April 30, 2006

Dishwasher: Clean or Dirty?

Saw this via Boing Boing, but Futuregirl Gallery has designed a great way to let people in the house know whether the dishes in the dishwasher are clean or dirty.


Heather, you could so totaly make this for our house. Not sure how to explain it to the kids, but you should totally make it.

Where's The Respect for Nightwing?

Does Dan Didio and the rest of the DC editorial staff have something against Nightwing?

It’s the question I end up asking myself whenever I pick up the Nightwing solo comic book. Nightwing has long been one of my favorite superhero characters. He is probably my second or third favorite character after Batman. The set up is simple. Dick Grayson, the original Robin, grows up and decides that he needs to shed the Robin persona and be his own man. He takes on the name of Nightwing to honor not only Batman, but other heroes who helped shape Grayson into the man that he is.

Some of the writers who have handled Dick Grayson have gone to great lengths to make it clear that Nightwing is nearly Batman’s equal when it comes to detective abilities and non-super powered crime fighting skills. He is everything that his mentor is, but without the obsessive, paranoid personality. Dick Grayson has all the skill and abilities of Batman, but with the fun-loving, outgoing personality of someone who enjoys life. He's fun character to read.

For the most part, DC editorial, and even Dan Didio himself, have gone out of their way to position Nightwing as one of the premiere heroes in the DC Universe. If you take a look at Nightwing’s role in the recent Infinite Crisis it is abundantly clear that Nightwing isn’t a second-stringer. He is right up there with Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. He is a major player.

It is because of this that it baffles me how poorly DC continues to treat the Nightwing solo comic book. When the title debuted back in 1995, Chuck Dixon was the writer and Scott McDaniel handled the art chores. The book was fantastic. Dixom and McDaniel set Grayson up in a town called Bludhaven that was almost as corrupt as Gotham City, and they gave him plenty of baddies to fight and told some fun stories. McDaniel left the book after about 3 years when Greg Land took over. Land’s style was very different from McDaniel’s, but it still gave a character like Nightwing the presentation he deserved.

However, in 2000 it was announced the Chuck Dixon would be leaving the book. If I remember correctly it wasn’t because he wanted to, but rather DC editorial wanted to shake things up on all of the Batman and Bat-related titles. Even as much as I had enjoyed Dixon’s Nightwing tales, I was going to stick through with the new writer / artist and see how thing went. I really enjoy the character.

I never got that far. Before Dixon even finished his run they brought in an artist named Trevor McCarthy. It was some of the worst looking art I had ever seen. McCarthy’s pages made it almost impossible to understand what was happening in a scene. Not only was it difficult to tell who was talking to whom, it was almost impossible to figure out who anyone was. People changed from page to page. It was horrible.

I can stand mediocre art if the story is good, but the art was so bad that I had to drop the title. I felt like the book was a waste of money, I was not enjoying it that much. From what I understand, McCarthy's artwork had the same effect on plenty of other Nighwting fans. The number of books being sold dropped dramatically.

Nightwing had a new writer and a succession of artists since then that have gotten nothing but bad press, and consequently, kept me away from the book. However, with the re-launch of sorts that DC comic books were getting as part of the “One Year Later” event, I decided to give Nightwing a try again.

cover to nightwing issue 118Writer Bruce Jones and artist Joe Dodd have taken over chronicling the adventures of Dick Grayson. They’ve moved him to New York City (Bludhaven was incinerated in a nuclear blast as part of the Infinite Crisis storyline) and set up a new story pitting him against Jason Todd and some cardboard mob flunkies.

I’m only two issues into the Jones/Dodd run and I’m ready to tell the boys at Graham Cracker comics to stop pulling Nightwing for me. As I said before, I can stand mediocre art if the story is good. When both the story and the art are mediocre, then I have to punt as well. Jones’ story is bland and nonsensical at times. Not to mention that he doesn’t seem to be able to find Grayson’s “voice.” One of the perfect tests to hold a comic book story up to is to imagine another character in the same place as the star of the book. In other words, when you are reading one of Jones’ stories about Nightwing, if you can imagine someone like Arsenal, or Flash, or Spider-man, or anything other 20-something hero in the city starring in Nightwing’s place, then you’ve got a bland, generic story. The story wasn't written about the characters. The characters were dropped into a story the writer just had sitting around. Such is the case of what I’ve seen with these first two issues of Nightwing.

Dodd’s artwork is serviceable, but hardly something I would expect to see on a title that DC continues to insist is one of the premiere characters in their universe. There are pages, or sometimes panels, that start to reach for a higher level, but for the most part the art is something I expect to see at a smaller publisher. It’s all very disappointing.

