Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Joker

The readership has demanded more bloggings so I must appease them lest they storm the gates with torches and pitchforks and organic skincare products.

So for Christmas I got the graphic novel 'The Joker' by Brian Azzarello
I really enjoyed the story, it was a graphic novel that takes place in Gotham but does not have much Batman in it (maybe 5%). It mainly concentrates on the release of the Joker from Arkham Asylum and his bid to take control of the city again. In this book you get to see the Joker's interactions with other villains such as The Riddler, The Penguin, and Croc. All the Villains including the Joker are much more "real" and less goofy (think Dark Knight and Batman Begins). In this book you get to see how the Joker lives from day to day and see is maddness. We also get to learn more about Harley Quinn, the Joker's sidekick/protege/girlfriend. She actually originated in the animated series and is one of the few actually menacing sub-villains out there. I'm undecided on where to place this in my best-of batman graphic novels list but its towards the top. I'd say its close to 'The Killing Joke' but I have to let it sink it. One think that I found enjoyable on the completion of the book is that thoughts/dialogue of characters will begin in one cell and stop but be oddly continued on the next page or cell which is very different than traditional story-telling in this medium. I think it was done to show the dis-jointed nature of The Joker but that's just me. Anyways I think its worth a read as with almost all Graphic Novels they don't take much time to read and you get to look at pretty pictures :)

Monday, December 29, 2008

AT&T Doens't want me to communicate with the outside world

So basically all day my iPhone was rendered useless as AT&T was down most of the day, it finally came back around 8ish. So basically all day I couldn't make or receive calls or use the data network. Then around 7ish my DSL, also AT&T went down and would sporadically come and go and now seems to be fairly stable. I also read recently where speed tests were performed across the country with the iPhone and my area of Chicago scored the lowest. The iPhone essentially becomes useless at any large event in Chicago. In conclusion, AT&T needs to step it up. Read up on the AT&T issues here.

I wake up this morning. The DSL is working but 15 minutes of surfing take it down. Then for the majority of the day it is up and down for 10 minutes at a time. Numerous resets of the DSL modem and router don't really help. 4 calls to the special AT&T service line. They are sending a guy out on Friday to have a look at the wiring in my building. The DSL went totally down for 3ish hours until just now. I spoke to a guy on the phone that sounded like he knew what he was talking about and he reset their modem and the DSL has worked for the longest it has all day. Knock on wood.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Winter in Chicago

So probably the worst thing about winter in Chicago is the sheer unpredictability of the weather. Last week this time it was snowing and high twenties. Then for the next few days is was -5ish with HUGE wind chills. Then it warmed to high twenties again and snowed a lot again. Now as I write this it is 60 and really windy. All in the span of one week. This also creates a big problem with all the water in Chicago. Almost every intersection you cross you have to create plan to crosss it to avoid the big puddles so you aren't wading through ankle high deep mini-ponds. These ponds are usually guarded by snow banks that have turned into mini-ice-mountains that you need cat-like balance to step on or you're falling down... HARD. So in conclusion, have good footwear and wear things that you don't mind getting wet and always dress warmer than you think you'll need.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas 2008

So for Christmas 2008 I went home on Christmas Eve. We went to Midnight Mass at 10:00 (I know someone needs a new watch). Then I woke up and opened presents. The most used present so far has been the cardboard tubes that my mom got me and my brothers. We proceeded to beat each other up until they broke, so that was an exciting time. I also made a couple of gingerbread men, my favorite is pictured above, he met his demise shortly after this picture was taken. For dinner we had beef tenderloin, which was delicious, haven't met a tenderloin I don't like. My family knows I like to build stuff so once I build what they gave me I'll share some pics. Also my Family usually watched "A Christmas Story" a couple times during the marathon that TBS shows. I have since learned that you can buy one of the "Leg Lamps" that is prominently featured in the movie; one day I see myself owning one. Happy Holidays and Happy New Year.

Hot Doug's - Christmas Eve

So as some of you know, I have a love for the encased meats. They are delicious and easy foods to eat and has Hot Doug's has shown you can have gourmet sausages filled with just about anything. So on my way home on Christmas Eve I wanted to get a late lunch so I stopped off at Hot Doug's before they close for 2 weeks vacation, its about 1/2 mile out of the way so not very inconvenient when heading up north. As usual Doug himself is there to take your order. I got a "Selma Hayek" which is their name for an andouille sausage. I usually put just mustard on andouille. I got a side of fries and a berghoff root beer. Aside from having a great selection of different types of sausage, I believe the "Wild Game" selection that day was "Tripple Pepper Wild Boar", they also have an amazing selection of sodas. They have all sorts of soft drinks that are hard to find at hot dog stands, including TAB! Anyways the saugsage was amazing, I got some fries with it, which are probably some of my favorites. On Friday and Saturday you can get the fries fried in duck fat which is pure deliciousness. The guy behind the counter is "Hot Doug". Hit up the comments if you have any questions.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Batman : Arkham Asylum : A Serious House on Serious Earth

