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Archive for February, 2009

Star Wars Quiz — Survivors

February 23rd, 2009 1 comment

Okay this will be a short post. Hopefully it will be a fun one.

How many characters introduced in movies I, II, and III are alive at the end of VI (that would be Episode 6 Return of the Jedi)?

Dead Jedi ghosts do not count. They are dead.

No cheating and looking at other comment answers before you post, then you can go back and read everyone’s result.

Categories: Sci-Fi Tags: , , , ,

Lawn Ninja — The Art of Being a Gardening Geek

February 16th, 2009 1 comment

Those who know me know that one way to describe me is “Lazy and proud of it”. When I’m motivated to do something I go at it with a passion, but for me getting motivated is the hard part. And if physical labor is involved, the harder, after all I am an in-tee-lex-you-al type.

So when it comes to yard work I play as anti-geek as I can.

I grew up on a farm and probably part of my dislike for yard work comes from having been made to do it as a child. I’ve hoed more rows of tobacco, corn and beans than I care to remember. As a Kentucky farm boy, I spent days wandering the fields and forests of our farm. I can still today identify most deciduous tree types. I can recognize the difference between Kentucky 31 Tall Fescue and Kentucky Blue Grass.

The problem is I don’t care and don’t want to know because knowing means getting pulled into the world of the “Lawn Ninja”. The Lawn Ninja is a breed of suburban yard warriors who want immaculate lawns and sculptured gardens. They labor for hours on the weekends giving up sleep and net-surfing time to make sure their yards are manicured better than their neighbors. Its a “forget keeping up with the Jones, but beat them into submission” circumstance of one-up-man-ship.

In our neighborhood you aerate the yard in the fall, pushing a spiked unmanageable steamroller over the yard poking holes in the ground (and hoping it doesn’t clip your cable-modem line!). Then reseed for the fall after rounding up everything you don’t like in your yard. Of course, you can’t leave a single leaf on the ground.

This late winter comes and you’re having to cut back the shrubbery, in our case Pampas grass, butterfly bushes and crepe myrtles. Lay down some pre-emergent crabgrass killer and fertilizer and a whole lot of lime.

Spring comes and beyond mowing, its time for weed and feed, spring seeding and more crabgrass killer. Edging, trimming, planting new flowers and so on.

Growing up, I raked leaves and mowed the yard. We never reseeded. We never burned gallons of Round-up. I just don’t get why we need to put this much effort in to grow grass.

Why can’t I spend my Saturday’s trying to fix up old computers or write cool new computer programs or shoot photos of great looking models?

But alas, we are determined to actually have grass this year in our front yard, which means more I have to mow.

I’ve returned from UNC and survived to talk about it.

February 7th, 2009 2 comments

A couple of weeks ago, my wife received a pair of free tickes to see the UNC Tarheels play the Virginia Cavilers at the Dean Smith Center on the UNC Campus.  The arena is named after their retired Hall of Fame coach Dean Smith.

No one can argue that Dean Smith was a great coach.  He has a national championship under his belt, coached the likes of Michael Jordan and James Worthy.  His famed “Four Corners” offense, where he intentionally tried not to score is directly responsible for the “shot clock” in College Basketball.  Even as a Kentucky fan, growing up in the Adoph Rupp era, attending the University of Kentucky during the Joe B. Hall era, you have to appreciate his accomplishments, even if he is the Evil Overloard  of Tarheel nation.

But free tickets are free and it was an experience my wife, the “Queen of Free” wanted to have while we live here.

Now we have been here in ACC hell for nearly 10 years.  I call it ACC hell because this has to be the most arrogant conference in all of college sports.  And you ACC fans who hate Billy Packer, the long time color commentator for CBS for the ACC being as strong as it is.  It could be game between Indiana and Notre Dame and all Billy Packer could do is pimp the ACC.

With the exception of UNC everyone else’s basketball programs are no where near the level the fans believe them to be.  Duke has its moments and has probably benefited most from Packer’s free advertising.  But UNC has always been there near the top and from a Kentucky perspective, they are the enemy, the biggest threat to our way of life

All teams ebb and flow through the years.  Some coaches will do well, others will not.  Some recruiting classes are stronger than others and this is to be expected.  But to be a top program you have to be there, every year.  You need multiple national championships and you need them in different eras and you constantly have to be posting strong winning records.

So as I was picking out my clothes to wear today, I called down to my wife “I don’t have anything Navy and Orange do I?” since that would be the Virginia colors.  “Do I have a UK cap?”.  It brought a chuckle to her, but I couldn’t dare wear anything close to resembling light blue.  So I found a Navy sports shirt with red trim.  She went with a very neutral white color.