So once again I have to drop Nightwing and start waiting to see if the editorial team at DC will come around and start treating our hero with the creative talent the character deserves. Where's the respect.

April 28, 2006

April 27, 2006

Robot Quixote

robot don quixoteOver at Worth1000 they are having a photoshopping contest where you have to insert robots into pieces of fine art.

There are some fun and interesting entries. (some are crap, too) I was particularly fond of the one tinkering with Don Quixote by Picasso. Not only because I think it is extremely well done, but because as a child I remember a print of this hanging in the the first house I lived in. So there is a little nostalgia at play in my selection as well.

When I think about it, there also might have been a Picasso print hanging in the bathroom too, but I will wait for my Dad or Mom to confirm this.

Pretty Girl in a Bikini

You know what this blog hasn't done in a really long time? Given you a picture of a pretty girl in a bikini.

tara elizabeth connor miss usa 2006

There you go.

April 26, 2006

Oil Supply and Demand

The price of gas certainly is a hot topic right now, and for good reason. Never has it cost so much to warm our houses and propel our vehicles.

Obviously, with this being an election year for many congressmen and congresswomen, the price of gas will be a favorite issue to talk about in the political arena. Democrats are blaming the President and the Republicans for the high prices. Republicans are starting to point fingers at the oil companies. It’s going to get messy this summer.

Last night on the television news I saw one of Illinois’ Senators, Dick Durbin, standing up in the Senate Cambers rallying against the high price of gas. He was claiming that the high price at the pump is not a reflection of a country addicted to gas guzzling cars, but rather a failed energy policy from the current White House administration.

What?

Last I saw, the price of a barrel of oil had hit historic highs. As much as W might think he influences the world, even he can’t control a price set in a market economy. If any one group can really change the price of crude, it’s the boys in OPEC.

As much as Senator Durbin might want to blame the Grand Old Party for the current price at the pump, I think he is a fool not to acknowledge that these prices are a result of not only a country that is oil dependent, but a world that has been dependent on this non-renewable energy source for a long, long time.

I only know a little about the Hubbert Peak theory of oil supply. Most of what I have learned is from what Ed Stenger has written about on his blog, though I have explored elsewhere for information. He certainly has read more than I have on the topic. Regardless, from what I have learned from Ed’s writings on peak oil supply, $75 a barrel and $3 at the pump is a result of demand starting to exceed supply. No something W did or didn’t do.

So pound the podium all you want Mr. Durbin, but don’t try telling us the high cost of oil rests solely on the shoulders of your political opponents.

April 24, 2006

Today's Moment of Zen

rainbow

You should really click through and see it larger on the site the picture came from.

The Great McKillip Move - Week Four

All last week Heather and I would jump whenever the phone would ring. We didn’t like how the traffic through the house was slowing down and desperately wanted to either hear from a realtor who wanted to show our house or hear from our own realtor saying we had received an offer from someone who saw the house last week.

Unfortunately neither of those calls came during last week.

This past weekend Heather’s family was getting together for an Easter celebration at Heather’s Mom’s and Dad’s house, so we loaded the kids in the van Friday morning to head out to Ohio with thoughts (and hopes) that when we returned our kitchen table would be full of cards from realtors who had shown our house over the weekend.

After as much interest as our home generated after the first two weeks, we didn’t understand how things could dry up so quickly during week three. We figured that things would have to bust out over the weekend. The weather was supposed to be nice. The Easter holiday was behind us (well, for most people). This weekend would set us back on track. Right?

The weekend in Findlay, OH was good. I think Heather and the kids both had a great time (I was fighting off a cold that was trying to settle into my chest. I seem to have beaten it. I attribute my victory to the nearly 12 hours Heather and her parents let me sleep - half on the couch in the living room, half in a bed upstairs).On the drive back Heather and I made a friendly bet on how many realtor cards would be on the kitchen table when we walked in. I think the frustration of the slow week was certainly having its affect on us. Our picks: 2 (Heather) and 1 (me).

Sure enough, there was only one card on the table. Checking the messages, we had a few hang ups – which I hope weren’t realtors trying to set up showing and giving up when they didn’t reach a live person – and a couple from the one realtor who eventually did show out house Sunday afternoon.

While secretly I know we were both hoping for five or six cards to be sitting there on the table to greet us when we returned home, I was relieved to see at least there was one. It will only take one person to see the house to buy the house. One card meant one new chance at selling the house.

