November 29, 2008

Decisions

Do I bother watching the Notre Dame game this evening?

The hardly Fighting IrishMore than likely they are going to be blown out by USC.

As much as I would love to see a spectacular upset, I don't think Charlie Weis has it in him. Not sure if that's because he's a bad coach or because his players haven't developer enough, but the fact of the matter is as of alte Notre Dame doesn't scare teams with winning records.

(Hell, I don't think they scare teams with losing records anymore)

So do I tune in for the probable massacre?

In the end I imagine I'll pray for the upset and check in around 8:30pm. The game should be close to halftime and should be able to get a sense of how things are progressing. If USC is having their way with the Irish, I can move on to other things. If the Irish have suddenly grown a backbone, then I may hang around for the second half.

November 25, 2008

This I Like

Thanksgiving dinner on top of a cupcake

Thanksgiving dinner on top of a cupcake
Heather, do you think you could make some of these for Thursday?

[via]

November 22, 2008

A Colbert Christmas

Usually I don't give Christmas too much thought before Thanksgiving, but I plan on making an exception this Sunday night.

Even though it will be four days before the unofficial start of the Christmas season, Stephen Colbert will be debuting his new Christmas special, The Colbert Report: A Colbert Christmas - The Greatest Gift of All.

I don't need a video preview to convince me that this will be a must-see Christmas special, but it doesn't hurt to watch one.


Good stuff. I plan on watching.

And I might even fire up the Colbert Christmas Yule Log to complete the holiday atmosphere.

November 21, 2008

LIFE on Google

I've been very busy at work and at home, leaving me little time to put together even mildly interesting posts. Hopefully as this project enters it's final stage, things will open up and I won't be working quite so much and can spend more time writing.

In the meantime, I found this bit of news so interesting that I couldn't not post about it.

LIFE magazine is working with Google to make all of their photographs available online, and they have a fair amount of the images ready to be searched on.

Dick Butkus of the Chicago Bears
The catalog of photographs include those that were published in the magazine, and plenty that never made their way into the magazine. I've had fun just randomly searching through the catalog of photos. Tons of great images and photographs.

November 19, 2008

Celebrating Zoolander Style

It's been years since I saw Zoolander, but I vaguely recall a scene similar to the one below.

Obviously someone else had a much more vivid recollection of the film and decided to have some fun with it.

all the gang is there


Every time I look at the Joe Biden face I laugh.

I don't know if it's the goofy-ass smile alone or the combination of that cheesy smile and the motion of the body.

There is also a version based on The Dark Knight. It's not as funny as the Obama Fun Machine, but I offer it up because I love the move.

why did they let the Joker drive?

November 14, 2008

Winter Classic

NHL Winter Classic 2009 LogoThis New Year’s Day the Blackhawks and Redwings face off in Wrigley Field for the NHL’s 2009 Winter Classic. Hockey outside at Wrigley field featuring two of the “Original Six” NHL teams. That is classic.

Season ticket holders and "NHL Winter Classic partners" get a first crack at seats. After that, how tickets will be distributed to the rest of the public is going to be left up to a lottery.

Registering at www.chicagoblackhawks.com between now and 10:59 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 28, 2008 enters you in a drawing for the opportunity to buy tickets. You can enter only once and the league hasn’t said how many tickets a lottery winner will be allowed to buy.

I’ve signed up. Now I expect my dad, sister, brother, brother-in-law, and wife to sign up so we can pool our resources and increase our chances of landing some tickets.

November 12, 2008

100,000 Baby!

Yesterday evening around 6:30pm our Neon hit the 100,000 mile mark.

This is the first car I've ever owned long enough to knock out that many miles. Even the used cars I had in high school and college never rolled over one hundred miles.

I waxed poetically enough about the Neon when the car passed 90,000 miles on November 26, 2006 that I don't feel like I need to say anything more about the durability of our little Neon. Just go read that post again.

