Sunday, May 27, 2007

M&M's Dark Chocolate Game

I liked the Addams Family TV show. I remember that series from my younger days. I especially liked Uncle Fester, played by Jackie Coogan. He was always doing something crazy.

Lately the M&M folks have been advertising their dark chocolate M&Ms with a black & white commercial with M&M caricatures of the Addams family. I laugh every time it comes on. The Uncle Fester M&M is the best. If you haven't seen the commercial, you can see it here on the M&M site.

While there, I also clicked on the game link they have -- find 50 dark movies in a picture. Look through the picture for clues to dark movie titles. When you click on a clue, a text box pops up and you enter the movie title. If correct, the box goes green and the clue turns black & white. It's kinda fun to try.

I had to enlist Dianne's help to fill in most of the answers. In about an hour we found 46 of the 50 titles. The only bad thing is we didn't see a spot to find the answers for the clues we couldn't identify. So, if you know the answer to any of the following, please leave a comment with the answer. From left to right, we were stumped on:
- the grim reaper in the fenced in circle
- the woman carrying two kids
- the woman next to the water barrel (thought this should be lady in the water, but no)
- the man in the lower right with the odd head

Saturday Night Yuppies

In an unusual departure from our typical quiet Saturday evenings at home, Dianne and I ventured to Hyde Park Square last night. Our first stop was Indigo Casual Dining Cafe for dinner. (Incidentally, that Indigo link is from the ZipScene site -- a nice place to go for information on local events, music, dining, etc. in your city) It's a nice spot for dinner. Last night was a beautiful evening in the Cincinnati area so their patio was packed! However, we got a table right away indoors. I had a chipotle beef wrap (good but enough for two so I have lunch today) and Dianne had her usual ravioli with asparagus spears. Dianne is hooked on her recently purchased Pokemon Diamond game, so she was playing a bit while we were waiting for our check.

After dinner, we went just a couple doors down to the Vineyard Cafe and Wine Room. You can read more about the place here (also lots of links to reviews), here, and here. It's definitely an upscale, yuppy spot with an extensive wine menu. There are quite a few selections available by the glass and pages of wines by the bottle. The wine room/bar area is fairly small, but they have a nice, small enclosed outdoor patio available. Incidentally, the bar is a couple doors down (toward Indigo) from the main cafe. It's not well marked unless you're looking for the Vineyard awning over the doorway.

Our main purpose in going there was to hear Nick Tuttle play. We just started taking guitar lessons from him about a month ago and thought it would be nice to hear him play some songs. Nick plays guitar and sings at the Vineyard every Friday and Saturday evening. If you're in the neighborhood and want to hear some very nice acoustic guitar, stop in there for a drink. You can also eat there or have dessert. It's a nice outdoor spot on a pleasant evening. And if you're not a wine drinker, they also have beer and other spirits.

A Chapter a Day

Thanks to the Upper Fort Stewart blog, I happened upon the Great Books site. The site offers mp3 audio of great books and poetry broken up in chapter sized segments that are posted daily. You can listen online or download the chapters to your iPod to listen wherever you'd like. Nice site for audio book lovers.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Flickr Photo Stream

I've mentioned the stream toy of fd's Flickr Toys before. It's a little web app that lets you look at the stream of photos being uploaded to Flickr. It's not something I use a lot, but it's fun to see what folks are posting.

Today I found a different approach to watching the Flickr photo stream. It's called Flickrvision. It also shows photos but it puts them in a call out box that appears over a map. The pointer shows where the photo is being uploaded. It's a little slower than the stream toy because of all the map scrolling, but it's an interesting addition to the photo stream.


Dianne clued me in to Google mobile's SMS service a while back. It's not something I use everyday, but it's handy to search from your phone when you're out and about.

Today, thanks to MakeUseOf, I saw another similar service called Zypsy. Although you can text them like Google, you can also call and leave a voice mail with a question you'd like researched on the web. Folks at Zypsy do the search for you and return results via a text message. Sounds intriguing. Has anyone tried Zypsy yet? I wonder how good the results are...I guess it would depend on how specific the question is.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

The King of Cars

I'm not sure why, but one of the many reality TV shows I like to watch is the King of Cars on A&E. If you haven't seen it, the show follows the owner (a.k.a. Chopper) and sales people at the Towbin Dodge dealership in Las Vegas. It's one of the must record shows on our DVR. Perhaps being made by the creators of Dog the Bounty Hunter has something to do with me liking it.

