Friday, April 20, 2012

Mobile posting?

Hey, I'm blogging from my phone! Maybe I'll stop neglecting this old thing. It's a wonderful age we live in...

Friday, July 15, 2011

Nutritional Blog Post Suppliment

I came across this post about grocery stores not equating to nutritional benefit by someone who, uh, I guess doesn't have a lot in common with pie. She (he?) also ties in somewhat with my post a few months ago, Foodies Hunger and Class Warfare.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Team Fortress 2 Sprays

Engineer War Poster

About two years ago, I posted a list of usernames from The Playstation network that I found amusing. They were culled from the records on my PS3 while playing Team Fortress 2. Since then, I've purchased a new computer and purchased the PC version of the game. Far better than the PS3 version, as the PC version has:
  • Enough updates and added content (free!) to create a whole second game
  • More users than the 10 people that played on the PSN
  • Developers that didn't implement to half-ass security
I wanted to do a second post like that one from two years ago, but Steam doesn't save all the people that I meet in a single place the way that the PS3 does. Then Valve added a feature where you take screen shots in any Steam-enabled game by pressing F12, and I thought that all of the fun little sprays that people use in game would be even more entertaining.

BTW, for the uninitiated, a "spray" is a little .jpg image that you can post on a wall with a press of a button. Originally used (I guess) for tactical marking of way points or spots of interest, now they are primarily used to for humorous purposes.

Or Pornography. Lot's of T&A sprays too. Or shock images. When a game that has any online modes at all, the ESRB rating will be marked with an asterisk and a note that says "Online Interactions Not Rated". That's basically their way of saying "Look, the studio didn't add any sexual content to this game, but we can't stop people from showing you a screen grab of Two Girls One Cup, or from reading Scat-Porn featuring the cast of the Super Mario Games."

And yes, the latter had actually happened to me before. Some things you just can't unhear.

Anyway, Instead of posting them all here, I'm just going to send you to Flickr, where I've saved and commented on some of the better ones:

And don't worry, it should be clean enough for all but the most sensitive among us. The kind that think that extra mild salsa is a good idea. No shock images, no boobs.





Well, maybe some boobs:

What's she staring at?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


I was never really into keepsakes, mementos, or scrap-booking. Still not. Other folks post Christmas cards on their door or over the mantle; I just keep them in a pile until February when it's socially acceptable to dispose of them, like receipts you don't need to keep anymore. Pictures? I'm not really a shutterbug. I'll take a few pictures now and then, but most of the content on my flickr account is from the first year or two after I had just gotten a new camera.

Sometimes I'll save a ticket stub or program from some memorable event, but a year or two later, when I go into a de-cluttering frenzy, they get tossed without a second thought. (By the way, heavenly bodies have to line up in rare ways for me to go into de-clutter mode.)

But there is some things I keep, and will still keep in a box in a drawer somewhere: Letters from my Grandfather. Granddaddy was a traveling minister for years, eventually going into prison ministry. An old Brittish gentleman, he always had a way with words. Dry wit. Brisk sarcasm, but without the acidic snark that typically comes bundled with it nowadays. While doing a recent purge of photos, paperwork, and other documents that I don't want kept around, I came across them again, and read some of the last ones he wrote to me before he died in 2008. Loved the guy.

If you sent me a picture or letter more than two years ago, It probably isn't with me anymore. Please don't take it personally, but if don't look at it or read it for that period of time it's probably not a lot of use to me. But I still have correspondence from Granddaddy from when I was about twelve. That's not going anywhere.

I was going to end this with a video of a sentimental song, something like "Cats in the Cradle" or some nonsense, but those of you who know me well, knows that I have to reverse the touchy-feely vibe that I've been building up. So instead, here's the Raul's Wild Kingdom segment from UHF. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Foodies, Hunger, and Class Warfare

At the al-dente blog at, one of the authors (Tracy Schneider) is attempting to feed herself on $7/day for five days, as part of the United Way's Hunger Challenge. Caveats: She cannot accept food from family, friends, coworkers, etc. This week, there's no doughnuts or coffee provided by the office, no accepting dinner invites from friends, things like that. She has to eat Breakfast Lunch and Dinner, everyday at this cost, and no adding ingredients that she already owns except salt and pepper. Also, in the spirit of the challenge, she's going to attempt to use fresh produce and protein whenever she can. The $7 amount was chosen as it is the maximum amount of money a (single) person can receive on Food Stamps.

