Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Webisodes of The Office

As Erika has pointed out, I'm usually behind the times on posting web finds. This post probably falls in that category.

If you are a fan of NBC's The Office, you probably heard the one hour season premier is scheduled for September 25th. Until then, are you watching The Office summer webisodes that are following Kevin's antics? There are two webisodes available that you can watch here.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Hell on Wheels and CRG's Southern Discomfort

Measuring For The CutIt was a roller derby weekend for us. On Friday night Dianne and I went to see the documentary “Hell on Wheels” at the Know Theatre in Cincinnati. The film chronicles the revival of roller derby in Texas at the start of the century. There was some footage of derby bouts, but most of the film was spent following the skaters and covering the league politics that happened behind the scenes. It was interesting how the model of skater owned leagues evolved from the initial model where a few people tried to control decisions. Since the teams use a pay-to-play approach, control of a league by a small group reminded me of the taxation without representation issue. And yes, there was a revolution that led to skater owned leagues emerging all over the country and world today. If you’re interested in roller derby, you’ll enjoy the film.

The Librarian's DonationSaturday night Dianne and I went to the Cincinnati Rollergirls’ “Southern Discomfort” event at the Cincinnati Gardens. It was a steamy night in the Gardens that was made even hotter by a nail biting bout between the Black Sheep and the Carolina Rollergirls (who were ranked #3) that Cincinnati won with a score of 74 to 69! Congratulations to the Black Sheep for the big win!

Before the skating started, several people including CRG skaters Panterrorize and The Librarian got their hair cut for a hair donation to Pantene’s Beautiful Lengths program. The hair donations are used to make wigs for women who have lost their hair due to cancer treatments. The first picture on the right shows Panterrorize with her girls who were getting their hair measured and tied up to the proper length for the donation. The next photo shows The Librarian holding her freshly cut hair. It was nice so many folks made the donations.

UntitledThe CRG Silent Lambs apparently couldn’t find another team that was willing or available to skate against them, so they split into two small squads (the Demon Barbers and the Beauty School Dropouts) that played off the hair donation theme. It was a short scrimmage, but it looked like some of the skaters were making good use of the opportunity to get out some aggression and make some hits on their teammates. The photo at right shows Skates With Fists ahead of Maim E. Van Gore’n (was she visiting or has she transferred?) during a jam. The photo below shows Bex Pistol giving a block to Skates With Fists. Don't you love the bloody barber aprons on Skates and Miss Print?

Bex Block

Crossing OverThe main event of the evening was the bout between the CRG Black Sheep and the highly ranked Carolina Rollergirls. I have to say going in I thought this was going to be another interesting, but painful bout to watch since Carolina was ranked #3 – similar to the match between Cincinnati and Philly earlier this year. But after the first few jams, Cincinnati held the lead and looked very strong. They were shutting down the Carolina jammers in the early jams. Even when Carolina started to score, Cincinnati’s speedy skating, coordinated blocking, and strategic stopping of jams gave them a few point advantage on each jam. At the half, Cincinnati was ahead with a score of 47 to 24! In my post from the Philly bout, I mentioned the contrast between the CRG blockers that seemed to focus on defense and the Philly blockers that had the ability to shift from defensive blocking to helping their jammer. Cincinnati must have learned and practiced that blocking coordination because they were using that tactic effectively to keep ahead of Carolina. Pushing CandySpecial kudos to tail blockers Panterrorize (more aerodynamic after her hair cut) and Ruff’n the Passer who were shifting from defense to escort duty to aid their jammers through the pack. The photo at right illustrates that effort as Panterrorize pushes CandyKICKass to give her a boost of speed to get through the Carolina blockers. When the tail blockers moved up that must have been a clue to the other blockers to help the jammer if not tied up with holding back the Carolina jammer. The coordination was really fun to watch. Combine that with some tough CRG pivots in front and Carolina had their work cut out for them. The tough blocking went both ways though and everyone in the pack got a workout in that heat.

