week. As far as I'm concerned, the Yankees' elimination last night at the hands of the Angels just caps off one of the worst sports long weekends in recent memory. There was no Giants game, three out of my four fantasy football teams lost, and I finished second-to-last for the week in my NFL pick-em pool, further securing my stranglehold on last place. Even my hated Eagles losing couldn't redeem, since they lost to the even-more-hated Dallas Cowboys, who may very well end up challenging my Giants for a wild card spot if the Eagles end up winning the division.

What happened? How did baseball's best team on paper end up losing this series? Last night's game really summed up the series quite well. The Yankees didn't hit like they were capable of, leaving 11 men on base (5 in scoring position) against a young kid with no playoff experience who no one's ever heard of. And their fielding sucked--last night's microcosm of that fact was the collision between Bubba Crosby and Gary Sheffield.

The Blowhard has an interesting, if somewhat optimistic, postmortem of the season up. As for me, I'll still be watching some of the playoffs, but not with the enthusiasm I had during the first round.

Oh well--I can always cheer myself with the knowledge that there's another microbrew fest this weekend.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Why Anaheim Must Lose

We need to get the Angels out of the playoffs as quickly as possible.

And here's why.

A capuchin monkey jumping up and down to House of Pain's Jump Around...c'mon guys. 1995 called, and they want their gimmick back.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Photo manipulation

Still think there's no liberal bias in the media?

Think again.

This is a great article that depicts how lies of omission can be some of the biggest lies of all.

Hat tip to Nuts McCracken over at the August Knights Forums.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Separated at birth?

This was pointed out to me by my friend Mike B. while watching the Giants-Cardinals on Sunday.

Giants TE


Your humble correspondent

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Football time

Well, I got to see the Giants play on Sunday after all. I got a free weekend of DirecTV's Sunday Ticket package with a code from a Burger King Angus Burger. And what a treat that package is--combined with the stat tracker from my fantasy football leagues, I was able to see most of the scoring during the 1:00 games and the entire Giants victory at 4:00. Yep, my boys are in first place in their division--well, tied for it, at any rate. It's a bit early for Super Bowl dreams, but the line protected Eli pretty well, the defense made some plays, special teams finally looked more special and less special, and Brandon Jacobs is playing like Ron Dayne with talent.

Unfortunately, I only won one of my four fantasy games (largely because I forgot to pull the injured Jerome Bettis from two lineups) and finished near the bottom of my pick-em pool. Fortunately, the season is young for me as well as for the Browns.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Update: Spam blogs

Looks like (host of this useless site) is cracking down on spamblogs as per my complaining post from a couple of months ago. All the spamblogs I highlighted in that post are now four-oh-four'd, and Blogger's put up a new button in the toolbar that everyone can use to flag those spamblogs and get them ripped down as fast as they're put up. Kudos!

Update: For T.O.

Lil' Jeremy wrote a new letter to Terrell Owens. Not as long or as funny as the first, but still worth checking out. I just love watching Owens if it can just affect the team enough that the wheels come off on the field, I'll be happy.

Friday, September 09, 2005

It's the most wonderful time of the year...

I got five hours of sleep last night, despite drinking five beers from 9:00 at night till nearly 2:00 in the morning. And yet I feel great this morning, because the reason for both is that I was watching the NFL season opener. I love football, and I love gambling on football--I'm in four fantasy leagues this year, one of which had an entry fee, as well as a pick 'em pool with some rather nice prizes--5th place gets their money back, and it goes up from there. The only bummer (for me) is that the Giants opener isn't going to be on TV in my area--they're showing the Cowboys-Chargers at 4:00. Oh well--I guess there's always the sports bar.

I've also picked up the PC version of Madden 06, and I'm fairly unimpressed. It's not a bad game, but the whole "vision" thing (you need to direct your QB's eyes to the receiver you're trying to hit before passing the ball) takes a lot of getting used to (fortunately, you can turn this "feature" off), and the new "Superstar" mode (create an NFL rookie and guide him through his career) adds very little excitement to the game for me. It feels like an attempt to put a stripped-down version of The Sims into the Madden series, and it just doesn't work, as far as I'm concerned. Other than that, Madden 06 features the same great graphics, gameplay, and useability (it runs terrific on my Athlon 2700 with all the details maxed out) as previous games in the series, and features the least repetitive commentary in any sports game from Al Michaels and the big guy himself. Recommended for purchase if you don't have last year's version--otherwise, save your money and go find yourself a user-created roster for this season. You won't be missing much.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

For T.O.

The Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver and multimillionaire Terrell Owens needs help to feed his family.

Fortunately, Lil' Jeremy has a plan to help him out.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Beast's Cookbook: Yogurt Pie

Once again, I'm back from the dead to update the ol' blog. It's hard to believe I've put this off yet again for two whole weeks. I went to another microbrewfest at Stoudt's Brewery in Adamstown, PA--the pictures from that are up on my Flickr photo site--and helped three friends in Virginia (Mike R., Pat, and Zeb, from my Flickr photos) move from three individual apartments into the young political hack version of an Animal House apartment.

I made a yogurt pie for dessert tonight--it's one of my favorites. It's tasty, it's pretty good for you compared to most other desserts, and it's the definition of simplicity itself to make.

yogurt pie

1 tub of Cool Whip (8 ounces)
2 - 8 ounce containers of fruit-flavored yogurt (I usually use strawberry or raspberry--either pre-blended or fruit-on-the-bottom will do)
1 premade graham cracker crust

In a large mixing bowl, combine the Cool Whip and yogurt. Mix together until completely blended and pour into crust. Cover and freeze until solid, about 4 hours. Lick mixing bowl clean (or allow nearby children to do so for you). Before serving, let stand at room temperature for about 5 minutes to soften slightly. Serves 8.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005


I hate "tune in tomorrow" announcements, but an opportunity for fun on this here lil' blog has just presented itself.

I get to work at home tomorrow--mostly learning the configuration of a hardware VPN appliance--but this aftenoon, two laptops from the 90's came across my desk for proper disposal.

Before this can happen, the client group needs to be certain that confidential data on the notebook-size hard drives won't fall into the wrong hands. My job is to make sure that happens.

With extreme prejudice.

My objective is to fold, spindle, or mutilate these drives so that they can never be used again. Post some suggestions on how I can get rid of them permanently in the comments--I'll perform some of the best "crash tests" tomorrow and post pictures ASAP.

Some considerations:

-I have a dishwasher, a pond in my back yard (currently empty of fish), a small assortment of power tools, a pair of paintball guns, and everything that I consider a common household item.

-I do not have fireworks or other explosives, "real" firearms, or any significant variety of acid. I also will not risk substantial property damage or injury to myself or anyone else.

This is also a chance for me to see just how many readers I really have (or don't have). I'm counting on you guys!

Spam blogs


It's not bad enough that we all get the nonsensical spams in our e-mail.

Now they're creating spamblogs too.

