Archive: November, 2006

Clerks 2 DVD

posted by Jeff | Thursday, November 30, 2006, 10:00 PM | comments: 0

I picked up the Clerks II DVD like any good Kevin Smith fan boy. The second disc has this big 90 minute "making of" doc that, surprisingly enough, is pretty interesting. It starts out talking about how Jersey Girl was a financial failure at the box office, but squeaked out a profit after DVD sales and TV. It also got a lot of bad reviews (I liked it even if it was a little sappy), and it was a crappy experience making a "corporate" film.

The sequel was a movie he really wanted to make, and did so for all of $5 million. (I'm curious how much Rosario Dawson got of that, since she was the only name actor, and had fabulous hair.) It was interesting how on one hand he wants to make a film he likes, but at the same time is crushed at the prospect of people not liking his work. They barely get the film into Cannes, and he gets a standing ovation that lasts for eight minutes. He and his wife say it was like all of the ups and downs in his career were worth it for that moment. For a dick and fart joke movie "with a heart," as the NY Times put it, there's something to be said for that.

It's crazy how in love he is with his wife too, just because it's so un-Hollywood. Such a strange couple, because she's tall and skinny and he's short and overweight. Pretty funny stuff from the DVD and Web where they talk about making out when acting. Apparently he took a lot of shit for casting his wife, but as he mentions, his movies are almost entirely cast with his friends, so why not?

Neatest thing on there is when he shows an early cut to Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez. To hear Tarantino talk about any movie is entertaining, but I respect his enthusiasm perhaps even more than his story telling. The guy just gets it. Smith says in this segment that he couldn't have made the same movie ten years ago because he didn't have the life experience to do it. I can't even tell you how much I relate to that. I could better write a college-aged script now than I could have when I was actually there, because I have the benefit of hindsight and a clearer view of how life works.

Sometimes hearing about the process of film making, from the directors and writers, is more inspiring than the actual film itself. Actually, that isn't that surprising to me, as most everything I did in TV was more about the experience than the finished product.

Radioactive what?!

posted by Jeff | Thursday, November 30, 2006, 4:12 PM | comments: 1

Gamer dork

posted by Jeff | Thursday, November 30, 2006, 2:44 PM | comments: 1

I find myself being drawn to video games again lately. I guess it's not that unusual, since it happens pretty much every winter. It just seems like it has been so long, perhaps because the last year has been a really long one.

Plus there is a lot of neat stuff out. Xbox 360 has Gears of War and the new Rainbow Six that look pretty amazing, and I've been playing through Tomb Raider and some of the older games I never finished. Lots of Zuma (finally beat it!) and Texas Hold 'Em too. My gamerscore might finally top 500! That new 360 steering wheel sure is cool too.

The Wii holds my interest for the forthcoming classic stuff, and the new control scheme in general. I was thinking about busting out the cash for that classic-inspired Mario platformer for the DS as well.

The ultimate though will still be four-way Mario Kart. That's quality stuff. Greatest party game ever.

Spammed by Six Flags

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, November 28, 2006, 8:42 PM | comments: 3

OK, I think it's kinda funny...

Six Flags spams CoasterBuzz

First posts from new members with links are always suspicious, but sure enough, I look up the record to find that his address is Six Flags' ad agency. Real smooth.

The contract is signed

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, November 28, 2006, 6:49 PM | comments: 1

Got my contract for my new representation today. Crossing my fingers that this is the break I've been waiting for in terms of overcoming the crap that all of my ad providers have become.

Like we need more proof Bush is a moron

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, November 28, 2006, 12:29 PM | comments: 2

Wow... he must really think everyone else is stupid, or he's the dumbest of them all.

Bush: Iraq Violence Is al-Qaida Plot

Or, I know it sounds crazy, people feeling they're not being represented in their currently occupied country are resorting to violence because they see no other choice.

I swear, in his mind, every time a bird craps on a windshield it's an al Qaida conspiracy.

F'ing Ticketmaster!

posted by Jeff | Monday, November 27, 2006, 7:47 PM | comments: 3

I was charged with getting good seats for Blue Man Group in Dayton, and I was hell bent on getting something in the first three rows on the floor, but it was not meant to be. Even though the presale is supposed to begin tomorrow morning for the fan mailing list, they screwed up. The sale was already live. So I got seventh row on the side, just off state right. Those are actually pretty damn good seats, but I really wanted to get right down there.

