Wednesday, August 29, 2007

A Picture Worth A Thousand Words...

Caption Contest: Who can come up with the best caption for this picture?

Thursday, August 23, 2007

How To Recycle Your Old Electronics...

Works for me.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Ride Report

Been a while since my last ride report. The last couple of months I've been splitting miles between the 2 bikes (Trek and Honda) about 60/40 in favor of the bicycle. In the last week I've racked up over 85 miles either commuting to work or just riding around town. I have a nice 12 mile loop laid out around my end of town that I can do in a little under an hour. I've managed to either dodge the heaviest traffic or ride on roads that have wide lanes and shoulders. The legs are starting to feel really good again...starting to look pretty good too according to the women folk.

With the temps and the heat index over 100 each day it's been a little hot, though. Rode to work one morning last week and my Beautiful Wife chastised me ever-so severely...she said I looked pale like the day they made me go to the hospital. That morning it was as humid as a sauna and impossible to catch your breath. The perspiration just hung on you and wouldn't evaporate. Who said we have 'dry heat' here in Texas? I'm being-have and being careful for her.

About the middle of June I took the bike in for a maintenance clinic at REI in Dallas. I learned the intricacies of adjusting the front and rear derailleurs, cables, and checking the bottom bracket. Found out my chain was shot so I purchased a new one. Ever since the shifting has been weird. The mechanic that did it all must have been an amateur...I'll have to remember to keep that guy away from it in the future. It's finally dry enough now to get everything lubed up's a bear to keep it all working when it's wet.

About 60% of the way to my weight goal. Not sure if I have a snow ball's chance of making it all the way there (if I do I'll weigh less than I did at the end of my 8th grade year) but I'm gonna' try. Since March I've started eating 5 or 6 small meals a day. I've sworn off beef, all forms of pork, egg yolk, whole dairy products and (the worst one) every form of potatoes. None of it's really been a problem...except the potatoes. Mmmm--Chic-Fil-A Waffle Fries!!!


Thursday, August 09, 2007

Folllow Up: Cartoons, Movies and TV Shows

I said the other day that we were going to check out The Simpson's and Transformers. We caught them last week as well as Bourne Ultimatum and Harry Potter.

Simpson's: complete and total fun. I haven't laughed like that in ages. I've not watched the TV show any kind of regular for several years now so it all seemed fresh and fun to me (I do catch Stewie and Cartman fairly regular, though). I hope they do another in the future. This is a good way to spend an afternoon.

Transformers: Totally blown away. This movie caught me off guard. I didn't know what to expect so I was ready for a decent movie with glitzy special effects. What I got was a movie with a pretty decent story and plot (especially considering it's based on a cartoon based on a toy) and special effects that were, honestly, as good as and as believable as anything I've ever seen. They've gotta' do more of these. the way...I'm usually a Ford guy be SIGN ME UP FOR THAT CAMARO!

Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix: very good. The most serious and darkest of the movies. Not really meant for little bitty ones. Speaking of little bitty ones: those kids have grown up right in front of us and we didn't even know it.

The Bourne Ultimatum: I had not seen either of the first 2 of these. No particular reason, just never got around to it. My daughter kept telling me how friggin' awesome they were and the reviews for this one said it was the best so on Friday night last we sat down and watched Identity and Supremacy back to back. I was glad my first time was on DVD so I could review the fast parts and the hopelessly twisted plot. She was right...they were friggin' awesome. Saturday we caught the matinee for Ultimatum. I think I did it all three more or less back to back for the first time (like never having watched any of the Star Wars movies and sitting down and doing it all straight through). I understand that the movies differ quite a bit from the books (the characters and some of the basic plot points are the same but similarities end there) and having never read or heard any details of them I now have this pristine fresh experience. I DO recommend that anyone seeing Ultimatum at least review the first 2 before you won't regret it.

Finished watching the the best season of one of the best TV shows ever. It was better than I remembered. Ron Perlman and Linda Hamilton introduce some of the episodes. I'm going to give it a month or so and watch it again...very, VERY good stuff. Studios and networks don't have the courage to put stuff this good out now-a-days. Here's hoping they will release the third season soon and dreaming that they will follow through on the promises of the last 20 years and either revive it or do a movie...but only if it's true to the original.


Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Review: OFF 2K-7

Well, took the plunge about 4 months ago. I took all my saved up Best Buy Father's day/Birthday/Christmas gift cards and sprung for Office 2007.

So, my take: 'ehhh.'

Maybe I'm a stick in the mud but why the heck do they want to change the basic interface when hundred's of millions of people have gotten pretty darn good at it? Maybe it would have been OK 10 years ago when they were fighting Lotus and Word Perfect for top-dog status and maybe it's OK if your a middle aged 'boomer who's never heard of a DOC or a spreadsheet...but how many of them are left out there? Most everyone has some level of familiarity with the Office suite in particular and Windows-standard interface in general.

I guess it just puzzles me that you have a pretty good product and instead of fixing the things that need fixing (like MEMORY HOGGING---BLOAT---CRASHING) you 'mess' with the stuff that doesn't need to be 'messed' with (yes, you can substitute the 'other' word for 'mess'). Case in point: I dare you, the first time you open a doc or spreadsheet in OFF 2K-7 to save it in another format (say plain text) and not spend at least 5 or 10 minutes trying to figure out how the hell to do it. Also, if you're going to be sharing your stuff with anyone else be aware that the default file format for Word and Excel aren't compatable with older versions...that same 5-10 minutes to figure out how the first time. All applications do a good job of reading older versions, though.