I hope you all fall into a barbed wire fence with Tommy Morrison.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

You're no good, you're no good, you're no good....


There's no denying that ol' Osama is one crafty sum-biatch--that's evident from the fact that we haven't found him yet. But if this story is real, and every indication says it is, it shows that Bin Laden still has a thing or two to learn about striking fear deep into the hearts of Americans everywhere. If this plot had been successful, it would have meant absolutely nothing to me or anyone I know (at least as far as I know). It would have accomplished a goal the government has been unsuccessfully attempting for years by finally reducing the demand for cocaine (and most likely other illicit substances, to a lesser effect). And somehow, I think life would have gone on even without the likes of Bobby Brown, Robert Downey Junior, and Yasmine Bleeth. I'm not saying I approve or condone--just that if Bin Laden thought this plot would somehow be another 9/11, then he really doesn't understand America or the average American.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Hillary vs. Rockstar

Like Squidly, I picked up Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas last week. I'm not going to spend a lot of time reviewing it--suffice to say that in the short time I've played it, I've greatly enjoyed it, and everything Squidly says in his mini-review is on the mark.

If you listen to certain interest groups, our civil liberties are being yanked away from us every day by Emperor Bushpatine and the evil Republican Empire. But the fact of the matter is that laws like the Patriot Act aren't going to affect your life in the slightest--other than making it more difficult for terrorists to blow you up, gas you, or otherwise lower your life expectancy--unless you give someone a damn good reason to think you're up to something deadly on a mass scale. In point of fact, the real threat to our freedoms--and I'm talking about the ones we take for granted on a daily basis--come from people like Senator Hillary Clinton, a big-time proponent of nanny state politics who want to dictate what sorts of entertainment adults (like me) can enjoy because of the possibility that children might get their hands on it and the possibility that their fragile psyches could somehow be harmed as a result. And now Senator Clinton has gotten her wish.

Way to go, Senator. Way to perform an end-run around the First Amendment. Here's how it works: Big bad senator makes noise, and gets the rating changed. Rating change causes recall, costing studio, publisher, and retailers millions of dollars. And the next time a studio even thinks about taking a risk with their content, they'll remember this incident and decide they'd rather stay in business than create something original and edgy. And if they don't, their publisher will. And if the publisher doesn't, the retailer will. Indirectly, it's censorship wholly within the confines of the First Amendment, and in the end, we're left with watered-down, milquetoast entertainment.

Ironic, isn't it, that in the wake of Senator Clinton's calls for an investigation of this "harmful" game, a different sort of game with much more serious and real consequences has been ignored by practically everyone? No calls for an investigation here. I guess keeping kids and teens away from virtual sex and violence is more important than keeping them alive.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005


The latest digital music player out of Cupertino. (Large video download, dialups beware.)

Hat tip to Bribo for the link.

This is the next logical step, you know. The iPod Shuffle is absolutely huge, and I can't understand why. My SanDisk digital audio player is smaller, holds the same amount, costs about the same amount, and isn't locked in permanent shuffle mode. I don't know how he got anyone to buy a Shuffle, but Steve Jobs is a marketing genius.

Update: a few friends have explained to me that there is, in fact, a serial mode that will play your list in order. Even so, if you're looking for portability, I'd still recommend the smaller SanDisk (with nifty velcro strap for attaching the player to your "guns" while exercising) over the Shuffle.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Not Afraid

This site says it all.

My thoughts and prayers go out to the victims of the cowardly attack on London last week. I was simultaneously angered, saddened, and sickened, and I hope that the animals who perpetrated this vicious attack are brought to swift, brutal justice.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Long weekend

I took another trip to the Washington, D.C. area this past weekend, and went to see Jim Norton again. I went with a friend who's never seen Jim before, and isn't even very familiar with the Opie and Anthony show, where Jim Norton is a regular and of which I'm a huge fan. Jim's comedy show was at the State Theater in Falls Church, VA, and we certainly got off on the wrong foot.

We arrived at the theater a few minutes late due to mistiming trains on the Metro--the show was scheduled to start at 8 PM, and our cab from the Falls Church Metro station dropped us off at about 8:10. Fortunately, the show hadn't started and people were lined up outside. Unfortunately, that was because the show was badly oversold and the staff was telling people in the back half of the line that they'd have to come back to the just-added second show at 10:30--which of course did NOT make us happy. Eventually, they sang a different tune, and said that if we chose to stay for the originally scheduled show (for which I bought my tickets a week ahead of time), we'd have to take standing room, since we didn't have a table reserved. (Not that Ticketmaster gave me that option--though for $8 of "convenience fees", they should have given us dinner for free.)

Bottom line, we got into the show we wanted, got a good spot right in front of the sound mixer where we could see and hear everything perfectly and could lean on the partition in front of the sound pit if our feet got tired. And what a great show it was. The opener (whose name I've forgotten) was really funny, and Jimmy absolutely killed. I was a bit worried about going to another show so soon--figuring I've probably already seen it all once before. That was a groundless fear, as probably 60% or more was either new or freshly improvised material that wasn't in the show I saw in Baltimore. In fact, if I could have seen the Falls Church show at the Baltimore Improv venue, that would have been just about perfect--I think this show was even better than the (excellent) Baltimore show, in terms of content.

A special "F-you" to the bouncers who let people walk outside to smoke carrying bottles of water purchased inside, then won't let them back in with the same bottles.

Thursday, June 16, 2005


House votes to remove access to library and bookstore reading lists from Patriot Act

If you've read some of my political/news type posts on here before--especially those pertaining to the War on Terror™, you may be surprised to learn that I'm giving this move a big ol' thumbs up. I may be a registered Republican who not only voted for Bush but volunteered on his campaign last fall, but when it comes to personal and social liberties, I break from the party line about as often as I follow it.

On the whole, I support the Patriot Act. I support anything that helps keep me safe from being blown up by someone who hates me because I live in a free country. But in this case, there really is such a thing as a slippery slope. I like to read, and I read a lot. I read books about politics, and history, and war (and of those books cover all three). But even more than that, I read mysteries and thrillers--books about mad bombers and slashers, brutal murders committed by out-and-out psychopaths. Should I end up on a watch list?

And it's not like this change to the Act leaves the authorities resourceless. The Patriot Act gives broad, sweeping provisions for searches, seizures, wiretaps, computer taps, and surveillance in just about every shape and form. There's plenty of ways there for the authorities to monitor people who are actually doing naughty things, not just reading something that's not on the Approved List.

I'm not a lawyer, so correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't see anything in the language of the revised Patriot Act that keeps libraries and bookstores from turning over this information voluntarily if they see something amiss, or if the government requests it. Our laws keep the government from forcing people from turning over information they don't want to--it doesn't keep people from telling the government anything they want to. (The exception, of course, being certain professions where confidentiality is part of the job, such as doctors and lawyers. Somehow, I don't think a clerk at Borders or a librarian qualifies.)