We traveled to Chapel Hill to a park-n-ride spot on Highway 54.  If you feel you must ever attend one of these evil events, I highly recommend using park-n-ride.  Its $5 per peep, but you don’t have to deal with traffic at an on-campus arena with no practical parking.  The UNC campus is a bunch of twisty passages all alike.  Being dropped at the door and picked up at the door is a very handy option.  For the $10 we paid, we were handed lovely Tyvek green wrist bands, which I found out later is how you find the right line to get into to find the right bus.  So far, this is a positive event.

Once we arrived at the arena, it was a short climb of steps through people holding up various numbers of fingers, people begging for tickets. Why can’t they just go to the ticket booth?  There were quite a few open seats in the upper deck corners.  Now at this point, I was tempted to sell out gift tickets, pocket the money and call it a successful day.  But I didn’t want to deny my wife her experience.

The entry lines were dividied into people with bags and people without.  Since we packed light, we headed into the non-bag line and was quickly ushered into the arena.  Once inside, the small concourses caused the sea of powder blue lemmings to pack together like penguins huddling to keep warm.  The line for the ladies room was at least 50 people deep.  As we moved from gate A around to find our seats, there was plenty of chances to look down upon the hardwood and see the pre-game activities.

We took a full tour around the arena as we were looking for a co-worker of my wife’s who was working a concession stand.  We never found him, but we ended back in to the Blue sardine packing company again.  We grabbed a bite to eat and headed to our seats.  Now at this point, I was feeling a bit of awe about the building, but it was only a tinge.

Our seats were upper deck on the asile and for the most part had a pretty good view when the man in front of me sat back in his seat, but he leaned forward most of the game and his melon blocked about 1/4th of the court.

The game for the 1st half was pretty boring and we spent most of the time checking out the people than the game.  The endzone students who bounce the whole game was better in person than it appears on TV.  The section of students besides the band who stand the whole game was a nice touch.  The band sounded good and though none of the dancers, grouped into 4 groups along each edge of the floor were in sequence with their dance steps, they at least were well cooridinated with the music.

Half time came and they were honoring members of the Basketball Hall of Fame.  The problem I have with this is that they were inducted years ago.  How many times are they going to honor James Worthy or Billy Cunningham or the Arch-devil overlord himself, Dean Smith?  The latest inductee was several years ago.  Now supposidly there is a new banner or something, but the banner was already revealed and it was something to show on the big TV screens and get these UNC legends some more face time.  Seriouslly, WTF was that about?  Someone explain it to me.

Now Coach Roy Williams, one of the HOF inductees, must have had a “Come to Jesus” talk with the players at the half because they came out and made Virginia look like a pickup team.  We enjoyed the two “line changes”, where they brought in their subs late, to get about a minute of play time each.    (This is why we like hockey.  Everyone pretty much has to play…..)

After the game, we went down to the floor level and actually stepped out onto the hardwood.  I was hoping I would get a feel of emotion from being there.  It was cool, but that overall feeling of greatness just wasn’t there.

We colleted a set of the nice plastic cups, 4 small and 4 large.  It should serve at torture for my NCSU loving son and my die-hard Duke co-worker.  Free game, free glassware!  On the way out, one of the concession stands had left a bunch of hotdogs on the counter, more freebies.

We met a parent of a hockey player who played with our older son so the line for the shuttle bus passed quickly as we reminised and caught up on our kids.

My soul did not rot and there is no risk of me becoming a UNC fan anytime soon.  I would go back again should more free tickets come our way.

That said, here is my list of sports venues tha speak too you based on their history and feeling of the ghosts watching over you.

  1. Rupp Arena, Lexington, KY.  Home to Kentucky’s Legandary basketball program.
  2. Joe Lewis Arena, Detroit, MI. OMG what a feeling you get when you walk into that building.
  3. Hershey Arena, Hershy Park, PA.  Wilt Chamberlain’s scored his famous 100 points here, but it was the hockey ghosts of minor league hockey that spoke out there.
  4. Wrigly Field, Chicago, IL.  While the Cubs are championship free, you know some major baseball love has been felt there.
  5. HSBC Arena, Buffalo, NY.  While very new in the scale of arena’s go, you feel it when you walk through the doors.

Now I will admit, Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, the old Chicago Stadium and the Boston Gardens should be on this list, but I’ve not had a chance to visit them.

But I’m glad I went.  It was a good experience.

Sports Geek — Playing with imortal fire……

February 7th, 2009 No comments

I grew up in Sports Mecca where I’ve witnessed first hand the magnificent glory of champions. Champions who have won because they were the best and champions who have won because they refused to loose. That mecca is a wonderful world known simply as Kentucky.

