November 30, 2006

The Computer from 150 B.C.

News like this blows my mind.

model of what the astronomy calculator might have looked likeBack in 1900 sponge divers in Greece discovered the pieces of what scientists later speculated was a astronomical calculator built by the ancient Greeks. Since then scientists have been trying to figure out how the 80 fragmented pieces fit together and how the device would have worked when it was still intact.

But now thanks to a 7.5-ton X-ray tomography machine, scientists have been able to create computer images of all the pieces. These high-resolution images have provided them greater insight into the inner workings of this ancient computer. What they learned was that the machine's intricate 37 gears could be manipulated by a crank to show where the Sun, Moon, Earth, and five other planets would be positioned at any given day in the past or the future. Not only were early speculations as to the machines purpose correct, but the sophistication of the technology surpassed anyone's expectations.

"The design is beautiful; the astronomy is exactly right," is what physicist Mike G. Edmunds of Cardiff University in Wales Edmunds, the leader of the team that conducted the most recent investigation into the device said. "The way the mechanics are designed just makes your jaw drop. Whoever has done this has done it extremely well."

The device was built in 150 B.C, but then the technology disappeared for a thousand years before re-emerging in less advanced forms.

If the Greeks could build something like that 100 years before the birth of Christ, you wonder what else they created that didn't survive the times. It makes all the kooky Rambaldi mythology that they spun in Alias seem less fantastical.

That's More Like It

Now this is some late November, early December Chicago weather that I can get excited about:

weather forecast as of 11.30.2206

And there's a winter weather warning too!

November 29, 2006

Choose You Own HDTV Adventure

Phil over at Dethroner published an absolutely fantastic post yesterday about how to choose the right HDTV set. He wrote it as a parody of the old "Choose Your Own Adventure" books that were so popular when I was in grade school.

The book cover parody is reward enough for reading the post, but I also enjoyed the ridiculous story and crazy endings. All reminiscent of the old CYOA books as I remember them as a kid.

choose your adventure HDTV parody coverWhat was also nice is if you read around the snarky comments from the HDTV gnomes, you actually learn something about HDTV. Basically it is all summed up in the Epilogue: "Just buy any TV with 720p native resolution or higher and component and HDMI inputs. Everything else isn't really that important."

And there you go.

But the fun is reading through the story to get there.

Reading this parody took me back when my brother and I would buy these books or borrow them from the library. CYOA books were all the rage when we were young, and a lot of fun to read too. I remember particularly having quite a few Dungeons & Dragons themed CYOA books lying around the house. What was so great about the series was you really could read them over and over and have a new reading experience every time. It makes me think about Ian and his reading habits. Right now he reads the same conventional narrative books over and over and over. The story is going to be the same every time, yet he still enjoyed reading them two, three, and even five times over. He would be perfect for these types of books.

I learned from quickly reading through the Wikipedia entry for CYOA books that the series is considered one of the most popular children's series of all time and that the creator of the series, R. A. Montgomery, has purchased back the rights to the books from the original publisher with plans to re-release them and create new adventures over the next few years. I should make an effort to find some of these for Ian.

Extreme Situations Call For Extreme Actions

From Cleveland's NewNet5:

A Lakewood resident told police that he stabbed his girlfriend so that she would stop smoking crack.

Officials said a 37-year-old woman was stabbed in the head at about 11:30 p.m. Tuesday.

The woman was taken to Lakewood Hospital, where she received 34 stitches.

The man was identified as Ernest Rivers, who was treated for minor cuts.

Garrison Keillor on Christmas

hollyI usually don't, but today I read the syndicated Garrison Keillor column that the Chicago Tribune runs. It's titled "Come, all ye faithful." and it's concerned with celebrating Christmas.

Besides Garrison's smooth cadence that comes through even in his written work, what I really enjoyed in this column were two observations he made.

"There are people who feel "excluded" by Christian symbolism and are offended by the manger and the angels and the Child, but there have always been humorless, legalistic people. Complaint is an American art form, and in our time it has been raised to an operatic level. To which one can only say: Get a life. When you go to France, you don't expect a stack of buckwheat pancakes for breakfast or Le Monde to print box scores. You're in France. Now you're in America. It's a Christian culture. Work with it."
Every year, shortly after Thanksgiving, all the "War on Christmas" crap starts up with some people complaining that you can't have a Nativity scene on public property while other people cry that their holiday is under attack. What is the point of all this chest thumping and verbal assaults? Secularize it all you want (and it isn't hard at all to celebrate the Christmas holiday without directly referencing or acknowledging the religious aspects), but at the core Christmas is a Christian holiday. Get over it.

And here is the other quote:

"The little girl singing in the next room is blissfully happy at this moment, but the life of a little girl is very dramatic--it revolves around (1) jumping up and down and squealing, (2) collapsing in tears, (3) collapsing in laughter, (4) rapt adoration, and (5) hopeless frustration. In rapid succession."
hollyThis made me smile. It made me think of Emma and Zoe and how true Keillor's observation is. Hell, even Ian hits #2, #3, and #5 with regularity. He's not much for #1 or #4. Those are replaced with (1a) Pretending to be some sort of hero defeating legions of baddies and (4a) Acknowledgement of his parents' existence

But I digress.

One of Keillor's points in the column is that we create the Christmas experience first and foremost for our children. A sentiment I completely agree with. Certainly I enjoy all aspects of preparing for and celebrating Christmas, but I have discovered over the course of the last eight years that this enjoyment has increased as Ian, Emma, and Zoe have gotten older. The more Heather and I get to do with the kids to help celebrate Christmas, the more joyous the season becomes. Certainly, as November closes out and December quickly approaches, I am looking forward to this Christmas season more than I have in a long time.

Today's Moment of Zen

Fresh snow covers evergreen trees seen through a window in Beaver Creek, Colorado. (AFP/Don Emmert)

November 28, 2006

Hatin' The Weather

From all the gushing I've heard about how wonderful this 60-degree weather has been over the last ten days, I think I might be one of the few people in Chicago looking forward to the 20's and 30's headed our way later this week.

weather forecast for 11.28.2006

I live in Chicago so it can be in the 40's on Thanksgiving. Not so we can run around in short sleeve shirts outside while hanging Christmas lights.

It's Chicago, it's suppose to be cold.

80's Cartoon Intros

MASK LogoOut of a fit of boredom, the IZ Reloaded blog searched through all of YouTube and found the intros to a whole mess of cartoons from the 1980s and early 90s.

