Showing posts from July, 2011

Cowboys, Aliens, Smurfs, Chrome, and Rain

I am back from the land of no blogging. I’ve been updating my file backups and moving things around on my laptops (work, personal, and netbook) over the past few days so I just haven’t had much time to update. When I did have time, the laptop has been running a backup or copying files. One thing I realize now is that I have taken thousands of digital pictures and many have become duplicated by moving between computers and external hard drives. It is going to take a while to clean up that mess.

Last night was movie night and the kids saw Smurfs while I ended up seeing Cowboys & Aliens. C&A is not my kind of movie. I don’t care for action movies. I like comedies. The last action movie I saw in the theater before last night was probably Independence Day way back in 1996.

Since I don’t care for movie like C&A, it’s probably unfair for me to share my thoughts but I will give it props for having good actors in it who tried to make such a far-fetched story believable. Another problem is the huge lack of "buy-in" we have for the characters. None are particularly likable so you find yourself feeling a bit pulling for the aliens. These paranoid and self-destructive humans deserve to be probed and then turned to ash. Harrison Ford seemed to be lucid through the entire movie which is a lot different than he normally is on talk show interviews and throughout the whole Morning Glory movie. Olivia Wilde plays the eye candy and gets to tag along with the boys who are chasing aliens halfway across the desert. The time period for this is the late 1800’s and I seriously doubt any man would let her tag along but they do because these are modern men who are ahead of their time in believing in equality of the sexes, I guess.

Of all the performances, Daniel Craig is the best. He really needs to be in a Coen brothers movie. He’s so serious that he is nearly believable in all of the craziness that this movie throws at us. I am betting he will be incredible in the upcoming The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo movie.

At the end of C&A, there is a resolution to the whole story but even it makes little sense. I was not impressed and, based on the box office predictions, neither are many others.

As I wrote earlier, the kids saw The Smurfs.
They did not seem to enjoy it much. All of the quick motion (all of it there to take advantage of the 3-D) was so jerky and fast that they said they had to keep looking down. I didn’t care for The Smurfs when they were on TV in the early 80’s and I sure don’t care to see them now. Still, they couldn’t have been much worse than the Alien mess.
In nerd news, I finally had to tackle the upgrade of Firefox to 5.0 this week and the problems that the end of Google Toolbar support would bring. I have been a Toolbar user for a long time due to the syncing bookmarks across PC’s. I guess Google ended that support so people might be inclined to try out Google Chrome. Chrome has its own Sync function that is actually much better than using the Toolbar. I realized this after searching for decent add-ons for Firefox to sync bookmarks.
I ended up uninstalling Firefox from all of my machines and installing Chrome instead. Chrome is the fastest browser of all three (IE, Firefox, and Chrome) and the sync is flawless. I also like the built in apps that can be downloaded and installed. I’m very pleased with Chrome and I’m also keeping IE going on my work PC for work related stuff.
Finally, we got over an inch of rain this morning but now it feels like it is 1000 degrees again since the humidity is back. I hate to say I am ready for Fall because Fall lasts about two weeks here. We basically go from melting in the summer to freezing in the Winter with hardly a break in between.

That’s it. I have some reading today and then maybe there will be time for a nap. I am off Monday also so I will go to the Walmart (ugh) and mow the yard after I take the kids in for the first day of school. Yep – the first day of school is Monday. Summer just gets shorter and shorter!

Where Everybody Knows Your Name

Cheers was one of my favorite shows. There was rarely a Thursday night between 1982 and 1993 that I didn’t watch it. Since the summer television schedule is pretty empty, I’ve been setting the DVR to catch certain episodes and today I taped the episode in which Shelley Long left the show in 1987. In fact, I don’t think I’ve seen this one since then but I sure remembered the ending. Of course, you have to watch the whole thing to get the full story so I’m positing parts 1 and 2 down below.

It’s classic 80’s television but to me it’s pretty timeless. I guess since the bar never changes, there is nothing in there to really date it – except for the way Frasier dresses and the way his hair looks.

Part one..

Part two..

I read a book by Henry Winkler, take the tv out of the kitchen, and try out Spotify

I couldn’t think of a better title to cover all the things I write about in this entry.