After a male flat track derby demo at the half, Cincinnati got off to a rough start in the second half. There were a string of penalties, including some track cuts by the jammers, that really slowed Cincinnati down. It’s hard to shift blocking from offense to defense when you’re not at full strength. Jammers in the box obviously slow you down and as a result it was anyone’s game with about 8 minutes to go. A Determined SadieSadie got a major penalty for back blocking or hands/forearms in the third to last jam that sent her to the box. It was across the track from me, but it appeared she was pushed into hitting someone from behind. In any case, that gave Carolina the chance to get within a couple points. However, Sadie came out of the box and in the next to last jam got lead jammer status, scored some points to seal the victory, and called off the jam before Carolina could score. The entire crowd was standing and cheering during that jam. The last jam was academic just to run out the clock. Congratulations to the CRG Black Sheep on the big win!


Mae and MeWhat an amazing finish to the last home bout of the season! After the match I had the chance to meet blocker Mae C. Stars and Dianne took a photo of us. I didn’t take too many photos because I was caught up in the excitement of the match. You can see some other photos in my Flickr pool here. Although their home events are done, there is another CRG match locally when they take on the Black-n-Bluegrass Rollergirls at Sportsville in Florence, Kentucky. It may be interesting to see CRG skaters take on some of their former teammates that are very familiar with their style. Stay tuned to Miss Print’s blog and the CRG Flock page for additional events. Thanks to the CRG group for another exciting year in the Gardens and congratulations on the Carolina victory!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The iPhone Plunge

Last Friday Dianne and I got up early and headed to the Apple Store in the Kenwood Towne Centre to try and get the new iPhone. We got there just after 7 and there was a long line already forming. While Dianne waited in line at the Apple Store, I went to check out the AT&T kiosk. When we walked past the kiosk there was hardly anyone waiting there. I found out the line was short because the AT&T kiosk only had 20 units – 10 of the 8 Gb phones and 10 of the 16 Gb phones. I left the kiosk line and rejoined Dianne. We were 83rd and 84th in line.

The wait wasn’t too bad. We were talking with folks in line and the Apple store was providing coffee and water for everyone. A guy next to us had arrived about 1 in the morning, but couldn’t get in the mall to get in line until the doors opened. Unfortunately there was some confusion about which mall doors should open first and he happened to be at an entrance that opened later. As a result, he ended up in line near us and was way behind folks that arrived later. It’s too bad they didn’t issue numbers to keep it fair.

The store opened at 8 and we were in the store about 9:30ish. The salesperson talked to us for a bit, found out what we needed, and started to process our purchase. He had to do them one at a time. My purchase went through right away. I was handed off to an activation specialist to register my phone and activate it via the Apple iTunes store. That didn’t work. The iTunes store was overwhelmed with requests and they couldn’t activate it as advertised, so I was given instructions on how to do it at home. I went to see if Dianne was done with her purchase, but the salesperson had barely made any progress since the AT&T server connection went down! Yikes! It took about 30 minutes to get through and purchase her phone. At least we got them!

We had our phones registered in the early afternoon and were checking out the features. The portable email and web browsing are pretty cool. The GPS with traffic reports will be handy. Overall, an amazing product so far and a huge improvement over our LG phones we had through Verizon.

The only thing that has been disappointing is the MobileMe service. We’ve experienced a lot of server delays and synchronization issues that really shouldn’t happen with an Apple product. Usually things happen like magic, but this service has taken quite a bit of fiddling to get set up. Hopefully they’ll get their act together soon.

Monday, July 14, 2008

A Cooking Memory Aid

Ever have trouble remembering how many cups are in a pint or how many pints are in a gallon? Check out this drawing that serves as a memory aid for the cup/pint/quart/gallon relationships.

Saturday, July 12, 2008


It Needs RepairA couple weeks ago the weekly theme for the Macro Mondays group on Flickr was "mailboxes." We share a small locking box that is grouped with about 24 others into a case provided by the USPS. They are a few years old and the excessive amount of salt used to treat the roads in the winter has taken its toll on the metal. I got a couple photos of the rust on the external part of the boxes. One of the photos is shown to the right and you can see the other one here.

For something different, I thought it would be interesting to get a photo from inside the box looking out while a hand reached in or an eye looked inside for mail. Since mailboxes are so long and hard to access, I made a false mailbox using an aluminum foil oven liner. Instead of making a standard box shape, I made the opening on one end of the box a lot larger than the other so it was easier to fit the camera lens in tight and light the interior. I used a fisheye lens to enhance the distorted perspective. Dianne, my creative consultant, took the shot so I didn't have to bother with a tripod and she also directed the placement of me and the mail to get the right effect. I illuminated the shot with a single flash, bounced off an umbrella and used another reflector on the opposite side of the box to soften some shadows. It turned out well and made Flickr's Explore.