Oh well. Better than the nose bleeds we had in Columbus I suppose!

Peace: Offensive to Christmas

posted by Jeff | Monday, November 27, 2006, 4:22 PM | comments: 0

I saw this on Dvorak's blog, and it seems too ridiculous to be true:

Peace sign creates stir

Yes, apparently the peace sign is anti-Christ.

Progress in all things online

posted by Jeff | Sunday, November 26, 2006, 11:31 PM | comments: 0

I've been doing some interesting stuff at work, which makes me happy to be there (feels a little like the old TV days even). And I swear it's not just because the holiday bonus is around the corner either! I think there's some potential there for neat things if I keep the attention of the right people.

My own personal stuff is really coming together too, if not as fast as I'd like. The whole advertising thing with CoasterBuzz is about to turn a corner, I hope, and I'm crossing my fingers that it has the payoff I'm looking for. There are other neat things going on there too, but due to agreements and competitive issues I'm not going to ramble on about them here.

Spent only four hours working on the forum project this weekend, but it was fairly productive time. Funny how when I get past a decision road block (where I can't decide how or why to implement something), things go really quickly. I've still got a list of a dozen or so milestones I need to reach, and do so in a hurry. I'm excited about the level of history that the new app will have in terms of moderation and error logging. Both I've wanted for a long time. The biggest question mark right now is about my caching scheme for certain kinds of data, but I'll figure that out eventually.

I've got pretty sharp focus as of late... I need to keep that in line. I want those milestones done by the end of the year, and I've got a trip to take in the middle of the month.

A long weekend and an interesting life

posted by Jeff | Sunday, November 26, 2006, 9:26 PM | comments: 0

Holidays are really hard for me for a lot of reasons. This Thanksgiving I went out with Catherine to a tiny town east of South Bend where her dad and step-mom live. The holiday itself was pretty standard fare. The bigger reason for the trip was her dad's 60th birthday party on Saturday, which would bring in about 60 people from all over the world.

He runs the Fourth Freedom Forum, an organization that promotes peace by way of smart, non-violent policy. This is a guy that's really making meaningful change in the world and has inspired others to do so for decades.

I think the attention made him a little uncomfortable, because he's clearly not ego driven, but it's interesting to see how people respond to someone who is, in his mind, just doing what he does. It makes you want to be that kind of person, who inspires just by being himself.

But learning more about him, and the people in his life, it's also clear that he's had quite a journey. Having children, hitting professional milestones, taking on The Man, etc., are all things that came along as they did.

It's funny how I'm still trying to de-program myself from those high school days where they said you had to get a good test score, go to college, pick a major, and do that the rest of your life. I love that I'm in a place now where I have so many options. I don't feel like there's any pressure to reach any particular potential because I've presumably got plenty of time.

Anyway, not sure how I relate someone else's wonderful life to my own, other than to say that people are capable of great things, and I feel inspired to do great things. :)

iPod geeks are like terrorists?

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, November 21, 2006, 4:06 PM | comments: 1

Normally I wouldn't link even to the left wacko types, but this is pretty funny...

I'm not even sure what Bill is getting at here. Are geeks the enemy now, or just iPod owners (50 million people) immoral terrorists? If anything, not being able to have a conversation with a geek is a sure fire way to show how oblivious to the world you are. Got news for you... we're the ones really running things. :)

Kramer goes nuts

posted by Jeff | Monday, November 20, 2006, 5:34 PM | comments: 7

Did you see Michael Richards going nuts like a crazed racist? That's f'd up. One may argue that some one in the crowd made some racial comment toward him first (since we can't see all of the video), but honestly, that's no excuse. He's the performer, and he's the one bearing responsibility.

I watched part of Comic Relief the other night. Why is so much of "comedy" based on race jokes? So much of it reinforces stereotypes instead of helping them. The funny thing is, the hottest comics right now don't go for the "easy" race jokes. Dane Cook, Rita Rudner and the like, don't do it. I much prefer the dick and fart jokes, you know?

I'm a whiny bitch

posted by Jeff | Monday, November 20, 2006, 4:36 PM | comments: 2

When I'm sick, I'm a whiny bitch. Although, good for everyone else, and bad for me, I don't have anyone here to be whiny toward.

The worst thing is that point in your recovery where the mind is willing but the body keeps saying, "Fuck you, lay down!" I'm there right now. My brain wants to work on some of my coding projects, but as soon as I boot up Visual Studio, the eyes get heavy and I just want to do nothing.