At the library last week, I picked up Henry Winkler’s I’ve Never Met an Idiot on the River.


I’ve always been a Henry Winkler fan. He was on Happy Days as I grew up and I loved him in the very under-rated movie, Night Shift. These days he seems to be just about everywhere you look. He’s on Royal Pains on USA and the quite insane Childrens Hospital on Cartoon Network Adult Swim. He is also possibly the friendliest person on Twitter under the user name @hwinkler4real.

The book is a fast read because once you start, it’s hard to put it down. He seems like a genuinely good person and is not afraid to share glimpses of the many challenges he has encountered and overcome in his life. Most striking to me was when he wrote quite honestly about his relationship with his parents.


He is vulnerable, like many of us are, yet remains incredibly optimistic and driven even when, as he puts it, his career was in “a lull” a decade or so ago. I was glad that reading his book seemed to validate my assumptions that he seems to be one of the “good” people in show business.


I moved the television out of the kitchen today. It’s part of my attempt to reclaim certain parts of the house from technology. The kitchen seemed like a good place to start. Since what we have of a dining room is an off-shoot of the kitchen, I’m hoping that this decision will lead to more uninterrupted eating and quite possibly some unforced family conversations!


I got one of the hard-to-get, not-so-hard to get if you know where to look (hint:click here, fill it out, wait an hour) invitations to Spotify. Spotify is a new online streaming music service. Amazon and Google both have versions of the same type of service but the emphasis with them seems to be online storage. Spotify is trying to become your only music app. It intends to eat your iPod and your record collection.


I like Spotify. It has a nice interface and you can play just about any song you can imagine. If you don’t have a huge music collection, it’s perfect because now you do have a huge music collection albeit virtually. If you already do have a lot of the songs you like, you’ll probably miss the point of this. In 10 years, mp3’s may be as ancient as the box of tapes in my closet and the old vinyl albums and 45’s I keep in an endtable in the living room.

I’m not totally sold on this service because I grew up having to own music. My kids are growing up in a world where everything is virtual so they see no need to have material possession of items that they can just pull up as a file. The ownership means nothing. Spotify appears to be the way of the future and Amazon and Apple better be taking note or they will end up being the Camelot Music and Tower Records of 2015.


Onward we go into Friday. I am ready for the weekend even though I am already dreading the end of summer vacation and next week is the last week. The kids go back to school on Monday, August 1st. That means school supplies to buy and all sorts of new activities that will end up taking over the calendar. Summer goes by way too fast around here!

Fun with Rupert Murdoch–A Story in Tweets and Pictures

used2bbrilliant 7:25AM Live video from the Commons home affairs committee News of the World questionings - Murdoch in an hour - 

used2bbrilliant 7:25AM I love it. The government acts stunned that News Corp took advantage of all of the power that they gave them. They are just as guilty.

used2bbrilliant 8:25AM Everyone on this committee sounds snobby and pretentious. I am going to start talking with a British accent so I can be sarcastic 24/7.

used2bbrilliant 8:37AM #Murdoch and Son are in place for their committee grilling. What a huge load of too little, too late.



used2bbrilliant 8:49AM The real revelation today is that one day James #Murdoch is genetically destined to look like a small frog in a suit.


used2bbrilliant 8:57AM Wow. Rupert #Murdoch should have stepped down a while ago. He's either playing dumb or has a 100,000 mile view of the company.


used2bbrilliant 8:58AM And, this Tom Watson who keeps grilling #Murdoch is a knob. I'd like to pull out all of his dirty laundry for the world to see.

used2bbrilliant 9:11AM Closing News of the World was simply good business. #Murdoch is no dummy. Let's dig into the government corruption that allowed this.

used2bbrilliant 9:21AM So, the most used tag for the #murdoch mess is #hackgate?

used2bbrilliant 10:16AM Rumsfeld best sums up #hackgate: "There are known unknowns.That is to say, we know there are some things we do not know."

used2bbrilliant 10:36AM When and if I make it to 80, I hope I can sit there and hold my bladder as long as #Rupert has today. #hackgate #hashtagforfunonly

used2bbrilliant 10:44AM #Murdoch just stuck it to the Telegraph! Shazam!