Trust me, if you're in your mid to late 30's you are going to find these links a great trip down memory lane. Watch a few and you will be taken back to sitting around the TV afternoons after school waiting for you mom to get home to make dinner. (You were a latch-key kid, too, right?)

My favorites: M.A.S.K. - cause it's cool and Star Blazers - cause I thought that was the coolest show when I was a kid. Though watching the intro now makes me cringe at the horrible lyrics and campy singing.

November 27, 2006

Zoe and Mary

Zoe and Mary, originally uploaded by bmckillip.

Out in front of the the school Ian and Emma attend there is a statue of the Virgin Mary. For reasons not yet clear to Heather and I, Zoe has developed quite the affinity for the weathered statue, visiting it nearly any time she can.

From what Heather tells me, Zoe usually walks up to Mary, puts her arm around the statue's shoulders, and talks to it for a few minutes. I haven't seen it for myself, but it sounds like the sweetest thing imaginable.

A couple of weeks ago Heather was able to snap this perfect little shot of Zoe and her friend.

Frustrating Football

I don't know what was more frustrating this weekend: watching Notre Dame lose by 20 points to USC while matching the Trojans practically stat for stat or Rex Grossman self-destruct and destroy the Bear's chance of beating the New England Patriots.

First let's take a look at Saturday night and the ND / USC game. These are the box score stats for both teams' offenses:

                     ND     SC
First Downs 18 21
Rushing Yds 130 139
Passing Yds 274 265
Total Yds 404 404
Time of Poss. 30:53 29:07
Total Plays 76 60
Turnovers Lost 1 2
If all you did was take a look at the box score the next morning, you would have figured that this game was decided by a field goal or a punt returned for a touchdown. Not the 20-point difference USC closed the game out with.

notre dame logoND could clearly move the ball against USC's defense and the Irish defense wasn't rolling over nearly as much as it had in the past, yet USC came away the clear winners because they did more with their 404 total yards than ND did with their 404 total yards. Hell, SC went ahead and kicked a few field goals while Charlie Weiss seemed to have forgotten that he had a kicker on his team. I still don't understand why he kept electing to go for the first down on so many fourth downs.

Anyway. The loss pretty much eliminates ND from playing in the national championship, not that I really had a notion that they would. ND currently holds onto the #10 spot in the BCS rankings, which technically puts them on the bubble for getting into a BCS bowl. However, considering the nationwide popularity of the Irish and their ability to deliver big TV audiences, I'm sure ND will get an at-large BCS bowl invite.

However, even though ND lost to USC, it doesn't mean they aren't having an impact on the BCS national championship game. Some people want to use USC's less than dominating statistical performance over the Irish as proof that Michigan should remain in the BCS #2 spot, instead of the #3 spot behind USC. Taken with how well Michigan played against Ohio State, I can understand the argument. However, my feeling is that Michigan had its chance at the King of the Hill and they lost. It's time to let someone else take a crack at OSU.

The frustration with Notre Dame was mild compared to watching the Bears Sunday afternoon. At least with ND I sort of new what to expect: good offense, defense that shows up sometimes, a chance at beating USC. The Bears were 9-1, and even though they weren't the favorite going into Sunday's game, I still thought they were the better team. In the end though, they lost 17-13 to the New England Patriots.

rex grossman from new england gameAnd if it wasn't for Rex Grossman's play, I think the Bears are the better team and would have won that game.

It's been hinted at for the last few weeks; that the Bears were winning despite the play of their quarterback. I wasn't necessarily convinced of it, but after watching Sunday's performance by Grossman I can't help but think what Troy Aikmen said about Rex might ring true when he said that the quarterback's play is "the only thing that's holding this team back right now." How can you not think this when Rex turns in another four-turnover performance, his third in the last five games I think.

And what was with the pass at the end of the game? The Bears had just taken the ball away. They were poised to potentially win the game. And he lofts a huge pass downfield. Don't know if that was the play that was called or if Grossman audibled, but it was horrible. The Bears had been running very well all day. Cedric Benson was even having great success moving the ball on the ground. There was still two minutes left in the game, why not see what Benson or Thomas Jones could do to a banged up and tired Patriots defense.

Like I said, infinitely more frustrating watching the Bears game because the had a real chance of winning and they threw it away (literally). The rest of the schedule is fairly weak, with the majority of the games being at home. So the Bears chances at finishing 14-2 are very good. But the story the last number of years is that the AFC is the dominate league. And New England is clearly one of the dominate teams in the AFC. If the Bears can't put New England away, what are the Bears legitimate chances if they make it the Super Bowl? That is, of course, assuming Grossman doesn't throw that away too.

November 26, 2006

I Hit 90,000 Today

For the last few weeks I've been counting down the miles until the Neon hit the 90,000 mile mark. I vaguely remember turning over the odometer for 50,000, but the other milestones slip past without notice. I didn't want to let the 90,000 mile go by without fan fare, so I had been watching things pretty closely. In fact, when there was 400 miles to go I reset the tripmeter so I could closely monitor when the 90,000th mile would hit (the tripmeter clicks off tenths of a mile).

Considering that I have been behind the wheel for the vast majority of the 90,000 miles this little Neon has been driven, I got pretty territorial of the car when it got down to the last 15 miles or so. I didn't want Heather to be driving. She wouldn't appreciate the glory of the moment.

I successfully kept her out of the Neon until Saturday morning. I was going out to run some errands (stop at my Dad's house, the bank, hardware store, comic book store), and instead of one or two kids coming along, all three wanted to go with me. Not a problem, but that meant taking the van. Heather took the opportunity of all four of us being gone to do some Christmas shopping - meaning she would be driving around the Fox Valley Mall area in the Neon and its dwindling march to 90,000 miles.

After we had all gotten home later Saturday afternoon, I figured I would go out and at least see the odometer for the Neon past 90,000. The glory was surely gone, but I wanted to see how much over the milestone Heather had driven it. Imagine my surprise when I read 89,998 miles on the odometer.

She had saved me the last two miles!

Then Sunday, while putting together the Dicken Village Christmas display together in our house, I realized that I needed something from the Ace hardware store not more than a mile from our home.

Here was my chance to witness history.

When I got into the parking lot at Ace, the odometer read 89,9999. The tripmeter read 399.6.

We were damn close.

I took my time driving home. I wanted to make sure I could be staring down at the odometer when the nine and four zeros flipped over and not worrying about traffic around me.

Odometer at 90000, originally uploaded by bmckillip.