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Michael Jackson

I guess it's big news, but I've tried to avoid watching the media overkill of the Michael Jackson trial and acquittal as much as possible. I was curious enough to watch the verdict reading when I came home from work yesterday and turned on Fox News, but really, I'm left with two main streams of thought.

1. He's probably guilty, but with all the hoopla, sensationalism, and surprise witnesses, the jury probably wasn't left with much choice. And after (in reverse chronological order) Jackson, Robert Blake, and O.J. Simpson, as Steven Hill would say, the L.A. County D.A.'s office "has a lot of egg on their faces". They'd better hope they can convict Phil Spector, or they're going to look very bad indeed.

2. He's probably guilty, and the victim should never be blamed for crimes of this nature, but what about his parents? It's not like this is the first time "Jack-o" has been accused of molesting children...what the hell were they thinking, letting him sleep over unsupervised? (Hint: it starts with "M" and ends with "oney".) If Jackson had been convicted, I would have loved to have seen the parents brought up on accessory charges.

Monday, June 13, 2005


I went back to my home town of Reading, PA this weekend to go to the 2005 Great Eastern Invitational Microbrewery Festival at Stoudt's Brewery in nearby Adamstown. Altogether, ten of us went and sampled sixty different kinds of beer from about 20 different breweries that came from up and down the East coast, from Portland, Maine to New Orleans. I'm something of a dark beer aficionado, so my favorites list from this year's fest would have to be the Rogue Chocolate Stout, the DuClaw "Naked Fish" Chocolate Raspberry Stout, the Hop Hog IPA and Milk Stout from Lancaster Brewing Co., and the Weyerbacher Heresy oak barrel-aged bourbon porter. This year was my third trip to the June festival, and this year, instead of a beveled mini-pilsner glass, they gave everyone a miniature pint glass. Unfortunately, the mini-pint had a fill line marked off at three ounces this year, and most of the suds-slingers followed that instruction, necessitating more walking around for beer this year than in years prior. But at $25 for four hours of Q.D.T. (that's Quality Drinkin' Time), it's still a bargain and a helluvalotta fun. And I've got pictures up on my Flickr photo site to prove it!

Thursday, June 09, 2005

It's Rainin' Men

Immigrant's body parts, severed by landing gear, fall into Long Island home

This story ties in nicely to the one I posted two weeks ago. Maybe I'm a horrible person for putting a joke headline on this story, but remember: he's only dead because he was breaking a federal law. He knew the risks, but chose to gamble anyway. Snake eyes, buddy.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Weekend surprises

You win some, you lose some. My car was making some odd noises and was about due for an oil change, so I took it over to my local mechanic, hoping to get it back quickly and cheaply. Four hours and $500 later, I got my car back with new front brake pads and rotors, "adjusted" rear brakes, a leaky valve cover replaced (that accounted for $150 of the bill all by itself), the engine degreased where the leak had built up, and my oil changed. The upside is that I won't have to worry about it over the summer, and this was the most I've spent on the car in the 5+ years I've owned it.

Last night, I went out back to take out my trash, and look what I discovered growing out of a crack in the concrete of my rear steps:


It's a bit difficult to tell from the picture (I took several, but couldn't seem to get one that didn't come out at least a bit blurry), but those are wild strawberries. I looked around my yard some more, and found a couple of other ones that are either flowering or coming into fruit. I'm probably going to pick them tonight--the only question is what to do with them. There aren't enough for a strawberry pie, a strawberry daquiri, or even enough to top a bowl of Mini-Wheats, but I'll find something to do with 'em.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Separated at birth?

Jennifer Wilbanks


Susan Sarandon

It's the eyes--these are the things nightmares are made of!

Droppin' bombs

One more reason for everyone on America's roadways to hate truckers.

OK, OK, it's not only truckers who do this...but they're by far the worst offenders. That said, it may tell you something about me to know that I was giggling like a pre-teen while I read this article (which I found thanks to the Sage RSS Reader plugin for Firefox). There's just something funny in the mental picture of a lawn mower blowing up a plastic milk jug full of piss. And doesn't this picture just say it all?

It sure isn't.

Gone Fishin'

I spent my Memorial Day weekend relaxing at my family's cabin in Potter County, Pennsylvania. It's not exactly roughing it--the cabin has three bedrooms, electricity, propane heating and cooking, and even satellite TV. I can't believe how much I sleep I caught up on--probably ten hours a night for the first couple of nights, and a solid 8 1/2 hours on Sunday night. (Compare that to my usual 6-7 hours max a night.) I also got a little bit of fishing in--I caught four or five small brookies using minnows as bait. They weren't too big--7 to 8 inches max. Of course, the ones I missed had to be dang near two foot long!

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Finale Thoughts

Seems like most of the shows I watch on a regular basis have wrapped up for the summer...I guess I should chime in with my two cents; after all, everyone else is.

24 - Great conclusion to the best season since the last one. I've posted how much I love this show before, and it never disappoints. Two complaints: the last half hour was secondary to this season's primary plot, although necessary to set up next season, and I could have done without the "teaser" for next season that undid the suspense of "will he or won't he be back" that the aforementioned last half hour set up.

House - Neat two-episode arc that added a lot to the title character, although I can't say I'm excited to see Sela Ward added to the cast full-time. I don't know if I'm showing my age or how little TV I actually watch, but I'm not sure why I was supposed to be excited that she was guest starring in the first place. That aside, House is probably the best character on TV right now, and if you haven't seen this show, you're really missing out.

Law and Order - In a word: meh. Trial by Jury had the best final ep out of the four shows, but it had such a short run that it never had a chance to get going, and it won't be back. The "parent" show had a much more interesting show the previous week, compounded by the fact that the headline that the finale was ripped from had already been "ripped" by Criminal Intent earlier this spring. CI's finale was solid, but felt like just another episode, and didn't do anything to set up the fact that there will be two pairs of detectives, each doing half the shows next season. And SVU? Well, this year's best-in-series had the absolute worst finale, centering around a conspiracy theory that wouldn't have flown on The X-Files.

Fortunately, there are still a few episodes of The Shield and an entire summer season of Rescue Me to cover me through Rerunville until my programs start up again.

The Anti-Minutemen

Call me heartless, but it seems to me that with all the trouble this country is having with illegal immigrants, organizations like this one are making it all the more difficult to properly secure our borders. After all, the more dangerous it is to illegally cross the border, the fewer people will make the attempt. If stories like this become more common and make their way over the border, the pressure on our already overextended border patrol may lessen somewhat before the government has to spend any of our hard-earned tax dollars.

Funny, too...I thought aiding and abetting in the commission of a crime was also a crime in and of itself. Humane Borders exists as an organization for the sole purpose of aiding and abetting people who violate federal immigration law on a daily basis. It's unfathomable to me that they haven't been shut down or even charged with a crime.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Repeat offender

What a surprise.

