November 30, 2009

NASA and NPR - two of my favorite acryonyms

First, most of the images from the recently released NASA pics of the space shuttle mission are passable, moderately interesting.

But this one...the last glimpse of light through the atmosphere's thin blue sheen is gorgeous and will be one of my desktop backgrounds at school tomorrow.

And secondly, I am often amazed with NPR, and two stories in particular caught my ear today.

Kyle pointed out a story from this morning in which Neil Gaiman spoke on his love of audio books and interviewed David Sedaris.  Listening to Neil is marvelous enough, but when Sedaris's lilting lisp is thrown in, things can't get much better.

Then, there was the story on the way home today in which they discussed the challenges of dating in the age, handholding in the age of handhelds.  The story is marvelously well reported and worth a listen if only to hear them refer to something as a menage-a-tweet - a man, a woman, and an iPhone.

Update: Monster Mini-Golf (part II)

As I had promised, I revisited Monster Mini-Golf in West Chester at the urgings of Tony (who I'm guessing is actually Anthony Smith, franchise owner).

Turns out that his claim that "[they] have made lots of changes since your first visit" wasn't a hollow one.  They have actually added a number of additions to make the course a little more challenging.

First off, each hole now has a tee pad, something that I noted was a problem the first time.  When I first visited, the tee mats were a molded rubber monster/bear claw (seen faintly here).  Any putt from the tee pads had to roll off a distinct and significant (~1/4 inch) lip.  The tee pad itself was also uneven, having slightly raised parts where the pads of the paw would be found.  This lead to a very inconsistent departure from the tee pad.

Theses claw-shaped tee pads have been entirely banished, replaced instead with a simple carpet pad with bound edges and a thoroughly velcro-covered backing.  This simple change lead to a much truer initial roll to each hole.  The placement of a few of the tee pads still seemed questionable to me, effectively cutting off the opening three or four feet of some holes.  In an area where space is at a premium - the entire course takes up the back 1/2 to 2/3 of a strip mall location - this seems an odd choice.

The tee pad locations, have, however been well thought out as they provide some interesting paths through the course - often marked with a fluorescent arrow suggesting that the golfer putt below the coffin, up a ramp (more on that in a moment), or at a particular angle.  These arrows (see the ramp photo below to see one of the arrows) are far from prevalent - I only remember three of them in particular - but they do allow for some nice play options that might not otherwise be noticed.

Two of the holes have another addition, a spinner near the tee pad.  The spinner - something clearly designated with the Monster Mini Golf logo - that allows players to add another level of difficulty to the game.  Depending on where the spinner lands, the player may be required alter their game in one of six ways - including to putt with their eyes closed, roll their first shot instead of using the putter, putt with the putter handle, or to allow another player to be a living barricade by standing in one place on the hole (sufficiently away from the tee pad to still allow play).

I chose not to use the spinners and was assessed a stroke penalty by Calen who was keeping score for us.  While I may not care for the spinners, I can see that it would further the general party atmosphere that Monster Mini Golf is fostering.  Young golfers in particular would, I think, enjoy the spinner variety.  Thankfully, the spinners are restricted to just two of the eighteen holes.

The more significant changes to the course come with the addition of new barriers on some new holes.  The initial hole, for example, sees a significant breeze coming out of the "monster cage" behind the hole.  Any putt that would otherwise stop close to the hole is blown three or four feet from the hole rather than resting at gimme distance.  This "monster cage" was in place when The Girl and I initially played the course, but the breeze was apparently turned off, a significant change to the first hole.

The second hole, then, is also changed with the addition of a plastic ramp - about two and a half feet long, one foot up, one back down - in the optimum place for a first bank shot.  The ramp is easy enough to roll up and down - friction tape lines each slope, but the ramp does provide some much-needed variety in the otherwise monotonously level carpet throughout the course.

This added slope shows up again on one of the late holes in the form of a plastic dome around the hole.  The dome is decorated with a fluorescent red spiral and allows for no landing area at the top beside that at the bottom of the cup.  Any missed shot will come caroming down the slope.  The hill isn't ridiculously huge - probably no more than five or six inches in height.- but the variety in challenge is welcomed.

The two largest new challenges are on the ninth and seventeenth holes.  On the ninth, the previously U-shaped hole has been drastically improved with the addition of what looks like a skate ramp, allowing the first shot to cut through the U with the right angle and speed.  The ball travels up the ramp from the near side (conveniently marked with a glowing arrow) and down toward the hole, cutting off at least one stroke if successful - a great bonus to the course as I found the lack of options on how to play each hole repetitive and boring the first time.

