Tuesday, December 29, 2009

DirecTV Raising Prices while continuing to give us less

As outlined in posts below DirecTV has been making my service crappier throughout the past year. And now as a reward for giving me less programming they are raising my bill too. It is no surprise that they are getting sued for their practices in one class action lawsuit. I really wish I could say that my experience will get better because I'm paying more but I know it will not. I think they take the #1 spot away from AT&T in my most disliked company that I pay a bill to every month (excluding various govts. via taxes).

Sunday, December 27, 2009

TSA: A reactionary agency for reactionary times

So another crazed person tried to blow up a plane with smuggled explosives in their underwear. First, the TSA failed by allowing these explosives on the plane in the first place but this issue of being able to get explosives on a plane has been known for quite some time. Also in the security world you get noticed and are known for your failures very quickly, its a tough job to do because you are expected to be 100% effective. The biggest issue with the TSA is that their measures do nothing to increase security. As Bruce Schneier has pointed out in his blog time in again is that increasing the strength of the cockpit door and our unwillingness to be terrorized in the air are the only things that have made us safer since 9/11. An example of this ineffective policies can be shown below. I recently traveled with a hoodie and a sweater. When going through the metal detector I am asked to remove my hoodie if I have on something under my hoodie but when I wear the sweater I am not. The only difference between the two garments is a hood, so not really preventing anything by having my take off one but not the other. The TSA thrives on inconveniencing you so as to think that they are:
1) Effective
2) Necessary
3) Authoritative

Now the TSA does not want passengers moving around during the last hour of flight. This would not have prevented any of the events from happening on Christmas day, its just another way to inconvenience everyone but the terrorists. In fact, if everyone on the plane had followed the rules the man who stopped the terrorist would have stayed in his seat. The terrorist wanted to blow up the plane in mid-air and these new rules just plain and simple do not address that. Reactionary measures like this are never good and are rarely effective (remember when you would walk through a metal detector with your shoes on?). How about the fact that I routinely take liquids through checkpoints on my travels? How about the fact that sometimes the TSA wants me to take my liquids out and sometimes they do not? Sometimes I am supposed to but I don't and they don't say anything. Is this a tacit admission by the TSA staff that none of this matters and they are there mainly for show? If a concerned citizen were to actually demonstrate these various ineffective policies they would sadly be thrown in jail. I am hoping blog postings and letters written and general voiced dissatisfaction with these reactionary measures will help repeal some of these measures.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Comcast buys NBC

So Comcast is going to buy NBC. How long until Universal HD, Bravo and whatever other channels NBC owns are essentially banned from Directv and relegated to the same fate as Versus? Maybe Directv will even try to stop giving us NBC.

UPDATE: I spoke to Directv about this and they basically said that they do not know what will happen when the deal goes through but they do not see anything happening in the near term. But I do not see anything benefiting Directv or my service coming from this deal, I expect more service cuts in the next year or so. The more they make me pay for content the more I find other more service oriented outlets for the entertainment I want.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Weis to Bears?

As a ND and Bears fan I would would be very skeptical if Weis was hired to come to Chicago as either a coordinator or even a head coach. I really hope it does not happen. I need a break from Charlie. Read more here.

Directv Degrading Service

So over the past few months Directv has moved a number of channels I watched to various packages (2 or more) so that it would cost me in the neighborhood of $300-$400 dollars a year to restore the same level of service I got a year ago. Currently Versus which airs much of the IndyCar that I watch is totally unavailable on Directv because Comcast owns the station and Directv just does not want to give them money anymore. SPEED, my other racing channel and the only place I can see F1, was moved to the next level of service. Luckily, racing is out of season so I am not missing anything currently while I am trying to get Directv to give me these channels back. I have also lost ESPN classic which shows racing from time to time and just random live events that won't fit into the regular ESPN lineup. I also lost the FOX Business channel which I would watch time to time when CNBC was being too crazy.

The thing I cannot stand about this is that they try to hide all the changes that they make and just spring them on you out of nowhere. When you call their call centers it is impossible to talk to anyone who knows why these changes are being made. They tell you that they are not contractually obligated to notify you of changes to the channel lineup and that is obviously the business practices of a company that does not respect its customers. This is what happens when the market lacks true competition most people are lucky if they have 3 choices of Pay TV (Cable and Satellite) but many places only have one choice. So I am in the process of trying to get in contact with someone at corporate to get some real answers and why it should cost me so much money to get these channels.

On a side note I am wondering what Satellite providers plan on doing in the future when TV will be delivered via the Internet. Satellite as a technology only really effectively works as a one to many broadcast model. Cable providers can essentially just become ISPs and deliver content over their pipes. I think in the next 10-20 years we will see the demise of the traditional Satellite provider as a consumer endpoint. If anyone has any thoughts feel free to comment.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Thursday, September 10, 2009

NYC Comedian Follow-up

For those who are interested in hearing some ha-has from the comedians I mentioned in my previous review here you go. FYI I would not watch these at work if you don't have headphones and privacy to watch/laugh.

Colin Kane:


Christian Finnegan:

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Trips to NYC

I've had the luck of getting a project in NYC. This is nice because even though I have to work hard, I get to have little NYC vacations at night. So this post will be what I have done during my first trip a few weeks ago and the trip I am recently got back form. So I'll break this down into various categories:

Food:
Here are the restaurants I enjoyed:
Sofia Wine Bar Cafe: This was a really good wine bar. The staff was very friendly and prompt. I had a Prosciutto pizza and a very good chocolate cake for food. The wines I had were also very delicious. They have an excellent sangria. Highly, recommend if you like wine and are in NYC.