Lionel Tate arrested in armed robbery

I mean, really, who would ever in their right mind have thought that a person who beat a six-year-old to death would continue to commit crimes? This story can be summed up in four sentences from the article linked above: "He was convicted in 1999 and sent to prison for life without chance of parole. He won a new trial on appeal and went free in January 2004 under a deal that placed him under house arrest for a year followed by probation for 10 years. [...] He was arrested in September for violating probation by being out of his home overnight... A judge added another five years to the 10 years Tate had left on the original probation."

Just so we have it straight, Your Honor...he violates probation, so the solution is...more of the same proven ineffective probation? What a Solomonic decision. Why can't certain people see that some so-called people simply have no place in society?

Tuesday, May 10, 2005


Much like Squidly, I'm also getting tired of World of Warcraft, though for very different reasons: Squidly has advanced his character to the highest level possible, and pretty much done and seen everything the game has to offer, while my character is pretty well stuck a few rungs shy of the top of the level ladder, thanks to an ill-advised revamping of their Player vs. Player system. I got the game about six months ago, and enjoyed almost every minute of the first five of those months. In the beginning, our gaming group chose to play on the PvP Azgalor server. This gave players and teams from the game's opposing factions that chance to test their skills and teamwork against one another. And at first, it all worked more or less the way it should. There was a definite advantage to grouping up and watching one another's backs, but it wasn't required...except for a few underdeveloped minds with IQs slightly above the level of cabbage who enjoyed attacking people half as powerful as them, most of the PvP fights were relatively fair, with the majority of folks winning as many battles as they lost. Then came the 1.4 patch, and suddenly everything changed.

With the new patch came a point system that rewarded killing players roughly the same level as you, with in-game equipment rewards to go along with it. Sounds good on paper, but unfortunately, the key words in that sentence are "roughly the same level"...and Blizzard Entertainment and I apparently have very different ideas of what that phrase means. Suddenly, a group of level 60 characters (the highest level in the game) can benefit from ganging up on a lone level 50 who wouldn't stand a chance against any one of his opponents. And it's very ironic that the score is measured in "honor points", because the best way to get kills is very dishonorable--simply attack an enemy character who's already got his hands full fighting a computer-generated enemy. It's reached the point where the frustration factor of not being able to complete the easiest of quests on my own because of interference from roving packs of opposing players has outweighed the fun factor of the times when I am able to play at the same times as my pals. So I've quit, and I post this review mainly as a warning to anyone thinking of joining the fun: it's just not the same game as it was when I was singing its praises. Blizzard believes that this problem will work itself out on its own when their Battlegrounds dedicated PvP areas come online, but I'm simply not willing to continue spending my money while I wait to see if that acutally happens. When my subscription runs out this time, I won't be renewing it. In the meantime, you can find me playing World War II Online.

And just because it has been over a week since my last update, I'll vent a little more spleen your way, dear reader. A couple of updates ago, I promised that I'd write something resembling a review of Ben Folds's latest album, Songs for Silverman once I'd had a chance to listen to it a few times. I'm about as big a fan of Ben as they come (I do believe I have every studio track he's ever recorded, and last year I went to see him in concert not once but twice), but in all honesty, this album left me a little bit disappointed, and I'm not entirely sure why. There's not any particular song that I don't like, but there really aren't any that stand out, either. The instrumental music is as good as it's ever been, but most of Ben's best songs have been about loss and rejection. Now that he's a happily married father, those songs that still follow that theme don't make quite the impact they once did. Take, for example, "Trusted"--it could have been a really great, emotional song, but the strongest emotion it evokes is a sort of mild, detached disappointment. And it's a shame that one of the album's 11 songs is a remix of "Give Judy My Notice" from his Speed Graphic EP. Still, as far as I'm concerned, Ben Folds is like The Simpsons, Law & Order, and Stephen King: a lesser entry from any of them is usually better than a good outing from just about anyone else. My final recommendation is to give it a listen, especially if you can find the version that comes with the bonus CD Songs for Goldfish, which contains a bunch of live tracks and a decent studio track that's neve been released before.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Weekend Fun

Whew...a nice, quiet weekend at home....yeah, right!

I had my semi-regular poker game last night. It's the damnedest thing--it seems like whenever I play poker, I end up with a hangover the next morning. They should research that in one of those medical journals.

Eventually, I recovered enough to go in to work--I had to replace the monitoring card in an IBM eServer. Those are really cool machines--we've got ours configured so that any of us can plug our laptops in and view the system logs no matter what condition the server itself is in. When I was finished, I walked over from my office to the Chapel Street Playhouse to see one of my coworkers play the lead role in a play called Taking Leave. It's about an English professor forced into retirement by the ravages of Alzheimer's disease. There are plenty of funny moments, but I was particularly touched by it given that the disease runs in my mother's side of my family. It will run one last time this coming weekend, so if you live anywhere near Newark, Delaware, I highly recommend you go see it.

Sunday morning, it was time to get up early (at least for me on a Sunday morning) and brave the drizzly weather to head up to On Target Paintball for some games with my friend Squidly. He was trying to get a new marker set up for tournament play, and I was trying to solve a problem with ball breakage inside the gun. My problem was easily solved after I shot through a pod of the Squidmeister's paint--the stuff I started out with was left over from last season. It went against every frugal bone in my body, but once I dumped out a quarter case of 2004's leftovers and opened a fresh box I bought on my way to work on Saturday, they miraculously stopped breaking in the barrel. I'm still having some difficulty with undershooting right now--I'm not shooting the gun fast enough, and two and three balls are dropping into the chamber. That's one of my areas to work on next time--firing shorter, faster bursts so they don't back up in the barrel. Mentally, I still need to work on my timing for moving up and staying back, and also to get better at staying low and wrapping around the bunkers instead of coming over the top to shoot.

It was a great time, though--really, the first time I was able to effectively use my BKO (my first outing was marred by the aforementioned barrel breaks). It makes a huge difference in accuracy, moving from a semi-auto CO2 powered gun to an electronic compressed air model. I got more kills yesterday than in any previous outing--maybe even more than all of last season. I was able to shoot exposed heads, feet, and hoppers with something resembling consistency, something I would only be able to do through blind luck with my old Spyder. One game in particular, a group of five young kids needed a sixth to get a three-on-three match going, so I took the field--and proceeded to shoot all three opponents out in about two minutes. The kids were all smiling when they came off the field, though, so I didn't feel too bad about it. We played from about 10:30 in the morning until about 3:00 in the afternoon--due a shortage of refs and a surprisingly high turnout, we only got about three games in before lunch, but the sun came out a little before noon, and we played almost nonstop for the rest of the day. Then it was back to Casa de Squid for the traditional postgame beer/chat--it's amazing how much his daughter's grown in the past year. It's also amazing how much better shape I'm in than I was at the start of last season--last year, my legs were fixing to fall off by the time I went home, and all I could do was sack out on the couch with McDonald's or a pizza. Last night, I had enough energy to cook myself a decent dinner (orange roughy in a tomato, white wine, and cream sauce and spinach sauteed with butter and garlic), and even stayed awake long enough to watch Law and Order: Criminal Intent on Tivo before going to bed a little after 11:00.