The new challenge on the seventeenth hole wasn't operational when we visited - still being in the construction phase (though it was operational when I went back a week later to take the photos).  The new barricade is a skee ball game - named Skull Ball - which provides the players the option of hitting their first shot up the skee ball slope or avoiding the game entirely at the cost of a stroke or two.  Depending on how well the shot is struck - into the smallest skee ball ring being the best - there are four different paths that the ball will take.  The worst path is a minor hinderance as it puts the players in a place worse than they would have been had they hit a good first shot and avoided the skee ball game entirely.  The other three outcomes provide varying improvements, cutting at least a stroke and possibly two off the hole score.  The skee ball game was not yet operational - or even painted - and looked to be in need of some finishing touches, but I like the updating that the course is doing. 

The course continues to be immaculately maintained, looking as if it were just opened before we played our update round.  I still enjoy the decor - especially now that I see that each Monster Mini Golf location gets customization, allowing the semi-standard statuary to be customized for each locale.  (Check out the Indy location with Jared and Dave Letterman).  I'm a little disappointed to not get a Bengal or Red anywhere, but we do at least get a nice nod to the Fitworks next door.

I definitely enjoyed my second round at Monster Mini Golf far more than I did the first.

I'll happily return to this location.

There are two more - non-mini golf - items worth noting.

While we played one of the later holes, the host came on the intercom asking a trivia question.  He mentioned characters from a recent movie, providing more obvious characters as he went along, and asked which movie they all starred in.  When no one guessed New Moon or Twilight after a reasonable amount of time (probably a minute or so after the final clue was given) he gave the answer and stated that anyone who had come up with the correct answer would have gotten fifty dollars cash.

Admittedly, I didn't see the $50 given away - and I knew the answer at the time, most of our party did but just didn't want to go up and earn what we admitted would be a far lesser prize - so I can't say that they actually give away $50 or how often they give it away, but I do know that I will be answering if they ask a trivia question while I'm there again.

Calen also asked me to point out that their party rooms are impressively well stocked and outfitted for what she would have expected.  The room has two large tables - wooden, substantial, well within the creepy theme - with seating for nearly twenty children.  In each party room, there is also a refrigerator, a large sideboard (perfect for birthday party gifts) and a bit of extra space for larger items to be placed in waiting.  Admirably, the room is decorated in lenticular 'ghost paintings' which reveal ghoulish sights as an party goer would move across the room.  The party rooms are not black lit, providing more light as a birthday party would need.  They offer a number of different party packages - some of which give a lifetime pass for the special person.

According to Calen - who has children of her own - all of this makes for a pretty awesome place to have a kid's birthday party.

I have to admit that I have no clue whatsoever about that kind of stuff.

My parent's never let us do stuff like that.

Not that I'm bitter or anything, nope.  Not at all...

I will say, though, that I'm thinking about having my next ChemGuy birthday party there just so I can get the lifetime pass that comes with the teen/adult birthday party packages they offer.

November 29, 2009

Steak and a quick trip

'Caught a bit on some Food Network show - not the one shown here but an updated version - about Peter Luger Steakhouse in Brooklyn, and now I'm thinking I should go back to NYC.

And, in an update on my world, The Girl and I have reservations to spend a few days in the Windy City, December 18-21.

Anybody have any suggestions as to what we should do and where we should eat?

November 28, 2009

Is there a Black Saturday?

From deep in a turkey and pumpkin pie hangover...or at least from the anticipation of one...

November 27, 2009

Free mp3s on Amazon

Just clicked through on the link to redeem my $3 in free mp3 from Amazon.

You have to purchase the mp3s by 11/30, but that's like three days to make a decision for some free music, folks.

Grab 'em.

Thanks to The Consumerist for the hook up.

Christmas appropriate

Now that we're past Thanksgiving, Christmas music is again appropriate, and I couldn't be happier.

Celebrate with me, folks...

November 26, 2009


How is it that Geico has five significant advertising campaigns going right now?

Isn't there supposed to be something called brand identity?

November 25, 2009

Jimmy Fallon, everybody, Jimmy Fallon

Sorry, too good not to post immediately...

Christmas giving

The Girl and I have chosen to go the charity route each of the last two Christmases (sp?), giving a laptop to the One Laptop Per Child movement a couple of years ago and giving a DS and some games to the Childs Play Charity last year.

We're looking for a worthy charity this year - something that would end up as a fairly anonymous gift, and I'm currently leaning toward Donors Choose.

Anybody have any other suggestions for this year?

Quick question...

What is the greatest female-fronted rock band ever?
  • The Pretenders?
  • The Go-Gos?
  • Blondie?
  • The Bangles?
  • Garbage?
  • Bananarama?
  • The Eurythmics?
  • Jefferson Airplane?
  • Starship?
  • Heart?
  • The Donnas?
  • The Cranberries?
  • No Doubt?
  • 10,000 Maniacs?
  • Big Brother & the Holding Company?
I need to know these things.

And thanks to these three links for help in even starting a list...

November 24, 2009

Update: Newest New Site Design for Princeton

In case anybody wanted to know - and, in response to Slug's question in the comments...the exact words that I sent in when asked my opinion...

I'm putting them in black type so that people can give their opinions of the design without reading mine first if they want to.

