Just can’t win
Thursday December 27 2007 @ 7:58 pm

JJT recently wrote about how Christmas photo cards annoy him. Thats all well and good. I was actually thinking ‘well great, looks like the wife made the right choice this year’.

Turns out she saw something in a craft magazine and instead of mailing out our standard photo cards this year, she was making some kind of custom card with the kids fingerprints turned into reindeer or some kind of creative crap like that. JJT’ll be happy to know that one less family is sending out a photo card and the kids get some kind of project to do that doesn’t involve plugging something in. It’s a win/win right?

Wrong.

I then happen to read Filegirl’s post about a reindeer fingerprint card that lost its ‘googly eyes’ during mailing. Her one word description? ‘Nightmares’. Nice.

Like I said, you just can’t win.

Next year I think we’ll stick to my favorite Christmas mailing….. The fake ‘year in review’ letter. But thats another entry.



links for 2007-12-27
Thursday December 27 2007 @ 6:36 pm


Cut off your family’s heads and put ‘em in a movie
Sunday December 23 2007 @ 6:32 pm

If you haven’t seen JibJab’s new ‘sendables’ movies, you need to check them out. Select one of the movies listed under ‘starring you’ in the left hand column and get to work. You can paste up to 5 heads into these movies to customize them. The tools JibJab provides to ‘cut’ the heads out of the pictures you upload are very straightforward and easy to use.

I put the three kids, wife and dog into the movies. You’ve never seen kids laugh harder. Especially with the dog running around in the movie dressed as an elf, dancing and throwing snowballs.

Once you create the movie, you can email it out to whoever you like. However, like drugs, the first one is free. If you want to email out other movies you’ve created, you need to buy more credits from JibJab. The exception is the movie ‘snowball fight’ which is sponsored by Pepsi. You can create and send out as many of those as you like for free.

OfficeMax has something similar at elfyourself.com but the graphics tools are very basic compared to JibJab. Even ignoring that, I’ve tried a few times over the past couple of days and haven’t been able to get a complete movie out of the site. I guess they’re having problems handling the traffic.



links for 2007-12-21
Friday December 21 2007 @ 6:41 pm


Disturbing clip of the day
Friday December 21 2007 @ 1:11 pm

Elmo on fire.





Blockbuster rate hike
Friday December 21 2007 @ 11:03 am

There’s a big uproar at consumerist over the rate hike Blockbuster recently announced to its Total Access customers. They’ve published two articles in the past day:

Blockbuster Total Access Is Raising Your Rates

You Really, Really, Hate Blockbuster For Raising Prices

I’ve been a Blockbuster Total Access subscriber for about 8 months. I absolutely love it. I currenly have the Blockbuster Total Access Premium plan which is $15 a month for 2 at-a-time unlimited per month mailings with unlimited in store exchanged as well as 1 free in-store game/video rental per month. They have a two day turnaround on getting movies out to me. Drop a return in the slot Monday, get the next movie Wednesday. Get that one in the mail Thursday, next one is here Saturday. Nine times out of ten I’m sent the movie at the top of my queue. I’ve never been sent a movie outside of the top four listed in my queue. I use the in-store exchange maybe once or twice a month.  I’ve used the free movie rental only twice.

I’ve talked to a few people who use netflix and the common complaints seem to be that the turnaround time on getting movies mailed out to you seems to get longer as time goes on and that they seemingly pull movies at random out from the queue to send. Netflix does offer view on demand… but I have no desire to watch movies on my computer. I’ve also been told that Netflix has HD-DVD and Blue-Ray, but I have neither so I don’t care.

The two common complaints in the consumerist article comments is the fact that Blockbuster raised their rates at all after telling subscribers they where ‘grandfathered in’ to the lower rate and (in some cases) the extraordinary rate increase amount (some subscribers report increases of $10 or more per month). Another less common change other users have reported are new restrictions on the number on in-store exhanges allowed per month.

My rate was increased $2 to $17 a month. Given I’ve rented 54 movies over the past eight months, I’m running about $2.22 per movie. If my trends continue, A $2 a month increase makes that $2.52 per movie. I can deal with that. Especially since no other part of my plan (2 at-a-time unlimited per month mailings with unlimited in store exchanged as well as 1 free in-store game/video rental per month) was changed by Blockbuster.

