Sunday, December 30, 2007

This Little Piggy Is Eating Roast Beef On New Year's Eve

I know. You are probably saying, "what the hell?" This isn't the piggy that went to market, not the one that stayed home but it's the one that will wind up celebrating the New Year on someone's table... as decoration of course. I couldn't help but adopt this photo from's blog as it serves multiple purposes and topics at once.

I'm doing very well on my low-carb diet. I do well on these for a few main reasons. I can become obsessive about intake. Eating small high protein meals every 3 hours (to boost metabolism) gives me a chance to entirely focus and plan something that I just did on whim -- eat. What I do notice is that I am able to clear a lot of odd things out of the freezer that were there for a long time. Like some turkey bacon. (Never really thought about it but it uses white turkey meat for the areas that look like fat on regular bacon. Tricky. But it must have saved a pig named Babe, Wilbur, Piglet, Snowball or Napoleon.) Anyhow, I'm 2 weeks in and dropped 10 lbs. I plan to stay on this until the wedding as it has always worked well for me. (Might as well look good for photos, right.)

The secondary purpose is that I wanted to post a picture of someone celebrating the new year. The pig? Well, in February it will be the end of the 'year of the pig' -- fire pig to be specific. (I was born in the year of the metal pig but yet I'm not a huge Black Sabbath fan... go figure.) I'll be at work until an hour after (unless the fates make it easy for me to leave early but... I'm not expecting it.) My resolution? To organize 80's Music Central and its media branches into a legitimate business model -- possibly an LLC. More on that in the new year. Anyhow, I want to take this time to thank all of you and express my heartfelt wishes for a 2008 that exceeds your 2007. If it doesn't, the backup plan is to urge Santa to give you a karaoke machine for that Christmas. (Ours came in pretty handy there, St. Nick. Kerry does a mean version of Paula Abdul's "Cold Hearted.") Have a very prosperous new year!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas 2007

We just returned home from dinner with both of our families. We are doing that again tomorrow (with present opening) and a breakfast. I have no problems driving around a bit during the holidays because it is to spend time with family. It's harder if we had to schedule most of our friends in as well. As a gift (or curse) to you who read my rantings, I am posting the best photo that I've had taken recently... and it just so happens to be with my new little family. So, here are myself, Kerry and David.

Not good enough? Damn you! Well, here's one of my favorite Christmas songs for your scrutiny and enjoyment.

To each and every one of you, I wish only the best this holiday season.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Is It Really A Gift?

This has always been something that has bothered me and I figured that I should get it posted before Christmas for obvious reasons: the commercials showing a husband or wife being surprised by their spouse with a new car as a gift.

It looks really innocent. It also looks overly generous. But is it really a "gift"? I could see the 'giver' picking it up the day before for a 'test drive' and putting the bow on it (I guess sells them specifically for cars) only if Billy or Betty have been nagging said giver about needing a new car and having a certain make and model in mind. But, is it a gift if the 'receiver' must continue to make payments on it? Isn't the 'giver' just signing you up for payments for 5 years? When I see those commercials, I figure that the advertiser really doesn't understand that not everyone can plop down $20,000+ on a loved one this holiday season/birthday/anniversary. I also expect to see an accurate commercial where the 'receiver' turns to the 'giver' and asks, "How much are the payments?"

Mind you, I have considered similar gifts in the past. I love my Tivo and my Sirius radio but, if I gave it to someone as a gift, they must make monthly payments of $12 or more. What kind of crappy present forces a 'receiver' to pay for it?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Premium Blend

I think that I've told you about my father being a health nut. Well, several years ago, when we lived together, he would make protein shakes/smoothies about 3 times a day. (Talk about a liquid diet.) The problem we had was that his constant use of the product burned the motor out within the year. A burned motor smells similar to burnt hair with burnt plastic mixed in. I can still remember the smell as it seems he went through about 3 of them before we re-thought our process. We both go to Costco and the last one of those we decided to get there because they have a great return policy. During the return, they had someone in the store showing off the Vita-mix and it was a no-brainer purchase.

Sure it is a bit more costly. Feel free to go to the above link to see the video samples they have up there. Essentially, it's industrial grade as it is used in TCBYs, Dairy Queens, Applebees... actually there is a long list but I don't remember them all. The 2 HP motor creates enough friction to pulverize almost anything that gets put in there (and has a variable rate for chopping, shredding, etc.) as well as boil water. (really) Ever had something in the blender sticking to the sides and you couldn't push some of the stuff toward the blades? I tried to fix that with a spoon or two and regretted every attempt. The tamper they give you reaches close to the blades but not far enough to interfere allowing you to push ice and other solids toward the bottom to be mixed when necessary. You could even purchase an add-on to allow you to make bread dough (from whole grain.) Dad got pretty creative with his concoctions as he would put his protein powder, juice, peanut butter, berries, flax seed oil and many other things in. And they didn't taste bad at all. So I vowed to purchase one for myself when I got my own house.

Those blenders have been on my mind for years now. They tend to be cheaper during these sales events at the store ($350 as opposed to $449 on the site) so I've been on the lookout for the last few years. Heck, I think I even stared at one that Teri and Lloyd had. I told my friend T.J. that if he saw one on sale when he goes to Costco to call me and let me know. So last week, I had to run to the store with Kerry and after turning the corner from frozen foods... there they were. David drank one sample there quickly and we both wound up having one of the berry ice cream samples (cabbage and carrots were hidden in the mix but tasted great.) I looked at this as a sign that this was the time to purchase it (as a pre-wedding gift to ourselves.) It is sitting at Kerry's house right now and has been through one experiment already. Frozen strawberries, a banana and broccoli (which was David's idea). From the first test, a whole banana is too much. I expect we will have a lot of time to create a favorite or two. Thankfully it comes with some starter recipes.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Party For A Day

I had to use this picture. It sums a lot of my topic up here as it comes from an interesting Web site that explains Nevada party registration. I'm sure they are hiding knives.