I'm just surprised it has taken almost 2 years exactly to tick off those last 10,000 miles. It's almost a little freaky.

luckily it flipped to 100,000 miles less than a mile away from our house, otherwise I won't have been able to snap this photo
Considering the condition of the car, the slow rate we are putting miles on the vehicle, and the good gas mileage the Neon gets, I might be driving this vehicle a long, long time. Maybe it's time to get the radio that crapped out in 2000 finally fixed.

Happy Birthday Dad

You're 62 today.

I was going to drink a 6-pack of Stroh's beer and fall asleep on the couch watching some random sporting event in your honor, but I couldn't find any Stroh's and frankly, I'm just not that tired.

Don't know how you do it. You're a unique guy.

My Dad actually stopped drinking Stroh's about twenty years ago, but some memories stick with you

Why I Never Went Into Logistics

screen shot of the tracking recordWe ordered new water filters for our refrigerator from a company online because 1) Sears no longer carried the filters in their store and 2) we could get them cheap by order in bulk from a trade supplier.

The company supplied a tracking number for our shipment, which I have been clicking on daily so I can see where our filters are.

(I totally geek-out on the use of tracking numbers. Check them constantly. Call Heather when I know the package is about to be delivered. Yes, I’m a dork.)

What I can’t figure out is why something leaving Indianapolis, IN would go all the way up to New Berlin, Wisconsin – a town 26 miles west of Milwaukee – when its intended destination is just outside of Chicago - a town 100 miles closer to Indy than Milwaukee is.

They drove right past us.

and who wants to go to Milwaukee anyway?I’m sure FedEx has worked out all the logistics of shipping and there’s a reason our package didn't stop in Chicago, but it’s a mystery to me. Ultimately I don't care, just as long as Heather and I get our water filters.

November 11, 2008

Open Letter to Chicago Media Outlets

I think we both agree that the majority of the people in Chicago are probably excited about Barack Obama's Presidential victory.

chicago tribune obama coverageWhether it's because he's our first black President, a hope for real change in government, a local Chicago boy, or just anyone other than George Bush, there is an angle there for just about everyone to be interested in what an Obama administration has in store for the country.

That being said, do we really need to have every aspect and movment of the Obama's life between now and January 20, 2009 documented, photographed, analyzed, and reported?

I understand that it is exiting to have someone from Chicago preparing to assume the top office in the country and Obama and his family are an interesting topic, but in just seven days you have hit a a fever pitch in your coverage that I' m not sure is sustainable for the next seventy odd days.

chicago sun-time obama coverageWhat concerns me is that you are working your damnedest to do just that - fill every day from now to the Inauguration with as much Obama-ness as possible. Which I can only imagine means more stories about where Barack and Michelle had dinner last night or psycho-babble about why we might be jealous of Barack.

If people thoughg the press fauned over Obama during the Democratic primaries, then in comparisson what you guys have done over the last seven days could be described as obsessive stalking.

I think the guy is great. I' m excited and interested in seeing what he does as President. But you are on the verge of killing that enthusiasm with your constant reporting on every movement, speech, thought, and breath taken by Barack, Michelle, and their two daughters.

He's going to be President for four years. Pace yourself.

Thanks,
Brendan

Animaniacs

I miss the Animaniacs. Considering how much Ian, Emma, and Zoe love the old Bug Bunny cartoons, I think they would eat Yakko, Wakko, and Dot up.

We should really look into getting some of the DVD collections of this wonderful cartoon series.

November 10, 2008

I Miss My iFM

One of the great flaws of the iPod was Steve Job’s refusal to include an FM tuner in the ubiquitous little media player. It was why I had loved my Griffen iFM so much. That little device gave the freedom to listen to live radio through my iPod when I grew bored with my collection of music and podcasts.

It was always refreshing to turn over the programming to someone else for awhile. Not only could I be surprised by the songs I would hear while listening to the radio, I might hear something completely new. There are plenty of current residents in my iPod’s music collection that ended up there only because I discovered them first on the radio.

Griffen iFMSo it was with great dismay last week when I realized that I had left my iFM on the train. I had taken it out to use while riding the train home for a dentist appointment, and didn’t realize until the next morning that the device had never made it back into my bag.