Some of you may be thinking "That's not hard. Heck, I've been feeding myself on $4 per day since I left home!" And frankly, you'd be right. That's $210 dollars per month, which is pretty rich for one person's food budget, except maybe in an area with a remarkably high cost of living (NYC, for one).

Unfortunately, a lot of the comments, in the true fashion of internet trolls, have resorted to name calling and attacking the writer for this. When Ms. Schneider wrote about using a leftover Rotisserie Chicken Carcass to make homemade chicken soup, the attacks began right off the top. The first guy, "greg", thinks he can write a book on what's wrong with Schneider's posts and believes himself to be an expert on what poor people can't afford (ding! Stuff White People like, #62!).

Then there's "marissa" who sounds like daddy didn't hug her enough when she was little. The Irony Police will be probably be knocking on her door soon for calling Schneider a "pretentious asshole" after calling her a "fucktard" and still attempts to take the high road.

This isn't the first time the Internets were outraged at what well-to-do journalists called a tight budget. This article from two years ago on CBS told users how they could put together a spaghetti dinner with a tossed salad and dessert on a shoestring "recession budget" of... $35.00. Or another article on 20-something hipsters who's post-graduate degrees in poetry (seriously) aren't giving them good job prospects, and they're using their taxpayer funded food stamp money to buy Free-Range-Grass-Fed-Organically-Grown-Cruelty-Free-Vegan top dollar groceries from Whole Foods. (hat tip to my sister for the link)

I can understand the indignation. When people read these articles, it brings up images about some Trust Fund Baby who's woefully relaying the tale of how she had to sell the vacation home Vail, CO in order to keep the one Santa Monica. The recession is soooooooo cruel! Meanwhile the guy mowing her lawn is using his $50/day wage to provided food for his three kids.

The commenters raise some good points (rotisserie chicken wouldn't be available to be purchased via Food Stamps, for one thing), but generally need to chill the hell out, a point not lost on other contributors to the al-dente blog.

Here's my only real conclusions on the matter:
  • Eating well on $7/day is not terribly difficult.
  • The spirit of United Way's Challenge, I think, is to replicate the challenge of living on Food Stamps, so I think the restrictions of not buying things you couldn't via Food Stamps is a good idea.
  • This is not a "living in grinding poverty" challenge, and I have several friends who were or are currently on Gov't nutritional assistance and they have a working vehicle, even if it is a little beat up. If Ms. Schneider uses a car to go grocery shopping, let that one slide.
  • Tracy Schneider may very well be what is described as a Bohemian Bourgeois. For the rest of us, it is OK to roll our eyes or even snicker at those that have to totally rethink their grocery shopping and eating habbits to fit them within a budget that a lot of us might consider to be lavish.
  • Name calling and making personal attacks are NOT ok, and it does nothing except make yourself feel like a bigshot, while everyone else feels embarrased for you. Maybe you should slide over to the message boards at Fark or 4Chan. You'll fit right in. Or maybe get eaten alive by some professional grade trolls.
  • Yeah, give me a jar of Prego, some Barilla pasta, a bag o' salad greens, and some Yoplait, and I could recreate that $35 recession budget meal (*snicker*) for about eight bucks. Some of you tightwad superstars can certainly do it for less.
  • Just because you're on Food Stamps, it doesn't mean your diet should move to ramen, Bar-S hot dogs, Hormel Chili, and Wonderbread. If you can still eat Whole Foods groceries on Food Stamps, then that's great! I'm glad to see you're doing OK, but the next time you try to get sympathy from me by complaining about how poor you are, I am totally permitted to give you a swift kick in the ass for bitching about it.
As for me, I just used my budget from last year to calculate how much per month I spent on groceries last year. It averaged to about $154 per month, or $5.10/day, which isn't bad. Some explanation on this this number:
  • It includes non-food household products, such as toothpaste, deoderant, soap, etc.
  • I also filled up a pantry with canned goods, and my freezer has filled up nicely on this $5/day.
  • I do my grocery shopping locally (there's a grocery store in town about a mile away, the nearest Wal-Mart is about 40 miles away).
  • The United Way's challenge stipulated you had to pay for breakfast lunch and dinner. A lot of times, I skip breakfast, so for me, it's probably closer to something like 2.2 meals per day, not three.
  • I try hard to avoid most instant and microwaveable over-processed foods, opting for fresh produce, dairy, and meat; but a can of chili or a Totino's Pizza still slips in now and then.
  • If I started with a totally empty pantry and fridge and ended them the same, I could feed myself on... I guess...$4/day.
As for buying fancy stuff, I just try and keep it fresh. I still have a can of Chef Boyardee ravioli in the pantry that has a use-by date of November 2008. As long as I possess this unopened can of bland pseudo-food, I know that I'm winning the nutritional war in the Kitchen.