JonnieMarbles 10:51AM retweeted by used2bbrilliant It is a far better thing that I do now than I have ever done before #splat


used2bbrilliant 10:54AM Uh, Murdoch was just attacked. Cameras off.


used2bbrilliant 10:58AM It looked like someone threw a whipped cream pie on Rupert Murdoch. Very odd. #hackgate

used2bbrilliant 10:59AM BBC is reporting that it was a shaving cream attack. #Rupert's wife smacked the dude. Good to have a much younger wife!


used2bbrilliant 11:01 AM From BBC: Rupert Murdoch was apparently hit in the face with a plate of shaving foam by a man shouting: "Greedy." #hackgate #rupert

used2bbrilliant 11:03AM Today's questioning of Rupert Murdoch sponsored by the new Fusion ProGlide razor by Gillette. #hackgate #fb

used2bbrilliant 11:05AM Wendi Deng is not only #Rupert's wife but also his bodyguard and she kicks major butt. A star is born!

used2bbrilliant 11:08AM #hackgate #Murdoch coverage on BBC is 10 times better than the US coverage

used2bbrilliant 11:15AM #Murdoch is back with no suit jacket and appears to be freshly shaven also. Where do I sign up for such a unique service? #hackgate

murdoch and turtle man

used2bbrilliant 11:21AM So, Jonnie Marbles pre-tweeted his attack on #Rupert Murdoch. How come MI5 did not intercept the tweet and stop the attack? #hackgate


used2bbrilliant 11:41AM Rebekah Brooks is next! I hope Wendi will be sitting behind her also just in case. #hackgate

used2bbrilliant 11:44AM Wife of the Year Wendi Murdoch is not there. Rebekah is on her own! #hackgate


used2bbrilliant 12:18PM Rebekah Brooks is boring. Fox should have cancelled her show years ago. #hackgate

used2bbrilliant 1:00PM Rebekah Brooks - The Hair. A new horror show coming to Fox this fall. #hackgate


What is this weird substance falling from the sky and turning to steam as soon as it comes in contact with any object!


We didn’t get enough rain to really help but it was an interesting change and may have knocked down a little bit of the dust for a few hours. With the clouds, it didn’t flare up to feeling like it’s 150 degrees after the rain. It will be 99 tomorrow so we might as well enjoy it while we can.


Just a thought – do these people who follow me on Twitter think that by following me, I will follow them and then they can sell me whichever product they sell? This way of thinking appears to work. Look at this example of the latest unsolicited person that added me:


Only 1,650 people didn’t follow him back! I’m proudly part of the 1,650. I’m expecting that whatever marketing firm or unfortunate relative he is using to follow people will give up and unfollow me after a few days. That’s the only way I know of to explain the small “failure” rate unless people are really this gullible or in need of fake cyber attention.


I finally finished off and posted my page dedicated to all of the things I learned about the Alphasmart 3000. If you are reading this on Blogger, a link is available on a tab up at the top of the blog. If you are reading this on Wordpress, there is a link over to the right under Pages. The Alphasmart 3000 is a very-portable device that only does one thing and it does it well – very basic word processing.



Finally, this is where I whine about still being tired. I really got off of my daily schedule this week with no one here. I stayed up too late and didn’t sleep in enough to make up for it. Trying to get back in the groove at work today was ROUGH. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for decent sleep tonight versus waking up repeatedly last night. I woke up at 3:30AM wide-awake and ready to sit down at the computer. So, I drank no coffee today in anticipation of getting tired at a normal time so I can rise and shine for work starting at 6AM tomorrow.


Instead of attending the $70 a head 20 year class reunion last night, I attended a small get together mini-reunion Friday night that was much cheaper and probably far more enjoyable. Of the people there, I had only seen one of them since graduation. That’s twenty years of life out there to discuss but we spent most of our time passing around our senior year book and trying to remember the names of the teachers that had inspired us or we had conspired against.

We learned that just about all of us had gone to Disney World at some point in the last few years. We realized that we all had blank spaces in our memories but between all of us, we could pretty much fill in all of the details of anything we tried to recollect.

We also talked about the accidental joys of Facebook – those who overshared in high school are still oversharing now and we all get great enjoyment out of this.