- I like the modern look.  It’s very much a look that fits in with lots of schools and universities around the country right now.

- I love the ability to post video.  That could be a great place for us to highlight some of our programs.  We will need to actually generate some content, however, if we’re going to put that front and center, and generation of video content tends to be a lot more labor intensive than does print content.  If we put up one video and it stays there – or if we rotate among out of date content – it will be a giant sore spot, though.

- The page seems hugely busy and jumbled to me.  There are links to every possible thing that anyone could possibly want (grades, mission, vision, registration, visual arts, athletics, treasurer, and a dozen other things).  Because of this huge amount of links, I find the page very hard to navigate visually.

- The horizontal navigation bar above the Viking head seems more suited to the district pages than it does to the individual school page, as do many of the menu options down the left hand side (employment opportunities, our schools, district archives, eNews Sign-Up, school board, mission and vision, central office, district news)

-  My eyes are drawn very firmly to the football photo as well as the Viking head.  I don’t get any visual prompting as to where I should look next for the important information.    Out of curiosity, will these photos rotate as the page is loaded or will they provide a different, static photo with each reload of the page?

- There are dozens of pages I can think of that would have no current home under the various navigation schemes – OGT tips page, technology department site, Odin’s Word, the science department, my course website,

- There seem to be duplications among the various links.

- For example, calendar is linked under quick links (on the left) and This Week at Princeton (in the bottom right) as well as – maybe – in the “One Stop Shop for Parents” in the top right listed as “schedules”.

- On the district page, the “Quick Link” to Our Schools seems redundant with the full links in the red, left area to each school.

- In the “Quick Links” there is a link to School Board and Central Office, and there are separate links to each Central Office Department across the top.

- The high school page doesn’t seem to be rendering correctly at the top of the page.  On the district page, there are two news stories (?) up top (the right one fades into the “One Stop Shop for Parents”, but these don’t show on the high school page.  Nor does the phrase “One Stop Shop for Parents”.

- I like the “This week at Princeton” bar to the right.  Will these be school-specific or will they simply be the same three or so events for the whole district?

- I don’t care for the Inspire to Dream… logo in the bottom right.  I don’t feel that it serves to contribute anything other than an additional image to draw my eye.

- On the district page, the names of the schools are nicely arranged, but I notice that the full name for our middle school (PCMS) has been shortened for what I assume are aesthetic reasons.

- The possibilities of ‘District Archives’ – though I don’t like that link from the school specific pages – intrigues me.  I have been collecting lists and information for the past couple of years – as well as audio podcasts with a couple of Princeton historians – in hopes of putting together a district/high school history site and have just never had the manpower to get that together.

- I don’t see anywhere for a staff directory (unless that is the intent of ‘contacts’ in the One Stop Shop for Parents).  It’s something that has been sorely lacking for a while on the high school and district sites.

- It’s interesting that nothing on the district or school specific site actually mentions our academics.  There are links to music, athletics, visual arts, treasurer, superintendent, school board, central office – but not a single link to anything that I would call academic departments.

- The Princeton High School logo at the very top has an issue with the grey bar behind the words High School.  The grey changes colors at the end of the final L.

All in all, I see the need for the change.  Things need to modernize and become more visually interesting.

I also understand that there is a desire to have all the district school websites become homogenized.  It’s not a desire that I hold, but I know that my view of the district is very different from other people’s.

I don’t care for the apparent shift toward a single website which is for Princeton City Schools while only allowing  (out of a page design of roughly 940 x 730 pixels – 686200 pixels total) only 470 x 340 pixels plus 240 x 260 pixels of video (for 222200 pixels total) of actual school-specific content.  That’s less than 33% of the page being actual school content, leaving room for three news stories at any one time.

And I, admittedly, don’t care for the overall design shift from plain, simple, dumpy (all of which I fully admit that the high school mainpage certainly is now) but with a focus on communicating useful information at a glance while celebrating the interesting things happening around the building to a much more professional site which is visually overwhelming while providing an surfeit and duplication of links.

Quick help needed

I just got an email telling me that the PHS website is going to get a redesign (probably partially my fault since I never got the old redesign off the ground) and that the district PR person in charge of the project is talking to the designers today about the design.

He sent me this link to the new design and asked for my feedback today.

Leave any thoughts in the comments.

Crusade this!

It doesn't get much better than the logo of the Valparaiso Crusaders.

November 23, 2009

Friday Night Carols

It's been a long week at Lake Woebegon...

The morning classes have been thrown into a tizzy with OGT (our state tests) practice tests all week long but with a half dozen non-sophomores in each morning class still in need of some educating.

We've had field trips and tests and all sorts of other distractions from the regular routine, and that's made for a pretty unsettled atmosphere around room 519 for a while now.

By the time Friday rolled around, I was fully and ready to head home, collapse, and not think about school for a few days.  Mid-terms grades were due Sunday evening, so the sabbath was mostly spent grading (and avoiding grading as much as possible, sorry AP folks, still no notebooks).