Eat well, and keep it civil, folks!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Recent Travels

I won a Magic: The Gathering Grand Prix Trial event in February, which gave me three byes in the Grand Prix main event that was happening in Denver two weeks later. Under the urging of my Gaming peers, I decided to attend this tournament, which I would have ignored otherwise. Heck, the only reason why I went to the Trial event was because it overlapped with the few events that I usually attend anyway. How'd it go? Well... I lost horribly.

The following paragraphs contain data only relevant to MTG players. If you have never played in any MTG tournament, you should probably just skip ahead. I'll let you know when it's all clear.

The problem with three byes (three wins) is that you basically win your first three rounds without having to play. So, you have to take your untested deck against someone who actually had earned his three wins in the fourth round. And because this was a sealed deck event with 831 players, the probability of someone pulling a RIDICULOUS set of rares with excellent support and removal is higher. Like the guy I played in round four with Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas, Thopter Assembly, and three or four other on-color rares whose memories I'm currently repressing. And not to put all the credit on a lucky card pool, this guy played well, too. Most of the people at this tournament were pro or at least semi-pro. Out of My league BIG TIME.

Next round I play the OTHER kind of lucky card pool. The dripping-with-removal card pool. In a typical card pool, you can reasonable hope for 2-3 hard answers for creatures, maybe a few lesser ones, too (e.g. dealing 2 damage to something, combat tricks, etc) this guy had about two of each good removal set from the whole block. He only lost one match (and thus, paired with me) because he had difficulty getting enough creatures. Probably because he was too busy killing the other guy's to bother with casting his own. Lose again.

The rest of the day went like this, although after dropping out of the main event, I was able to win a Side Event draft, so it wasn't a total suckfest (first pick Massacre Wurm, and poison team, FTW!). Aside from that, picked up a few cards I needed for an old deck that I've been constantly tweaking, and got some art prints from Mr. rk post. Overall, not an especially productive weekend, but still, you have to get out of the Valley once in a while, right?

Non MTG-playing readers may resume now.

Last weekend, I made the trip back to Pittsburgh to watch my best friend get married. Do you want to know how much nerd cred these two have? The groom wore pins fashioned after the pins worn by the Asha'man in Wheel of Time. If you don't know what that is, pick up some Robert Jordan and start reading. I'll even post you a link. The Dedicated Pin and the silver Asha'man pin was what he was rocking.

Additionally, for favors, instead of your typical cutesy knick-knacks, they passed out dice with the bride and grooms names on them where the 1-pip usually goes. How wicked is that? The only other wedding that came close was my buddy who gave out cards from a game called"Killer Bunnies and the Quest for the Magic Carrot" (yes, it's a real game). Also, a Karaoke wedding reception, where the couple did a kick-ass rendition of Paradise by the Dashboard Light.

Finally, I made the decision to just forgo TV forever. I mentioned that the only thing that might make me call up Dish network was when that HBO series based on A Song of Ice and Fire had an air date. Well, it got one. And I deliberated. Oh, how I tried to justify it. I spend money on a lot of other stuff, I can spare a bit more for some Quality TV, right? Well, economically, I could... but I just don't see any real reason for it. I'll be able to watch the series on DVD a year after it comes out, and I may just slip on down to the local pub on a quiet night to watch it there. That's it. I resisted the greatest TV temptation that could and has come to frutition. I'm done with Television.

But maybe I'll change my mind if I keep watching this trailer that I'm leaving you with...

Sunday, February 6, 2011


In retrospect, maybe we shouldn't have thrown the ball to the other team so much. *Sigh*

Monday, January 31, 2011

Black And Gold, Even Out West

My Team is in the Super Bowl again. I've seen four of these games; two back home, and two out West, counting this Sunday's game. The best one by far was Super Bowl XL. My sister and brother-in-Law Drove up from DC to watch the game at Shootz Cafe in Pittsburgh. With the possible exception of being at the 50 Yard Line during the game itself, there is nowhere better to be than in the Home Town when your team wins. The joy is tangible. You can reach out and grab a handful. For one night, total strangers, who's names you don't even know, are your best friend for one night for no other reason than you both cheer for the same team. Walk outside from the bar, and the streets are teaming with cries of joy, car horns honking. You just feel Good to be in the middle of it all.