Maybe this weekend will be one to relax at home....but I hope not.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Back from the dead

Wow--an entire month since my last update. King Procrastination--that's me. "Meh--I can update tomorrow" has been my rallying cry.

So what have I been doing for the past month?

-Playing a fairly regular poker game just about every weekend
-Continuing to slowly, ever so slowly march my World of Warcraft character toward level 60
-Took a weekend trip to Alexandria, Virginia to see Pat Carroll play at Murphy's for a friend's birthday (I have pictures to go on my Flickr site this week)
-Took an overnight trip to Philadelphia for a friend's bachelor party (sorry, no pictures of that one!)
-Keeping up with 24, watching Law and Order on the rare occasion that they play a new episode (the exception being the new Trial by Jury show, which so far has been new every week since its debut), and enjoying the new season of The Shield (Glenn Close is good, but Anthony Anderson is stealing the show this season, showing he can be much, much more than just a comic foil to DMX)
-Listening to the new Ben Folds album, Songs for Silverman (see the Recent Experiences section for a link). I'm going to dedicate a future update to reviewing this one--and no, it won't be a month from now, smartass.
-Reading a few books, some good (again, see the Recent Experiences for a good one I'm reading right now), and some not so good (I tried getting into Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle, but frankly, the time period it covers is one that I find boring, and I put down the first book in the cycle and didn't pick it back up)

I'm trying to come up with a "hook" for this blog, something to make it more than just a Livejournal site, which is (honestly) pretty boring to write, and probably boring to read, except to a few people who know me. If you've got any suggestions, leave 'em in the comments.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Opening Day

No, not Sawks-Yankees...that's not until Sunday. I'm talking about paintball--my friend Matt and I got out for our first outing of the year on Saturday. We stayed local to me this time, going to ECX, a small field about 20 minutes south of my house.

This field gets a mixed review from our first day of play. The field hasn't been open for very long in its latest incarnation, so I'm willing to give them a little slack, but they seemed pretty disorganized--there was quite a bit of down time in between games on the X-ball field. We played exclusively on the X-ball field--there had been quite a bit of rain for a couple of days before we got there, so the woodsball area was a muddy mess, and the smaller airball field only had half its obstacles inflated, probably so the ECX team could practice on it.

That was the biggest difference between this field and others I've played at. There, most of the other players were recreational players like us. Here, most of the other players on the X-ball field were members of the ECX factory team--semi-pros who eat rec ballers for breakfast. They did a very good job of keeping things even; Matt and I were split between two teams of tourney players, but we still felt a bit like target practice dummies, especially during the early rounds. It was really neat just to watch them play, though--I felt like I learned a lot about the strategy and flow of the game just being out on the field with players of that caliber. I'll definitely go back in a couple of weeks--if they can just cut down on the waiting time between games, this will be a great place to play.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Technical Difficulties

What a night for technology last night. I went to go play WoW for a while--my dwarf hunter is very close to level 51, and several of my friends were online last night and had time to help put me over the hump and then some. But of course, about fifteen minute in, the server started barfing, I got crashed out, and couldn't get back in.

I was a little miffed (these problems have been prevalent lately, and I'm paying a monthly subscription fee to play this game, after all), but went downstairs to watch the NCAA tournament. There was a great game on--West Virginia was taking it to the higher-ranked Texas Tech. I get up, go into the kitchen for a beer, and when I get back...nothing. There's a black screen on the TV. A few minutes later, the DirecTV logo comes up, along with a message saying "Technical difficulties, please stand by." I never did see the rest of the games.

Technology stinks.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Chili Cookin'

I made a nice big pot of hot, hearty chili tonight while I was watching the late-starting NCAA playoff games. A friend asked me for the recipe last week, and plug whore that I am, I promised to post it on my blog when I made it. It's an adaptation of a recipe I linked a while ago off the Beer Advocate website. So without further adieu, here it is.

Beast's Bitchin' Beer and Two-Bean Chili

1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
1 can tomato soup
1 can red beans
1 can black beans
1/2 can beer
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon Tabasco sauce
1 tablespoon buffalo wing hot sauce
6 small Habanero chiles, optional; seeded and finely chopped
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Brown the ground beef in a large pot or Dutch oven. Drain fat. Add all remaining ingredients except cheddar cheese. Stir together and bring to a hard simmer. Once the chili starts to bubble, reduce heat to low and cover. Simmer for at least one hour--the longer the better. If the chili gets too thick, add more beer. Don't worry if it appears too thin--it will thicken when the cheese is added. A few minutes before serving, stir in the cheddar cheese. Serve with tortilla chips and sour cream.

Down With the Sickness

Ugh...another week I've gone without updating this thing. Good thing no one ever reads it.

I caught a flu bug this week--without question the worst one that I can remember. I was fine after my trip to Baltimore, and even had a friend stop by to watch 24 with me on Monday night. I went to bed feeling fine, albeit a little chilly (which is nothing new, since my house dates back to the early part of the 20th century and most of its doors and windows have gaps big enough to put a baby's pinky through). But when I woke up no less than six times during the night in a cold sweat, I knew I was in trouble. Sure enough, when I woke up a little before 7 AM, I could barely get out of bed--I was freezing, sweating, and aching all at once. A quick check of my temperature confirmed I had a fever (right around 101), so I called in sick to work and settled down on my couch to get some rest and catch up on my Tivo-watching. Or so I thought.

I was so exhausted that I was asleep for about three hours for every one I was awake. Unfortunately, when I did wake up, it was because my particular flu bug came with a prize: a stomach component that had me...trotting...up the stairs to the bathroom every couple hours. Or at least it would have if I'd been able to trot. I had to more or less drag myself up the stairs--and more than once, I thought I was going to tumble down them, crash through the window at the bottom of them, and not be found until my carcass started to smell.

Fortunately, the flu portion of the bug subsided by Wednesday morning, and I was able to make it the rest of the way through the week. And even more fortunately, my stomach symptoms went away by the weekend, so I was able to enjoy a visit to my parents' house with them and my grandparents. We ate some good food (I get all my cooking skill from my mother) and watched a lot of good NCAA tournament games. I'm not a particularly big basketball fan (I never watch the NBA, and don't watch college hoops until about late February), but watching Bucknell (my father's alma mater, which made the game even more fun to watch) win a huge upset over Kansas and watching West Virginia knock off Wake Forest in double overtime were two of the greatest hoops contests I've seen in a long, long time.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Li'l Jimmy

I took a trip to Baltimore this weekend with a couple of friends. Our mission: to see Opie and Anthony Show regular Jim Norton at the Baltimore Improv. But of course nothing in my life is ever as simple as it should be.