I couldn't imagine being a car salesman (or any salesman for that matter). Having to hustle to meet, talk, and bond with folks you don't know in order to close a deal sounds like a job from hell for an introvert like me. I don't even like buying a car for myself -- having to make the deal is a pain. Nevertheless, the King of Cars show intrigues me. Chop and his antics are entertaining.

So this CNN story about the large US Flag at Towbin Hummer in Las Vegas caught my eye. I'm guessing this must be Chop's brother. Patriotism or advertising or both -- what do you think?

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Cincinnati is Above Average... garbage.

I went to the library today over lunch to check out the latest issue of the Cincinnati Magazine to read the article about the Rollergirls. The new issue wasn't on the shelf yet. It's a good magazine so I browsed through the April issue. There was a short Earth Day article containing facts about our local landfill run by Rumpke.

Fresh from reading Stepf's post about our carbon footprint at the Foodie Report, I was intrigued. Also, I used to work out that way and drove by Rumpke Mountain every work day for several years.

Folks do refer to it as a mountain since it is huge and actually the highest point in Hamilton county! According to the Cincinnati Magazine article it is about 1050 feet high. For perspective, the elevation of the Blue Ash airport (on a plateau in northeast metro area) is about 850 feet. That's sad!

The article also mentioned the mountain produces enough methane gas each year to heat about 20,000 homes. But what caught my attention was the fact that this is the 7th largest landfill in the country thanks to the fact that the average Cincinnatian dumps 650 pounds of trash there every year. That, combined with industrial waste, grows the mountain by about 2 million pounds each year.

I thought the landfill size ranking seemed large given our population. The City Data site has the Cincinnati metro area ranking 23rd in the US in 2000. So I guess the people in the Cincinnati metro area throw away more stuff than average in order to have made such a large landfill.

OK...I know it could be Rumpke Mountain is big because it's an old landfill (started in the 40's). Nevertheless, it'd be nicer to be above average in the recycling department instead of the garbage mountain department.

Monday, May 21, 2007

80 Years Ago Today...

...this plane was landing in Paris.
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I was Tagged -- Ages Ago

Josh of The HOV Lane blog, a frequent visitor and commenter, left a comment on my last post letting me know he tagged me. I was embarrassed when I went to his blog to read the tag and saw that he tagged me weeks ago!! In my defense, I hadn't visited in awhile since I read his pit stop post saying he was working on his "Send Me a Sign" project. OK...that's a pitiful defense.

The tag requires that I pick up the closest book around me at the time of the tag and give the title and the content of the third paragraph on page 128. I saw the tag when I got home today and the closest book was "Made to Stick" by Heath & Heath. It's an interesting read (I'm only part way through) about why some ideas or concepts stick with you while others fade. They give 6 elements to consider. A lot of implications for marketing, motivation/guidance, and teaching. The 3rd paragraph on page 128 is in the chapter about making ideas 'concrete' to help make them stick. It says:

"The same philosophy is just as useful for ideas that are more transcendent. The Saddleback Church is a very successful church in a suburb of Irvine, California, that has grown to more than 50,000 members. Over the years, the church's leaders have created a detailed picture of the kind of person they're trying to reach. They call him "Saddleback Sam." Here's how Rick Warren, the minister of the Saddleback Church, describes him:"

They go on to explain how the Saddleback Sam profile is a concrete example used by church leaders to guide them when making decisions on ad campaigns and so on.

The other task in the tag is to tag three others. I'm tagging Pat at The World According to Clarke, Kyle at The Adventures of a Boring American Family, and Erika Jean (as a student she must have lots of books around).