Mesa Grill: This is southwestern Bobby Flay food. It was excellent food. I had the pork tenderloin which was so juicy and well seasoned. We did get seated in the upstairs all the way towards the front of the restaurant which was a little bit of a pain if you had to go to the bathroom. The waitress we had was really pushy trying to get us to buy more of everything. Tip to wait staff, make me want something don't tell me I should want something.

Balthazar Restaurant & Bakery: Went here because I was watching the Food Network and Bobby Flay said they had the best fries. We tried to get reservations but we would not be seated until 10:30. So we just showed up and were seated in the bar area at litterally the smallest table I have ever sat at. We were in the middle of a heavily used walkway so during the course of the meal we were bumped into a lot. The food and wine were very good. I had the "Bar Steak" and the frites were very good but not the best I've ever had. The wine was excellent as well.

 I had a number of really good NYC style pizza slices while in the city. NYC > Chicago in terms of being able to find good pizza quickly and easily. The same cannot be said for Mexican food however. I went to a highly rated Mexican place and it was pretty sub-par all around. I then heard from many NYC-ers that Mexican food is not their specialty.

Hotel

I stayed at The Pod Hotel during my trip and I loved it. They do have small rooms but they are nicely decorated, well laid out, and have nice things in the room. The rates were very cheap and I found the surrounding blocks to have very nice small restaurants everywhere. The hotel has a lot of foreign clientele, maybe because it is similar to European hotels. The hotel just feels "cool". The roof deck has a very nice view and you can BYOB and gaze about.

 Comedy

I was able to see two comedy shows during my trips. I saw Colin Kane at Carolines who I first saw opening for Louis C.K. in June 2008. He was still hilarious. He has a weekly show at Carolines on Tuesdays and is one of the funniest comedians I have seen. He is very sharp and quick with his jokes and is not afraid to try new material. If you are easily offended or afraid of being picked on, this isn't the show for you. I also got to see Christian Finnegan at The Broadway Comedy Club. The venue itself was one of the crappiest comedy venues I have been to. The comedians however were hilarious. I have seen Christian Finnegan before in Chicago and almost all of the material was new or refreshed. I especially enjoyed his bit on America's/women's obession with vampires. One of my favorite things about NYC is that it is a mecca of comedy. I can see so many comedians that I am a fan of basically any day of the week and it is fairly affordable. The other plus about this is that they are always working out new jokes you have not heard before and the venues are small and intimate. And most comedians make themselves available after their show for pictures and chit chat.

Randoms

I like NYC cabs and that you can pay via Credit Card in the back

I like the NYC subway system

I don't like the bums that touch themselves on said system

I like the orange and white smokestacks that are in the middle of the street sometimes routing steam from a manhole cover

I love the street vendors everywhere with street food. I wish I could get a bag of yummy mixed nuts in Chicago.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Invention of Lying (trailer)

Just saw a trailer for the new Ricky Gervais movie "The Invention of Lying". It looks really good, trailer is embedded below. Disappointed that I have to wait until September to see the movie.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Vegas

I'm leaving for Vegas today at about 5:30. I'm very excited, I haven't had a true vacation (one that didn't involve going to ND or Staying in Chicago) since December when I went racing. Here are some goals that I have for this trip:
  • See Paul Oakenfold
  • See Love
  • Sit by Pool
  • Eat at Mesa
  • Eat other good foods
  • Have funs
  • Go skydiving (depends mostly if others are interested)
  • Buy a pair of Ray Bans
I'm also very excited because I will be leaving my laptop at home so I can't possibly do work. Also very excited to use my drink tickets on the flight and be drunk by the time I land. Question for Wine Post: Does Southwest Airelines carry a good wine?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Travel Rituals

So being that I travel a pretty good amount for my job I have developed some travel rituals. So here are some of them that I can think of listed in no particular order:
  • Turn down water heater to save $$$
  • Check to see if door is locked twice
  • Upon arrival at hotel tighten all lampshade (yes, very OCD)
  • Find and consume local food
  • Find and consume local beer
  • If driving: on the way back, play the song (usually started when I can see the skyscrapers) "Via Chicago" by Wilco
That's all I can think of right now. Comment if you have any you'd like to share.