The greatest lesson is that no matter what life has thrown at us, we’ve all persevered and we can look back now and have quite a lot to laugh about. To my old teachers, I can happily report that the Class of ‘91 has turned out just fine and maybe has even exceeded your expectations.

So, we talked until after midnight and since I am here solo this weekend and we had been talking about the old days, I guess ‘young me’ (who still lives on inside, likes to hear 80’s music, and can’t understand why I get winded mowing the lawn) convinced realistic ‘old me’ that I might as well hit Kroger on the way home. Why rush? I used to shop in the middle of the night in college. I can still do it now. I was getting the eggs when I started to feel just a bit tired so my body was telling me that I was too old for this even though I was ignoring it.

Dumb me.


Oh, and only self checkouts are open at 1:23AM. Who knew?

I’m already out. Might as well stop and get gas. Then, I might as well go by my in-laws house (they were out of town also) and pick up a laptop I was going to work on.

I drag in at 2AM. I put up all the groceries and now I’m too tired to go to sleep so I start on the laptop. I do some vacuuming. I put up the dishes. I watch Leno being repeated for the insomniacs.

At 4AM, the coma takes over and I drag to bed. At 6AM, the dogs need to go out. At 9AM, I wake up starving.

I drag around in the sleep deprived coma for the rest of the day. Saturday turns into a throw away.

Note to self – this is the reason you don’t stay up past 11:30PM for any reason.

Everyone returns today. I have all of the dishes clean and all of the trash out. My to-do list is not completely finished off but I accomplished quite a bit.

Going back to work tomorrow is going to be rough since this was the weekend that didn’t feel like a weekend.

Just me and the dogs

The fam is out of town so I am here holding down the fort until they return. That has meant a lot of excitement since Wednesday:

  • Vacuumed the house
  • Got frustrated with the DVR and erased everything I had recorded to watch while I was here alone. Listened to podcasts instead
  • Scrubbed the grill
  • Went through the kitchen cabinets
  • Cleaned some stuff out of the attic
  • Cleaned up both kids rooms
  • Cleaned up all of the mess in the bathroom closet
  • Cleaned out from under all of the beds
  • Filled up three very heavy trash bags
  • Filled the trunk with stuff for the thrift store
  • Watched my normal two crazy dogs with one insane crazy dog guest
  • dogs
    They’ve worn each other out today so I am hoping that they will sleep through the night. Last night was up, down, up, down, up, up, down. It was hectic.
    I guess everyone better get back home before I throw everything away!

Twenty Five Years Ago: The Moody Blues

During this week in 1986, “Your Wildest Dreams” by The Moody Blues peaked at number 9 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. This has always been one of my favorites.

“I Know You’re Out There Somewhere” was considered the sequel to “Your Wildest Dreams” when it appeared on their next album. It peaked at #30 in August of 1988. I have this one on cassette single somewhere.

Good songs – good memories.

One Hot Trip

We’re back in the comfort of the air conditioned house. We drove up to Kentucky last night and stayed at a hotel so we could get in some pool time. This morning, we drove up to Beech Bend Park and split our time between the water park and the “traditional rides”. This is a promo picture from the website since we did not bring in any camera or cell phones.


What we had not planned on was the brutal heat. So far, today was the hottest day of the year up there and down here. Notice the heat index in this snapshot? That’s at 6:53PM!! Still 112 degrees! When we left the park, they said that the heat index was 116. So, after getting completely exhausted, we left 3 hours earlier than we had been planning.


So, here are my thoughts on Beech Bend – it’s an A. Some of the rides in the amusement park area were what you might expect to see at a county fair. Some of them, like the Kentucky Rumbler, were huge, custom-built rides you would expect at a place like Opryland (R.I.P.) or Dollywood. Speaking of Opryland, they had rides just like the old Flume Zoom and the Tin Lizzy cars! They also have one ride (Sea Dragon) that they bought from Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch!

What surprised me was the variety of rides and how much everything is spread out. You can tell that this is a park that is steadily growing. The water park was very nice. They had tons of stuff to do and plenty of seating. There were employees everywhere and every one we encountered was friendly. The park was immaculately clean.

Give it a few years and this will be one of the premier parks in the southeast.