Today I’m committing a sin so large that I may never be forgiven.
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Saving with Coupons

February 7th, 2009 No comments

A Followup

Just to demonstrate the power of coupon savings, Sherry and I went to the grocery last night.  It was a two person job because sometimes you have to “game the system”.  In this case, its the limit on coupons per trip.  Our store limits the number of doubling (or in this case tripling) coupons to 20 per visit.  Some people solve this by making two trips, which could be as simple as filling a cart with your items that use your 20 coupons, loading those in the car, coming back in and doing it again or in our case, take two people, two carts.  I think its cheating, but if your going to play the game you have to push the rules to their limits.
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Categories: Shopping Tags:

Saving a lot of Money on Your Grocery Bill

February 5th, 2009 4 comments

As I mentioned in a previous article, my wife, Sherry won’t claim any level of geekness, but there is one thing she is very geek at and that couponing.  She has earned the title “The Queen of Free” and its a title well earned.  Just this past week, three bottles of French’s Worcestershire sauce was picked up completely free.

So I spoke with her about guest blogging, and well blogs are for geeks, so I’m going to share her secrets for you.

Organization

Successful savings starts by knowing what’s on sale and what discounts are available.  There are two phases to being organized.  One is getting coupons for the products that you use and keeping track of them.  The other is keeping up with what is going on sale at what stores.
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Geek Cuisine — Making a Bologna Sandwich

February 2nd, 2009 1 comment

How hard can it be?

Well it can be a real pain in the tookus.

Today during my telecommute day, it was approaching 1:30pm and the hunger monster showed up.  I didn’t want to spend much time preparing something.  I thought “Hmmm, a Bologna Sandwich and Chips would be easy”.  I was soooo wrong.

Normally you grab two pieces of bread, slap the bologna in between, then add your condiments of choice and chow down.

Well I’ve not been here for almost two weeks.  Even though I was in town Saturday and Sunday, we didn’t eat anything at home and I had no idea when the Mrs. had last bought bread.   I find a loaf of wheat bread in the pantry and pull it out.  It felt reasonably soft but I noticed a huge tear in the side of the plastic sleeve.  Some very adult words slipped from my mouth before I noticed that this loaf was one of the double bagged brands (which normally offends my lazyness).  I went to take off the tie and noticed it wasn’t on very good.  My concern level grew somewhat.  Then I get it open and the inner sleeve is open at the top.  My concern level grew considerably and a few more bombs flew.

I pulled out two slices and check for growing green mold.  Now with a whole grain wheat bread, you really can’t tell by smell and with some of the fiberish texture, spotting mold is rather hard.  But it looked safe and was still pretty soft, so I’m assuming that the tear in the outer sleeve must have been pinched off from the opening in the inner sleeve keeping air out.  But to be safe, I grabbed a 1 gallon zip lock bag, put the remaining loaf into the the ziplock, squeezed as much air out as possible and put it back in the pantry.  Now its triple bagged.

Then to the fridge.  We had some bologna before I left for Tacoma so there should be a container in the fridge.  After searching under and behind just about everything in there and a few vulgarities later, I was about ready to give up.  I checked the freezer and I found a new package but I could play hockey with it.

So it was microwave time.

Now if you’ve ever tried to microwave bologna you know two things.  First, it heats up outside first, much like the umbrellas you get when you fry it and don’t cut it.  There is no microwave setting that will get the center (even on the top pieces) defrosted before the outer edges start cooking.  This is evidence that Microwaves don’t cook from the inside out.

The second issue is the packaging is not microwave safe.  On top of it, trying to pull the yellow lid off of the frozen container stretches the lid in such away that it won’t re-seal against the now melted plastic container.   I got my slices off the top, tried for a couple of minutes to get the lid to seal so I grabbed another 1 gallon ziplock back, squeezed out the air, and sealed the bologna up and put it back in the fridge.

I wanted to add cheese to the sandwich.  Get back into the fridge and see that a block of cheddar was in a 1 gallon zip lock from before I left for the Pacific NW.  We had a new block that we bought for the Superbowl but didn’t use (we ended up at a story and bought a block for the party anyway) so I had new cheese.  I tossed the old cheese, got out the new one and the plastic ripped as I was opening it.  To compound matters, I couldn’t find my cheese slicer, so I used a serrated steak knife to slice off some for my sandwich (which is an exercise in futility anyway).  But now I had two half blocks and a torn bag.  So I grabbed the 1 gallon zip lock bag that the old cheese came out of, replaced it with the new cheese, squeezed out the air, zipped it up and put it back in the fridge.

The chips bag was new and thankfully it opened with no difficulties.  Finally I had a sandwich, probably some 7-8 minutes after it should have been done.  It was a rather frustrating process.

But oh was it tasty and I hope its not from some undetected mold on the bread.

Categories: Geek Cuisine Tags: , ,

Sports Geek Update! Steelers Win! Steelers Win!

February 2nd, 2009 No comments

I didn’t actually twitter much during the game.  I’m a sports geek and I was pretty focused on the game.  I think I tweeted 2 or 3 times.  I follow around 240 people and boy were they chatty during the game.  400 tweets and I would guess 70% of them were Superbowl Related.

There were Pro-Steeler’s peeps (the majority), some Cardinals peeps, and a few peeps who didn’t give a rats bum.
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