Indy 500 - "Fun" things that you see at the race that aren't fast cars

So during my memorial day weekend I went down to Indianapolis to watch the 500. It was a decent race overall, apparently the tires could have been developed better to create better racing. But the point of this post is not really to talk about racing but to talk about the biggest reason not to like racing: The Race "Fans". I love racing and so do many other people. Sadly the redneck variety of people is attracted to racing too and they tend to make races uncomfortable and less fun. They tend to like the crashes and loud noises rather than the skill and talent it takes drive on the edge. Additionally most people here probably can't name more than 5 drivers (that's like a baseball fan only being able to name 10 teams). So below you'll find a sampling of people and a short description of their exploits during the day.
Ok, so this guy is a big guy who was really drunk the whole time and hitting on any female with a pulse. The female on his right, his wife, seems to have no issue with him going after this 18ish year old girl or her mother (not pictured). They eventually left and then he just scooted over to hit on other girls. Aside from being annoying and not watching the racing he had a high pitched laugh like a little girl. Also he stated that he wasn't drunk numerious times during the race. All I know is that if you act like that when you're not drunk you've got to be way worse when you are drunk. Onwards to example two:
I call this guy Smokey Joe. I fell almost bad about putting Smokey Joe in here because he was asking me questions and generally trying to learn about IndyCar racing (the rule, the car specifications, etc.) but the reason he was at the race was be Marlboro gave him free tickets (thus the lack of knowledge). So since his name is Smokey Joe and he got free tickets from a tobacco company, I bet you can guess why I don't like him. This picture was taken during the rare moment when he wasn't smoking. He for sure doesn't like Marlboro Lights as me being the knowlegekeeper for the speedway he asked me "Hey you know a lot about this place. How come they only sell Marb Lights?". I sadly had no answer for the man. Then later in the race he gets to telling me how he couldn't afford to go to this race unless he got these free tickets. So lets say a carton of Marlboro Cigarettes costs $40 (yes probably under pricing), it would make him cut down on two cartons a year if he paid for the tickets ($80 each). All I know is that he had to smoke a lot more than two cartons to get free tickets, this is the kind of retarded math and misplaced expenses that contributed to the state our economy is in. Ok that was a long one, on to number three:
This guy just played with is big beer belly a lot, that's about it. At one point he was reclined, that was gross. Other than that and his friends w/ male nipple piercings (yes gross and I saw way more of those in the course of 3 hour than I have in my lifetime) I don't have much more to say about this guy. Ok on to the concluding picture:
Ok so this blob of a man is wearing a shirt that says "No Bar Whores Allowed". Ok so I get the general idea of what a bar whore is and how they can be bad. I do not know the type of Bar Whore that would want to get with Mr.Blob. All I know is that this Bar Whore is in a league of their own and would certainly not be allowed anywhere near Gerry Productions property.

Ok that concludes my pictorial story thingy from Indy this year. All of these people were sitting around me. I saw many many more people that were worth of being pictured here. But if you are a fan of people watching at all I would say the Indy 500 is the place for you. The only place that may top the Indy 500 is a NASCAR event. I don't think they are easy to document because non-rednecks would probably stick out like a sore thumb at a NASCAR race. Anyways hope you had as much fun reading this as I did taking pictures and writing about them.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

My Lizard Buddy

A bunch of lizards are outside my office in jacksonville. This one
likes to watch me work.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Fun with stupid signs

This sign was in a bathroom at one of my clients. Makes you wonder what prompted these signs to be installed ( poor janitor). Also this becomes more fun when you use the opposite definition of stool (poop).

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Summer Fun Plans

Sorry for the lack of posts, work has been beyond crazy. I have some goodies that I've been waiting to share so theyll be coming soonish. But right now here are some things I'm looking forward to doing this summer.

  • Going to a few Indycar races
  • Going to see the CSO at Ravinia
  • Finding a drive in movie theater and going there
  • Farm Party
  • Seeing friends
  • Doing some racing
Anyone else have fun plans?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Brian Azzarello in Chicago Tribune

One of my favorite authors (Brian Azzarello) has a good write up in the Chicago Tribune today. A couple of the locations are by where I live. I can imagine the scene under the El tracks he's talking about as it is on the way to a lot of the places I hang out including Wrigley. Check it out here.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Friday, April 10, 2009

Kilt!


Saw a guy on my flight wearing a kilt. Pretty interesting, never seen one outside of a parade setting. Later heard the guy talk with a Scottish accent so I guess that makes it better.

Last night in Seattle (for now)

So today is my last night in Seattle, I'm excited for Easter. I found some good places to eat here after all but it took some tough searching. The other night I went to this lounge called "Post" the menu only had about five items but they all looked pretty good. I had a big steak served over homemade chips and some vegetables (mainly peppers, I skipped the mushrooms and asparagus). All the parts I ate were really good. I had a really good local brew (Australia) from Murray's Craft Brewing Co. it was their pale ale. I topped off this dinner with a trip to original Starbucks and got a nice hot coco. Then went to cold stone and got a mix of cake batter ice cream, cotton candy ice cream, sprinkles, and gummy bears. The next day for lunch I found this traveling lunch truck called "Skillet". Its a bit of a hippie operation with all natural stuff in everything. I got a burger and fries (which by the way are amazing w/ herbs and stuff on top). The kicker is they have this stuff called "Bacon Jam" its like bacon in jam form. It was good but I'm undecided about if its really good or not. I might order a jar online and do further evaluation. So Seattle isn't all that bad but it took a pretty good amount of initiative to find them (all the locals I've spoken to haven't heard of skillet one of the highest rated restaurants on yelp here). The post place was even hidden in this little alley. So maybe next week I'll find some other good places. Have a good weekend!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Back In Seattle


I'm back in Seattle for work. Last time I was here I didn't really enjoy the city too much. Couldn't find a good restaurant easily, then when I would go to a place I got looked at like I had a second head because I was dining alone. The hotel I was staying in was starting to show its age and not definitely way overpriced for the room amenities that were offered. Now I'm back at the same hotel, the TVs have been upgraded to HDTV but don't have an HD signal and still have significant ghosting in the signal. The minibar still has $5 cans of Pepsi (I know crazy). So last night I went out for a walk and trying to look for some food. A number of times I was approached by numerous teenagers out at night trying to get me to buy them booze. I saw some bums shooting each other up and they gave me a dirty look like I was the crazy one. Lots of just people sitting around in Seattle but there doesn't ever seem to be much going on, like there hasn't been a bar or a restaurant that seems to be lively or fun. Anyone have any reccomendations?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

April Fools thoughts

So every April Fools day much of the internet community likes to make "Jokes". As much of the internet is still nerds these jokes tend to be nerdy in nature and subsequently not funny as most of these people aren't as funny as they think they are. The formula is basically take a believable news story then alter it to make the reader go "No Way!" and then you're supposed to laugh when you 've realized you've been duped. But you as an intelligent person sees this a mile away and are mad that they even tried to waste your time. I equate this day when sites try to be "The Onion" for a day and basically fail miserably. So in conclusion, let "The Onion" be funny and you can keep bringing me relevant information because if you were funny you'd be writing for "The Onion" already.