There was a small sense of satisfaction when the 90,000 came up, and little bit of goofy pride. We've had the Neon since the spring of 1996. It was the first car Heather and I bought together. We've gone a lot of places in it, and even brought Ian home from the hospital as a new-born in it. We've asked it to do a lot and it has always come through. It might not be an exciting car or even practical car for a family of five, but it gets the job done.

We've owned the Neon outright since November of 1999. Ten plus years and 90,000 miles means we're pretty much in the gravey portion of car ownership for this vehicle. We've avoided any major problems and haven't had any accident with the vehicle. I know its days are numbered and I'll be glad to when we get a new car, but for now I am basking in the glow of the Neon's little dashboard and its 90,000 odometer. It has served us well, and I am grateful for that.

November 22, 2006

Toy Alert

In two days many of you will be waking up at the crack of dawn, flying out of the house before the sun has even risen, in search of the ultimate shopping discovery. Some people will be shopping for themselves. Some people will be trying to get all of their Christmas shopping done in one day. Some of you may even be shopping for gifts for my children.

Before you flex those credit card muscles, there are two new toy items on the market that I have recently learned about that I want to make sure do not make it onto your shortlist of ideas for Ian, Emma, or Zoe.

Item #1: GR8 TaT2 Maker
As the description reads: Open up your very own pretend play tattoo parlor. This easy-to-use tattoo maker kit includes an electronic tattoo pen and funky stencils. Using soft, safe pulsating action, the tattoo pen creates realistic, washable designs with dramatic effects. Requires two AA batteries (not included).

I have a tattoo, as does my sister. While I don't have any problems with Ian (or Emma and Zoe for the matter) getting inked in the future, I don't necessarily want them playing tattoo parlor with the neighborhood kids. I mean look at the kids in the picture for this product. No sooner do they start pretending to ink flames and tear drops on each other but they practically morph into trailer-trash right there before our eyes.

Item #2: Dora Aquapet
Aquapets are a strange combination of the old digital pets and . . . crap, I don't understand a lot of the toys that are marketed these days.

There are all sorts of Aquapets - little animals encased in liquid-filled clear tubes. The majority of them are goofy Anime-inspired creatures, though Wild Planet, the makers of Aquapets, also has some licensing agreements to create Aquapets based on characters. Dora the Explorer was chosen to be immortalized as an Aquapet. Lucky her.

Zoe loves Dora. Thinks she's great. Before you run off thinking about picking this little item up for little Zoe, let me make one thing clear: my daughters are not allowed to own a Phallic shaped toy until they have reached the age of 21 or moved out of my house.

It's that simple.

November 21, 2006

Weekend in Wisconsin

This past weekend Heather's parents were nice enough to show up at our house and voluntarily watch and care for our wild pack of children while Heather and I escaped for a weekend alone. We loaded up the car and headed for Stoughton, Wisconsin. A sleepy little town fifteen miles south of Madison, WI.

Because Madison/Stoughton is in towards the middle of the state of Wisconsin, Heather and I were able to travel west than north when getting out of Illinois, instead of fighting our way in towards Chicago before turning northward to Wisconsin. (This is what we would have had to do if we visited Racine, WI again or headed to Door County - both one-time suggested destinations for our weekend getaway) Unless you live in the Chicago area and have experienced the madness of its traffic and the joy of being able to avoid it, you can't understand how happy Heather and I were when only an hour and a half into our drive we realized we were already crossing into the land of the Cheeseheads. It was a great start to the weekend.

Naeset House Bed and BreakfastWe stayed at bed and breakfast located in the heart historic downtown Stoughton. It's probably only about a mile long, but full of great character and unique little shops. It was a great way to pass the morning and early afternoon on Saturday. We got a head start on some Christmas shopping, picked up a few things for ourselves, and learned that pets are welcomed in nearly all of the shops in Stoughton.

Of course, being in Wisconsin we had to stop in a store called Cheesers. They not only stocked plenty of Wisconsin cheese, but had ice cream and candy as well. Heather and I tasted some of the samples that Cheesers had out. But what did we walk out of the store with? A block of cheddar shaped like a football and a block of cheddar shaped like a cow. Why a football and a cow? The story of the football cheese is too long to tell here. It's best to visit an old post from November 2003 to understand our need to come home to Ian with a football cheese in our bag. We got the cow cheese because I thought it would be fun.

Cheesers is where I also first saw cheese curds for sale. Heather and I had tried (enjoyed?) some fried cheese curds at a restaurant Friday night, but at Cheesers I saw my first bag full of little misshapen cheese nuggets. An interesting delicacy to be sure.

Of course the Ohio State - Michigan game was on Saturday afternoon. Our options for watching the game were fairly limited. One, sit in our room and watch it on a tiny little 9-inch TV. Two, sit in one of the sports bars for two hours and possibly deal with Badger fans who feel they were being slighted in the rankings. Neither of them compelling.

Turned out there was a third option. Because Heather was so nervous about watching the game ("I wish I could know now whether the Buckeyes were going to win or not. Then I could relax and just watch the game."), we decided to take in a movie at the Stoughton theater. The movie options played to my favor: Santa Claus 3, Happy Feet, Casino Royale. No interest in the third Tim Allen turn as Jolly Ole' Saint Nick and Heather would rather take Ian and the girls to see Happy Feet, so we got to see James Bond.

As I mentioned to Heather, I hadn't seen a James Bond film in a theater since 1984's A View to a Kill, so this was definitely a treat for me. While the Stoughton Theater certainly wasn't state-of-the-art in movie viewing, it was great to see an action flick up on the big screen.

Casino Royale was fantastic. Definitely a great way to re-launch the Bond franchise and get people talking about - and watching - James Bond movies again. Like Batman Begins last year, the film makers bring Bond back to basics. They made the world he inhabits in the film seem more like the real world. i.e. no invisible cars or parasailing down a tsunami wave. Daniel Craig's Bond is a tough, arrogant, fighting machine whose ego is bigger than all the rest of the characters combined. He's a great James Bond in the Sean Connery mold. The action is fast and intense, and certainly the most graphic I have ever seen in a James Bond film - and I've seen them all. Highly recommended for James Bond fans and action film fans.

The movie got out in time for us to run back to the B&B and flip on the TV to catch the last two minutes of the Ohio State game. We saw Michigan cut the difference to three points, but the Buckeyes hung on to win and remain undefeated. For Heather, things couldn't have worked out better.