I booked a hotel from a travel site, following a link to the Inner Harbor Days Inn, bought tickets to the show, and got the directions to the hotel from Mapquest. On Saturday morning, we loaded up the car and hit the road. The first clue that something was wrong was when the Mapquest directions took us past the Inner Harbor exits on I-95. But we soldiered on to the exit specified, and immediately after getting off the highway we were greeted by a "Welcome to Baltimore" sign. After a bit of driving around through some pretty rough neighborhoods, we ended up at the hotel--nowhere near the Inner Harbor area. It turns out that the link I clicked on took me to another Days Inn--right in the heart of one of the bad sections of town.

Fortunately, because we got an early start, we had plenty of time to call and cancel the reservation. (Fortunately, my friends have cell phones--I'm pretty sure I'm the last person I know who doesn't.) Then we drove to the Inner Harbor, and were able to get a room at the right Days Inn, and were able to continue as planned. We did a bit of walking around, stopped for a late lunch/early dinner at the Capital City Brewery, then walked over to the Improv to see the show.

And it was a really great show. It was very different from what Jim does on the O&A show, but was absolutely hilarious. Norton has a great act and great delivery, and didn't miss a beat while berating some loud chatty broad in the audience--or when said broad tripped over a step and hit the deck. I was hoping to get a picture with Jim for this site, but the line was just too long--we'd gone to the 7 PM show, so we hit another local microbrew pub for the next couple hours. We also got a chance to size up the crowd coming in for the 9 PM show, and we chose the right one. As my pal Matt pointed out, "I've never seen that many neck tattoos in one place before." Jim Norton puts on a great show, and as long as your sensibilities aren't easily offended, I highly recommend you take the opportunity to see his act if he comes to a town near you.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Remembering Madrid

Today Spain remembers the victims of last year's Madrid train bombings. And what a great way to honor the victims of a heinous act of terrorism--a group of Spanish muslim clerics (mostly Shiites, representing 70% of the mosques in Spain and over a million Spanish Muslims) have issued a fatwa against America's most wanted, Osama bin Laden himself. Frankly, I'm just surprised it's taken this long for the representative majority to start speaking out against the lunatic fringe that gets all the publicity and paints them all with the same tarnished brush. Kudos, and hopefully the rest of Spain can follow this lead and continue to be an ally in the fight against terrorism.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Cat hunting

Are you an avid hunter who'd love to go on a safari hunting lions and tigers in Africa, but can't afford to go? If this guy gets his way, you may soon be able to go to Wisconsin for a scaled-down version...hunting wild housecats.

I can respect the bird-lovers' point of view, but if the cats really are that big of a problem, there are better ways to take care of it--let the local humane society or animal control capture them and either domesticate them and place them in homes, or else put them down humanely. There's too many problems for this to be the best solution--wounded cats (either from poor marksmen or from bed-wetting future serial killers who see the ability to torture cats legally by using a gun as a wounding weapon) suffering before their death, and more importantly, the chance of someone's pet being shot by mistake.

Monday, March 07, 2005


I had a visit from my parents this weekend to help me put in my birthday present--an over-the-range microwave oven. This was something I'd been looking forward to for a long time. My kitchen is small and every spare inch of counter space is valuable real estate, and my old microwave was a very basic (i.e. cheap) one that I originally bought for my freshman dorm room--and that was over 7 1/2 years ago. (It was very durable, however, and still runs great, so with my tendencies toward hoarding, I cleaned it out one last time and put it in my basement--just in case this new model ever breaks down.)

The installation went far easier than anticipated--we were done just before 2:00 in the afternoon after starting at around 11:00 in the morning. We had to take the wiring from the old range hood (which, unbeknownst to me, had an exposed end inches from the back of the metal hood, just waiting to electrocute me) and create a new power outlet box in my cupboard to plug the oven into, but that turned out to be very easy to do (the wire was in good shape; it just hadn't been properly capped). The hard part was finding two wooden blocks of the appropriate thickness to fill out the recess in the cupboard from which we hung the microwave--it took us quite a while to find a piece of scrap the appropriate size. Compounding that was the fact that the templates and directions appeared to have been written by non-English speakers who may or may not have been retarded. But eventually we got it up there and working--it's much bigger than my old one, has a lot of "advanced" features, and my stovetop now has a fan that doesn't make a screeching growl like a cat whose tail has just been run over by a Fiat every time I turn it on. Best of all, it's now on its own circuit, and will no longer cause my TV and Tivo to turn off every time I operate the microwave at the same time as my toaster or can opener. I just don't understand the wiring in my house...the TV and Tivo are in my living room on the north side of my house, while the power strip with my old microwave was plugged into the southmost wall. Oh well--one less thing to worry about from now on.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Weekend in Washington

D.C., that is. I went down to the area to visit some friends this past weekend and had a great time. We went to a bar called The Brickskeller on Friday night. It doesn't look like much from the outside--its one nonadjoining brick wall is covered with graffiti--but it's got a great atmosphere inside, and allegedly over 1000 beers available (although more than one of the beers we ordered from their approximately ten-page-long menu was sold out). Unfortunately, the place was so busy on a Friday night that my dinner was cold by the time it got to me and we didn't get to sample as many of the beers as we would have liked. I'll be curious to try it again some other time.

The main event, though, was Saturday night--we went out for Irish food and music at Murphy's in Alexandria, Virginia. Highly recommended if you're ever in the area, especially if Pat Carroll is playing (that's who we went to see)--if you can get a table. We had a reservation, but whoever answered the phone when Mike R. called on Wednesday forgot to write it down. But they did a good job of making things right, jumping us to the front of the line for the next available table, eventually giving us one right next to the stage. I don't even need to look at the menu when I go in there--meat and potato pie, every time. It's fantastic there.

I'd love to post pictures, but unfortunately I'm an idiot and forgot to bring my camera out with me both nights.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Wet box

Wait, wait, wait. Don't go jamming for the back button on your browser, this update is 100% safe for work--or is it, now that I've pointed out the double entendre in the title?

Last week, I was checking out one of my favorite sites, SlickDeals (which is now in my Links section) when I came across a deal that was too good to pass up: Call of Duty, a World War II combat game that got rave reviews from my online gaming pals, for $15, including shipping. So I ordered it, and went about my business for the next few days.

Fast forward to yesterday afternoon. The package with my new game arrives, and it's too big to fit in my mailbox. It's pouring rain out--what's a postal carrier to do? Did he set the package inside the storm door to my enclosed front porch? That would be ideal--it'd stay nice and dry, plus all the unsupervised delinquent little punks in my neighborhood wouldn't be able to stare at the package and have several hours between the time the package arrives and the time I get home from work to figure out the best way to steal it. (My suggestion: walk up, grab it, calmly walk away. My house sits empty, after all, and it's not like my neighbors would give a crap--they'd just be happy the little hellspawns were messing with someone else.) But no, that would be too easy and too convenient for me. Did he leave one of those little notes on my door for me to go pick it up at the post office? Of course not--that'd keep it safe and dry, and while it wouldn't be quite so convenient, the post office is only a couple of blocks away.