Friday, March 27, 2009

F1 is BACK!!!!

So as I write this the F1 cars have already completed their first official practice session down in Australia. I'm very excited to see the new cars in action when I get home. There were a decent amount of rule changes from last year to this one so the cars look significantly different and this could also mean that a the top contenders for the year could be shaken up. The team that everyone thinks will make the most progress from last year to this year is "Braun GP" formally the Honda team. I don't know how Honda poured billions into this team and was stuck at the back most years and then somehow when they decide to get out of F1 that team will become good, so only time will tell. I'm hoping that Kimi Raikkonen wins the driver title this year. In my opinion he is the best racer I have ever seen. But for the majority of his career he has been plagued by bad luck so hopefully this is his year. I'm also wishing the best of luck to the Red Bull team as all their drivers are standup guys and incredible racers. I hope it starts to warm up some more here so I can do some racing myself. Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

CTA Behavioural Update

So some here have criticized me for being sexist when it comes to criticizing the general population of CTA riders. I can't help but report the facts so don't blame me if your sex just happens to just be less respectful of others or know how to effectively alleviate human traffic on the CTA buses and trains. But he's a bus and train riding no no that I have noticed that guys are more apt to commit than women. The offense is standing in and blocking doorways. This makes it uncomfortable for both parties involved and adds time to unloading. You think these people would get tired of rubbing up against strangers everytime a stop is reached but who knows maybe they like it. This rule of course only applies when all seats are filled and the aisle is full too. As a general rule sit down if a seat is a available. If no seat is available then move ALL the way to the back and stand or the middle/ sides if its a train. These are your CTA commandments follow them and you will gain entry to public transit heaven.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Watchmen movie = Good

Watchmen is good, you should go see it. It is probably as faithful to the graphic novel as it could be. Reading the book beforehand will certainly increase your understanding of the story. But you will most likely enjoy it without reading it too. This movie is not a typical superhero movie, do not expect a simple plot, do not expect tons of action, and do not walk out on the movie. One thing I do wish that movies did nowadays; Have an intermission! At least for movies that are long enough to require one. Older movies used to have intermissions, so why can't newer ones? If you do need to get up and go, I would suggest the sex scenes in the movie. That is all. END COMMUNICATIONS

Dan in Real Life = Le Suck

I'm sorely disappointed that Netflix said I would give this movie 3.2 stars. Firstly, this movie is so very very predictable and not funny. This movie is trying to be like a funny version of "The Family Stone" and it fails miserably. The family as a whole is entirely unbelievable and all of them spit out one liners that would make any normal human being gag, maybe even throw up a bit in their mouth. Anyone I ever met would call out anyone in their family for talking like such a cliche loser. Next, what is so compelling about the Marie character? There's nothing really interesting about her at all, shes just boring and plain. I think I've also determined that Steve Carell is not a very good actor. He's been in two good movies, everything else he's mediocre at best. He plays the same "awkward" guy in every single movie and if the writing isn't perfect he comes off as fake and forced. Next, Dane Cook is in this movie... need I say more. The rest of the cast is usually good but they should all be ashamed to have been involved with this movie. I was hoping throughout the whole movie that a Gozilla style monster would emerge from the bay and destroy the whole family in one stomp of its gigantic foot. That would have been a hilarious and unpredictable move for the story and would have been amazing. What kind of family stages their own talent shows? What kind of family does weird aerobics on their front lawn? What kind of weird family talks like this?

If you like movies with any sort of substance SKIP THIS MOVIE. If you like the same tasteless, bland goop that hollywood has been reselling you for years, then this is the film for you.

UPDATED: Dan and his girls live in New Jersey, another reason not to like this movie. :P

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Trip to Philadelphia

So as part of my job I have to travel a fair amount of the time. I would estimate that I, on average, spend about 30-40% of my working time (Mon - Fri) on the road. I usually am pretty good at packing. I have a bag that is good for about 5 business days, maybe 8ish vacation days. But despite my skills at packing, I always forget one thing. This trip I forgot my shaver. So depending on my facial hair growth rate I may I'd may not shave the rest of the week. I also wore a different pair of shoes than I planned (didnt realize until I was already on the blue line) but I think they will work with the outfits I packed. I hope the rest of the trip goes like it's on rails. At least i'll get to sleep on the plane and get to fly back at 3ish on Friday.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Unintentionally Funny Poster at Hot Doug's

So while in line in the rain for an hour and a half (30 minutes in a downpour with four guys huddling under an umbrella waiting for Hot Doug's we saw a funny poster in the window:















One can only hope that this band isn't associated with Hitler and his answer to the Jewish question.