It was sunny and snowy when I got up this morning. I really thought I was going to work until I actually got out of bed, and my body started cursing at me again.

I struggled through my call with FM, trying to put on my big happy radio voice, but I'm sure I only sounded sick. God I hope they give me the hook up... I really want to relieve CoasterBuzz of the pop-ups (the only thing that currently makes any real money).

And now, I shall whine about how I'm hungry to my cats. :) Hey, they do it to me every day!

Kennywood fries!

posted by Jeff | Sunday, November 19, 2006, 9:21 PM | comments: 6

Stephanie sent me this phone picture...

Apparently available at my local Giant Eagle grocery store!

Being sick sucks

posted by Jeff | Sunday, November 19, 2006, 11:23 AM | comments: 0

Friday night, after watching some TV and spending the day eating shopping and eating at Cheesecake Factory, I began sneezing, presumably because I was allergic to something.

It continued when I woke up Saturday morning, and I felt like something wasn't right. Went to the Columbus science museum, and by the time I left, was absolutely miserable.

Fortunately we wanted to get in before the whole football thing started (Cath lives less than three miles from the Horseshoe), so I holed up in bed and medicated. I can't remember ever getting so congested that I couldn't swallow. I guess I never realized that without your nose being clear to some degree, swallowing creates a vacuum. It feels like your ear drums will be sucked into your head, and I'm not sure what you have to swallow would actually go down. It was very weird.

So after sleeping nearly 11 hours, I still feel shitty. I can breathe, but I think the excess sleep was probably bad. Boo. I haven't had a head cold in ages.

Interspecies erotica

posted by Jeff | Friday, November 17, 2006, 1:34 PM | comments: 3

Bluephoria... again

posted by Jeff | Thursday, November 16, 2006, 11:24 PM | comments: 4

For the Columbus show, we were in the opposite place in the arena. The arena is somewhat smaller (especially the floor seating), but it was a sold-out crowd. Nationwide is a nice place and I can see why people dig the hockey there. We were in the upper bowl this time, so while we could fully see Tracy and Peter this time without lights in the way, the main screen was somewhat obstructed by the rig. No worries.

Tracy got her wish (see tour journal) with the band out in front of the curtain now. Peter Moore joined her for backing vocals on several songs. She did an entirely different set this time, other than ending on "Mother Mother." It was neat to hear her do new songs, but I have to say I was really hoping to hear her do "Shine" again. I'd love to see her tour solo.

The show itself was, naturally, roughly the same. They've tweaked some of the arrangements for the better, and I think our seats made the big drum sound significantly louder. "One Of These Days" was particularly more impressive. "Persona" seemed slower while they seemed to have raced through "Baba O'Riley."

The crowd seemed to get the humor more this time, but the floor was not as willing to execute Rock Concert Movement #3 as much as they did in Cleveland. Naturally I did, but that's because I consumed a lot of beer during and before the show (and executed Rock Concert Movement #77, "Going on a piss and beer run," at precisely the right times to minimize missing anything).

So I've decided that if I'm gonna buy tickets to go see the show in Dayton with Gonch, we're getting the front couple of rows in the presale. I want a drum stick or the marshmallow thing or something!

I'm really surprised that it doesn't get any less entertaining seeing them more than once. I figured since there are no surprises I'd like it less, but dammit, it's a good time anyway you look at it.

And every show, there are 15,000+ new Tracy Bonham fans. Always a plus.

Tracy. Peter and the band

posted by Jeff | Thursday, November 16, 2006, 11:05 PM | comments: 0

In less than 12 hours...

posted by Jeff | Thursday, November 16, 2006, 9:40 AM | comments: 0

...I will be experiencing "the feeling."

Today's good things

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, November 15, 2006, 8:03 PM | comments: 2

I managed to get through the work day without drinking any soda, and I made home made burritos for dinner.

Watched a couple of episodes of House, and I'm caught up. Great show, and not just because I have a crush on Jennifer Morrison and her bangs.

Got e-mail from FM today to setup a teleconference for next Monday. As I mentioned before, they may represent CoasterBuzz for real ad sales that don't suck.

Luna worked through her last episode quickly, and is pissing off Cosmo. Good times.

The managers and leads at work are finally asking me to contribute things from my more meaningful experiences. Oh, and the bonus amount is looking very, very positive.

Tomorrow I'll once again experience "the feeling."