But Friday night...

Friday night was different.

Friday night was redemptive and wonderful and absolutely spectacular.

I got to hang out with some of the more impressive, good hearted, open, welcoming, intelligent, funny, talented young people that I've known in a while as they waited to record their five minutes of fame for the My64 Holiday Carols show.

They were scheduled to sing right at nine, but technical hurdles pushed all the choirs back by at least half an hour, meaning I got to hang out in the middle of Emma, Laura, Andrea, Jared, Becky, Frank, Andrew, Irene, Vicki, Jamie, Ligaya, Heather, and a bunch of other Princeton A Capella choir members for almost a full hour, joking with them, debating who would win in a fight between the Hulk and Wolverine, taking their pictures, and just generally reveling in my luck of getting to know these folks.

Admittedly, I'm sure that the setting - the remodeled Fountain Square - helped with the gorgeously well-lit Genius of Water, the colorful lights behind the statue, the 'snow' machine pumping out bubbles or flakes or whatever, the wrapped presents, the Grater's ice cream, and the general first feelings of Christmas cheer, but that's neither here nor there.

It's evenings like Friday that make me cherish the home that I've found at Princeton High School, the position that I've fallen into as the webguy who's always kind of around taking photos, and the young people that I'm lucky enough to get to know, teach, and hang out with.

Check out the photos if you're interested.

Oh, and major thanks to The Girl who went down to Fountain Square with me but headed off on her own to kill time knowing that I was in my element and would enjoy myself more without having to entertain her, to Calen for hiring me, and to My64 for using such awesome television lights that I didn't have any problem getting clear photos in spite of the evening darkness.

November 21, 2009

The Saturday thing again


November 20, 2009

From a hazy memory

From a memory that has been running through my head of late...

I think we read this in eighth grade, Mrs Hiller's class, and it's been haunting me off and on for a while now.

Lord Randall

"O where ha you been, Lord Randal, my son?
And where ha you been, my handsome young man?"
"I ha been at the greenwood; mother, mak my bed soon,
For I'm wearied wi hunting, and fain wad lie down."

"An wha met ye there, Lord Randal, my son?
And wha met ye there, my handsome young man?"
"O I met wi my true-love; mother, mak my bed soon,
For I'm wearied wi huntin, and fain wad lie down."

"And what did she give you, Lord Randal, My son?
And wha did she give you, my handsome young man?"
"Eels fried in a pan; mother, mak my bed soon,
For I'm wearied wi huntin, and fein wad lie down."

"And what gat your leavins, Lord Randal my son?
And wha gat your leavins, my handsome young man?"
"My hawks and my hounds; mother, mak my bed soon,
For I'm wearied wi huntin, and fein wad lie down."

"And what becam of them, Lord Randal, my son?
And what becam of them, my handsome young man?
"They stretched their legs out and died; mother mak my bed soon,
For I'm wearied wi huntin, and fain wad lie down."
"O I fear you are poisoned, Lord Randal, my son!
I fear you are poisoned, my handsome young man!"

"O yes, I am poisoned; mother, mak my bed soon,
For I'm sick at the heart, and fain wad lie down."
"What d'ye leave to your mother, Lord Randal, my son?
What d'ye leave to your mother, my handsome young man?"

"Four and twenty milk kye; mother, mak my bed soon,
For I'm sick at the heart, and I fain wad lie down."
"What d'ye leave to your sister, Lord Randal, my son?
What d'ye leave to your sister, my handsome young man?"

"My gold and my silver; mother mak my bed soon,
For I'm sick at the heart, an I fain wad lie down."
"What d'ye leave to your brother, Lord Randal, my son?
What d'ye leave to your brother, my handsome young man?"

"My houses and my lands; mother, mak my bed soon,
For I'm sick at the heart, and I fain wad lie down."
"What d'ye leave to your true-love, Lord Randal, my son?
What d'ye leave to your true-love, my handsome young man?"
I leave her hell and fire; mother mak my bed soon,
For I'm sick at the heart, and I fain wad lie down."

November 19, 2009

A local Thanksgiving

I really dug this Thanksgiving post from Cincinnati Locavore.


I have reached this state of understanding.

My blog's design sucks.

I mostly understand this because Jeff Tweedy's son's blog looks far better than mine does.

Maybe I'll work on stealing a prettier design over Christmas Break.

November 18, 2009

Parody or not parody?

You tell Mass: We Pray a parody or not?

So much want...

I don't actually want a Whatnot, but I do desperately want to go to FAO Schwartz to try my hand at making one of my own, seeing it be made, and then testing it out.

I don't know that I'd actually play with it - especially after reading this review that says...
it's really not made for adult hands (at least not mine). It's a tight squeeze through the neck, but once your hand is in the head, it's not too bad although your body doesn't easily let you forget that feat. When it comes right down to it, it's still essentially a toy.
Plus, it reads like the Muppet Whatnot Workshop has dropped a few of the possible features this year.