I know it might sound like Heather and I might be getting a little desperate or concerned that our home won’t sell. We really aren’t. We still believe we have a great home that is priced right. Our home will sell.

What has us concerned (or at least I know what has me concerned) is that we are hitting prime home selling season. Each week more and more houses are coming on the market. This fact is clear enough to Heather and I as my email inbox fills each day with the results of the automated search process alerting us of new homes on the market. While we might have been unique three weeks ago, as time goes by more and more homes enter the marketplace and ours risks becoming lost in the shuffle.

That is why we are so anxious to continue to see traffic. That is why we are anxious to get an offer or at least comments other than “loved it, but they want to bid on this other house first.” We don’t want to become stale and just another 3 bedroom / 1.5 bathroom house for sale in Aurora.

So as we sat Sunday evening wondering what week four would bring and contemplating when our agent was going to start suggest making “adjustments” to help move the house quickly, we received a call from our agent.

Apparently the people who came through Sunday afternoon really liked the house and are interested in coming back on Monday to see it again. This is good news. If they call to set up another appointment

Although it isn’t an offer (and in the buyer’s market that we are in right now, no one has to jump with offers), the fact that one showing has generated enough interest in seeing the house means we might not be stale yet. No one is getting excited, but it has restored our confidence in getting the house sold.

April 20, 2006

So. . . Many. . .Cartoons!

We've already got more cartoons on DVD then I know what to do with, but I just can't help wanting more and more of them. There is just so much good and fun stuff being made available on DVD.

First up is Hong Kong Phooey. 31 episodes hit the street on 8/15/2006. Many a lunch time was spent in my youth watching Hong Kong leap out of his filing cabinet to fight crime while I ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwhich. Who wouldn't love to see these episodes again.

And what a theme song! "Hong Kong Phooey! Number one super-guy!"

hong kong phooey

I don't remember a whole lot about Magilla Gorilla, so I might pass on this Hanna-Barbera release. But it's still worth noting.

magilla gorilla dvd

And I saved the best one for last. I learned about this DVD release a number of weeks ago, but just didn't find time to write about it.

Animaniacs are finally coming to DVD. The first volume (suggesting there will be more to come) hits store shelves this July.

Animaniacs was a fantastic cartoon show that was in the tradition of the classic Looney Tune shows of old. Complete anarchy with humor that appeals to kids and adults alike. Of all three DVD listed here, this is the one I would most like to have.

Animaniacs dvd

April 19, 2006

Random Thoughts

I know there is plenty of competition within the candy bar industry. But why is it all through unique candy? Coke and Pepsi go head to head with their cola product, RC is content to sit in third place (I assume) with their cola drink, and there are plenty of lesser and generic brands of cola on the market. So why is there only one Snickers bar? I've never seen another candy bar the remotely looks like a Snickers, or a Milky Way, or a Payday for that matter.

Why is that?

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If you look up "total loser" in the dictionary (that's two words, I know. back off), you might see this picture of Jake Byrd. Mr. Byrd is such a huge fan of Tom Cruise he not only wears a hat declaring such, but he buys cigars and passes them out in front of Tom's house after Mr. Cruise's baby was born.

jake byrd

Mr. Byrd, please come back to the real world. There's plenty of room for you here.

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Here's a little parenting advice. If you haven't done any push-ups in say, oh I don't know, five to ten years. Don't choose the evening you are playing with all three of your kids on the living room floor to start up this little exercise routine again.

While playing with Ian, Emma, and Zoe the other night, Ian asked me how you do a push-up. I showed him. Then Ian and I started doing push-ups.

Then Emma thought it would be fun if she sat on my back while I did some.

No problem, I can handle that.

After going up and down a few times, Zoe wanted a turn so Emma climbed down and Zoe jumped on.

Bring it on. Zoe's lighter than Emma. This is a piece of cake.

Well, then Ian wanted a turn and he's a big kid. Then Emma and Zoe wanted back on. Then Zoe and Emma wanted to sit on my back together while I did push-ups. Things were getting more difficult quickly.

The crazy thing is I kept doing the push-ups. 10 minutes later I could barely lift my arms above my waste. I didn't want to hold the books when I read a story to Emma. Two days later things are still a little sore.

I was glad to get the workout, but in the future I need to either start doing push-ups regularly so I'm ready for the kids or I need to pace myself a little better.

April 18, 2006

No Respect

If you haven't been reading my lovely wife's blog lately, you've missed some subtle (and not so subtle) digs at me.

So I like a clean, orderly house. Is that so wrong? Who wants to live in chaos. Order is the way to go.