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Red, Black and Blue -- Cincinnati Rollergirls

On Saturday evening, Dianne and I went to the Cincinnati Rollergirls' opening event for the 2007 season: Red, Black, and Blue. It was their first event held at the Cincinnati Gardens. Overall, this event was a quantum leap improvement over their bouts from last year! Their skills have improved a lot -- that made it fun to watch. In addition, they've made many changes that make the event more fun for fans.

The two CRG teams, the Dames of Destruction and the Full Metal Corsets, skated against each other. With Panterrorize and Sadistic Sadie skating for the Dames and several members of the Corsets not skating (notably Collier Mama), I thought it might be a lopsided match. I was wrong. It was a close match the whole way. High scoring too with lots of action. The skaters have really improved a lot!! I've heard that from me before. But they must have worked hard during the off season!

I was struck by how well the pack was structured and how the pack teamwork improved compared to last year. The pivots really were keeping the pack together and the referees were good about not allowing blocks away from the pack. The tight pack made it harder for the jammers to get through, but it was a lot of fun to watch. The pack was doing much better at planning blocks on jammers as well as on opposing blockers to clear the way for a jammer. Foxy and Juwana Hurt for the Corsets and Panterrorize and Arche Enemy for the Dames stood out for me as good blockers. There were also a lot of whips to help the jammers keep up their speed. It was exciting to watch.

Sk8 Crime and Sadistic SadieThe jammers have improved as well. Sadistic Sadie is clearly a strong skater and great jammer, but there are more players now that are challenging her. The photo on the right shows jammers Sadie (in blue) and Sk8Crime (in camo) facing off in one jam. Miss Print had some great jams for the Corsets -- there were at least two where she scored and the Dames jammer had zero. Unlike last year where she might get hung up in the pack, Miss Print was persistent and able to battle through the pack even when blocked. I thought the best new jammer was Tabatha for the Corsets. She is a fast skater that is a great addition to the Corset team. The Corset captains EMolition and Sk8Crime also were good jammers that helped the team stay neck and neck with the Dames. Hopefully with a healthy squad they'll beat the Dames next time.

Finally, it was nice to have relatively few penalties and no brawls. Just good, clean action. It didn't appear anyone was hurt...well, I mean major injury. I'm sure there are a lot of sore skaters today from the hard blocks and falls. But most all of the blocking seemed legal and there weren't any malicious take downs.

On the venue and conduct of the event, the group put a lot of thought into improving the event for the fans. The Gardens is a good choice for their events. Parking is easy and the seats give a good view of the action. Before the start of the bout, the girls gave a demo that briefly explained the pack, the jammers, scoring, and basic blocking. That was a great idea for folks watching for the first time. Other improvements included a nicer event program, light strips making the track boundary easy to see, real time scoring during a jam, and after each jam they had a skater with a whiteboard circle the track to show the individual jam total. That was very nice!

Miss Print and meThe Rollergirls also go out of the way to involve the crowd. The half time tricycle race for the kids was great. The skaters stayed after the bout to meet fans and sign autographs. Dianne took the photo at the right of me with Miss Print. I noticed she still has a Cincinnati Riots sticker on her helmet (her former team). Also got a photo with Sk8 Crime. Click here to see the Flickr set of photos from the match. We didn't stay for the after party upstairs, but that's another example of the Rollergirls making it fun for all. They also did a lot of PR work before the match. I heard a couple skaters, including Sista Sac, on Friday with Gary Burbank on 700 WLW.

If you haven't been to see the Cincinnati Rollergirls, or went once last year, you have to catch them this season. You'll have a great time. Catch them on June 16th for their match against the Garda Belts from the Minnesota Rollergirls.

Armed Forces Day at KBAK

Tony and Me at KBAKOn Saturday morning, Dianne and I flew to the Columbus, Indiana airport (KBAK) for brunch. The field was a former air force base that has been converted into a municipal airport. The runways are very long and there is a lot of space on the ramp for parking. Dianne got a nice shot of me with the Tiger on the ramp in front of the main terminal.

There is a good restaurant called Hangar 5 in the main terminal building. They serve breakfast and lunch. The restaurant has a strong aviation theme with aviation named entrees (I had the Cherokee), waiters in commercial pilot uniforms, aviation decor, etc. There are lots of booths near a long set of windows that give an excellent view of the main ramp and runways. The food isn't fancy, but it was good.