That night we went to a martini bar in Stoughton that had some fairly good live music. It was nice to sit back with Heather to enjoy a drink and simply talk. No kids nagging us or pressure to finish up quickly to get home and relieve a baby-sitter. It was a great way to finish up the day.

The next morning it was back in the car to head back to Aurora. Because the drive really isn't that long, we decided to stop off to get some more Christmas shopping done and spend a little more time together without kids. We love Ian, Emma, and Zoe to death, but it was the first time we had spent an extended amount of time away from them in three years. Not knowing when the opportunity would come along again, we wanted to stretch things out as long as possible.

Of course arriving at home was great fun. All three kids were super excited to see us. Emma ran the length of the house to literally jump in my arms for a hug. For the next hour or so Heather and I each had at least one kid at our side telling us all about what happened while we were up in Wisconsin. As nice as it was to be child-free for two days, having them back felt really good too.

This Seems Like a Tremendously BAD Idea

a bear at thanksgiving

Brutus, a four-and-a-half-year-old grizzly bear, attends Thanksgiving dinner at the Montana Grizzly Encounter, a bear rescue and educational facility, in Bozeman, Montana in this publicity photo for the CW Network's 'An American Thanksgiving', released to Reuters November 21, 2006. John Ross/Associated Television International

Kringle Is On the Way!

This is the third year that we've done this, but I still get excited. Got the email last night that our kringle has been shipped from the O&H Danish Bakery in Racine, WI. Ever since Heather and I visited Racine in 2003, we have been ordering enough of this Danish pastery to last us from Thanksgiving to New Year's Day. We always have a kringle on Thanksgiving morning and Christmas morning. Heather and I love it. The kids love it. Kringle has quickly become one of our family traditions at the holidays.

This year (like the last two) we've got four kringle being sent via two-day UPS shipping. The kringle is already in Addison, IL. If it doesn't arrive today, it most certainly will be here tomorrow. Just in time for Thanksgiving morning.

O&H Danish Bakery

screen shot of the delivery status

November 20, 2006

Rankin - Bass Goodness

Before you start watching the parades this Thanksgiving morning (and if you live in the Chicagoland area), make sure you check out the WGN Morning News. Rankin / Bass historian Rick Goldschmidt will be appearing to unveil the original Rudolph and Santa Claus puppets from the 1964 Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer TV special. The puppets had been missing for years before turning up in some guys garage. The puppets have been caring restored and will provide a link to a time when Christmas specials had heart and soul.

promotional piece
see the filer full-sized

November 16, 2006

I Want My White Christmas DVD

Before Heather and I got a DVD player for our home, we had put together a pretty extensive Christmas-themed VHS video collection. RudolphNearly every Rankin & Bass television Christmas special ever made, plus a good honest helping of classic Christmas movies like It's a Wonderful Life, The Bishop's Wife, and The Bell's of St. Mary's.

Up until last year we really didn't give too much thought to replacing any of these VHS versions with DVD versions. One, we still had a VCR hooked up to our TV. Two, the tapes only get played around the holidays. We had picked up some items on DVD, but it really wasn't much of a priority.

However, at this new house I didn't hook the VCR up to the TV/HTS. With the addition of the Comcast digital cable box there wasn't any room for the VCR in the entertainment center that we house all the components in. It didn't bother us too much at the time because we have been collecting DVDs at such a rapid rate that VHS tape watching had pretty much ground to a halt.

But now the Christmas season is upon us again, Heather and I are realizing that our holiday video viewing options are greatly reduced without a VCR hooked up. Subsequently we have started to serious take a look at what Rankin & Bass specials are available on DVD (not as many as we would hope) and what classic Christmas films have DVD treatments as well.

I found this today while thumbing through the Turner Classic Movies website. TCM has put together a fantastic White Christmas DVD gift set that not only includes the full movie but also the full movie soundtrack on CD.

white Christmas box artWhite Christmas is probably my favorite Christmas movie (Yes, Heather, even more than It's a Wonderful Life). Bing Crosby is . . . well, Bing Crosby. You have to love Bing in any movie he does. Danny Kaye steals every scene he is in - and practically the entire movie. The guy is the consummate showman. Rosemary Clooney can sing like nobody's business and Vera-Ellen looks fantastic (and can dance pretty well too). She's a living Barbie doll.

The movie is full of great Irving Berlin music, with plenty of dancing and comedy set in Vermont at Christmas time with an old "Let's put on a show and save the place" storyline. With plenty of post-WWII optimism and sensibilities, I can watch this movie every weekend between Thanksgiving and Christmas day and never grow tired of it.

So as I was reading about this new DVD/CD combo from TCM, I figured it would be the perfect addition to our collection.

Then I learned that the only place you can buy it is at a Starbucks store or through the Starbucks' website.

I know Heather likes Starbucks coffee and all, but I just try to stay away from the place. Starbucks just seems like some weird mix of ultra-trendy and corporate blandness all rolled up in a paper coffee cup that scares the crap out of me. That and I don't like coffee at all.

So for a moment I feared that I might miss out on this great DVD. However, I quickly convinced myself that it's just a store and that I can push my personal aversions aside if I want to get a hold of this classic American movie with the full soundtrack. Plus, I could also just send Heather in the next time she is craving a Peppermint Mocha.

November 15, 2006

The Colonel Is Greeting the Aliens

Back on Monday I saw a blurb about KFC's new logo and branding that they were undergoing. I didn't pay it too much attention, though I did click through from the story to the KFC website to see if I could catch a glimpse of the Colonel in an apron (as the story described was part of the new look for KFC).

On the KFC website they have a little contest where you were invited to discover what the hidden message in the giant Colonel Sanders logo was. Correctly guess and you could win a sandwich or something.

The directions in the game told you to search through the satellite image of the giant Colonel Sander's logo. I thought the whole "satellite image" thing was a joke. That KFC was faking the whole giant logo in the desert just to have some fun with this online game.

Then I found this image released through Reuters:

satellite image of kfc logo

KFC actually built a huge 87,500 sq ft version of their new logo out in the Nevada desert. That wasn't some Photoshop trickery I saw at the KFC website.


November 14, 2006

. . . And The Joker Got Away

Threadless T-Shirts is a site/company that allows budding designers to develop their own t-shirt designs and sell them to the public. I learned about this particular shirt to late to have it for last Christmas, but saved the link hoping the shirt would be made available again.

Sure enough, at only $10 "Lost A Wheel" is a great shirt available again. I bought one for me and one for Ian. (But don't tell him. I want it to be a surprise.)

lost a wheel

November 13, 2006

Let's Talk Football

It's mid-November and I'm finding both the NFL and NCAA football seasons fascinating.