April 17, 2006

Daily Moment of Zen

girl walking thru tulips
REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao

Doh! Looks Who's Going To Jail

This screen shot came from the Chicago Tribune homepage, where moments ago it was reported that a Federal jury has found the former governor of Illinois, George Ryan, guilty on all 18 counts of racketeering, mail fraud, false statements and tax violations. All of these charges stem from time Ryan was either the Secretary of State or the Governor of Illinois.

ryan guilty

Besides providing a great "Doh!" moment with their homepage, the Tribune homepage surprised me. I think it's natural to believe most of our politicians do a leading wheeling and dealing on the side. And I think everyone thought Ryan had done a considerable amount more than other politicians. What surprised me was seeing him get nailed on all 18 counts.

Now I didn't follow the case super close. I'd read a story here and there and followed what was getting "reported" on the TV news at night, but didn't study what was going on. While I didn't expect him to walk, I figured that might be a middle ground reached on verdicts.

Of course this doesn't help much with the current state of the Governorship of Illinois. The current guy, Democrat Rod Blagojevich is listless turd who spends more time politicking than actually governing. And the Republican challenger for the election is a slightly insane person named Judy Baar Topinka who I think would rather settle an election by wrestling than voting. A conviction of George Ryan might have hurt or helped the parties in this year's election, but both candidates have distanced themselves from Ryan so much that I don't think his conviction will impact their campaigns. Unfortunately, I think both candidates are tools and honestly don't know what to do this fall. At least with George Ryan you knew what you were getting – whatever the going rate would support.

The Great McKillip Move - Week Three

Week three begins and the monotony of selling a home is starting to settle in. Two weeks have gone by and a pattern appears to be developing. Around three showings a week. People saying they are interested. But ultimately no offers made.

From the feedback we are receiving from our realtor, we are a lot of home buyer’s second favorite house. When it is a buyers market, like it is now, that’s a tough spot to be in. How do we get to be number one? I’m not sure. Actually, that’s not true. I can think of a lot of things Heather and I could do to the house that would help it sell quickly. But they are all fairly expensive and I don’t think Heather and I would see a return on the investment. It’s a good house that shows well. We just haven’t landed in the number one spot with a buyer yet.

Going in you secretly hope that the second or third person who sees you home will make the perfect offer and the deal will be done. Unfortunately, unless you are in a red hot sellers market with a prime property, I think that immediate offer rarely happens. Instead the stress and anticipation slowly grows each week as you wonder where your buyer is hiding.

Working to keep the house in “showing” shape. Doing all the extra things to make the house presentable an hour before someone wants to come see it. Herding the kids into the van to find interesting (and cheap) places to go so we’re not in the house during a showing. The first week all these things are kinda exciting. The second week it starts to get a little tedious, but still a little exciting for the potential of a sale. As we start the third week I can sense some feeling of tedium and stress setting in.

I know we’re still very early into the process and I know the house will sell, but for the sake of Heather and my stress levels I really hoped that an offer would arrive sooner rather than later. Despite that, I remain optimistic that the next person to see the house could be our buyer, so I need to do what I can to help Heather have the house ready to show.

April 15, 2006

Happy Peep-ster!

Back in college, Todd, Tim, Chris and I came up with a game call Peep Ball. The rules were simple. The hitter stood at the door of the dorm room with a 12-inch commemorative Oakland A's baseball bat. On the opposite end of the room we opened both windows as wide as they would go. One us would pitch peeps to the hitter. Hit the couch - a single, on top of the loft - a triple, out the window - a home run. (I forget what a double was). Nobody really kept score. It was all about seeing how many of the little critters you could smack out the window.

After a few nights of this, the grass surrounding our dorm window was littered with little pink, yellow, and purple bunnies and chicks. It was good time, and we thought a good use for all the left over Peeps we were buying up on clearance at CVS. I think this photography student found a more interesting use for Peeps than our college dorm room game.

photos of peeps

Rock on!

April 14, 2006

If I Make One, Will Anyone Eat It?

I saw this on Boing Boing, and I think their description does the best of conveying why a Turducken is one of the most disturbing concoctions ever developed.
"An Easter Turducken consists of one Cadbury Cream Egg, surrounded by marshmallow Peep, crammed deep inside the body of a hollow chocolate bunny."

Turducken

Learn how to make your own Turducken (though I don't know why you would) here.