While at Hot Doug's I got a Boar Sausage with pepper jack cheese and a dijonnaise on top and a andouille and some duck fat fries and a root beer. This was super yummy and hit the spot before traveling to Lincolnshire to see Watchmen.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Bad Bus Driver

Bus ride this morning was decent in terms having a good amount of space because I went to work late ( I was up until 2 dealing with some website scanning boo!). But the bus driver first couldn't figure out how to attach a bike to the front of the bus on the bike rack (5 minutes). I place 50% of the blame on this "biker/messenger" girl. Why not just ride your bike?!?! It was warm out today and you're already riding the bike. Make no sense to me. Then about a mile later the bus driver just leaves the bus for 5 minutes, my guess to go to the bathroom or something. Then about 4 blocks from my stop she spotted someone she knows on the street and proceeded to honk and slow down and wave at her for a whole block. Just another reason why girls are no good on the bus.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

What If?

This is a great video remix of one of my favorite speeches given by Ron Paul. I find it really unnevering and slightly sad that really none of the issues that he talks about get play in the national/mainstream press. It just shows that the GOP vs. Dems debate is more over a molehill rather than the mountain that they would have you believe.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Fencing on Flight of the Conchords

On the latest episode of "Flight of the Conchords" on HBO, there is a song that features some fencers fencing and dancing. This is fairly amusing to me. This is from the 6th episode of the 2nd season. Enjoy.

(P.S. spread out the dicks)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Getty Awards

Here are my awards for 2008 movies. The only awards that matter.

Best Picture
Dark Knight

Best Actor
Wall-E

Best Animated
Wall-E

Best Supporting Actor
Heath Ledger

Best Horror
Let the Right One In

Best Comedy
Forgetting Sarah Marsahll

Best Random
Ghost Town

Best Documentary
Bigger, Stronger, Faster*

Best Heist
The Bank Job

Best Movie that thinks it is original
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Worst Movie
Fools Gold

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

All Things Skittles


So there's been an underground trend of mixing Skittles with booze. The earliest mention of this I can find or remember is an episode of the Simpsons when Homer tries to order a beer with skittles in it and is told no such thing exists. Then he just buys a six pack and a bag of skittles. He calls the concoction Skittlebrau. Now a popular drink is to mix skittles in vodka and then filter out the crud that remains and you get a delicious drink with no mixer (aside from skittles) needed. Here's a very detailed recipe.

Onward to "Chocolate Skittles". So I know these have been out for awhile but I'll give them a review because I absolutely love the other types of skittls out there. Chocolate Skittles are pretty dissapointing. I'm not the biggest fan of chocolate but these aren't really chocolate heavy candy. I think where these fail is that they are trying to taste exactly like what they say they are (think jelly belly or bertie botts). It is not that these candies taste bad, they just don't tast particuarly good. I'd say skip them unless you are feeling adventurous and want to try something new.

Roland Burris = Liar

So apparently our good friend Roland Burris was not entirely truthful when explaining his relationship with our former Governor (Blago). Who would have thought that a man who would take a nomination from Blago would not be the "cleanest" of people. The Chicago Tribune is calling for his resignation and there's movement to start a perjury investigation because it is now clear that he lied when he said he didn't have any contact with the Blago camp. Is there anyone from Chicago/Illinois who is clean?

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Hot Doug Clips

So one of my shows that I watch every week is "Check, Please!" on WTTW in Chicago, one of the local PBS stations. If you read this blog you probably also know that I am in love with hot dogs, I can't get enough of them. And I love trying as many hot dog places that I can. I was lucky to grow up near a really good place hot dog place in the suburbs called "The Dogout". That place always made exceptionally great char-polish. I'd usually get one on my way to work at Ravinia when I worked there when I was still in high school. It is located in an area where a lot of Chicago athletes live so sometimes you'd get to see some Chicago greats like MJ or Ditka. Below you will find some clips from past shows. These clips are of some of the hot dog places in the city I like. Starting with my favorite, Hot Doug's.





Thursday, February 12, 2009

Court Rules Autism Not Caused by Childhood Vaccines

So there are a whole punch of idiotic (mostly upper middle-class or richer) parents out there who think the vaccines that are out there for children do nothing but give them autism. Well a special court today struck them down once again saying that they are not entitled to any sort of federal compensation. I'd say most people from this demographic who believe this stuff consider themselves well educated but like to stick their heads in the sand when it comes to their children. Their most cited evidence for their claims is a medical study published in The Lancet that was later retracted. These parents reason that if all the other children are vaccinated then their child wont get sick, this is true but if everyone does that then the whole "herd" becomes vulnerable. Also a child can't get these vaccines as a baby so if a baby is exposed to these diseases they are often life threatening or life-altering (polio). What should be done to irresponsible parents who cause sickness or death to others because they didn't get their child vaccinated? Another argument the crazies like to use is that their child got the vaccine (MMR) and then like a week later they were Autistic. This is a an anecdotal relationship as these vaccines are administered around the time autism would become noticeable in a child. It also stands out to them because we as humans notice the outlier cases and not the millions of ordinary cases. Anyways score one for science and not hocus pocus urban legend myths.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Hair Product


Picked up a refill of the hair stuff I've been using for the past 6ish months. It seems that they have changed the formula a bit. It used to be very hard, like a wax, and snow white. Now it has more of a creamy texture and an off white colour. Additionally the smell has changed slightly. The one advantage of this is that you can put it in hair that isn't very damp or wet. The older formula you had to have a decent amount of moisture in the hair to get it to take hold. I hope the new stuff works just as well. The product is a Texture Paste from Joe Grooming. Good stuff. I also recommend KMS Hair Play Molding Paste both very good. Both smell really good too.