  • thomas jones of the chicago bearsAfter a horrible showing against Miami last week at home, the Bears went to New York to play a very hot Giants team to determine who really is the team to beat in the NFC right now. The Bears proved that that their 7-0 start to the season wasn't just the result of playing weaker teams by soundly defeating the now NY Giants 38 - 20 and improving their record to 8-1.

    Everyone this morning is talking about Devin Hester's remarkable 108-yard touchdown run, tying the record for the longest touchdown scoring run sent last year by fellow Bears teammate Nate Vasher. While that was great to see, what got me excited about the Bears was Thomas Jones' play. Jones proved again that when the coaches give him the ball and commit to the run, the Bears will be successful.

    The momentum of the game switched at the end of the first half when Jones burst through for a huge 26-yard gain on a 3rd and 22 draw play. From there Grossman was able to stymie the Giants defense with play-action and knock out two quick passes, the second one a 29-yard touchdown strike to Mark Bradley. From there on out Jones and the offensive line moved the ball on the ground pretty much at will and Grossman had time to sit back and throw whenever they wanted.

    And while I admit my faith was shaken a bit with the spanking the Dolphins gave the Bears last week, this solid win on the road against the Giants has restored my belief that this team really is as good as their record indicates.

  • ohio state vs michiganOhio State and Michigan totally dismantled their Big Ten opponents a combined 88 - 13 as they get ready for what could be the real National Championship game for college football this year in Columbus, OH this Saturday. Since I've known Heather, the Ohio St. - Michigan game has become a big football event in my life. Growing up in Chicago in the 80's, I never really paid much attention to OSU. I followed Notre Dame, but when it came to the Big Ten Illinois and Northwestern were always bad, Michigan was always the power house and there were just a bunch of other teams that sort of blended together for me.

    But now I understand.

    Obviously the winner of this football slugfest will get the invite to Glendale, AZ to play for the big crystal football in January 2007. I'll be pulling for the Buckeye. Not because of Heather, but because I have come to respect the team and their coach, Jim Tressel. Not only is he an excellent college coach, but a stand-up guy.

    But holy crap is this game going to be huge.

    (incidentally, a close look at the BCS ranking show that the computer polls that are used as part of the BCS calculations have Michigan #1 and Ohio State #3 behind Rutgers. Wow! How does that happen? My guess it's partially because Michigan beat both 9-1 Notre Dame and 10-1 Wisconsin - both top ten BCS teams, while the only highly ranked opponent OSU has put away is Texas at #13 and with two losses. Michigan gets the better strength of schedule. Rutgers is at #2 because they beat the current #8 and #10 BCS teams. But that just me guessing)

  • Notre Dame battling its way up to #5 in the BCS rankings still has me a bit bewildered. Sure I'm glad to see the Fighting Irish up at the top, but I have to keep wondering if it really is deserved. Their offense is unstoppable when it wants to be, and according to some stats I have seen, the defense is better than it was last year. But sure haven't looked dominating all the time. I think if the Irish put together a strong game and beat USC on the road in two weeks, I might be lead to believe they should be ranked as high as they are.

    Something just keeps gnawing at the back of my brain that makes me wonder how the Irish would stand up against teams like Arkansas, West Virginia, Wisconsin or Louisville. Those are all teams rated just below the Irish in the BCS rankings.

  • Speaking of teams ranked below Notre Dame, how about Wisconsin? Where did they come from? All season all anyone could talk about when it came to the Big Ten was Ohio State and Michigan, and a little Penn State on the side. But I couldn't help but notice in the latest BCS rankings that Wisconsin Badgers had worked their way up to #9.

    Their only loss this season was to Michigan. Otherwise they've put a walloping on every other team they've played. They are obviously a strong team and deserving of being ranked high. I'm always glad to see a Big Ten team making good and relish the chance to see a couple Big Ten teams in big names bowl games this year. It just surprised me to see the Badgers sitting up in the top ten. I guess I was focused on the Buckeyes and Wolverines too much also to notice the work this team was doing this season.

  • Rutgers, West Virginia, and Louisville - those teams are fantastic. I'd rather have a season of programs like those in the Big East fighting for conference supremacy over the quasi-pro teams like USC, Florida, and Ohio State mashing their way through their schedules any day.

    Those last two Thursday night games between Louisville and West Virginia and then Louisville and Rutgers were classics. I really hope Rutgers runs the table. I think doing so would make a strong argument for them playing in the BCS Championship game (probably against Ohio State).
  • The Grandpa Picture at Dad's Birthday

    As I mentioned yesterday, the Grandpa Picture made a triumphant return just in time to celebrate my Father's 60th birthday. While he was seen by everyone, I realized that i didn't get pictures with everyone. None the less, enjoy the Grandpa Picture's take on Brian's 60th.


    Here is a slide show of the images.

    Here is the original photo set.

    November 12, 2006

    Happy Birthday Dad

    Judge McKillipToday is my Dad's 60th birthday. Last night Heather, my sister and her husband, my brother, and I all hosted a party for him at our house. There was plenty of family and friends in attendance to help celebrate my Dad's milestone birthday.

    There were times when I didn't think we would pull it off, but in the end I think we threw a pretty good party. There was lots of food and plenty to drink, not to mention good people to talk to.

    Most surprising of all was the return of the Grandpa Picture. Thought lost, the Grandpa picture surprised us all by showing up and masterfully working his way through the crowd. Like my father, the Grandpa Picture is professional party mingler and just had to see (and be seen with) everyone in attendance. Of course, the Grandpa Picture likes to taste a bit of the adult refreshments that were being served. I'm still sorting through all the photos from the party, but I think this one that was able to snap this morning paints a fairly clear picture - the Grandpa Picture had a good time at the party.

    The Morning After

    I hope you had a great time at the party Dad. We certainly were happy to throw it for you.

    Happy Birthday!

    November 10, 2006

    You Be The Judge

    I loved the old "You Make The Call" spots that used to run during NFL games. A clip of a goofy play or impossible catch would be shown and then you - the viewer - would be asked to figure out what the ruling on the field should be. After the commerical for beer or a truck, they'd come back and tell you what the correct ruling was. (This was in the days before instant replay.)

    Let's play our own version, called "You Be The Judge."

    From today's Chicago Tribune:

    WORCESTER, Mass. -- Is a burrito a sandwich? The Panera Bread Co. bakery-and-cafe chain says yes. But a judge said no, ruling against Panera in its bid to prevent a Mexican restaurant from moving into the same shopping mall.