The Trinity Rose Foundation

There is a disease which has a name that gets me tongue-tied just looking at it: Familial Exudative Vitreoretinopathy. It is referred to as FEVR for short. FEVR is a childhood eye disorder which is very rare, but can have devastating effect on those afflicted with it. Basically FEVR causes blindness to varying levels of degree. Some children are able to carry on day-to-day lives will little to no impact, while other children are quickly rendered completely blind with the disease’s onset.

A former co-worker and friend of mine learned two years ago that his third, and youngest, child was afflicted with this disease in a very aggressive form. Rich Bonitz, and his wife Stacy, have spent the better part of two years not only trying to help get treatment for the daughter Trinity, but also learning everything they can about FEVR.

trinity rose foundationNow, as a result of their two year journey discovering what treatment is available for children afflicted with FEVR and other eye disorders, and what challenges children face growing up with these diseases, they have formed the Trinity Rose Foundation. This non-profit foundation mission is to “fund innovative research and medical advances focused on curing childhood eye disorders, as well as provide educational services and financial aid helping improve the quality of life for those afflicted and their families.”

I have never known anyone who started an organization like this. Being the father of three beautiful children of my own, I completely understand and empathize with Rich and Stacy and the drive to do whatever they can to care for their children. It is because of this understanding of love from parent to a child that I am in awe of Rich taking the steps to start something like the Trinity Rose Foundation. When I think of Rich Bonitz, I think of Elvis and a “weak constitution,” a guy who never could go five minutes without cracking a joke or making googly eyes at the drive-through girl so he could get his meal super-sized for free. Starting up and being the president of a non-profit foundation? Wow. That’s fantastic and noble.

I commend you and your wife for the steps you are taking. Hopefully I will find ways to support you in this endeavor even though I probably won’t be able to make it out for the foundation’s first fund raiser, a golf outing at Coppertop at Cherokee Hill GC in Valley Hills, Ohio on September 18, 2006. And hopefully through your efforts, children afflicted with degenerative eye disorders will find a brighter future.

April 13, 2006

April 12, 2006

I DO Love Cartoons

I Love Cartoons collects sketches and art of a particular theme - interpretations of cartoon characters by modern artists. It's a lot of fun to look through.

Below is Top Cat by Bill Sienkiewicz.

top cat by Bill Sienkiewicz

I Gotta Pay What?

Did you know that Illinois has something called a Use Tax?

I didn't until I was putting together my Illinois income tax return. According to the Illinois Department of Revenue website, Use Tax is
A type of sales tax designed to distribute the tax burden fairly among Illinois consumers and to assure fair competition between Illinois and out-of-state businesses. Illinois law requires you to pay tax at the Illinois rate when you buy an item from another state or country to use in Illinois. If you pay less than the Illinois rate to another state, you must pay Illinois the difference. If you purchase an item from another country, you must pay Illinois the full use tax rate.
i.e. If you buy stuff over the Internet (books, movies, a camera), and the retailer doesn't collect sales tax and pay it to Illinois, then you have to pay the Grand State of Illinois a tax to use or consume that item in Illinois.

That just seems like craziness to me. So I have to monitor every purchase I make online or through a catalog to make sure the out-of-state business collected the correct amount of Illinois sales tax from me, and if they didn't write it down so I can pay a Use Tax to Illinois later on.

Madness. Madness I tell you. I understand how it's unfair to local Illinois retailers to compete with out-of-state businesses that don't collect sales tax, but this just seems like a lot of jumping around for the average guy just trying to buy the widescreen collector's edition of Batman Begins.

Ian McKillip: Bounty Hunter-Author

b.j. and the bearBack when I was young, I remember for a while wanting to be a truck driver when I grew up. Why? Because of the TV show “BJ and the Bear” starring Greg Evigan and the Smokey and the Bandit movies starring Burt Reynolds and whole bunch of other people. Something about being an unattached guy driving around the country in a big rig with a monkey really appealed to me. Maybe it was all the women in those tight-fitting, late-70’s fashions. Maybe it was I wanted to hang out with Jerry Reed. I don’t know.

Anyway, Ian has always talked about being a firefighter or racecar driver when he gets older. The standard stuff that you hear from little kids when they talk about future professions. In the last six months however, Ian hit on job option that is interesting, and while not as strange as wanting to be Greg Evigan, certain is a little different: author / bounty hunter.

Back in the fall or early winter, right before Christmas I think, he started talking about how he wanted to be an author and bounty hunter when he grew up. Not an author or a bounty hunter. Author AND bounty hunter. Ian McKillip, Bounty Hunter-Author. He was going to write stories and catch bad guys in a very macho way. All very Ernest Hemingway of him, don’t you think?