I checked both the lost and found offices at the Aurora train station (where that afternoon train I was riding finished its run) and the main lost and found office downtown at Union Station.

Bumpkis.

My iFM is gone. But even though I still love listening to the radio, do I need to replace it?

It’s true that I hadn’t been using the iFM as much since Steve Dahl switched from afternoon drive-time to a morning slot on the radio, but I was still pulling the iFM out a few days each month to either mix up my listening options or to make use of the convenient iPod control the iFM also provided.

But does that really define a need? Could I not continue to get by with just the songs and podcasts on my iPod and save the radio listening for at home?

Possibly.

I found a lot of places selling the iFM online (new and in-box), and fairly cheaply too. Heather’s parents just gave me some money for my birthday that I was looking to splurge with a little. So there would be some guilt free cash I could free up to buy a gadget like this.

Heather suggests I wait a week or so to see how much I really miss the iFM, then make a decision on buying a replacement or not. However, in the week since I left the mini-radio on the train it isn’t not having the iFM to listen to that I am missing. It’s not having the option of being able to listen to the iFM that I am missing. I just want to know that I could listen to the iFM, regardless of whether I do or not.

I guess I need to figure out if I want to pay money for the option of doing something or if I learn to live without that option.

November 09, 2008

Autumn 2008 Photo Parade

The parade is short, but there are some fun photos from activity we were involved in over the last few months.

Make sure you take a look at all of the photos.

November 08, 2008

Painting With a Video Game

I think it is wonderful how the Internet has given people greater access to artists around the world - and also provided a way for those artists to share how they create their art.

Take for example, Sean Phillips. I have been a fan of his art since seeing his work on Sleeper, and have followed him ever since.

On his blog he is always providing peek at works-in-progress or sharing sample artwork, and I love getting that inside view of the artist.

sean phillips DS artworkI was catching up with posts on hos blog the other day and found this piece (at right) from the middle of October. It seemed like a rather simple - but good - painting of a nude until I read that he had done the painting on his Nintendo DS.

The same little machine that my son Ian plays Pokemon and Indiana Jones on Phillips used to create a piece of art. It blew my mind.

What's even more remarkable is the video he posted showing him creating this piece on his DS.

The video is time-lapsed, so it plays quickly, but I can't help but marvel at how he is able to pull together little swatches and blobs of color into the final piece of art. Even without knowing that he was painting this on a Nintendo DS, the ability to start with blocks of color and then layer and shade your way to picture of something is a skill I am envious of.

I'd post the video of Sean painting on the DS if I could. If you want to see it you'll have to go to his website.

November 06, 2008

Because It's My Birthday And I'll Post This If I Want To



Not much of a Guitar Hero fan, but I like Heidi Klum.

The Election Results That Really Matter

Frankly, I expected bacon to win by a larger margin.

bacon vs fries

November 05, 2008

Birthday Cake Idea

Heather, I know this is sorta last minute, but I found the birthday cake I would like to have this year.

The kids at Confetti Cakes already made one, so you pretty much just need to replicate their handy work. I know you are up to the challenge.

LEGO Batman cake

Oh, it took them 12 days to build the cake. But you work fast, I'm confident it won't take you that long.

Reflections on the Election

At the beginning of September I was uncertain of where my vote for President would go. There were qualities about both Obama and McCain that I admired and which I felt made them qualified to lead the country; but there were also plenty of unanswered questions I had about both men.

I’ve always been someone to resist being pegged conservative or liberal, red or blue, Republican or Democrat; so I began educating myself on some of the other Presidential candidates (except Nader, I think that guy’s a certified nut). There was a time around mid-September where I serious thought I would be casting a vote for the Libertarian candidate, like I did back in 2004.

But the campaigns took interesting turns through the end of September and into October. I was disturbed and disappointed in what I saw in some, and conversely encouraged by what I saw in others. Ultimately I landed in the Barack Obama camp, and cast my vote for his leadership. It was in Barack I found the most confidence in an ability to lead and inspire a nation. He was who I thought should be the next President of the United States of America.