    Panera has a clause in its lease that prevents the White City Shopping Center in Shrewsbury from renting to another sandwich shop. Panera tried to invoke that clause to stop the opening of an Qdoba Mexican Grill.
    Now you make the judgement! Burrito: sandwhich or . . . not-a-sandwhich (what category of food does it fall in?)

    Learn the correct ruling (at least how Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Locke saw things) by reading the full story or highlighting the hidden text below:

    But Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Locke cited Webster's Dictionary as well as testimony from a chef and a former high-ranking federal agriculture official in ruling that Qdoba's burritos and other offerings are not sandwiches.

    The difference, the judge ruled, comes down to two slices of bread versus one tortilla.

    "A sandwich is not commonly understood to include burritos, tacos and quesadillas, which are typically made with a single tortilla and stuffed with a choice filling of meat, rice, and beans," Locke wrote in a decision released last week.
    Did your decision match Judge Locke's? If it did, then you made the right judgement!

    Donny & Marie 1978 Christmas Special

    I remember watching this as a kid and couldn't be more totally stoked that it has finally been released on DVD:

    Donny and Marie Christmas Special DVD artwork

    Spider-Man 3 Trailer

    Saw it on TV last night when it premiered simulcast on a bunch of Viacom owned/controlled stations at 9pm Central. It looked cool the first time I saw it, and the subsequent times I've viewed the online version hosted at iFilm.

    I thought the first Spider-Man was okay, really enjoyed Spider-Man 2, this trailer makes #3 look to be the biggest, most intense one of the bunch. Hopefully Sam Raimi and team deliver a movie to match the expectations set by this trailer.


    Via the Wondermark webcomic, I learned about Sheldon, a very funny comic strip from Dave Kellett starring a ten-year-old kid who earned billions with his own software company: Sheldonsoft.

    What's notable about Sheldon is that for the past five years Kellett has had Sheldon as part of the United Feature Syndicate stable of distributed comics. He recently decided to pull Sheldon out of UFS and will be going solo with his work.

    That may sound like a bold move, but considering declining newspaper readership papers are giving even less thought to comics than they used to (and even then it wasn't a whole lot of thought). So Kellett figures it's better to be in full control of his creation than struggling withing a syndication system that is designed to make the syndicate a lot of money first, creators a little money second.

    I applaud his decision, and after reading a few strips have decided I will be reading and supporting Sheldon any way I can.

    In fact, all start by posting two of the strips I read from his archives that convinced me Kellett's work was something to read, enjoy, and recommend to others.

    sheldon strip from 11.07.2006
    (Sheldon's not in this strip, that's his Gramp and Arthur, a talking duck.)

    sheldon strip from 11.06.2006
    (Sheldon speaks the truth on The Silmarillion. I've tried reading that book two or three times and have never figured out what the hell is going on)

    Read Sheldon. Enjoy your day.

    November 09, 2006

    I Found My Christmas Cards

    They come from the warped mind of David Malki, the madman behind Wondermark. And I think they are better than last year's choice.

    Make sure you click on the image below so you can read the whole message.

    david malki christmas card - cello

    Now you can go buy your own set of cards in the Wondermark online store.

    Lest I Forget . . .

    When I came home from work yesterday, Ian strolled up next to me and put a piece of paper in front of my face.

    "I writing a book. This is the cover," he proudly declared.

    It was a red piece of construction paper, with a drawing of some people sitting around what looked like a family room. Across the top of the paper was the title of Ian's materpiece in development:

    The Year My Dad Turned Thirty-Four
    My Dad's 34th Birthday

    I think Heather put him up to it.

    Updated 11/10/06: I checked the book cover artwork at home last night. Heather was right about the correct title of Ian's new novel. I think my recollection was of how Ian was describing the book to my later. That it was going to be a story about the year I turned thirty-four.

    On a tangential note, Ian further reminded me of my advancing age when last night he mentioned that next year I'll be old enough to become President of the United States (his class is studying about the Presidency in class right now).

    So at least he's pointing out some of the perks of getting older.

    First Rule: Dennis Doesn't Talk About Fight Club

    Every comics blog I've been to this morning has linked to it, so I figure why not me too. Jeff Parker mashes up Dennis the Menace cartoons with Fight Club. It makes for funny stuff.

    Read 'em all

    dennis the menace fight club mashup

    November 08, 2006

    Favorite Batman Costume

    Over at the Comics Should Be Good! blog, Brian Cronin ranks his five favorite Batman costumes.

    I can't say that I disagree with his #5 through #3 (including his dis-honorable mention), but I would probably swap his #1 and #2

    This is how I would rank the top two Batman looks.

    #2) Mid-90's ALL BLACK COSTUME
    example of the all-black costume from the mid-90sI remember when this all-black costume debuted back in 1995. It was right after the massive Knighfall / Knightquest / KnightEnd storyline that had Bruce Wayne's back broken, someone else wearing the Mantle of the Bat, and the eventual return of Bruce as the one true Batman. I think there was some character-driven reason that was supplied by the writers for why Bruce would don this new all-black costume, but I have since long forgotten it. If I pulled out these issues I could probably figure it out again, but I'm not so inclined.

    I like the all-black. I thought it gave Batman a sense of gravity and seriousness that was fitting for the character. Of all the artists who handled Batman during this time, I think Graham Nolan rendered this costume the best (that's a Nolan penciled cover at left). And while I love the classic grey costume with yellow oval that was used through the 1960s to 1990s (which Brian Cronin ranked at #4), I always thought a character like Batman would design something as dark as possible. The dark blue cape, boots, and gloves - while great looking for the outfit, ultimately didn't fit with Batman the predator of the night. The all black costume gets that right, but still misses some of the dynamic design elements that having more than one color can bring to a superhero costume.

    example of the current Batman costumeWhile it may seem easy to call the current costume the best one, I really think DC has settled into a look for Batman that is best fitting to the character and his motivations. The costume is now all blacks and grays, with the only bright color being a muted yellow for a utility belt.

    I love the big black bat on his chest. I think it has the same effect as the large "S" on Superman, it helps gives Batman an iconic statement when he's drawn. You can draw a panel in a comic that only shows Batman's torso, and when you get the effect of that huge black bat against the grey shirt you know exactly who you are dealing with. It's perfectly menacing in its presentation. The bat inside the yellow oval had a similar effect, but the large bat as drawn sans yellow oval seems so much more bold and intimidating that I think it's the right way to go for a character that preys on the superstitions and fears of criminals.