Woulda been kind of cool to have seen the Whatnots take over the Today show.

Thanks to TL for pointing this all out.

My Whatnot, in case you were curious...

November 17, 2009

Vetting the canon

Looking at The AV Club's "New Cult Canon"...

Flicks I've seen (with comments)

  • Napoleon Dynamite - Hate this flick.  The awkwardness does seem funny to me, just pathetic.  I get that it's a cult thing because the people who love it think it's the funniest thing out there.  In spite of my hatred, though, I want to see Gentlemen Broncos.
  • Beetlejuice - Classic, hilarious Michael Keaton.  One of his finest humor roles out there.  Great musical numbers, great special effects, early Burton.  Quality entry.
  • Darkman - Only saw this as a kid in the theater, and I didn't get it.  Thought it was dumb and poorly made.  Doubt I'll give itanother chance just because of this list.
  • I Heart Huckabees - I found it interesting, but not interesting enough to watch a second time through.
  • Team America: World Police - Okay, this one I get.  I could watch this time and time again.  Hilarious through and through.  The humor is so broad, so over the top, so offensive to everyone that it's hilarious.
  • Brick - If you watch this movie and try to make sense of it, it doesn't work - no adults in the world, nobody notices that the teens are killing and beating each other senseless - but if you let that one fact go, it's genius. The writing and dialogue are so tight as to be almost impenetrable.  One to pay attention to and one you get more of with a second watching.  High quality stuff.
  • The Big Lebowski - Rarely has there been a more quotable movie.  Hilarious, vulgar, funniest flick of the past couple of decades.  One, however, that many people wouldn't get.  Perfect cult classic - but growing in scope.
  • Triplets of Belleville - Almost wordless, French, musical cartoon.  I own it, and that's high praise from me.  I couldn't see myself watching it very often, however.  There's no quotability, so the cult value is tough for me to see.
  • Spirited Away - Another that I own (three so far, with Lebowski and Belleville) and another that I've seen a dozen times.  Calen's younger watched this a dozen times at our house.  It's beautiful and haunting and marvelous.  To me, it's not light-hearted enough for cult.
  • Eyes Wide Shut - I found it boring and repulsive at times.  Blech.
  • The Limey filmmaker commentary track - Enjoyable film.  I'm suddenly interested in hearing the commentary track.
  • Reservoir Dogs - Tarantino's first directorial debut is, I think, one of his weakest.  It's clearly the work of an early filmmaker who hasn't learned to move beyond his ticks.  It's a cult classic, though.
  • Rounders - Seen it twice.  Enjoyed it less the second time.  There are guys (cough-Bill Simmons-cough) who have built their entire life around being these two kids.
  • Oldboy - I've only seen it to the 1:45 mark.  Two copies of the DVD at PLCH died on us at exactly the same point.  Now that I know the ending, though, I'm kind of happy about that.
  • Fight Club - Ok, here we go.  Marvelous movie.  So well written, perfectly directd.  Acting superb.  This is a cult classic because so many people can't get past that it's a movie about guys fighting (which it so very much is not).
  • Sexy Beast - The analogy of the rock crashing into the pool is a little heavy-handed, but Ben Kingsley owns the screen.  Great choice.
  • The Devil's Advocate - Love it.  Horrible film that is so much fun to watch, with Pacino chewing scenery like a man who hasn't acted in decades.  Total cult.
  • Road House - Now you're just lobbing softballs here.  This is right in my wheelhouse.  I don't know that I can possibly ever turn this film off when it's on tv.
  • Wild Things - How can this be a cult film?  Every guy I know has half of it memorized (or at least imprinted on their eyeballs.)  It's surprisingly intelligent, but it's tough to get past the scenes of pure trashy manly fantasizes to get to that.  You have to watch the credits here to figure out what the heck happened.
  • Punch Drunk Love - Saw this in the theater and actually had the other couple apologize for it not being a typical Adam Sandler movie.  No, it's far better.  It's his best work by far, by the way.  Quirky, wonderful love story.  Another that I struggle to turn off when I catch it on tv.
  • The Boondock Saints - Shut up, Murraveener.  I thought it was obvious from twenty minutes in.  Yes, the Defoe character is entertaining, and the boys are lucky, but the eventual revelation is so anticlimactic as to be boring.  And they're making a sequel?  Why?
  • Pi - It's not for everyone.  There might not be a better definition of a cult film.  It's so dense, so hard to follow, so artistic through much of the movie that it's almost as thoough it were designed to turn people away so they wouldn't find that Aranofsky's debut was actually intelligent and haunting.
  • Primer - Okay, there is a better definition of cult than Pi, but only because it's even more off-putting and harder to follow than Pi is.  Joey recently saw this, and the discussion over there proved how tough this it to sell to anybody - engineers build a box that they can't explain that does things they never dreamed of.  Blech.  But it's not blech at all.  It's intelligent and demands full attention, but there's genius there beneath the fluorescent glare.
  • Clerks - This on, on the other hand, looks even lower budget (it wasn't) but is so open, low-brow, and vulgar that every college kid who's ever dropped the f-bomb should give it a chance.  I own it, and it lead me down a very bent path of Kevin Smith adoration (a path which seems to be peetering out, by the way).
  • Donnie Darko - I've seen it.  I think I might have understood it (it's about girls, right?).  I know I didn't get what the heck was happening as it happened.  I'll probably watch it again, but I don't know that it'll be a bunch more times.  Definite cult classic, though.
So, which movie on the list that I haven't seen should I absolutely get out and see this weekend?