The field also has a small military aviation museum, the Atterbury-Bakalar museum, that gives some history associated with the former military base. The emphasis is the WWII to Vietnam era. Since it was Armed Forces Day, the museum was open for extended hours and there were folks that had brought in items from WWII and Vietnam to re-enact what a camp would look like. It was a nice bonus to see during our visit. Click here to look at the entire set of photos on Flickr.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Red, Black and Blue This Saturday

My 5 1/2 month wait is nearly over. Can you believe it's been that long since the Holiday Havoc event?

This Saturday the Cincinnati Rollergirls take to the rink to start the 2007 season at the Cincinnati Gardens. According to the recent post by Miss Print on the Roller Derby Diva blog, the event is being called Red, Black and Blue in honor of Armed Forces Day. Actually I just saw the event poster is on Sk8 Crime's blog. Tickets are only $10 in advance. It's a good value for a sporting event. Check out the Cincinnati Rollergirl website or the Cincinnati Gardens site for more info.

I hope the Rollergirls have a great turnout at the Gardens. We'll be there!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Sunday at Spring Valley

Me At Spring ValleyToday Dianne and I went to the outdoor pistol range run by the state of Ohio at the Spring Valley Wildlife Area just north of Waynesville, Ohio. It's a bit of a drive, so we don't go there very often. However, it was a nice day to be outdoors. I guess a lot of folks were tied up with Mother's Day so it wasn't very crowded at the range. We had a good time. Dianne took this photo of me shooting the Ruger .22. We hadn't been shooting for quite awhile and it took me a bit to get back into the swing of things. At the start, I wasn't able to get very tight groupings. By the end, I was getting a bit better.

Glider Tow At Red Stewart AirportOn the way back home we stopped in at the Red Stewart airport just south of Waynesville on route 42. It's one of the busiest grass only airports that I know of in the area. It was a beautiful day to fly. We saw a few gliders in the air that were towed up from the field. While we were there we saw a glider being towed up. There was a Wilga, an unusual looking utility plane, on the ground. It's one of the planes they use to tow gliders.

Before heading home, we stopped at Claddagh's Irish Pub for dinner on the patio. Caesar salad and fish and chips. Great day to sit outdoors for dinner.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Saturday Activities

Adventures for Wish Kids EventThanks to Carla, I had an abnormally early start to my Saturday. I was at the Kings Island amusement park by 7 AM to take photos at the Adventures For Wish Kids 5k run/walk fund raising event. I know what many of you are thinking....they must have been hard up if they needed me to take photos. How true! I actually found it quite difficult as I don't take pics of people. It's hard! Many of the spots where I was taking photos (under a tent, at the finish line, at the awards) were back lit and it was a very sunny day. That contrast made it hard to get a good photo. I was constantly trying to play with the exposure to get decent photos of faces in the shadows. I ended up doing quite a few adjustments on the computer to get a better light balance. The park had Blue and Scooby Doo stop by to say hi to the kids. The kids really enjoyed it. They were hugging Blue and Scooby and the dj at the event got everybody dancing together. I can now say I've seen Blue and Scooby dance to "Y.M.C.A." and do the "Electric Slide" and the Macarena.

P&G MBCIn the afternoon I went flying a bit. A co-worker built a new home in the Morrow area, so I flew over to take some photos. I'm not too familiar with the roads in that area. It took me quite awhile to find the neighborhood. I think I found the right spot. On the way back to the airport, I got another shot of the building where I work in Mason, OH. Compare the photo here to my earlier post in March to see how much greener things are now. In today's photo, the brown is just the long grass laying down after the rough bush mowing they do once a year. Although it was a beautiful day to fly, things were relatively quiet at the Blue Ash airport -- likely due to yesterday's collision.

Mid-air Collision Over Sharonville

As most folks in the area have already heard (and likely many more since it was also on the national news), there was a mid-air collision yesterday between two general aviation planes a few miles north of the Cincinnati Blue Ash airport. That's the airport I fly out of. Three pilots were killed -- unable to control their planes after the collision. A very sad, tragic accident on a clear, beautiful day. I was surprised to hear the news of the collision. However, I was even more shocked when I found out I knew one of the pilots involved in the accident, Ted Hitchens.