If you've read some of my posts in the past, you may remember that I'm a registered Libertarian. I do agree with their economic policies but find myself slightly disillusioned with the rest of their platform. That isn't to say that any other party screams "I'm the one!" but after reading what you might have read on that Web site mentioned above, you will notice that going outside either of the two major political parties limits your participation in voting. With all that in my head... this happened today:

I was approached at my main job by representatives of a union to which I belong. The union is wishing to show major support at Nevada's Democratic caucus. They have approached many of their members in an effort to create an overwhelming turn-out showing the strength of the union behind the candidates (or a particular one.) Anyhow, they asked me if I would change my party affiliation for the caucus (allowing me to attend) and that they'd quickly switch it to whatever I wanted afterwards. You may guess that I find this fraudulent.

I think what upsets me more is that with as much thought as I put into what party I wish to register, I am asked to change momentarily for the glory of worker solidarity, a chance to attend a caucus, a chance to be on television or just a whim? Maybe I'm taking it too seriously. I mean, it's only an election... sure, a presidential one. But, honestly, I do hold my core values close and may even take an affront to my views personally. But, how much would it take to get you to change your party?

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Tech Mumblings

I decided to leave that post up there for a bit to savor the moment. Now back to your regularly scheduled babbling. If anything, you know that I've had my issues with software running on my new system. The early adoption idea may have bitten me in the butt here and there but I am finding some work-arounds.

Although, iTunes does not support the 64-bit version of Vista, I wound up connecting two dots. The issues that I had with trying to burn discs seems to have surfaced in iTunes. The main error message that I was getting talked about problems with burning discs and importing music. During a bit of searching, I discovered a driver that some people were using as an alternative. No more errors.

Things were looking great. But we all know that when things are going well... hide the cutlery. I believe it was an update to FireFox that caused the new issues. What issues? When using the browser (which is what I use for 98% of my work) the bookmarks are missing. If you have the program running right now, feel free to click on your bookmarks tab and see what it shows. The only options shown are manage and organize bookmarks. The bookmarks come back once I click on one of the two options but only for that session. Next problem is also with the bookmarks as once they show up, you can't click on one to open it. Which makes them useless. Then, after closing the browser, it remains running in the processes not allowing it to be reopened. Lastly the bottom of the browser (maybe about an inch and a half) is grey and just takes up space. My solution... I just stopped using it and imported those bookmarks to Internet Explorer. Takes some getting used to again but it'll work until I discover a fix (as reinstalls didn't help and going back to an earlier version might create problems with other saved files.)

Of course, for those of you that haven't looked into Vista, there is something called User Accounts. They are pretty interesting as a level of protection similar to a firewall but they could be too good. You see, Microsoft doesn't give all the information on the new operating system to people writing software to be used by it. One program (which allows me to start Talkshoe where I record the podcast) will not get necessary updates if the User Account is turned on. So, I must turn it off to start the show. I don't know how many other programs have this issue but it's a pain. But, no major technical issues with the show in the last couple months.

Lastly, in a non-computer tech issue, my stand-alone Cyberhome DVD burner went kaput. I discovered that as there were a ton of fuzzy lines on my screen during Sunday football. The only fix was unplugging it. It's not like I don't have another burner and now the player on the computer works.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Queensryche - Take Cover

Queensryche have returned, after closing the Operation: Mindcrime storyline, with a covers album. Recently, there has been a trend of 80's recording artists releasing albums of their favorite songs that they've re-recorded. According to vocalist Geoff Tate, many of these were songs that they had played around with during soundcheck during their tour.

We don't often review cover albums. But, we have a few reasons to break with tradition here. Queensryche have given some of these songs an 'extreme makeover.' Pink Floyd's "Welcome To The Machine" is the first single and opens the disc reaping the rewards from a change in arrangement. Likewise, "Heaven On Their Minds," from Jesus Christ Superstar (written by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice) gets a new intensity and may be one of the more drastic and pleasing updates. I found myself taken aback, on "For The Love Of Money" by the O'Jays, as it comes across darker and even funkier yet fresher. I also found myself pleased by versions of The Police's "Synchronicity II" (I think I paid attention to the lyrics more) and Peter Gabriel's "Red Rain" (sound-a-like vocals early on had me doing a double-take but they slowly evolve amidst a very clean soundscape.) Their version of Queen's "Innuendo" adds depth, texture and atmosphere while paying tribute and not offending the original. The group's live recording of U2's "Bullet The Blue Sky" sounds terrific but goes nearly 11 minutes due to a spoken-word rant that starts about 3 minutes in and appears again after an instrumental segment. A few of the other tracks weren't as memorable but didn't have me going for the skip button. The addition of "Odissea" (from the Italian opera) could possibly give them a hit in Italy but had me scratching my head slightly.

I do believe that cover albums are a great way to pay your respects to the music that got you where you are. Most bands have to start out playing other people's music in clubs before they are allowed to perform originals. On Take Cover, the band tackle some favorite songs by bringing their performance style and fresh arrangements to them. Overall, the band are successful here and get to show off skills outside their own compositions and fan expectations. Well worth picking up for fans.

3 out of 5