Then, I moved to Wyoming two years later, and decided not to get TV service. This means, I can't watch my guys during regular season, unless I want to spend an afternoon inside the local bar. I feel like such a bad fan because I barely keep up on my Steelers during the regular season, and only start watching when they play in the post season. It's partly because I don't have that city full of voracious fans to remind me of my football roots.

But this is not to say that there's no fans here. There's a local man here, drove a truck for years. His name's Verne. Let's visit his home, shall we?

Verne's Trailer

Ah... that just makes this place a little more friendly for me during the days of Football. And it's not just him. There's the wife of the guy that owns the Grocery Store. The Lady from Accounting that married a Pittsburgh native. In the bar, I'll see a person wearing a Steelers shirt or jacket, he'll see my Steelers Hooded sweatshirt, and we'll exchange knowing glances that convey the same. "Hail Brother/Sister! We are from the city of Champions! Six times over!"

I don't have the numbers on my side like I did back in Pittsburgh, but rest assured, there are pockets of fans here, and we all salivate with anticipation. of the Seventh Trophy.

And now, one more picture of Verne's tastefully decorated home:

Verne's Trailer

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

I'll be home for (the weekend before) Christmas

When my Wyo-friends ask me if I'm going home for Christmas, the answer is always a resounding "Hecks no!" Then they get that same look of misplaced pity and ask "oh noes! y not?" The answer is simply because I don't like to travel in the Winter. The Roads are laden with water in varying stages of freezing. I don't like the directions taken and methods used by the TSA (Tax Subsidized Ass-grabbers).

The airports are crowded with people also trying to go home for Christmas, and there is a greater number of couples bringing their small children onto the plane to visit their Grandparents.

Quick thought here: Why is it always the parents doing the traveling with the children? If the G'rents want to see their grandchildren, why can't they get on a plane? Their kids are probably dealing with enough stress and financial burden from their little snowflakes without the added cost of Air Travel? Or the mental stress of minding your child at an enormous building filled with thousands of strangers? Or keeping them under control while juggling your luggage, the kids luggage, diaper bags, strollers, car seats, and other brik-a-brak that have mostly just driven up the cost of becoming a parent? It's a shame that kids can't sit still in an airplane seat for four hours; they may be the only ones that can fit in them comfortably.

We live in a day and age where people hundreds of miles away, even on opposite sides of oceans, can hold a conversation as if the participants were staring at each other. A few webcams, and they CAN be staring at one another.

But this year, my sister, and one of my uncles that I haven't seen in a while returned to The 'Burgh for a visit to my Grandparents before Christmas. The weather had been unusually cooperative this year, so I booked a flight to surprise my family on the same weekend. The weekend was great. Nice Dinner got to see family that I don't see often, especially my cousins.

Then I came back, and found that a Class Five Winter Killstorm had dumped about two feet of snow on Utah, Wyoming, and other less important western states. My connecting flight was delayed over an hour and a half, I had to take shelter at the Best Western in Heber, UT. I got stuck in parking lots due to the lack of snow removal. My little front wheel drive vehicle barely made it up the pair of hills, referred to as "The Sisters" by the locals, that lie between Evanston and Mountain View. Longing to get back to the Valley, where they at least keep the roads drivable, I pulled into town only to find that everyone that drives a plow in the county decided to just give up and go inside for hot cider or something.

So, yeah, not doing that again. This has basically validated all of my reservations about Winter Travel. As my mother put it, "When winter begins, he doesn't come down from the mountain until the spring thaw." No more driving in the slush, no more winter flights where the TSA gets to 2nd base with me. Although, the SLC security folks are usually pretty polite and even temered, unlike those I've encountered everywhere. Usually TSA makes me feel cheap and used. The Salt Lake International Airport TSA almost makes me feel... sexy.

Uh, don't read too deeply into that last sentence.

What's with all the sentimentality about family and Christmas, anyway? Why can't we designate that kind of sugar-job for a summer holiday? How about we have ourselves a merry little Cinqo de Mayo? Or maybe make Independence Day the new wishy-washy feel-good holiday? BBQ, swimming pools, lawn darts (and I'm talking about the awesome stabby kind!) sunshine and favorable temperatures, and explosive ordinance of questionable legality. That's what I want at a family gathering!

Friday, October 15, 2010

1096 Days Later

Oh, hey, I've lived in Wyoming for three years now. Wicked cool.

My experiences so far have been pretty positive. We'll see where it goes from here...