Heather and I had fun with it obviously, agreeing with him that this job combo would be an interesting choice. His work as a bounty hunter would certainly fuel his ideas for writing stories, we explained to Ian. We talked about it a lot for a few weeks and then things died down.

bounty hunterFast forward to a few nights ago. I hadn’t heard much about the author/bounty hunter career path from Ian lately. That is, until he brought home artwork from school. Back in the fall he had done a project wherein he imagined himself in the profession he would take on as an adult. Of course back then that meant an author/bounty hunter. I think bringing the art home re-triggered his bounty hunter aspirations (not sure where the writing bug went) and got him talking about it again.

While Heather was upstairs giving the girls their bath, Ian and I were playing and talking downstairs in the family room. He was telling me about all the different things he would have to learn and what he needed to do to prepare himself for the life of a bounty hunter.

“I need to talk to Grandpa, next time I see him.”

“Really,” I inquired. “Why?”

“Well, he’s a judge and he probably knows all kinds of bounty hunters. He can probably tell me some things about them. How they find the bad guys. Stuff like that.”

“Oh, well, I think bounty hunters usually work with the police,” I said. “The hunter captures the bad guys and brings ‘em to jail for the police.”

“Yah, but then the bounty hunter brings ‘em up in front of the judge. That’s why I need to talk to Grandpa. He sees bounty hunters all the time.”

So this is you warning Dad. Your grandson wants to be a bounty hunter when he grows up, and he thinks you are a fountain of information about the profession. I’d start getting my answers ready now and rehearsing them thoroughly. You might want to start by reading this article. The last thing you want to do is look like a poser in front of a future bounty hunter.

April 10, 2006

The Great McKillip Move - Week Two

Things are looking pretty good. Even though there wasn’t as many showings over the weekend as we expected, the feedback from the people who have been through has been very positive. It sounds like we have a home that shows very well. If we don’t get an offer soon, we won’t have to wait very long before one comes our way. I am confident of this for two reasons:

One, even though Heather and I haven’t received a bid or signed a contract on the sale of the current house, we went out with our realtor on Saturday afternoon to take a look at some of the houses he had found for us. The plan is still to wait on making an offer after we have a contract in hand for our current home. This was to be a sneak peek at what we will be considering in the next few weeks. As we went through home after home it was apparent that some people took more care and attention to preparing their home to be sold on the market. We saw some homes that were in immaculate condition but also walked through one in particular that was just this short of a dump. It smelled badly of smoke, rooms were messy, and it didn’t look like the carpeting on the stairs had been vacuumed – ever.

Comparing the homes we saw on Saturday with the condition we are keeping our house in right now, I know we are at high end of the scale for show-ready. We’ve cleared rooms of clutter, cleaned floors/walls, and in general taken time to make sure we are showcasing the house to people walking through.

Knowing how Heather and I reacted to the presentation of the homes we saw this weekend, I have to think people are impressed with what they see when they walk through our home.

Two, Heather and I have picked a fair and marketable price for our home. On Saturday we were looking for houses much bigger than our current one and in better school districts, but we developed an understanding of what we were getting for that higher price. Balancing that against what we know about our house and the neighborhood/school district it is in, I am feeling more and more in the right for the price we decided to enter the market at. There is a house on our street that is also up for sale right now – 3 bedrooms, 1.5 baths, but no basement. They are asking almost $6,000 more than us. That is crazy when you consider where the home is at, what homes like our have actually sold for in our neighborhood, and the fact that the home doesn’t even have a basement. If that’s what we’re up against, I like the odds. Our house has a basement and is listed lower, and our house will sell first and in the end for more money then our competition.

Now we begin Week Two. While I hope to see interest in the home heat up, with possibly an offer coming our way, I am keeping my expectations in check. A buyer’s interest can be fickle. We will just keep the house in selling shape and let the market sort things out.

April 09, 2006

This Could Be The Year

cubs logoI just want to go on record early - before everyone jumps on the bandwagon - by saying that I believe a Chicago team will be playing in the World Series this fall, but I don't think it will be the team from the south side of Chicago.

The Chicago Cubs completed a sweep of the hated St. Louis Cardinals this weekend by putting the Red Birds away 8-4 this evening behind a grand slam by Michael Barrett. Now the Cubs are 4 - 1 to start the season. It's still early, but what a great way to get things started. The rest of the month will tell whether the Cubs actually have a team of note, or whether this is just a medicore team taking advantage of early season sluggishness.

I need to go get me some tickets.