No, this waste of space of a mail carrier leaves the package sitting right outside on my front steps. For anyone in the world to pick up and walk away with. In the pouring rain. I don't know if it's because I didn't leave him a Christmas bribe tip or what, but just look at the condition I found my package in when I got home from work last night.

The outer box after several hours of exposure to the rain.

The invoice. Wet through despite being wrapped in plastic.

The inner box got so wet that the bottom edges began to curl up and tear.

So wet you can easily see the water still on it.

It was bad enough that they forgot to restart my mail after my Christmas vacation (when I complained while picking up the mail, the person at the desk said that was on the carrier too), but this is ridiculous. I'm headed over there after work with these photos to complain. The only reason to be nice at all is that the game itself was shrinkwrapped and in a plastic CD case, and installed and played just fine. Nothing pisses me off more than incompetence (deliberate or not).

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

More computer bling

I thought the fans would be enough to stop my "media center" computer from overheating and shutting down. I was wrong.

So I went out last night on my way home from work, and I bought a new power supply. Got it home, popped it in, it worked beautifully--all systems returned to normal. But imagine my surprise when I discover a blue glow emanating from the rear of the computer. Yep, my new power supply has a blue LED to go along with the red LEDs on my fans. Without ever intending to, I've built a bling computer.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Blogger profile

I found this on Squidly, who found it on Cruft. Looked like fun.

1. What is your full name? Joel Leon Pease
2. What color pants are you wearing? Navy blue
3. What are you listening to right now? A replay of Opie and Anthony
4. What was the last thing you ate? A turkey sub from Subway with a bag of cheddar Sun Chips
5. Do you wish on stars? No
6. If you were a crayon, what color would you be? Grey
7. How is the weather right now? Raining and 41 degrees, but the former makes the latter seem much colder.
8. Last person you spoke to on the phone? Our head server admin at work
9. Do you like the person who sent this to you? I found it on a website, but I like the person whose blog it is.
10. How old are you today? 26 years, 1 month, two days
11. Favorite drink? Microbrewed beers--too many favorites to pick one, but two of my favorite breweries are Dogfish Head and Victory
12. Favorite sports? To watch, baseball and football; to play, paintball
13. Hair color? Light brown
14. Do you wear contacts? Yes
15. Siblings? Brother Matthew
16. Favorite month? May
17. Favorite food? Toss-up between Italian and Cajun
18. What was the last movie you watched? The Forgotten--in a word, forgettable.
19. Favorite day of the year? Thanksgiving
20. What do you do to vent anger? Fire my paintball gun in my basement "range"; yell at idiot drivers on the road; take it out on computer game characters
21. What was your favorite toy as a child? Game Boy
22. Summer or winter? Summer
23. Hugs or kisses? Kisses
24. Chocolate or Vanilla? Chocolate
25. Do you want your friends to email you back? Yes.
26. Who is most likely to respond? Mike R.
27. Who is least likely to respond? Matt
28. Living arrangements? A whole house all to myself
29. When was the last time you cried? When a very close long-term relationship ended unexpectedly (at least to me)
30. What is under your bed? Dust bunnies; a small baseball bat
31. Who is the friend you have had the longest? Matt (aka Faxman) and Mike R.--both have been my friends since elementary school
32. What did you do last night? Played World of Warcraft, watched Law and Order: Criminal Intent
33. Favorite smell? Dinner--whatever it may be
34. What inspires you? The chance to make the world a better or safer place--my favorite tasks at work are those involving security
35. What are you afraid of? Heights
36. Plain, buttered or salted popcorn? Buttered
37. Favorite car? Dodge Viper
38. Favorite Flower? Tulips
39. Number of keys on your key ring? 8 on the ring I always carry, 9 more on a second ring in my desk.
40. How many years at your current job? 5
41. Favorite day of the week? Saturday
42. What did you do on your last birthday? Worked, then went to a bar with a friend
43. How many states have you lived in? 3
44. Have many cities have you lived in? 4

Computer bling

I never intended to add bling to my computer, especially not the one I keep in the living room. After all, its primary function is to upmix my TV's audio into 5.1 surround, and its secondary function is to play music and DVDs. And it spends most of its time enclosed in an armoire with the doors closed. But when I went to the local CompUSA to buy a fan, the CompUSA brand black case fan was actually a dollar more expensive than the red LED Antec what choice did I have? I have a bling'd-out computer--completely unintentionally!

Thursday, February 03, 2005

New site feature

OK, by this point, it's not that new any more, but I want to point it out anyway. Sometimes I'll read, see, or hear something so exceptional that I'll want to dedicate a post to talk about it. But I read a lot of books, listen to a lot of music, and watch a lot of movies, so I've added a new section called "Recent Experiences" to showcase my recent entertainment choices. I'll still talk about them when they're really good or really bad (or so bad they're good), but there'll be a lot of things ending up in that lil' sidebar that won't get any other mention on the site.

Something special in the air...

Flight attendant sentenced for giving Xanax to crying baby

To paraphrase the great Chris Rock, "I ain't sayin' he shoulda done it...but I understand." There's nothing more annoying than a screaming baby on a long plane ride, but at least the mother in this case was trying to get a bottle together and get the kid to shut it.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Ah, winter... I hate it so.

No, that's not the reason I haven't updated in LITERALLY two weeks (I believe that's my longest interval between entries since I opened this thing)--that has to do with a "security related incident" we've been going through at work that's consumed most of my life. That and World of Warcraft have been pretty much all I've done for the past couple weeks, and that just isn't blog-worthy material.

I live right in the middle of last weekend's Northeast snowstorm, and managed to come through it OK. It's not that I'm lucky to be alive--it's that I'm lucky to not be in jail for killing someone. My hatred of humanity reaches new levels during wintertime. It wasn't too bad when I went into the office on Saturday--I got in and out before the snow started in earnest. Of course there was nowhere to park on the street when I got back (I live in a townhouse, so there aren't any garages on my block), so I had to park in the alley behind my house. No big deal--I prefer to park out front, but I do park out back from time to time. Of course, by the time I went to work on Monday morning, the unplowed alley had snowdrifts over a foot deep, and it took my poor little Cavalier almost twenty minutes to get to the end.

As I go around the corner and past the front of my house, of course half the people on the block have their parking spaces "reserved" with lawn chairs and the like (despite the fact that we're not supposed to do that--they only send out five flyers every winter)...but when I really lose it is when I see that someone has put a pair of those foldup "chairs-in-a-bag" in the space in front of MY FREAKING HOUSE! Only the fact that I was running very late kept me from stopping the car right there and chucking them over the roof or into the nearest snowbank.

