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 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

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.