Is it a value? Ticket prices average 30 bucks a piece but discounts are out there. We had two buy one, get one free coupons. There is also a discount through the web site. But, the price also includes free soft drinks, free sunscreen, and free use of the floats. These are typically all charged items at other water parks. The food was also good and not too expensive. I had a cheeseburger and a slice of pizza and both were very good.

No, they are not paying me to say any of this. I was very pleased with the value and the trip (only about 75 minutes each way). The heat really made for a shorter day than expected. We should have spent more time in the water and not tried to write as many rides!

On a final note, we caught part of the Kent Family Magic Circus. The kids really enjoyed their show. They have a son who balanced a 6 foot ladder and a wheelbarrow on his chin. My chin hurt just watching. They have a really interesting blog where you can read about all of their travels. It is one of the most unique blogs I have read and quite a cool collection of memories that they are building for their kids.


I have one more day of vacation tomorrow and we will be spending it closer to home. We’re supposed to hit 100 degrees again tomorrow so I won’t be getting any outdoor projects done. I guess most of those will have to wait for my next vacation in October! After tomorrow, I go back to work and my family heads off to Gatlinburg for a few days in a cabin up in the woods with the bears. I’ll be here minding things with the dogs and plenty of odds and ends I can try to work on around here until they return on Saturday.

Larry Crowne, Google Plus, and… Mowing!

We used our Groupon half price movie tickets on Larry Crowne last night. After seeing the so-so box office results from last weekend and reading several so-so reviews, I went in with low expectations.


I’m happy to report that it was much better than I expected. It had funny parts but it also was realistic and brutally so at times. Larry deals with being downsized based on the excuse that his company cannot promote him because he has no college education. Larry also has to deal with overwhelming debt from his divorce and his house ends up going into foreclosure. There are no illusions that he will get his job back or save his house but at the end you get the impression that things are back on track and he is actually happier without all of these things tying him down.

A lot of the reviews point out how unrealistic the movie is. Why would a beautiful young co-ed befriend him and make it her mission to transform him into a hipper version of himself just based on the fact that they both ride scooters? Are there really gangs of friendly and fun scooter enthusiasts out there riding around together? Sign me up now if all of this exists.

Julia Roberts brings out the dramatic talent as we watch her marriage crumble. It’s almost as it there were two separate stories going on here that end up somehow merging together. They are both great actors but Julia’s character has the greatest depth and transformation so it’s odd that the movie is named Larry Crowne.

I also really enjoyed the soundtrack. There is a lot of Tom Petty and the movie ends with Calling America by Electric Light Orchestra which is a song that never got the airplay it deserved. It also came out in 1986 which was sort of at the end of the popularity cycle for ELO. It’s really the last big song for them that has that classic ELO sound.

I did finally get on Google Plus Thursday. Here are my geek thoughts: It is cleaner than Facebook – easier to look at and easier to navigate. Circles is a nice feature for grouping your friends and then deciding who sees what updates or photos or videos. Sparks is where you type in a subject that interests you and then you can click to see the latest news on that subject. It is really just a custom search.


So, is it a Facebook killer? Not yet. It’s just different than Facebook. I don’t see anything there yet that is going to sway millions of people to give up on Facebook and that means a lot of people are going to get Plus profiles because it is the cool thing yet not totally practical thing to do. It’s a lot like owning a Mac where you love your Mac for home use but you still have to use a PC at work. Google Plus is great for it’s simplicity but I’ll still have to maintain my Facebook (and give most of my attention to Facebook) or I will risk losing a lot of contacts that I really don’t want to lose. Businesses are going to stay put on Facebook for the same reason.

In other suburb news, I was crazy enough to mow this afternoon in the 90 degree heat with what felt like 90 percent humidity. I think it was the hottest I have ever gotten while mowing.


I had to sit down three different times. I stared at the last little bit of yard I had left to do for a long time before I was confident I could do it without the family coming home and finding me laying in the yard. I guess getting older and out of shape doesn’t help when attempting to mow on the surface of the sun.