The worst was when I got home from work on Monday night. I parked it on the street, across the street from my house, and not in someone else's illegally reserved parking space. I hadn't been in an hour when there's a knock on my door, with some douchebag kid from across the street wanting me to pull my car up some so his girlfriend can park because "she has to go to work tomorrow morning". At this point, I should have said "So do I", and slammed the door in his stupid face. But no, for some reason, I was feeling like a nice guy, so I go out into the cold and pull up as far as I can without knocking over the lawn chair, but it's still not far enough for her to squeeze her little Mitusbishi in behind me. I open my car door, point to the lawn chair to indicate that's as far up as I can go, when Douchey McFag points up ahead of me a little bit and says "There's a space you can go". How I managed to calmly and simply put my car where he was pointing instead of jumping out of my car and beating the stupid out of him while yelling "THEN WHY THE F DIDN'T SHE JUST PARK THERE?!?!" is a complete mystery to me, and a testament to my self-restraint.

Wake me up when it's springtime.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Happy birthday to me!

Yesterday, that is. I'm officially closer to 30 than 20 now, and that's pretty depressing when I think about it that way. I think I'll stick with my original plan to have an annual "Cake-and-Presents Day" from now until I'm old enough to start collecting social security--that way, I should be able to stay 25 for another thirty years or so.

All kidding aside, it was actually the best weekday birthday I've had in a while. My friend Mike R. came down from Reading last night, so we went out for dinner and a couple of brews. He even bought me a birthday shot of Jack Daniel's--good stuff!

We also watched Elisabeth Rohm's final episode of Law and Order. I personally never liked the actress (too wooden) or the character (too liberal/"soft"), so I was glad to see her go. I won't spoil anything here (I know at least one Loyal Reader won't get to see the episode for a while), but while I liked the way they got rid of her, I thought the "bombshell shocker" was shark-tastic. Not that I'm going to stop watching, though. The rest of the episode was great.

Still haven't gotten around to uploading my New Year's party pictures yet. Probably won't until next week, at which time I'll probably forget about them again.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Jack's Back

I just got done watching the season premiere of 24, and so far, it looks like this season is going to be a good one. They've turned over almost the entire cast (only Kiefer Sutherland and the actress who played Chloe in Day 3 are back), and for the most part, that's a good thing. The only possible exception is the ultra-hot Elisha Cuthbert, and while she was quite nice to look at, three seasons of The Wacky Adventures of Kim Bauer was quite enough, thank you very much. The new cast members seem quite able so far, especially mid-level villain Nestor Serrano, one of my favorite character actors from Bad Boys and numerous Law and Order appearances.

Hours 1 and 2 ran tonight, with 3 and 4 running back to back tomorrow night at 8, before the show settles into its regular Monday night 9 PM time slot. My advice to people who haven't watched the show in the past is usually along the lines of "Forget it, unless you rent the DVDs and start from the beginning, you'll have no idea what the hell is going on." But the cast turnover is giving new viewers a chance to enjoy this season, even if they've never seen the show before. There are some references to past seasons, but only in passing. Of course, you'll still want to watch the first two episodes you've missed, and while I'd never advocate doing anything illegal...*coughBitTorrentcough* may want to persuade a friend with Tivo or a VCR to let you watch the episodes you missed tonight. This is action/drama on network TV that's better than most theater releases in the genre. No comic relief, no reduction of the dramatic tension, ever, any time. This show will grab you by the yambag and hold you there for the full hour--by the time Hour 2 ended, I was up off the couch standing inches from my TV screen, and I already can't wait for tomorrow's show. I just don't know how I'm going to make it through after that--I'll have to wait seven whole days for the next hour.

*Disclaimer: I've been a drooling, slavering fanboy of this show since episode 1 back in 2001. Just in case you couldn't tell.

Cooking with The Beast 1.9.04

Nothing to warm your bones on a cold winter night like a good Cajun dish--I whipped up some jambalaya tonight. It goes great with cornbread (southern style) or a loaf of crusty French bread (the better to soak up the soup portion). Best of all, add a beer, and you've got a great meal to go along with the NFL playoffs. When I'm by myself, I usually just chop everything "up on the fly", but when I'm planning to cook it for company, I usually "pre-chop" everything the night before or the morning of and store it (covered) in the fridge. My recipe calls for habanero peppers--those are really spicy. Those less hardcore can use cayenne or even jalapeno peppers. And dried works just as well as fresh--just make sure to adjust your quantity to your own taste.

Beast's Jambalaya

4 tablespoons olive oil
Emeril's Essence creole seasoning, to taste
12 ounces shrimp
1 1/4 pounds chicken breasts, cut into chunks
13 ounces andouille sausage, cut into chunks
1 medium onion, finely chopped
12 ounces tomatoes, finely chopped
6 ounces Habanero chiles, finely chopped
2 tablespoons minced garlic
3 bay leaves
1 1/2 tablespoons dried thyme
6 cups water
2 cups rice
3 tablespoons dried parsley

1. Prepare the meat ingredients, then prepare the onion, tomatoes, and habanero peppers.

2. Heat the olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the chicken and shrimp; season with Essence to taste. Add the sausage and brown the meats, about 4 minutes.

3. Add the water, tomatoes, habanero peppers, onions, garlic, and thyme. Bring to a boil and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes.

4. Add rice and return to a boil. Cover pot and cook for 20-30 minutes, until rice is done.

5. Remove from heat and let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Bon appetit!

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Props to Schumer

To steal a phrase from Kornheiser and Wilbon, I'd like to give some "dap" to Rep. Charles Schumer (D-NY). While some of the Democrats in Congress attempted to block the certification of the 2004 presidential election results, Schumer, refused to do so, saying, in part, "My view is that you don't hold up the election unless there is concrete, real evidence of fraud. I haven't seen that." Here's a guy who gets it, at least on this issue.

Friday, January 07, 2005

True tech support tale 1.7.05

I don't usually bring my work onto this blog, but this one was just too funny to leave off. Names omitted to protect the innocent.

One of our users asked me to come over and help set up her new Palm--she couldn't seem to get the software installed. When I arrived, the CD wouldn't read, so as standard operating procedure dictates, I removed it, and inspected it for scratches. And I found them. Lots of them. From where the user had written her name on the read side with a ballpoint pen.

Luckily for her, Palm software is easily available off the web.

Back for 2005

Did you miss me? (Of course you didn't.)

Suffice to say I survived the new year--pictures are forthcoming as soon as I figure out which ones I want to spend my 10 MB Flickr limit uploading. I lost my fantasy football championship game--it wasn't even close--but second place ain't a bad finish for a first time player like myself. Everyone in both leagues I played in are already talking about next year, so everyone must have had at least an OK time.

My New Year's resolution for 2005 is to be back in something resembling shape by the time the paintball season starts--probably late February/early March. Of course, my resolve to get to the gym hasn't been helped at all by the awful, awful cold and cough I've been battling this week. At least I've started to get my house cleaned up a bit.