    Changing the channel one last time

    There was a time when it was shocking to see something other than videos on MTV.

    Remote Control was the first non-musical show that MTV ever ran.

    And now, the great Ken Ober has passed onward.

    November 16, 2009

    Looking for help

    I'm working on a couple of 8track themes for some upcoming playlists, and I'm in need of suggestions for each theme.  Any help would be appreciated.

    Playlist one is bawdy songs from the modern era:
    And playlist two is drug songs - pro, con, informative, whatever:
    Suggestions are welcome for both lists.

    In memorium

    I am nothing if not sarcastic and derivative.

    About once a week, we get an email on our school system saying that somebody has passed away.  Some former principal, the wife of a coworker, the third cousin of a former lunch lady at a school that doesn't exist anymore but with whom some people still around may have worked.

    For most of these, I just glance to make sure it's not anybody I know - most of whom wouldn't tell the PR folks in the district anyway - and hit delete.  For one a couple of weeks ago, however, I was impressed with the sheer volume of things said about the departed, the husband of a woman who apparently works at our alternative school (an entirely computer-based school of last chance for our more challenging youths).

    In the honor of this passing, I offer my own, entirely fabricated, thoroughly plagiarized version of his write-up in the Cincinnati Enquirer...
    We have learned of the passing of Mr. Lonnie Dusch, husband of Karlen (redacted) (Heritage Elementary, but not the Heritage in the Princeton district).

    Cincinnati Enquirer write-up is shown below:

    DUSCH Robert L, husband of Karlen (redacted) who wouldn’t take his last name because it’s Dusch. Owner of LeRoy, Harlan, and Aylah. Son of Robert (Little Bob) Dusch and (redacted) who actually took the name Dusch and then gave it back even though they didn’t get divorced or anything. Brother of Amellia Dusch. Grandson of Robert (Big Bob) Dusch – not Sr because the middle name changed from Frederick to Fred – and Gertie Dusch, Helen Goehe and Lorenz Henry Goehe (pronounced gay which isn’t really much better than Dusch). Also survived by additional family, friends, and brothers and sisters in Flying Spaghetti Monster.

    Visitation will be held in room 519 at Princeton High School from 4-8pm on Thursday, November 19, where Lonnie will be arranged as though he were still teaching and you can rest in desks where thousands of his students slept. Nondenominational services will be held at Miami University on the first hole of the disc golf course on Saturday, November 21 at 8am so no one has to miss school but everyone has to get up early and get the day started. Discs will be available to all attendees for after the services.

    Lonnie Dusch was anything but the usual teacher.

    He loved to blow stuff up but actually tried to make sure his students knew what was happening and why. He commissioned the building of a big spinner wheel, a lazy susan tornado of fire, and other things that he didn’t have the skills to build himself. He really just hated to get his hands dirty.

    “He was the best hire I ever made. His mere presence elevated the science department to a place where we could consistently almost meet state minimum competency,” said Rebecca Heckman. “Plus, he could be cuttingly sarcastic and immature, yet people would constantly look to him for guidance and trust his ideas and untitled leadership.”

    Mr. Dusch, 44, became ill after leading a spelunking expedition through recently discovered caves below the future site of Princeton High School’s new campus. He contracted man-bird-cavepig-flu which developed into walking pneumonia, sitting pneumonia, lying down pneumonia, and eventually into curling on his side wheezing pneumonia. Mr. Dusch spent 43 days at school since the contraction of his illness, continuing to say that he “didn’t feel too bad” before succumbing to the disease during a staff meeting.

    Mr. Dusch met his future bride, Karlen, when both were members of Mrs VanOsdol’s honors English class in seventh grade where she mocked him for his white tube socks pulled up to above his husky calves. Mr. Dusch enjoyed playing Advanced Dungeons and Dragons at the time.

    But it was his love of playing around on the internet his sister remembers.

    “He was always on,” she said.

    He founded a blog on Blogger, she said, and then got involved in posting the most inane observations and banal commentary.

    “What people will remember Lonnie by is sarcasm…sarcasm and devastating good looks. The two things people will remember Lonnie by are sarcasm, devastating good looks, and a fanatical devotion to Princeton High School, always willing to go in on a Sunday to grade notebooks after putting them off for a week, attending soccer games and high school musicals so he could post thousands of almost in-focus, marginally framed photos on the school website,” she said.