So last night I finished reading Batman : Arkham Asylum : A Serious House on Serious Earth. It was an amazing story. It was one of those books that when you finish it that you are like "What just happened?". And you have to go back and see where everything was set in motion. That's one of the things that I like about the "Graphic Novel" genre, it actively encourages you to go back and look at clue and reexamine the story. The artwork in this book is very very dark, along the lines of the new Batman movies. I think this might be my favorite Batman graphic novel, I also really enjoyed The Dark Knight Returns and The Killing Joke. Both are excellent and are more psychological than action based. Also if you want to read these, many libraries now carry graphic novels so you don't have to spend anything to read them. Libraries are a highly under-untilized resource in our society.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

OMG Shoes

As part of my trip to California, aside from getting a new helmet, I also got a new pair of racing shoes/boots. They are made by a company called Sparco and I found them to be great shoes. They really allowed me to “feel” the pedal more, especially the brakes. They also allowed me to move between the gas and brake more quickly and aid in “Heel-toeing / blipping” which is a process used in downshifting. The easier it is to downshift the less you have to think about it and the more you can concentrate on braking and turning into a corner. Also they are blue, which is so stylish. They come from some sort of rare blue cow I’m guessing.

Wiener’s Circle Update

So I was walking home from the bus stop past the Wiener’s Circle and it looked like there were guys inside fixing up the back, they had what appeared to be a portable generator running outside, powering what? I don’t know. Also all the supplies like cups, bags, registers, etc. had been moved into the front part of the building while they work in back. So contrary to some rumors on the web it doesn’t look like the place is shutting down for good or going to be for sale. If it were shutting down, why would the owners spend any money fixing up the place? Wouldn’t they just shutoff the water, electricity, gas and board up the place?

So I took a half day because nothing was happening at work and I have a surplus of vacation. Got off the bus and found that they have posted a new sign. Looks like they are going to be doing some remodeling and then reopening. Pic below

Monday, December 22, 2008

New Racing Helmet

So as part of my trip to California for racing school I got myself a new helmet that is safer than my old one and has the proper safety credentials (SNELL SA2005). I got a Bell BR-1 from a local racing shop. Overall I really like the fit and feel of this helmet much more than my old one. The new helmet has a much larger eye-port so the field of vision is greatly increased and when racing it feels more natural and less like a tunnel. This way you can concentrate on driving better. Another nice thing I liked was the visor system. My previous helmet had a ratcheting system that had predefined levels that you could open your visor. This helmet has it where you can open it to the level you want and it will stay there, which is helpful for reducing fog if that’s an issue or just increasing the airflow in the helmet. Other nice things about this new helmet are that it has some nice vents that help with airflow, the neck-strap is solid with a tab to help you release it and overall it’s pretty comfortable. When I was driving on Leguna Seca the helmet felt really natural and there wasn’t anytime where the helmet had a wing like effect and tried to pull off your head, like some other poorly designed helmets will. Since the temperature was in the 50s I didn’t really need to let much air in for the visor but the little bit I did really helped. Overall I really like this helmet. The biggest differences between my old one and new one are Safety and Visibility. As I race my I start to take safety more seriously and have come to be believe in the racing mantra of “If you have a $20 helmet, you have a $20 head.” The color of the helmet is white. I’d like to maybe decorate it a bit but in a more un-traditional / non-racer helmet style. Open to suggestions.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Wiener's Circle - SHUTDOWN

So Friday after a happy hour with some of my co-workers I wanted to grab a quick bite of food before I went to go see Cinematic Titantic. So I decided to go to The Wiener's Circle which is 1/2 a block from where I live and I noticed there was an issue initially when the big blinking sign they have was not on, never seen it off, and then I was greeted by a large green sign saying that their license has been revoked due to health issues! Doing some reading about this it appears that a complaint against them initiated an inspection, they didn't find anything that related to the complaint but that day of the inspection their hot water pipe burst and thus had no hot water, which is a health issue. I hope they re-open soon. I consider myself somewhat of a hot dog connoisseur and this is one of the best hot dogs in the country, along with Hot Doug's, also in Chicago. Here is a link to what the Chicago Tribune has to say.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Great "best of" video about the current financial crisis and how it was foreseen long ago by some of the brightest minds. Most of these problems could be solved fairly easily but its gonna hurt. I equate it to ripping a band-aide off; Do you want it quick and sharp or long and drawn out (exacerbated by anticipation)?

First Blog Post

Hello and welcome to my blog. I will use this to write about various things that interest me (what else would I blog about?). So let's kick things off.

Last week I was in Monterey, CA for a mini-vacation. The primary purpose of this was to go to a Skip Barber racing school. Racing is one of my passions and I am very grateful to have the opportunity to do any racing whatsoever, very few people have the opportunity to do so. So this school is the next step of a school I attended in August of 2007. The track I was racing on is Leguna Seca, which is probably one of the most iconic tracks in the US and the World. I was really impressed with everything about the track, the staff, and the beautiful surroundings. I will write another post with more detail about the specific technical things I learned in the racing school.