Getting the Mail

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Street Views

I'm a big fan of Google Maps. It's my first choice when looking for something. It has some nice features to plan routes, adjust them on the fly, overlay satellite views, etc. But Dianne just clued me in to the latest feature -- Street Views.

When you're looking for an address in a major city, click on the street view button and you're likely to see a view right from the location you searched for! And the view is from right in the street! But it gets even better, the image is a full 360 photo that you can rotate to see all the buildings around that location. It's the ultimate for situational awareness to help you expect what to see when driving to a certain spot. The interface also lets you move along the street just like you're driving down the road.

So how did they do it? This article explains it very well. Google worked with Immersive Media that installed 360 degree cameras on the tops of cars that have crisscrossed streets in 13 cities. Fortunately one of those cities is Cincinnati. I used the street views last week to find out exactly where a particular bus stop was located and what businesses were around it for reference. Pretty cool. Check it out next time you're using Google Maps.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Things From Work

Working FastA couple weeks ago the weekly theme for the Macro Mondays group on Flickr was "things from work." I expected there would be a lot of photos of typical desk items, so I tried to think of something different.

The photo to the right is actually a composite of several shots of my hand in different positions above the calculator to give a sense of movement. I started with a base photo of the calculator with my left hand beside it. I overlayed the photos of my right hand on top of that. I'm not that great at Photoshop, so it took forever to piece together. I tried another shot using a long exposure and moving my hand, but I like the photo here a bit better.

A friend at work was kind enough to let me borrow a model of a human vertebra. Before moving to the QA area, I worked in different osteoporosis research positions. It was always handy to have models around for discussion purposes. This is a vertebra from the second lumbar level. I used two diffused flashes (one from the right and one from the left rear) to create the shadows and bring out some of the texture of the bone. It pops out nicely from the black felt background.


Sunday, July 06, 2008

Capture Cincinnati Photo Contest

I'm not too proud to beg.

CiN Weekly is once again running the Capture Cincinnati photo contest. Just like last year's contest, the end product of the contest is a book that will include a DVD with it. The book will have the top photos from each chapter/topic (people, nature, everyday life, sports, etc.) based on votes, comments, and hearts that indicate people who "loved" your photo. You're guaranteed at least one photo on the DVD (last year I had several), but not necessarily something in the book.

That's where you come in. I have entered many of the photos you've seen here on my blog in the contest and I'd appreciate your votes, comments, and hearts to move some photos up the ranking. You must register on the site to vote, but it doesn't take long. Then click through to my photos and vote for any that catch your eye.

Right now my top vote getter is the Chilo globe shaped panorama I described here. It's a nice, unique photo but I'm a bit surprised that's my top photo so far without any promotion. The next in line is the night photo taken after our blizzard earlier this year.

You can click on either of the photos below to take you to the voting or click on any photo in the sidebar to the right. Thanks for any votes and comments! If you have photos taken around the greater Cincinnati area, upload your own photos and leave a comment to let me know what your name is.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

How is Your Pepper Palette?

One of my favorite food blog reads is Harold McGee's Curious Cooks site that has a collection of his articles from the New York Times. He weaves some technical background into his articles on a variety of food and cooking topics. His recent article about pepper notes in wine was interesting -- especially the fact that a significant portion of the population lacks the ability to detect some flavors. That creates an interesting challenge for cooks trying to season a dish for the average person.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Visit to Findlay

Playing the MarketI have a backlog of items to blog about. A few weeks ago on Father's Day, Dianne and I visited Findlay Market near downtown Cincinnati. It was almost a year to the day that we had last been there.

We had some delicious panini sandwiches for lunch at Angelina Fine Italian Food and then walked around to check out the vendors. We bought some Swedish and some hot Italian sausages from Kroeger & Sons Meats (they have a huge selection of great sausages) and some produce from the outdoor vendors. There weren't a lot of people there, so it was easy to get around. The guitar player at the right was singing a blues tune about fathers. The shot below is the restored store fronts bordering the Market House. The window boxes are very pretty.

Sunday at Findlay