Google calendar and text messaging

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, November 14, 2006, 3:17 PM | comments: 0

I suck at remembering when stuff is supposed to happen. So when I moved my e-mail service to Google Apps, I got the calendar functionality with it.

What I just found the other day is that you can have it send you a text message at some specific time before an appointment. So for fun, I had it send me a reminder that I'm having dinner with Stephanie tonight. And what do you know, there it was on my phone three hours prior. Because I'm just the kind of person who would realize that driving home was not the right direction.

Japanese Macs and PC's

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, November 14, 2006, 10:45 AM | comments: 2

It doesn't matter that you can't understand what they're saying. It's still funny...

Photo management

posted by Jeff | Monday, November 13, 2006, 11:59 PM | comments: 2

I spent part of tonight burning copies of photos for Stephanie before she moves, and it's kinda weird to see that some of the older discs are discolored around the edges. That concerns me.

But in the mean time, it's interesting to note how easy it is to burn photos from iPhoto. Seriously, for being "free" with OS X and every new Mac, it's far from a lightweight. It just works, and it works so well.

I do wish it did a little more in terms of modifying images, but I realize that's what Aperture is for. Probably the neatest thing about that program is the way you can copy and paste tweaks between photos. It's really the ultimate digital light box, that's for sure.

When I go back into my photo collection, it's interesting how we didn't take a lot of pictures unless it was a big vacation, presumably due to the cost of film and processing. But even in Hawaii, I only shot 230 photos. I shot half that number in four hours at the Columbus Zoo the weekend before last!

Digital is so freeing. Looking at some of the counts, Steph shot 120 photos of my kids in Baltimore in 2004, and 350 at my cousin's wedding. I snapped 122 at Medieval Times that year, and about 130 at Mackinac this summer.

I still have a lot of concerns about backing this stuff up, of course, but I'll have to come up with a strategy for this. If I can find backup software that can map to a network drive (namely my Web server) for OS X, I'll be all set.

The case of the missing PS2 controller

posted by Jeff | Monday, November 13, 2006, 10:03 PM | comments: 2

So Lucasarts was nice enough (or silly enough, if the game sucks) to send me a copy of Thrillville, their forthcoming amusement park and roller coaster sim for the PS2 and Xbox. So last night, I thought I'd fire it up and check it out. I can't officially post a review for another few days (silly, but I'll play by the rules), but what the heck.

The problem is, I can't find my PS2 controller. Like, it appears to have vanished from the face of the earth. I thought maybe Stephanie borrowed it, so she could play two player whatever at her place with her neighbors, but no joy there. Then I thought maybe it got sucked into the old game machine bin when I busted out the N64 last winter. Nope, not there either. (Though I did find an old "turbo" adapter for the original NES that Steph had, which won't do anyone any good these days!)

I'm at a loss. I'm annoyed. It vanished. How can an object that had no reason be moved vanish?

Mac nerds: Make your own .Mac

posted by Jeff | Monday, November 13, 2006, 3:30 PM | comments: 0

This is pretty neat...

I'm going to comb through there and see if I can do the same thing on a Windows server, because right now I'm paying for two off-site backup services, and I don't really want to do that.

Blue Man on Scrubs

posted by Jeff | Monday, November 13, 2006, 3:23 PM | comments: 2

Yay, two of my favorite things...

Thursday, November 30th, the season premier of Scrubs (where is season 5 on DVD?), J.D. ends up on stage for a Blue Man show at The Venetian.

Remember, Gonch... March at the Nutter Center...

Musical chairs and smart brains

posted by Jeff | Monday, November 13, 2006, 12:01 PM | comments: 2

We moved around at work on Friday, or rather most everyone else did but me (funny because I have the least crap on my desk). When I walk down the isle now it seems weird and unfamiliar.

The moves were to get us all closer to the people we're working the most with. After the hell of last spring (and I'm still surprised I didn't bolt during that time), we're now in more of a small-team project mode. We were informally already doing this as early as June, but now it's more deliberate.

As kind of a note for Tyler, or anyone who is just starting to develop software... go where the brains are. As much as I resisted doing salary work at the start of the year, the opportunities to enrich your brain are far greater when you work with the right people. Sometimes it's hard to know who those people are, but if you feel like you're not advancing in terms of skills and knowledge, then move on. While the contract work I was doing last year offered a lot of freedom, I was falling behind my peers. This gig I'm on now is the closest thing to a formal education that I've had, and it feels good to not be hacking along the way I used to.