    Using primarily grays and blacks, with some dark, dark blues thrown in, you get the presentation of guy who works in the shadows but still are able to have a dynamic visual experience when drawing the character. The current costume pulls the right amount of inspiration from Bob Kane's original design, the classic 1960's to 90's design, and the current sensibilities of the character. It's finally a costume that reflects the type of character Batman is. It's the costume I would put as my #1 design.

    Shrek The Halls

    screenshot of shrek the hallsThis December ABC will debut a new animated Christmas TV special called Shrek the Halls that will star Shrek, Donkey, and the rest of the crew from the popular Shrek animated movie franchise.
    The network has greenlighted production on the special — to be voiced by the “Shrek” features’ original cast of Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz, Eddie Murphy and Antonio Banderas — which is slated to premiere in December 2007. Sources said the pact is for 15 years, with ABC set to rerun the special around the holidays every year.
    I saw and enjoyed the first Shrek film, through I never saw the second one. A third Shrek movie is slated to hit movie screens in the summer of 2007, so the timing of this new Christmas special is perfect. Considering that all the principals from the movies are involved, this stands a chance of being very entertaining. I'll certainly make a point of finding out when it's airing so everyone at home can watch.

    November 07, 2006

    Another Reason To Hate Macy's

    First, they buy up Federated Stores and dismantle Marshall Field's - an original Chicago institution.

    Now they are kicking the Charlie Brown and Kermit the Frog balloons out of their annual Thanksgiving Day parade and replacing them with the Energizer Bunny and the Pikachu character from Pokemon.

    What? You drop Charlie Brown and Kermit the Frog, American institutions both, for a battery mascot and a still historically obscure Japanese cartoon character? The guys running Macy's apparently have lost their soul. Sure, Macy's is throwing in a Flying Ace Snoopy balloon this year, but by this point the damage is already done in my opinoin.

    One good piece of news: Macy's Reports Slow Sales At Converted Marshall Field's Stores

    Things I Like Right Now

    I was having a hard time figuring out how to justify or turn some of these items into full posts so I decided to just lump them all together into a list of things I like right now.

  • Superhero Political Affiliations: To help celebrate Election Day, Dave's Long Box tries to answer an age old question, "What is your favorite super hero's political affiliation?"

  • JLU Season One DVD boxMy Birthday Gifts: Sunday night we had my mom, step-father, and dad over for dinner to celebrate my birthday. Now, never mind the trippy, surreal notion of having your divorced parents over to your house to celebrate your birthday with you together for the first time since . . . damn, I can't ever remember both my dad and mom celebrating my birthday together with me since before they split. It might have happened early on, but even though they have remained very friendly with each other, celebrating a birthday together just hasn't happened.

    Anyway, even though Heather, Mom, and Dad pretty much stuck with ideas they asked for from me, I was surprised with what they choose to get me and the interpretation of my suggestions. I got some great clothes, some great books, and even more animated DC superheroes on DVD.

  • Parking in My Garage: We moved into our new house on August 1st. This past weekend (November 5th), I finally was able to park my car in our two-car garage. After three months of parking in the driveway or on the street, I finally can pull the car in to our garage. It wasn't a problem during the warm months - except when it was raining, but as it has been getting colder getting the car started and ready to go in the morning can be a pain in the ass. Letting the engine warm up, scrapping all the frost off the windows, sitting in the cold, hard seat - I did not like it. Good for me for spending Sunday morning finishing the garage cleaning and organization to make room for the Neon. Now I just need to get a second garage door opener so I don't have to climb out of the car to open and shut the garage door (Chipmans!!!)

  • Big Band and Swing Comcast Digital Music Channel: Sunday night when we had everyone over for my birthday party, Heather thought it would be fun to use the digital music channels that are included in our Comcast service to supply some background music. We have the cable box hooked up through our home theater system, so we can get real nice sound, so we flipped in on. She initially selected "Show Tunes," probably thinking it would be pretty non-descript background music but not as stuffy as Classical. However, I kept hearing lots of strange songs that just didn't sound that good. I saw the "Big Band and Swing" channel and gave it a try. I was immediately pleased with the switch. The channel is nearly always instrumental in the sorts of songs it plays, but they are more up-beat and lively than you would get with classical music. I enjoyed it so much, that I left it on while Heather and I were cleaning up after everyone went home. It makes me think that considering my enjoyment of the actors, actresses, and films from the 40's and 50's and this new-found interest in big band music, that maybe I was born in the wrong era.

  • Comics I've Been Reading The new creative team on Nightwing is like bite of celery between courses of a meal. It cleanses the palate. After dropping Nightwing (a character I have always really enjoyed reading) a number of years back because of horrible, horrible art, I tried the title again when DC had their little "One Year Later" event this past summer. Unfortunately for me, when DC lured my back they dropped a stinking pile of bad art and bad writing in my lap. I quickly unloaded the title again. However, when word came through that Marv Wolfman would be writing and Dan Jurgens would be handling pencils, I decided to give the book one more try. It is Nightwing after all. While Wolfman's and Jurgens' comic book work with Nightwing isn't revolutionary, their solidly consistent output is doing a fine job of cleansing my palate of the atrocious work that had preceded it. I am enjoying reading Nightwing again. And that's a good thing.

    Iron West is another tripped out story from the warped mind of Doug TenNapel. Robots in the old west, a mysterious Indian shaman named Two River, Big Foot, the Loch Ness Monster, and giant train monster all blend perfectly together to create a fun sci-fi western like you've never seen before on one level, but on a deeper reading explores a bigger philosophical question of whether we are who we were born to be or we are who we make ourselves to be. Wild stuff and highly recommended. In fact, I recommend all of TenNapel's graphic novels. I have loved every one of them.

    And I have to mention the The Escapists from Dark Horse Comics. This comic is a 6-issue mini-series that again draws it's inspiration from Michael Chabon's Pulitzer winning novel, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay. There has already been an anthology series featuring the adventures of The Escapist, the superhero creation of fictional comic book creators Joe Kavalier and Sam Clay, but this new series by writer Brian K. Vaughan with art from Jason Alexander and Steve Rolston is so much more interesting and compelling a story than anything I found in the anthologies. I believe it's because, like Chabon's book, it deals with the people creating the Escapist comic book, not with the hero himself. As a protagonist in a story the character of the Escapist lacks much punch. But used as a metaphor for the real-life struggles of regular people, and then having the Escapist's stories juxtaposed against what the events in the comic book writer's life, now things start to really cook. Every issue of this series is a gem that I enjoy reading over and over.
  • November 06, 2006

    Bears Lose 31 - 13: Stop Hitting the Snooze-Button

    Lucky for me I didn't suffer through the entire game. For most of the first half I was outside taking care of some work I had to do in the garage (now that it's getting cold, I'd like to get my car into the garage at night). I came inside right before the end of the first half to see the Dolphins completely flub an easy field goal attempt. The score was 14 - 10. Not encouraging, but not what I was hoping to see from the Bears going up against a 1-6 team.