I’ve noticed that the people who are reporting the largest rate increases are the ones who really use the hell out of the blockbuster service. In some cases people report doing, on average, 10+ in-store exhanges per month as well as their mailed movies. (side note: just how the hell does anyone have the free time to watch that many movies in a month?)

I’m not buying the ‘grandfathered’ plan rate complaints. I still have the email from late July where Blockbuster announced rate increases:

Beginning July 26, 2007, there will be a price increase on your current unlimited plan. We will also begin to offer plans which limit the number of in-store exchanges available each month.

As a preferred customer, your plan will not change at this time.

Emphasis mine.  ‘At this time’ means just that. That doesn’t mean the rate will never change.

While I’m not happy about a rate inscrease, I’m not entirely put off by it either.  It seems the customers who are being hit with the highest increases are the ones who push the limits of the Blockbuster service to the extreme.



links for 2007-12-20
Thursday December 20 2007 @ 6:31 pm


Ok… seriously,
Thursday December 20 2007 @ 12:09 pm

If you actually need a recipe for hotwings, you should just leave the kitchen. Really… get out before you hurt yourself. There’s sharp and hot things in there. Best leave them alone.



Train display 2007
Thursday December 20 2007 @ 8:50 am

I’ve finally finished setting up the our yearly Christmas train display. I’m weeks behind schedule and the kids have been relentless in bugging me about it but work, family and a crappy holiday schedule have conspired against me.


train07b.jpg

Every year I add something to the display. Over the past 8-9 years its grown from a simple oval HO scale train and two lighted houses to the display pictured here. This years addition was one of the biggest made up of an N scale train and Ralphie’s house from the movie ‘A Christmas Story‘.

train07c.jpg

If you look you’ll also see Ralpie being chased by Scut Farkus and his croony as well as the Bumpuses dogs running off with the turkey. Of course the most important detail of all… the ‘soft glow of electric sex’ in the window (you’ll understand that if you’ve seen the movie).

train07d.jpg

Ralphis house and the N scale train have been added on a new platform that can be seen in the upper right. The HO scale train runs around the entire bottom section (which is a 4×8 sheet of plywood). The lower right is reserved for the boy and his custom built lego houses.

train07e.jpg

This will probably be the last year I add something to the display. It’s getting to the point were it’s a chore and not fun to set up. That not the point. Its supposed to be fun. So yeah, I’m going to call it quits here and stop adding after this year. Then again, there’s that area under the new platform that looks pretty dark. It could really really use something to liven it up a bit….



links for 2007-12-19
Wednesday December 19 2007 @ 6:31 pm


Sleep routine destroyed
Tuesday December 18 2007 @ 2:02 am

We lost power yesterday around 4pm. The power stayed off until around 6:30am this morning. No power meant no heat and with the wind whipping around like it was yesterday, the temp in the house continued to drop through the night.

We cracked into the camping supplies so we had plenty of lanterns for lights and batteries for the radio (music and emergency scanner). Since we had no heat, the best way to stay warm was to have a camp out in the living room with a fire cranking in the fireplace. The kids had a blast but once the kids (and wife (and dog)) fell asleep, it was up to me to actually keep the fire going. This meant I had keep stoking and adding a log to the fire at least every 45 minutes to an hour. Doesn’t make for a very good nights sleep. I ended up listening to all the podcasts I had on the treo and became so bored I wired one of the fireplace heatilator fans to run off the deep cycle battery and inverter.

So while the kids (and wife (and dog)) had a fun night and were rested up for school, I was flipping exhausted. I came home from work, ate a quick dinner and decided to lie down in the office to catch up on a few Tivo’ed shows. 12:30am I wake up and don’t feel the slightest bit tired. This self induced jet lag is going to screw me up for the next few days.



Save the American Eagles!
Saturday December 15 2007 @ 5:42 pm

I was browsing through the limited software isle of the local Sam’s Club with one of my daughters this afternoon. We came across the game American Girl: Julie Saves the Eagles. Daughter is a bit interested in the American Girls series (since her Grandparents have bought her a few) so flipped open the cover to ‘Julie Saves the Eagles’.

eaglehead.jpg

Apparently American Girl Julie’s idea of ‘saving the Eagles’ is to rip the heads off of adult eagles and then use the decapitated craniums to terrorize baby eagles.



links for 2007-12-14
Friday December 14 2007 @ 6:39 pm
  • Maryland paid welfare benefits to about 52,000 residents who in 2006 did not provide Social Security numbers or used invalid ones, according to a state audit of the Family Investment Administration.