April 07, 2006

I Wanna Be Batman

For her own reasons, Heather has never been to keen on us getting a serious gaming system like a Xbox or PlayStation. To be honest, while I think it would be fun to have around, I've never been much of a gamer. None the less, something like this comes out and I start wishing I had a PlayStation hooked up to the TV.
justice league game screen shotJustice League Heroes, published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, is an action game with role playing customization featuring DC Comics' most powerful and renowned team of super heroes. For the first time ever on current generation consoles, 1-2 players can play as Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Green Lantern, Zatanna and Martian Manhunter - plus other unlockable super heroes - together to save the world against a legion of notorious DC Comics' villains.

Developed by Snowblind Studios®, the game employs the fourth generation of their renowned current generation console technology and also includes a detailed visual style, an intense cooperative combat system, customizable super powers unique to each character and an engaging storyline by Emmy Award-winning writer Dwayne McDuffie.


So I can fly around like Superman or hide and attack from the shadows like Batman? This is so cool.

Out Our House Is Listed

our house for saleDidn't get to check the last few days, but I see now that our house is being picked up by all the MLS services.

Brendan & Heather's Home For Sale

Keep that traffic coming! We can't sell fast enough.

Tough Time For Jesus

It's not been a good week and a half for Jesus. First, we learn that prayer doesn't help the sick, it might actually hurt them.

Then it's revealed that Judas might have just been carrying out orders when he sold Jesus out to the Romans.

Now prehistoric lake scientists (who knew?) are telling us that Jesus didn't actually walk on water. He walked on ice.

From the story:
Jesus may not have actually walked on water: he may have skated on an isolated, hard to see piece of ice, according to a study on the weather and water conditions in northern Israel in Jesus' time.

Doron Nof, professor of Oceanography at Florida State University, and colleagues report in the April issue of the Journal of Paleolimnology (the study of prehistoric lakes), that a rare combination of water and atmospheric conditions in northern Israel could have led to the formation of "springs ice" on the surface of the Sea of Galilee, now known as Lake Kinneret.


Maybe things will pick up next week.

April 03, 2006

The Great McKillip Move - Week One

The house went on the market this morning. About a week later than we had planned once we got serious in the middle of March about going to market, but in the grand scheme of things not too bad. Matt Trusk, our realtor, stopped by Sunday afternoon to plant a RE/MAX “For Sale” sign in the front yard and give us a stack of house listing sheets we will put out from when people come to see the house. In turn we gave him a house key to use in the lock box that now hangs on our front door. The listing isn’t online yet – I think the MLS holds on making them public through sites like Realtor.com until after the individual realtors have had a crack at them. When it is, I will provide a link.

our house circa 2003This is all very exciting. Up to this point it’s just been planning and talking and speculating. Now we actually have our house on the market. Starting today people will know that they can come buy our house. Now the idea of actually moving into a larger space can become a reality once we sell the current place. It is completely conceivable that this June or July Heather and I will be in our third house.

We are anxious to look for a new house, but the plan is to get the first one sold/under contract before buying something new. One, it will help us know exactly how much money we can expect to get out of the current house for a down payment. Two, it will help us coordinate (we hope) scheduling closings to go as smoothly as possible. I don’t think Heather and I mind having to pay someone rent for us to live in our own house for a few days, but I don’t want to be saddled with two mortgages. Though if we work the sales just right, we won’t have to worry about either situation.

That is the plan, in any case. Matt’s been sending us house listings that he thinks we would be interested in for the last few weeks and we are finding lots of places that look promising. It certainly is tempting to go out looking at houses that are on the market now. We have seen some great home listings and hate having to sit back without even going to take a look at them.

I believe however, in the plan of selling first and buying second (or at least seriously looking once we see how things go the first few weeks the house is on the market). Not only am I confident that our home will sell relatively quickly, but I’m equally confident that we will find a new home that meets our criteria.

One, we have priced our house for what it is worth. We’re not getting greedy. When Matt showed us what other house in our sub-division, and even other house in our area of Aurora of the same size, were setting their prices at we were excited. But then he showed us how long these homes were sitting on the market and then pointed out how the ones that were selling were lowering their price aggressively or get “creative” in their financing. Heather I took the approach of setting an asking price that seemed more in line for what houses like ours were selling for . Not what houses like ours were being listed for. I think that will help get our house noticed and get it sold quickly.