    Coming back to start the second half, I was settled in to watch how the Bears would come back and win the game, when I the opening drive this happened:

    photo of Justin Gage fumble taken from Chicago Tribune website

    On the Bears' opening drive, Justin Gage fumbled the ball after catching the pass for a first down. I knew from the recap at halftime that the Bears had given up the ball already, and to have something like this happen on the opening drive of the second half created a real bad feeling in my belly. The Bears were not playing well.

    The Bears couldn't run the ball, but the Dolphins could.

    The Bears couldn't throw the ball, but neither could the Dolphins. The difference was Dolphin QB Joey Harrington wasn't throwing picks while Rex Grossman was.

    It was just a bad game for the Bears.

    With about 5 minutes left and the Fins up by 15, I decided to find more work for me to do in the house. I checked later to see the final damage.

    Where does this leave the Bears? I don't know. Three weeks ago everyone was saying that the Arizona Cardinals near-loss was a wakeup call for the team. That they would now re-focus and march into November ready to take on some bigger opponents. But as Rick Morrissey says in his column today, "The Arizona game was supposed to be the wakeup call, so who knows what this was? The snooze-button game?"

    And before anyone accuses Morrissey of turning on the team after one game, he was the only Chicago sports writer I read who was seriously questioning the Bears' power in the NFL before their loss to the lowly Dolphins.

    None the less, while I appreciated Morrissey's concerns I still thought the Bears would beat the Dolphins. Shows you what I know. Now the next three games against the 6-2 Giants, 4-4 Jets, and the 6-2 Patriots - all on the road - looks like an even bigger gauntlet to run then before. If the Bears can win all three or even go 2 of 3, I think we can go back to safely considering them true NFC contenders. 1 of 3 or three straight losses? Then this photo might prove to be a fitting representation of the Bears' season.

    Grossman sacked and on the ground

    Happy Birthday To Me

    Today is my 34th birthday. While 34 isn't really significant in an divisible by 5 sort of way or you can retire now and sit home in black socks and boxer shorts and yell at the TV all day sort of way, whenever I say that number out loud it sounds really damn old.




    So, to counteract this depressing state of mind, I will continue to surround myself with the things I enjoy and don't make me think about getting older. One of those special items - comics.

    While I enjoy comics first for the wonderful way they can be used to tell compelling, thought-provoking, and entertaining stories, a good super hero book - especially ones starring DC Comic heroes - remind me of the fun of being a kid and the excitement of raw imagination unleashed.

    Mike's Amazing World of DC is a literal online encyclopedia of comic book information related to DC comics. So to celebrate my birthday, let's take a look at some of the covers from comics DC published in November 1972 - the month and year I was born.

    cover for detective comics 429
    Cover to Detective Comics #479

    cover for Teen Titans 42
    Cover to Teen Titans #42

    cover for Superman 258
    Cover to Superman #258

    cover to mr miracle 11
    Finally, some Jack "King" Kirby goodness with the cover to Mr. Miracle #11

    November 04, 2006

    BlueSky Studios Challenge - Wizard of Oz

    I really enjoyed the results of the BlueSky Studios challenge this week. The theme - The Wizard of Oz.

    The subject matter is ripe for artistic embellishment and interpretation, and the entries reflect this. I love them all, but was particularly taken with this entry from Jake.

    November 03, 2006

    Fun With Cardboard

    While it is certainly fun and exciting to move into a new home, there is a downside. As you begin unpacking and settling into your new space, all those empty boxes have to go somewhere.

    Now when you move to apartment to apartment, the whole box issue really doesn't manifest itself. For the most part you have maybe two dozen cardboard boxes in addition to some of those permanent containers (i.e. those giant Tupperware-like tubs) that you use to store stuff. It's symptomatic of the living arrangements. People fill up the space they live in. As long as you are living in an apartment and space is limited, the amount of "stuff" (or "crap" as my Dad would say) stays fairly low.


    moving boxesBecause you just have no space to store all the crap. No space to keep crap means crap gets thrown out. Consequently, when you move to a new place you don't have to box up and move that crap. There a few things you have to move, so you get some cardboard boxes from a friend or a store, dump everything loose into them, and away you go. After you are unpacked at the new place, you've got 10, maybe 15 boxes to unload. Not a problem. You give them to a friend who is moving or chop 'em up for recycling.

    Of course as you move into larger places you are afforded the opportunity to collect and store more stuff. When you start moving from house to house, the amount of stuff that has to be boxed up labeled and transported gets to almost maddening levels. (I'm pretty sure I might have touched on this in the summer when we were getting ready for our move). To hold all of this stuff you need a lot of containers. So you get cardboard boxes - a lot of them. Way more than you ever did when living in an apartment. You end up on a first-name basis with the guy working at the storage center that sells cardboard boxes for moving.

    Where am I going with all this?

    When you get in that new place and those boxes are getting emptied, you have to do something with them. Currently Heather and I have probably 100 emptied cardboard boxes in our basement, and we still have about 30 boxes to empty. The empty ones have been folded flat, but they take up a pretty large amount of space. We want to save some of them for using around the house. But we certainly don't need 100 of the boxes.

    I could start spending my nights slicing them up with my utility knife to put them out for the recycling pick-up, but that isn't nearly as much fun as this idea that I found on Boing Boing today. The cardboard box maze:

    box maze

    Daniel W, who built the maze using cardboard boxes, duct tape and bolts, detailed everything in a Flickr set.

    Now that looks exciting. The Boing Boing post even links to a site that sells special box rivets designed specifically for building things out of old cardboard boxes. The site also has plans for cardboard box-based castles, pirate ships, and fire trucks. How cool is that.

    I don't know if I'll invest in buying box rivets, but see this stuff makes me want to go home and build some elaborate things for the kids out of the boxes sitting around. And then when they're done playing with it I can still rip the boxes up and thrown them in the recycling pile.