(Very metro-ish post I know)

Friday, February 6, 2009

Week Recap and Stuffs


So I went to the Chicago Indoor Racing location in Addison on Tuesday. Got to drive on Track 8 for the first time. Its a great track very fast and fun to drive. The first two races I was 1.5 seconds off the pace and I had had the same kart twice in a row. So I thought I was having lots of trouble learning the track. So then I get a different kart and cut a second off my time. So looks like I wasn't having the trouble I thought I was now I just need to learn it a bit more (4 tenths to get to the tippy top).

LOST was good this week. 30 Rock was amazing.

Its finally warming up this weekend. Hope it stays around for a awhile.

Got to try out one of the hot sauces on some red beans and rice. It was amazing very flavorful and a good amount of kick. "Please sire, may I have some more?" Hopefully I'll be able to try out the other one soon. I need to get some food in my place that can accept hot sauces.

I finally got my racing footage on DVD. I edited it using iMovie '08. And it is up on facebook now. I really hate iMovie '08. The last time I did some fairly intense editing was about 3ish years ago and that was better than this piece of junk. BOOOO to iMovie '08 never should have been released.

I watched Hellboy II last night, good movie. The Hellboy movies haven't gotten the recognition/praise they deserve. Far better than 90% of the comic book movies out there such as spider man, superman, daredevil, hulk, etc, etc, etc.

Have a nice weekend.

Also buy a Slanket not a crap ass Snuggie. The Slanket is seriously the best blanket out there. Other good blankets are the Hudson Bay Blankets. I've got one from a great uncle, it weighs a ton so when you sleep you get weighted down and have a really restful sleep.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Random musings and updates

So last night on Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations, Chicago was the featured city. I really enjoyed the program and learned about a bunch of restaurants I had never heard of. I'll probably try and check out all the ones that were featured on the show, minus the fancy seafood place. The final restaurant they featured was Hot Doug's (aka the greatest sausage store on the planet). He gave a good interview about the fight against the Foie Gras ban that was active in Chicago for about a year or so. I was lucky enough to get out there on Monday for lunch, so there wasn't a 40+ minute line outside. As per usual it was delicious, I want to go back for more on Saturday.

On another food related note, I received a gift of some hot sauces, they will be tasted tonight on some red beans and rice, most likely they will be yummy (mouth watering just thinking about them).

I finished reading the Batman graphic novel Batman: Dark Victory. It was pretty good, same guys who did The Long Halloween. This storyline heavily relies on that story so you should read one before the other. I'm now reading Batman: Contagion.

Flight of the Conchords is back on HBO. Check it out, funny stuff. Good dry/absurdist humor.

If you use blogger and want more of features/easier editing try using draft.blogger.com.

I've been editing some racing footage using iMovie on my macmini. Its taking awhile as the mini isn't the most powerful machine in the world and iMovie (at least the '08 version) is a piece of crap, I may abondon the project and use a decent editing program.

That's all for now. Lates.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Wiener's Circle still delicious

Went to The Wiener's Circle last night for dinner and it is still delicious. They have new counters, floors, and a re-done kitchen. I'm happy that it is back. END COMMUNICATION...

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Obama Stimulus Explained

Watch and learn

quick summary: Under the Bush administration government spending grew to outrages levels. result economy is now in the crapper. Obama's solution is the raise government spending to even higher levels and expects a different outcome for some reason.

Reminds me of an Einstein quote "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

Monday, January 26, 2009

Breaking News!!!!

The Wiener's Circle is re-opened! It was a welcome sight seeing those blinking lights when i got off the bus. I'll probably go there later in the week for dinner. I'll have a review of the newly redone circle then too.

CTA Bus Tracker = Nice

So the CTA now has the bus tracker on the two main buses I take (the #22 and the #36). Someone has figured out how the website data is transferred and made an unofficial API for the bus tracker itself. So someone then made an optimized iPhone version of the site. So since today was the first day that I could use it on my bus, I bookmarked the site and on my way out of my door pulled up the information for my bus and bus stop. It said the bus was "DUE" and it was correct 10 seconds later the bus was at my stop. I really like this application and information that the CTA is providing. It will definitely help me get around the city better and keep me from waiting out in the cold for a long time. Another nice feature is that you can see where the busses are on a map. Overall great stuff from the CTA, I'm sure someone is wrtinging an app for the app store that can refresh this info automatically and make it animated, that would be cool.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Rev. Joseph Lowery .... WFT!?

Benediction at Obama 's inauguration, Rev. Joseph Lowery: 'Lord, in the memory of all the saints who from their labors rest, and in the joy of a new beginning, we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get in back, when brown can stick around... when the red man can get ahead, man; and when white will embrace what is right. That all those who do justice and love mercy say Amen. Say Amen'..