Site upgrade
Thursday December 13 2007 @ 8:44 pm

I upgraded to the WordPress 2.3.1 software earlier today. I’ve also been experimenting with a few new themes for the site as well. I still like the old theme (mainly because I put so much time into customizing it) but I wanted to play with WordPress’ ‘widgets’ features which only work with newer themes. I figure this is as good a time as any to see what’s available out there.





links for 2007-12-10
Monday December 10 2007 @ 6:29 pm




links for 2007-12-07
Friday December 7 2007 @ 6:40 pm


The Goucher College Deer Hunt
Friday December 7 2007 @ 3:55 pm

Goucher aims to thin deer with bowmen

Goucher College plans to hire professional bowmen over the holidays to thin the population of white-tailed deer that roam the leafy 287-acre campus – a move that has provoked an outcry from surprised students.

An hour after campus officials sent an e-mail Wednesday announcing the deer kill, a protest petition was circulating among a student body known for its activism. On Facebook, a student group titled “F – - Goucher, save the DEER!” had 79 members last night.

Maybe its just me, but I’m thinking the group name “F— Goucher” might not attract the kind of people they want to attract. (For those that don’t know, Goucher was an all womens college until about 15 years ago when they started admitting men (after much protesting by the women). The student population is still (I believe) overwhelmingly female). Nevertheless, a name like that surely shows the professionalism of the Goucher students.

Harvested venison meat will be donated to homeless shelters.

No! F— homeless people! Save the DEER!

College officials say that sharply reducing the population of roughly 200 deer that share the wooded Towson campus with about 1,500 undergraduates is necessary to maintain the health of the remaining deer, reduce the risk of car crashes, protect landscaping and prevent the spread of Lyme disease. The campus health center this year saw five confirmed cases of the potentially serious illness, which is spread by deer ticks.

“There are simply too many Bambis,” said President Sanford J. Ungar by phone last night from New York City. “Everybody tends to look at this as we’re slaughtering poor defenseless Bambi and her relatives. It’s not that simple. Bambi is starving to death. Bambi is so skinny now, it’s pathetic.”

Bah! Nevermind all of that tripe. I’d just like to let it be known that I support the Goucher students in their protest of this deer hunt. In fact I think they should show their solidarity with the deer buy wearing the numerous novelty reindeer antler hats that can be found just about anywhere this holiday season. They should also stay on campus this holiday break and roam the woods with their deer brethren (obviously, while wearing said hats so the deer will know whose side they are on) doing what they can to disrupt the hunt.

What?



I miss the crappy Walmart
Thursday December 6 2007 @ 9:18 am

Not too long ago Walmart was kicked out of the ‘new’ Hunt Valley Town Centre. Nevermind that Walmart pretty much kept that shopping center alive for more than a few years before the place was rebuilt; Walmart just didn’t fit the new Hunt Valley Town Centre image of glitzy, overpriced crap.

Walmart has now moved that location to the old AAI tank testing grounds smack in the middle of Cockeysville. It also has the added bonus of being a ‘super’ Walmart. Ugh. All that means to me is, in addtion to having to drive into Cockeysville and dealing with the unholy mess of traffic through there, that I now have to walk 10x as far in this massive structure to get the few things I need. No thanks… I prefer to walk outside. I don’t need an hour trek through Walmart to get a bottle of shampoo and some razors. Not to mention that Walmart can’t seem to keep this store stocked. They either have supply problems or they are moving massive amounts of merchandise since a lot of store shelves seem bare.

The old store worked a hell of a lot better for me. I could just zip across the street after work, park right next to the garden center entrance and be in the damn store. 10 minutes later I’ve got the crap I came for and and checking out through the Garden Center register (which never had a line more than 2 deep). The best part? All year long, whenever I need a little extra spending money, I could always find at least one Nintendo Wii sitting locked up in the cabinet. Buy it, ebay it and less that a week later I’ve got at least a 150% return on my money (but usually more). Of course if I had any brains, I would have stockpiled the damn things in the basement until I could pimp them off on Amazon or Ebay for the $550 plus they’re going for now. Who knew the things would still be so ‘rare’ now? (probably because of jerks like me who just buy ‘em to resell ‘em)



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