My decision was based on my personal assessment of the men running for the office of the President of the United States. I picked the man who I thought had the temperament, intelligence, and leadership skills that our country needed at this time. Race had no influence on my final decision.

However, watching Barack’s acceptance speech Tuesday night I was left with a number of emotions, not the least of which was pride. Pride in my country’s ability to finally elected someone other than a white man to be our President.

As the final weeks of the campaigns wore down and the polls were predicting an Obama victory, I harbored a concern that the polls were wrong. That when pushed came to shove, there was still enough fear and buried racism in the America that those voters who said they would vote for Obama wouldn’t be able to pull the lever in his favor on Election Day for reasons other than an ideological or political difference with the Obama.

In my mind, it is perfectly acceptable to not vote for Obama because you disagree with his tax proposals or you don’t think he has enough experience to be President. Just don’t not vote for him because he is black or because his middle name is Hussein. And on the flip side, you don’t vote for the man simply because he is black. Make him accountable for what he stands for and agree to that vision before you cast your vote in his favor. Or not.

The sizable electoral count in Barack’s favor Tuesday night along with a popular vote count pushing close to 53%, I felt proud of what our country had done. Certainly there were slices of America that voted based on race – for and against Obama; but you can’t win (or lose) a Presidential election, in my opinion, on skin color alone. And even if a large number of people voted based on race, I don’t believe it would translate into the sort of voting results that came out Tuesday night. Simply put, the more popular candidate won because of his broader appeal to the people – and he just happened to be black.

I like to think America is color blind, though I am not naive enough to believe this to be true. But the result of this Presidential election kindles within me the hope that true color blindness is a realistic and achievable goal. I am proud of the step we took as a nation yesterday.

President Barack Obama

November 04, 2008

Write This One Down. It’s A Good One.

Today is Irish comedian Hal Roach’s birthday.

cover to Hal Roach albumWhen my brother and I were little, my grandparents used to play Hal Roach comedy albums for us all the time. Roach’s humor is (was?) somewhat goofy and certainly corny; perfect for impressionable 7 and 8 year-old boys. The subject of his comedy was mainly Irish life – at least the mildly stereotypical Irish life, that was structured around short stories with a few one-liners thrown in for good measure. My brother and I ate his comedy up. We memorized his routines and could do all of his jokes.

Time has worn some of those jokes from my memory, but I surprised myself by referencing one of Roach’s jokes while talking with a co-working this afternoon. After explaining who Hal Roach was and supplying some more examples of his jokes (the co-worker wasn’t too impressed), I decided to see what I could find on the web regarding Roach.

Not entirely surprisingly, there was very little information to be found regarding Roach. His Wikipedia entry is barely a few paragraphs long and there doesn’t seem to be anything else out there besides stores selling one or two of his albums. No personal website. No news. No anything.

All I was really able to learn was that today is his birthday.
So, happy birthday Hal Roach.

Goodbye Robo-Calls

Regardless of which candidates you voted for today, one issue that I believe the entire population could galvanize behind and support in a unanimous manner is the ending of political campaign phone calls.

In past elections, I remember Heather and me receiving a phone call or two in the weeks leading up to the election. But the number of calls we received in previous years paled in comparison to the volume of phone calls from volunteers, campaign committees, and automated systems that inundated our home phone over the last two months.

Our phone was ringing two or three times a day from some representative of somebody’s campaign who wanted to know if they could count on our support on November 4. Heather just started saying “yes” to whoever was on the phone so she could hang up on them as quickly as possible.

What was particularly annoying was the number of automated phone invitations to join virtual town hall meetings via the phone so we could ask questions of some candidate. An impromptu conference call on a Saturday afternoon? Lame.

But now the calls will end. My proposal, before we pass any economic stimulus packages or bail out any more banks, there should be a plan to add a referendum to the ballot of the next election regarding the elimination of these annoying campaign cold calls.

Wondermark 11.04.08

November 03, 2008

Butterfinger Debate

Heather and Ian love Butterfinger candy bars. I can't get past the unnatural orange glow the inside of the candy gives off.

Today's Sheldon comic strip celebrates this difference of opinion.

Sheldon comic for 11.03.08