Two, Heather and I are seeing lots of homes that fit our criteria. Matt has listened well and is feeding us quality homes to take a look at online. And we are getting one to two new listings to take a look at every other day. It’s apparent to me that there are plenty of good houses coming on the market in our price range. Heather and I are going to have a nice selection to pick from when the time comes. Sure, we might have to move quickly on a prime listing, less someone else snatch up the perfect home. But at the rate at which home will be coming onto the market as the prime house selling season starts, I know that as long as we have our own home sale take care of – which we will (see above) – then moving fast to pick up the perfect home when it appears on the market won’t be a problem.

It’s going to be an exciting next few months.

April 02, 2006

They Got Me - Twice

Saturday was April Fools Day. Like Halloween, the first of April is a holiday (if you want to even call it that) that I haven't really paid much attention to since I was a kid. Running around pulling little pranks on everyone just seems to be something geared more for kids than adults. Sure, while working for Apartments.com I engineered a fantastic prank that had the entire senior management staff believing we had lost the Apartments.com domain name one year, but that was a rare event. Usually the first of April is just another day for me.

As Ian has gotten old, however, April 1st has become more and more of an event. Not only does he try to fool everyone in the house with jokes and tricks, but also expects us to reciprocate in the tom foolery. While I play along, I think his exuberance for April Fool’s Day is starting to rub off on others in the house – namely Heather.

april fools daySaturday morning while getting dressed I reached into my dresser to pull out a pair of clean boxer shorts. Imagine my surprise when the pair I pulled up appeared to be stuck to the pair directly underneath. I couldn’t figure out what would cause these two pair of underwear to become stuck together. What was Heather doing with the wash? Didn’t she notice this when she was pulling them from the dryer? Maybe she was eating something sticky when she sorting the clean laundry. These were all thoughts that rushed through my head while trying to rationalize what I was seeing.

Then as I began to pull more forcibly, I realized that it wasn’t just those two pairs of boxers that were stuck. Apparently ALL of my boxers had somehow become linked together. It was like my boxers had become a train of scarves that a magician pulls from his sleeve.

“What the heck,” I mutter aloud.

That’s when I heard the snickering from around the corner. Ian and Heather couldn’t contain themselves any longer and burst in laughing. Heather confessed to spending Friday afternoon sewing my underwear together and swearing Ian to secrecy.

“Nicely done,” I congratulated her as I reached for the scissors and began liberating my underwear from each other.

I would have thought that would be the last of the tricks played on me that day (aside from Ian’s continuous claims that my fly was open or shoelaces were untied), but it wasn’t to be the case.

Finally dressed and downstairs cleaning the family room, I turned on WXRT to listen to Saturday Morning Flashback. One of my favorite programs on XRT, I listen to it as often as I can. Every Saturday host Wendy Rice picks a year, 1987 for example (one of my favorite years for music), and spins music, talks about events, reviews movies, and much more from that year. It’s a little time capsule on a Saturday morning.

saturday morning flashbackWell this past morning Wendy was talking about how this was the last Saturday Morning Flashback show - every. It was being taken off the air to make room for some CBS Radio (owners of WXRT) syndicated shows. They had all sorts of XRT personalities delivering goodbyes on the air. The general manager of WXRT got on to explain what was being done, and why it was being done. They were even playing reactions from listeners who had heard the news.

I couldn’t believe it. WXRT was canceling Saturday Morning Flashback. That just wasn’t right. I had to share my outrage. Heather enjoys the show as well, so I ran upstairs to inform her of this travesty.

“It’s April Fool’s Day, Brendan,” was Heather’s only response.

Doh! Not only had I fallen completely for the phony goodbyes and the sincere sendoff from the general manager, I had completely forgotten about XRT’s habit of always pulling some sort of programming-related trick on April Fool’s Day.

Sure enough, the more closely I listened to the show (and heard the promos for some of the “replacement” Saturday morning programs) it became clear that this was all a hoax. At the end of the program, Wendy Rice, Frank E. Lee, and the general manager all got on to deliver a well-deserved “gotcha” and let everyone who hadn’t figured it out that Saturday Morning Flashback wasn’t going anywhere.

So, one April Fool’s Day, two tricks successfully executed on me. If this is how things are going to go in the future, I’m going to have to develop some counter attacks if I wanted to protect my pride.

April 01, 2006

Thud! Bif! Crash!

It's true that the Batman TV show from the 1960s created the perception that comic books characters are silly people running around in ridiculous costumes, but I still love it for its complete over the top campiness and 60's pop-culture hipness.

This website has put together a collection of lettering title cards from the show that were used whenever Batman and Robin were in a scuffle with the bad guys (and are still used to this day by any journalist whenever a story about comic books appear in newspapers or magazines).

batman screen shot