PowerPoint seems to be the most improved and Outlook seems to have the least 'messed' with interface. Haven't touched Publisher yet. A positive: the applications seem to open and respond much quicker than any of the old versions do so performance seems to be improved (although occasionally when I close one I get some strange 'application error' box pop up). I'm sure as time goes by and especially when & if we make the switch at work I'll get more used to it and eventually fall in love and try to figure out how I ever got along without it but until then it's going to be a pain.

Makes me really think twice about upgrading to Vista. I still have the free upgrade that came with the new PC we got last Christmas but I have been waiting for SP-1 to release before installing it. If Vista is going to be as big of an interface change as OFF 2K-7 I'm not sure I want to put my Beautiful Wife through between THOSE lines.


Monday, August 06, 2007

47 Days Until Autumn

We have been immeasurably blessed here in North Texas this summer. This has been one of the wettest May-July periods on record and so far one of the coolest (global warming rears it's ugly head again). Usually this time of year some of the lawns and all the weeds and grass are burned over brown but not this year. Everything is lush and green.

We haven't even had any 100 degree days...yet. Looks like later this week and for the next 10-14 days we will be playing around the century mark. I'm with Laura...I can't wait for autumn. I hope we don't have too much 'summer'. Sometimes around here we can have miserable-hot 100+ weather right up until Halloween.

Maybe this fall and winter will be different. Maybe it will be like my freshmen year in college. I had come home on Halloween weekend to attend my first post-graduation high school homecoming game. The coach let me stand on the sidelines with all my buddies for old time sake. Our game was Friday night and I froze my butt off. The temp hovered in the upper 30's...unheard of for here that time of year. The next day, Halloween, we had 4 " of snow. All the old timers said they had never seen that happen and predicted a rough winter. Two months later, right after I returned to school at the end of Christmas break, we had 2 of the worst snowstorms back to back our area has ever seen. The summer that year had been mild and wet too.

Maybe this year will be a mirror of that...we are waaaay past due for a bad winter. It's almost time for the long range winter forecasts and my favorite: the Old Farmer's Almanac! Gotta admire a bunch that tries to predict the weather a year in advance!


Saturday, August 04, 2007

Dream Bike

Had a little fun with Pedal Mafia and designed some dream bikes:

Dream Bike 1

Dream Bike 2

Dream Bike 3

Dream Bike 4

In case you hadn't noticed I'm partial to variations of black/white and gold. Which looks best?


Thursday, August 02, 2007

Tour de What?

In case you haven't noticed (and judging by the TV ratings you haven't) the Tour de France ended it's 3 week run this past Sunday 7-29-07. For the first time in 9 years someone other than an American won: Alberto Contador of Spain. But for the 8th time in 9 years a rider from Lance Armstrong's Discovery Chanel team won: Alberto Contador. Kudos, also, to Levi Leipheimer from Discovery for finishing on the podium in 3rd place overall. Discovery won the overall team championship for the first time too.

Congratulations for a hard fought, 3-week long, 2200 mile journey across hot flat land and up some of the steepest mountains on the planet...even the ones who didn't win but managed to finish deserve congrats. I can't imagine what kind of condition you have to be in to accomplish something like this.

I don't quite understand why pro cycling hasn't caught on here in the US more than it has. You have a sport where, believe it or not, teamwork is more important than in football, baseball or basketball. You have winners for each day's stage as well as over the long haul. There's strategy, drafting, you can root for a sponsor, a team or any number of individual racers...all very similar to NASCAR. Maybe it's because all the 'big' events happen in Europe like the tours of Italy, France and Spain (called the Grand Tours...each 3 weeks long) and the dozens of 1-6 day races all over Europe from March through September. The Tour of California and the Tour de Georgia seem to be very popular here. The Tour of Missouri goes off for the first time in September, but they don't get the attention or coverage from the traditional sports outlets.

Instead we hear about athletes who think they're above the law. Jeremy is right. The NFL is going Ghetto. Although when you look at the supposed drug problems in cycling the same could be said about it too. This years tour was rocked by too many drug controversies to keep track of. I can't imagine these guys being stupid enough to think they can get away with it.

Cycling has vastly tighter tolerance for failed tests of testosterone than sports in this country. Plus they test way more often and for things other sports don't like EPO (used on cancer patients to boost the body's production of red blood cells), artificial blood and blood transfusions (a guy takes on an extra pint and he has greater endurance). While each of these can cause health problems and even death some athletes think the risks are worth it.

Could the one's doing the testing have it out for certain riders? That's one claim from last year's disgraced winner Floyd Landis. Could it be the testing isn't as reliable as they want everyone to think? That's another (and to me more believable) claim from the Floyd Landis camp. The tests for testosterone are so tight that I doubt most people off the street who take allergy medicine on occasion or certain over-the-counter dietary supplements (DHEA for example...used to boost the bodies ability to produce testosterone and promote faster recovery after training) could ever hope to pass.

Maybe these guys really are that stupid...the pressure and desire to win can be awfully strong. I hope they get it worked out soon. This is about the last sport that I care to keep up with. I've gotten to really like some of them and I've seen too many of them die from giving in to the pressure to win.

On a lighter note: I snuck off to France to catch the finish of one of the stages and someone snapped my picture while I was waiting...does this oufit make me look fat???

[Hat tip to Yam for the pic]