    “He was always wanting to put his touch on things.”

    This included editing coworkers’ presentations – whether they asked or not, commenting on blog posts from former students and overseeing the redesign of the Princeton High School website, especially when he had students to do the actual work for him, his favorite method of working.

    Mr. Dusch was not the senior chemistry instructor – having been beaten to Princeton by his long-time neighbor, Doug Studer. Before that, he was the chemistry instructor at Mount Healthy High School and at Terre Haute South Vigo High School in Indiana.

    His sister, Amellia, saw the teacher potential in her brother when they were children.

    “He just talked and talked. He wanted people to do things his way and to always tell them what he knew,” she said. “He was an absolute know-it-all.”

    Mr. Dusch is survived by Karlen, his wife of 19 years, dogs Harlan and LeRoy, cat Aylah, and a rosemary bush that he was really proud of.

    Visitation is 4-8pm Thursday in room 519 of Princeton High School, 11080 Chester Rd, Cincinnati. The scattering of his ashes is at 8am Saturday at Miami University disc golf course’s first tee.

    November 15, 2009

    Only living boy in West Chester

    Thanks to songfacts for the help in remembering a few of these...

    A guide

    I'll admit that I don't expect the recommended 15%-20% since this is a pretty cheap post just meant to get me closer to having a full 365 posts this calendar year.

    November 14, 2009

    Join me at the Aquarium tonight

    Seriously, big fun a the Newport Aquarium tonight...

    November 13, 2009

    Today the instrumentals...

    We move ever onward toward the wordless themes...

    And I promise I'm done for a while...

    November 12, 2009

    Update: Monster Mini-Golf

    In a fascinating turn of events, Tony - an employee at Monster Mini Golf in West Chester - stumbled upon my blog post reviewing the course.  He says they've made some changes and that I should check out the new designs.

    First off, I'm absolutely fascinated whenever anyone that I don't know directly finds this blog.

    Secondly, if he's willing to take the time to read and comment, I'm willing to take a chance to give him another try.  I'll be re-reviewing Monster Mini Golf in the next few weeks.  Anybody wanna join me for a visit?

    The Marvel Expanding Universe Wall Chart of Stupidity

    That's a big poster, eh?

    According to Marvel, it's actually a big wall chart, but I'm not one for technical details like that.

    The couple of articles that I could find about this monstrosity - here and here - are pretty much fawning previews that could well have been sent out by the House of Ideas itself.  There's not much meat in the stories.

    And from what I can see - thank you Flickr - the wall chart has a massive amount of meat to it.  The one side is a gigando poster - twelve feet wide according to the specs - with Marvel characters grouped into five areas, each area populated with characters related in some way - part of the Spider-Man universe, the Fantastic Four crue, the magical world of Stephen Strange.  It's kind of a neat poster, but I haven't taped photos to my walls for a few decades (I use hot glue at school, shut up).

    It's the stuff on the flip side that kind of intrigues me.  The back of the poster is filled with Marvel stories, trivia, and info - lists of characters that have died and come back, biographies of all the characters on the front, bunches more.  But the fact that the backside has info to read means the poster can't be rightfully put on the wall.


    If a buyer wanted to read the back more than once, they couldn't put it on the wall.  Hence, the poster is either needlessly expensive for just being a poster (a $45 poster seems fairly costly to tape up the wall, and you're certainly not framing this beast) or a reference book that that's hard to manage and read.

    Dumb, dumb, dumb, and the two Amazon reviews mirror my opinion...
    They should have decided on this item being either book or a wall chart. Trying to do both at the same time just ended up with something that I couldn't put on my wall and was too big to go on my bookshelf.

    What annoyed me more then that and why I gave this item one star instead of three was the mistakes inside the wall chart/book. Other reviewers have already commented on some of them. But, there were many others like it says the Master of Magnistism's children are Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch in the text talking about Marvel families. Forgetting someone are we?

    Then it has a big picture of the House of M and it says under it that "The 'House of Magnus' as Magneto's dynasty is termed, includes the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver". Polaris is standing right beside the rest of them in the picture and whoever wrote that the caps under completely ignored her again. Later in the book it does finally get it right and says that Polaris is also Magneto's daughter. But, clearly this issue demonstrates that the editing of the wall chart/book was subpar.


    Not quite what I was expecting. It is awkward to unfold. It has a lot characters, some you wouldn't expect or understand the 'connections'. Found 4 mistakes so far. Warlock- picture is New Mutants Warlock, but the bio is Adam Warlock. Spider-Girl- picture is Arana, the bio is alternate universe Spider-girl. Guardians of the Galaxy label with picture of Galactic Guardians. Death- picture of Wolverine/Death, bio of actual Death. Its neat, but could have been so much cooler.
    If you're actually interested in picking this thing up, however, Amazon is offering it for $32 instead of its suggested retail of $45.