You can read more about the accident in articles on all the local news sites. I found a couple articles on the Cincinnati Enquirer site and the WLWT site. The Enquirer also has photo sets of one plane and the other plane. The photos of the wreckage speak for themselves.

I first met Ted at work. He and I were on teams for a few osteoporosis projects before he retired a few years ago. I stopped by his cube one day many years ago and noticed all the aviation items decorating his work space. We got talking and I found out he was also a pilot and furthermore, an instructor. Ted was a very warm, personable guy who always enjoyed talking about aviation. He did charity flights for people needing medical treatment and was also involved in the air safety foundation. He was part owner of a twin engine plane and for awhile after I first bought my plane, our planes shared the same hangar at Blue Ash. I saw him a lot then, but I hadn't seen him much since he retired. The last time we talked was about a year ago when he stopped in at work to say hello to some folks. Of course we talked about flying. It's terrible he died in such an accident, while doing something he was so passionate about.

When news of the accident broke, I got instant messages and phone calls from several friends and co-workers checking to be sure I wasn't involved. Thankfully not, and thanks to all for your concern. Now we just need to keep the families of all the pilots involved in this tragic accident in our thoughts and prayers.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

5 Second Rule Quantified

Most folks are aware of the "5 second rule" for food -- if you drop food and pick it up within five seconds, it's probably safe to eat. How true is that? Do you use the 5 second rule of food?

It's no secret I'm a germ-o-phobe. Obviously that "rule" doesn't fly with me. Even more so after reading this article in the New York Times in the curious cook column written by Harold McGee. The article summarizes some old work as well as a relatively recent Clemson University study that quantified how badly food is contaminated when dropped on a dirty surface.

The bottom line is there's a reason I'm a germ-o-phobe. Check out the article -- if you drop your bread or bologna, pick it up and throw it away.

Monday, May 07, 2007

US States Game

The Random Good Stuff site has a cute little game called Place US States. You start with a blank map of the US. As random states appear, you click and drag them to their proper spot on the map. If you're off a bit, the game keeps track of your error. The first couple states in the middle can be tough for the geography challenged folks like me. I'm sure Josh would do well at this since he's probably driven through all the states in the last month.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Pillows for Gamers

Check out these pillows. The perfect gift for your Nintendo loving gamer. Neat idea.

Cincinnati Jungle Kats

Chad Johnson BobbleheadOn Saturday, Dianne and I went with a few folks she works with to see our local arena football team, the Cincinnati Jungle Kats. They played the Fort Wayne Fusion. It was black and orange night and there were many Cincinnati Bengals fans dressed up for the event. An added bonus for the first several hundred folks in the door was a Chad Johnson bobblehead.

I had never been to an arena football game before. I was expecting some fast paced action. It seemed a bit slow and it was a low scoring game. I enjoyed seeing it, but I wasn't sold on arena football.

The half time entertainment was a frisbee demonstration from three handlers and dogs. The dogs seemed like they were having a great time sprinting down the field to jump and catch the frisbee in their mouth. I'll be looking for Kyle to be doing that next year with Yahtzee.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Thai Cooking Class

Last night I went to a cooking demonstration class given by Helen Chen. Helen is the daughter of Joyce Chen whose cookware you've probably seen in stores. Helen has written a couple of cookbooks and now has her own line of cookware. She's a very high energy, down to earth person that made the class a lot of fun. Helen prepared 5 different Thai dishes that we got to taste.

The class was held at Cooks'Wares at Harper's Point. It's close by and they have a small, but nice area where 24 people can watch a cooking demonstration. Mirrors above the counter/stove let you see exactly what the chef is doing. It's small enough so you can interact with the chef and ask questions along the way about recipe substitutions, favorite brands of ingredients, cooking techniques, etc. Check out their course offerings here. It's worth the price and you get a 10% discount at the store when you're attending a class. I picked up a couple items like a new, large flat bottomed wok and a Japanese mandolin. Can't wait to try some of the Thai recipes I learned about.