Finally, I’m going off on vacation for a couple of days. This is a no tech vacation so the laptop is staying at home!!  I am back at work Wednesday so this is a short one. We’re heading to a family fun park as a surprise for the kids and we’ll be there on what may be our first 100 degree day of the year (with a heat index of 110)! I am not looking forward to the sunburn and heat stroke but I am looking forward to a little bit of no Facebook, no Twitter, and no Outlook time.


Quiet Thursday

Today has been much better. I have stayed off of the Facebook. I went to the Dentist and kept up my almost 38 year streak of membership in the ‘No Cavities Club’. I was a bit disappointed when the kids got toys and I didn’t so I treated myself to McDonalds. I know – all of that work with the cleaning and I ruin it by getting fast food immediately.


There’s the picture of the day. It’s a snapshot from the bookshelf in the hallway. I have had most of those books for twenty years or more. I do most of my reading on the Nook now but I still can’t part with those books even though I rarely even pick them up. I guess I keep thinking that the kids might want to read some Hemingway or Salinger one day.

It has been raining here on and off. The thunder and lightning accompanied the rain but none of it lasted long.

Tonight, we’ll try to catch up on the DVR a bit. I recorded Flipping Out and Men of a Certain Age last night. Tomorrow night we’re planning to go see Larry Crowne. I’m hoping it is at least decent regardless of the crap it took at the box office last weekend.


I am all holiday-ed out. I never thought about how this weekend lined up for four days of non-stop holiday action until I was trying to keep my eyes open last night while sitting in a hot parking lot watching fireworks. We started with Canada Day on Friday. Saturday is a blur. I can’t remember exactly what we did but I know that the bugs ate me alive.  On Sunday, we ate Chinese for lunch and then grilled out and finished the night with a pyrotechnics display in the driveway. Last night we ended up in that hot driveway after a day of pizza, Target, and general goofing off.

Four days of non-stop action and the result is that I have been dragging all day. Work just plain frazzled me. I could barely concentrate as I went through the to-do list. Other holidays are not so cruel - Thanksgiving is just one day of craziness and Christmas only lasts for two days (Christmas Eve and Christmas Day). Trust me, we will never have a Boxing Day cookout.

In other news, I like to have at least one picture with each entry so I’ve decided that I need to take random pictures of things around the house on the days that I don’t get out and do anything picture-worthy.

Here is a picture of a green bean growing in a coffee cup:


Yes, that is in my kitchen window. I’m afraid to put it in a bigger pot outside because I know I will forget to water it and that will be the end of our green bean.

Just ten minutes to bedtime (8:30PM tonight, I hope). Onward and upward to Wednesday!

Happy Independence Day!

Review these videos before you go out and experiment with pyromania.

Blowing things up

It’s almost time for fireworks. We’re doing them a night early since this is the only time that everyone can be here to watch and wait for the guaranteed accident (the dud that goes crazy, the mortar that gets loaded upside down,etc.). We’ve had displays in the past that ended up looking a lot like this:

This weekend is whizzing by like an illegal bottle rocket. I’m trying not to think about how fast 6AM on Tuesday will be here.

Canada Day 2011

What a week! I am glad that this one is over. I had extra Canada work to do this week and it made the week seem twice as long. I won’t go into the boredom that is my job but I have these morning processes for our Canada locations that I run Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Well, I had to run it Monday and Friday this week. It’s a fun way to spend three or four hours. Now, I am brain dead, but enough on that. It is the weekend! And, it is Canada Day! That means grilling out and bringing out the big flag.

canada day 2011_1

This year, it also meant running out of propane as soon as I put the chicken on the grill so we got to make an emergency propane Walmart run and I was so hungry by the time that the food was ready that I was seriously considering throwing a waffle in the toaster and giving up.

So, through the power of my Canada VPN, we are watching the Canada Day concert on the big screen. The royals are there and you might be able to barely see them in this blurry picture.

canada day 2011_2

We’re waiting for the fireworks and then we will collapse in a tired heap. I am hoping that I can sleep in tomorrow. Getting up at 5:30 am (or earlier when insomnia stopped in twice this week) has been rough. I’m normally up at 6 am. What a difference 30 minutes can make.

I’ll write more tomorrow. I have a few blog entries on the Alphasmart that I was just too lazy to post. They may be gibberish. I’m somewhat afraid to look.