Dear Rev Lowery
Thanks for stereotyping people by solely the color of their skin. You're really helping.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Bus Ettiquette

After riding the CTA regularly for a year and half. Here are some things I have noticed that generally make the bus ride/train ride longer or less enjoyable for everyone.
  • Not exiting out of the rear of the bus. This slows down the loading process and in my estimates can add 5-10 minutes to a trip each way if some people decide to leave through the front.
  • Standing in the aisle when there's open seats. If there's an open seat, sit. You're just clogging up the area where people walk if you aren't.
  • Move to the back of the bus / center of the train. Some people just like to mill about wherever they first loaded if there's no seats. Sorry ladies but you are the biggest offenders when it comes to this issue and your cluelessness seems to increase with age until you reach the age where you get the "priority" seating.
  • Paying with cash. Who does this? I can maybe understand if you're a tourist, but who's taking the bus to the loop at 7:45 AM if you're here sightseeing.
  • This grip is for the CTA itself. The little circle sensor that you place your touchless card to doesn't have adequate means to tell you if your card was scanned properly. There's 6 lights in total, 4 yellow, 1 green, and 1 red. The 4 yellow ones turn on when a card is being read. The red one indicates that it was misread. But the green one can mean both acceppted and misread. So how does this help? There's also beeps. There's no one beep to tell you if your card scanned right or not. Sometimes it beeps and its fine sometimes its not. Sometimes it beeps alot and you're fine, sometimes you're not. So suggestion for the CTA: Make Two distinct beeps (tones) and have a sign saying Accepted or Unaccepted, very simple.
  • Homeless people will take up no less than 2 seats, occasionally 4.
  • People who make you get up for a stop 2 stops before they need to and you end up getting off at the same stop.
  • People who act like they won't be able to get off once the bus enters the loop. This is where the bus clears out, you'll be able to get off don't worry.
  • People selling their "Raps" or "Poems".
Those are my gripes as they stand, with the possibility for expansion.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Various Economy Musings I have come across recently






Watch and think about stuff. I also recommend listening to the planet money podcast npr.org/money they provide a fairly balanced discussion with some fun and interesting topics. Episodes come out 5 days a week I think. Episodes are about 15 minutes long.

Burris to get seat = BOOOOOOOO


So it looks like , Roland Burris is going to be part of the senate after all. Anyone who would accept an appointment from Blago is not qualified to be senator. A person who had some class would reject the appointment from Blago is not someone who should be serving anyone. If Burris is such a great leader then why has he lost 4 times in state-wide elections for the major offices of Senator and Governor; although he'd be quick to counter that he was elected 3 times as Comptroller *rolls eyes*. If he really thinks he's such a great candidate then he should be confident that the next governor would appoint him (once Blago is gone) or that he'd be elected by the people in a special election. But that wouldn't happen because the people of Illinois have already rejected him 4 times over! This is politics at its worst; the US Senate should be ashamed. (Image from punditkitchen.com)

Friday, January 9, 2009

Ghost Town - Review / Thoughts


Last night I watched "Ghost Town" starring Ricky Gervais. In case you haven't noticed, I tend to be very streaky with my interests and right now I'm on a Ricky Gervais kick. Anyways the movie was really good. When the movie was in theaters I wrote it off as Ricky selling out and doing a romantic comedy so I didn't see it. Since then "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" has come out and shown me that, if executed properly, romantic comedies can actually be hilarious and touching. Ricky plays a dentist who basically hates interacting with people. He goes into a surgery and dies for 7 minutes on the operating table and when he awakes he can see dead people. So then he must fix the problems that the ghosts had and during this he meet Tea Leoni. And it goes from there... Overall very funny, Ricky uses his wit and timing to really make this movie. The lines themself aren't the funniest but the way that they are delivered really makes it great. I highly reccomend this movie. Also one of my favorite bands, Wilco, is featured at the end of the movie.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Ricky Gervais: New "Audiobook"

I think that Ricky Gervais is one of the funniest people out there today. He created The Office and that alone makes him great. So Ricky in the past has done some podcasts with Stephen Merchant and Karl Pilkington (head like a f***ing orange). They have released a new audiobook on audible and itunes and it is absolutely hilarious. The topic that they are discussing is medicine. The topics range from human experimentation to the evolution of medical testing techniques. I was laughing out loudin the office. The length of the program is about one hour. Ricky's wit cannot be matched in my opinion and Karl's distorted view of the world and reality makes you wonder about how such a person could exist. Stephen Merchant also provides hilarious insight and interpretation of Karl. Ricky's comments about fat people have been making the news recently and I personally think he has a valid point. If you are a fan of dry/absurd humor I really think you will enjoy this. You can download it from iTunes or audible for a couple bucks.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Roland Burris Refused U.S. Senate Seat

So Roland Burris was refused entry into the senate today. Not a big surprise. You have to wonder about the competency of anyone who would accept an appointment from Blagojevich. But judging by how humble Roland is the action seems to suit him just fine. Another day in typical Illinois politics.

Monday, January 5, 2009

How to use a Sequential Manual Transmission

So while I was in California doing some racing, I was driving a car with a sequential manual transmission a style of transmission I have never driven before. So the main difference between this an a regular manual transmission is that you have you do not go through neutral to shift gears and if you want to shift from lets say from 4th gear to 2nd gear you have to go through 3rd as opposed to just jumping to the gear you want, in this case 2nd. So to upshift on this transmission its really easy. First you get the car rolling just like a regular manual transmission by sifting into first with the clutch in give it some gas and let the clutch out slowly and just get going. I forgot to mention that the shifter is a little lever that you pull back to move up one gear so thats like a (+) motion and push forward to go down a gear a minus motion (-). Once you do either of these movements the lever snaps back to the middle. So back to upshifting, so lets say you are getting close the RPM limit (red line) or where you have reached peak engine efficiency and want to stay in the powerband, you start pulling on the lever ( you still are full throttle on the gas at this point) and nothing will happen, this is called pre-loading the shifter. So while you are pre-loading you just let off the gas until it just shifts into the next gear and that's it. You just shfited, very simple, go back to full throttle and repeat as needed.