    (All this being said, if DC put out a similar item, I'd be snatching it up in a heartbeat.)

    November 11, 2009

    Pretty wallpapers

    They're not Princeton-themed or anything cool like that, but Fifty Foot Shadows has some rather attractive wallpapers for free download.  They're mostly of the style with a single object is sharp focus and the background well out of focus, but they're nicely composed.

    Well worth a look.

    November 10, 2009

    Update: Street View Trike vote

    Check the released list and vote for your choices of where the Street View Trike should go wandering next.

    Sadly, the only two I felt really strongly about (Central Park & the National Mall) were in the same category.

    Alphabet movies

    My favorite flicks...
    • A - American Beauty
    • B - The Big Lebowski (Blade Runner in the running, but not as eminently and repeatedly watchable)
    • C - Charade
    • D - Dr Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
    • E - Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
    • F - Fight Club
    • G - Grosse Point Blank (The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly is a classic, but not my favorite)
    • H - Hoosiers (Hero is a better film, but I don't love it nearly as much)
    • I - I am Trying to Break Your Heart
    • J - Juno
    • K - Kill Bill, Vol 1
    • L - L.A. Story
    • M - The Muppet Movie
    • N - No Country For Old Men
    • O - O Brother, Where Art Thou? (Orlando is also outstanding)
    • P - The Player (close second for Punch Drunk Love)
    • Q - Quiz Show
    • R - Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead
    • S - Short Cuts (Sirens in second place and Spirited Away in third)
    • T - Thin Red Line
    • U - The Usual Suspects (special mention to Upside of Anger and Unforgiven)
    • V - V for Vendetta
    • W - War Games
    • X - X2: X-Men United
    • Y - Young Frankenstein
    • Z - Zoolander
    • Numbers - 25th Hour

    November 9, 2009

    Christmas Creepy

    I think I may throw up...oh, yuck...

    • Pumpkin Pancakes - Made with real pumpkin and spices, then crowned with whipped topping.  Add old fashioned syrup for the perfect finishing touch.
    • Gingerbread Pancakes - Ginger spice pancakes crowned with powdered sugar, whipped topping, and holiday sprinkles.
    • Pecan Pie Pancakes - Sweet pecan pie filling layered with buttermilk pancakes.  Crowned with whipped topping and glazed pecans.
    • Eggnog Pancakes - Vanilla cream with cinnamon and nutmeg, layered between sweet golden pancakes.  Crowned with whipped topping, a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar, and butter rum flavored sauce.

    With sickly sweet crap like this on their menu, it's no wonder that I'm not likely to be frequenting IHOP anytime soon.

    Street View improves...'cause it has to...

    For a fair while now, Google maps has been the be all and end all of mapping on the web. Originally it was Mapquest, but Google long ago passed their functionality.

    In fact, Google has been the default search map search engine for a long enough time that they might have been stagnating a bit.

    That is, until Bing Maps came along.

    A quick comparison...looking at Princeton High School using both services...

    ...from Google Maps...

    ...from Bing Maps...

    All in all, not too different.  The Bing version is a bit newer (based on the new turf in their version verses the stadium during the turf instillation in the Google version), and the colors are a bit richer, but that last could be simply because the picture was taken during a different season.

    But clicking on the Birds Eye view provides something that Google can't come anywhere near matching...

    ...Bing's birds eye view...

    Now that's just cool.  I've checked through a bunch of the Cincinnati area - my current house, my old house, the apartment that The Girl and I first lived in - as well as some of the other places where I've lived - using the birds eye view, and it's consistently awesome...very, very awesome (at least in the areas where it's available - which means not yet Crawfordsville).

    I don't know if it was this birds eye feature that has forced Google Maps to innovate, but they've clearly been fixing their googly eyes on improving their services.

    ...Google's Street View of PHS...

    One of their recent bits of improvement is the Google Trike, through which they are adding to their Street View feature by way of taking their street view to places without streets.  They're using the Google Trike to add in hiking trails, national parks, international sights - and they've opened the idea up to suggestions from the world.

    Apparently, a little competition has been good for the Google gods.

    November 8, 2009

    Update: SocialVibe & a cleaner sidebar

    SocialVibe is gone from the sidebar, folks.

    I figured it was worth a try, but the count sat at 747 patients helped (which was a number I couldn't actually figure out anyway) for like three weeks, I'm good with the fact the app wasn't something that interested you folks, so I'm chucking it to the curb.

    Feel free to support the LLS directly (or by shopping at The Gap or Old Navy) if you're interested.

    I'll be making my annual pitch sometime in early February.

    November 7, 2009

    Links: a sequel

    And that's about it this week, folks...

    November 6, 2009


    More television themes with week, instrumentals...

    November 5, 2009

    No clue where this is heading

    Man, today's 8tracks playlist is all over the place.  At least it's all music that got five stars in my iTunes.