Friday, January 07, 2005

Not Cool - No power = No fun

Two weeks ago the power went out at my friend Grim's place. For him, the experience was not fun. He has two dear pet prairie Dogs, and a house that uses hot water to heat it. He and his sweetie had to hunker down in the basement with the dogs and use their wood burning furnace. They couldn't leave the house empty too long or the fire would go out and their water pipes would burst. No hot water, no internet, not a single luxury...Several sleepless nights. Eventually, their power was restored just in time for their New Years party and a good time was had by all.

This morning, it was our turn. No power, and everything outside was encased in a thick coating of heavy ice. So heavy in fact that several pine trees on the property were badly damaged. The weight of the ice bent smaller tress in half and several large limbs snapped off completely.

What were we to do? Leave immediately and go to breakfast in town, that's what. The small diner was so packed that we offered the two empty seats at our table to another couple, who turned out to be very nice folks. We ran some errands and returned home to find... No power. We called up Grim, who could now chuckle at us. Although the power was again out at his place, HE now has a generator, and all the joys that power provides.

This was the big test. How bad would our Hobbit hole get? Although the temp went up to about 39F outside the ice stuck around all day, and the house started to cool down. We considered starting a fire, but that would draw cooler air into the outer rooms. Eventually, after a nap, I was forced to put on a sweater. It was horrible.

Being bored we again abandoned our house to go see Blade 3 and enjoy a nice dinner with Grim and his wife. Upon returning to Bag End, we found warm lights glowing and twinkling at us, welcoming us home. Our house is toasty again, but it was good to know that in the event of another outage, the place should stay pretty tolerable. The only casualty was the ice cream in our freezer. We gave it a decent send off using bananas and some walnuts.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

The very definition of wacko

I am not one to bitch slap other peoples religious faiths. In my life I have attended many kinds of Christian services, a barmitzvah, and have visited the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, which I found to be one of the most tasteful religious buildings I have seen. Many of my friends are Wiccans or some other form of Pagan. So I believe I hold a pretty open mind with regards to spirituality.

The Church of Scientology, however, is pure made up wacko fiction. And more than that, they are dangerous.

You may have heard about these people, they have centers around the world and offer free 'personality tests' at many of them. They run commercials for the book 'Dianetics' which tell you that you can reprogram your brain.

But the simple fact is that this is a made up "religion". 100% fiction.

Why should you care? Because there are lot of them out there, they have a shitload of money, the best lawyers, and will use them against ANYONE they think is a threat to them.

For a little background, take a link over to Wikipedia for the basic story that their religion/science is based on.

Would you believe this if someone blurted it at you on a street corner? Hell no, you'd carefully cross the street to avoid such a wacko. But Scientology doesn't give you that story right off the mark. You will spend years and thousands of dollars learning these 'secrets'. And if you try to leave or cause them trouble? Well, take a look over at for more horrifying stories about what this 'church' is capable of.

Seriously, if James Bond existed he'd be sent to stop these people before they took over the world using their mind controll bullshit ray and their hoards of mutant lawyers with frickin' lasers on their heads.

Old but still Cool - The Godfather bit

Two years ago at the SCA event called Pennsic I thought it would be fun to help raise money for the Chiergeons (sp?). These are the people to basically run a small hospital at the event. Many merchants put out a small plastic bottle to collect spare change for the cause.

I felt that was letting them off easy. Merchants have money. Not a lot, but enough. They also get tired and bored being stuck in their booth all day. So a few friends from our camp joined me to 'shake down' the merchants for 'protection money', which we in turn donated to the cause. Despite the rain, we had a great time. We'd set up a little table with a checkered tablecloth, candle and a small boombox playing the godfather theme while I did my Marlon Brando impersonation and made them an offer they couldn't refuse. After the event, I whipped up a quick Flash animation to send to some of the merchants who donated to the cause.

Click HERE for the .swf file

If that doesn't work, get the .exe HERE

The animations have sound. Enjoy!

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Cool - XM Radio is in da hizzous!!

So it struck me that my lovely lady and I spend a lot of time driving. This driving usually has to do with our work and thus involves many hours of sitting on our asses looking at mile after mile of blacktop.

We have found many ways to distract ourselves on these long trips. There are, of course, games such as 'Punch me in the Arm' and 'Racoon Bocce' but these are short lived thrills. Books on tape are a great help but this situation really requires a far more complex solution involving technology of an almost mythical power. Behold!

I got the basic XM kit for Chrismachannukwanzikaa and picked up the car kit at Best Buy. I activated the system over the phone and then pranced (yes pranced) outside to install the shiny silver box of joy. This was achieved without undue stress. The radio itself slides into a mounting bracket that is stuck to the dash with powerful sticky tape. The power cord, antenna and audio out line are housed in this base station so you can simply take the radio with you if you should have to leave your vehicle in one of the less savory Amish neighborhoods near our home.

The unit requires about 20 minutes to download programming info, updates and (I am convinced) secret spyware that allows the government to track my every move.

Once set up the system is fairly easy to operate. That is to say, if you can turn a knob and/or push buttons, you're good to go. XM features something like 120 commercial free channels of programming for $10 a month. It also features something we often do not get out here in 'Gods Country (tm)', reception. I've had the system for a few days now and I enjoy it overall. Being a person who grew up, to some degree, during the 80's I appreciate the all 80's channel, although I am beginning to learn there was indeed a lot of crap created during that time. The world music channels are cool and I have a soft spot for 40's music and radio dramas from that period. The only problem is that if there isn't something on the channel you are listening to, you can bop around from channel to channel. And because the radio displays the artist and title you may find yourself distracted from your driving duties, which can lead to much swerving/screaming in panic etc...