Now downshifting is a bit more complicated and difficult, also present in the standard manual. So when you want to downshift a racecar you are far more than likely going to be braking (I can't think of a situation you wouldn't but I'm sure there is). So while braking you maybe want to go from 4th down to 3rd. So you start braking, you then pre-load the shifter much like you would on a upshift, dont worry it wont shift yet. Then you put the clutch in and the transmission will then shift (the lever will be allowed to go forward and release it so it goes back to center), at that same time you roll your foot onto the accelerator and blip the throttle to match the revs or the tires/transmission to that of the engine. this prevent the tires from spinning and you losing control of the car. Once you blip the throttle, let the clutch out and the shift will be complete and you can finish your braking and start a corner usually. Now all of this takes place in a fraction of a second and if you need to go from lets say 4th gear to 1st gear you need to do this process 3 times while in your braking zone and have to do it quickly and accurately.

Now while all this sounds complicated, it gets really easy after about 1/2 a day in the car. I don't drive a manual on the street, never have, so its not the hard you just need to get over the intimidation factor. Also with this transmission you don't need to double clutch on the down-shifts, thus significantly decreasing the time needed to shift. You also save time on the upshifts by not needed the clutch. So with this time saving you can see why it is better for racing where time is key. The only issue with the cars I was driving is that there is no indicator to tell what gear you are in, you just have to be good at remembering and just "feeling" the correct gear.

Also, these cars are truely "mechanical" transmissions, there are no electronic aids. Thus the need to lift the throttle to upshift and to blip the throttle on the downshifts. Overall I really like this style of transmission and find it to be much easier and really great for racing. Once you figure it out you truly do fall in love with the simplicity of the transmission. Comment if you have any questions. Maybe ill try and illustrate this with some pictures in the future.

DSL Situation Update


So on Friday I had a AT&T guy come out to test my phone line to help resolve my DSL issues. So during the 8-12 arrival window, he arrives at 11:30 of course. He tests the line in my place and says the the noise level is a bit high for the speed I am paying for. We then go to the basement where the phone equiptment is and try to find where my line is but of course it is not labled like the others and he has to use a toner to find it. The line then tests the same as it did in my place so its an issue that can't be resolved because I am about 10,000 ft from the AT&T facility and the maximum distance usually for the speed I want is 8,000 ft. So we go back upstairs to make sure all is well and it isn't. The DSL modem can't find a signal. We then reset the modem and it just resets itself over and over again. The technician says that these modems that they are using now are of really poor quality and some of his collegueas basically just replace these things all day because they suck so much. So I pay for 6Mbit internet and will only get about 5.2 due to the noise, it sucks but there's nothing that can really be done. If my building didn't build in directv into my assessment I'd still be on comcast with thier fast internets. So the combination of a noisy line and bad modem caused all my issues. Stay away from the pictured modem if you can.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Red Bull Cola


So this weekend I finally got to sample some Red Bull Cola. I really enjoyed it. It tastes a lot like other cola based energy drinks I've had but a tad less bitter. I poured it into a glass to see what the color is like and it basically looks like what cola and Red Bull would look like if you actually mixed the two together. One of the cool things about the can is that the pull tab has a little charging bull on it instead of just a standard opening (see pic). So I'm happy that there's now another Red Bull option. Wonder if this would make good drink if you mixed it with rum, like like red bull and vodka or rum and coke.

Whopper Virgins



So I just watched the Whopper Virgins campaign that Burger King put out. I think Burger King has definitely had some of the most innovative ads in the past few years w/ Whopper Freakout and of course The King. I think Skittles and E*Trade is the only other brand that is in league with Burger King that has continually great ads. See below for video examples.

Favorite Skittles Ad:


Favorite E*TRADE Ad:


The King Reverse pickpocketing:

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Girls, Beef Jerky and Me

So I think every guy has a few T-Shirts that they rarely wear out in public. This could be for a number of reasons such as:
  • Inappropriate Content
  • Worn out
  • Odd content
  • Bad color
  • etc
I have a Jack Links beef jerky T-Shirt that I got for free by sending in a UPC coupon from a bag of jerky. The shirt is red and says "Jack Links / Feed Your Wild Side". I don't wear red often and nor do I need to show my public love for jerky so it would fit some of my reasons. Anyways I've worn this shirt out a couple of times mainly to Walgreen's or something when I have nothing else to wear and must go outside. The first time I wore it out I looked totally disheveled and was in the checkout line and got a tap on my shoulder. And two attractive twenty-somethings asked me about my shirt and then professed their love for Jack Links while each holding up two bags of said jerky. I chalked this event up to pure randomness and thought these are the only girls who like jerky and would like a jerky shirt. But then I have continued to notice that every time I go to get food I see pretty attractive girls buying jerky and not guys. So what's up with this? I wore the shirt out again a couple months later and had almost the same interaction. So is jerky now a girly food? is it a health secret? I definitely think its kinda hot if a girl likes jerky, its kinda like a girl who can explain the infield fly rule. I wonder when they'll start making jerky from blue cows.