Latest on Luna

posted by Jeff | Monday, November 13, 2006, 10:25 AM | comments: 0

My little cat has been on meds now for almost three weeks to slow down her thyroid. She's having fewer episodes of vomiting, so I guess it's reasonable to draw the conclusion that there's some link between the two. In the three weeks she's had two episodes, the latest yesterday, with about six or seven days in between. That's better than the every other day she was having before that.

Cath and I had dinner and drinks with her new vet (they're friends) Saturday night, and she's encouraged by the results so far. After a couple more weeks we'll take her back for blood work again to see how her numbers have changed, and hopefully have the cardiologist look at her heart via ultrasound. That should give us a better look at how she is overall.

She seems to have put on a little bit of weight, and from a personality standpoint she's being friendly and playful. I'm crossing my fingers that this works out for her. She's a fun cat most of the time.

Wii Wii Wii, all the way home

posted by Jeff | Sunday, November 12, 2006, 6:48 PM | comments: 5

Alex had me look at some Nintendo Wii porn, and I have to admit that I'm intrigued. The thing is appealing because it is not only compatible to the Gamecube and its controllers, but you can buy games online going back to the entire line of Nintendo consoles, and the Sega Genesis. That's pretty cool.

The problem with video games is that I love to play them, but never make the time. I have a stack of games I've not finished. When I do play, I play the downloaded Xbox Live Arcade titles because there's a lot of brief short-attention-span things I can do. Firing up Tomb Raider, Splinter Cell or Sponge Bob requires more time.

Although, that's one of the appeals of getting access to the entire Nintendo back catalog (even though you can get a lot of it via emulators). The older stuff still has an appeal that modern games can't deliver on. It makes sense though, because the old school stuff shared some mind set with arcade video games, which by the practical matter of having to make money 25 cents at a time, had to be brief. Even the old Mario games allowed you to play in short bursts and still accomplish something.

And come to think of it, that's probably why the first Xbox 360 games I finished were Project Gotham Racing and Perfect Dark Zero (it had nice short missions). This would also explain why even though I'm interested, I can't get into RPG's.

Ridiculous sports scores

posted by Jeff | Sunday, November 12, 2006, 6:19 PM | comments: 0

I turned on the TV a few minutes ago to catch the news. There's a soccer game on, and 23 minutes into the overtime, there was still no score. Finally, someone scores, then the other team scores a few seconds later. And apparently, if someone doesn't score in the next few minutes, it'll be decided by a penalty kick. How lame is that? I don't get soccer.

And speaking of ridiculous sports scores, I can't not mention last night's Cavs game. Cath and I were driving home from the east side after dinner, and turned on the game on radio. Late in the third quarter, they're down by 25 points to Boston. Are you kidding me?

But not only do they come back, but they actually win the game. I'm not sure which is more pathetic, that Boston blew a 25-point lead or that the Cavs were down so much in the first place.

So much traveling

posted by Jeff | Sunday, November 12, 2006, 4:41 PM | comments: 3

In thinking about going to Orlando next month, I realized that I've done more traveling this year than I have in, well, maybe ever. Recap...

January: Went to East Lansing/Detroit to visit my Michigan posse and see Imogen Heap.

February: OK, I didn't actually go anywhere, but the Michigan kids came here, which was like going on vacation.

March: A quick but action-packed trip to Orlando, then Las Vegas to party with Bill Gates.

April: Baltimore for volleyball, where I had the only real highlight of my season, Columbus for volleyball and Sandusky for some good times with friends.

May: Another brief Sandusky trip, but otherwise kept busy with lunch trips to Geauga Lake.

June: BeastBuzz at PKI. Still one of my favorite events every year, even if it does leave me a little exhausted.

July: Las Vegas for J-Pizzie Day. One of the best vacations I've had in years because it was so relaxing, and yet filled with many amazing events. Saw Mackinac Island for the first time and the fabulous McNally Cottage. Also went to Muskegon for a weekend to visit Kara and see how the Lake People live. I finally agreed that Michigan doesn't suck everywhere.

August: Good times going east, mainly to Hersheypark with a side trip to Allentown to meet some of Cath's family. I can't believe it took me so long to visit that park.

September: Back to Mackinac for some off-season fun. So much nicer there with fewer tourists. Also got down to Holiday World the last day of the month for The Voyage in Santa Claus.

October: I think I managed to say in the state, but it included a Blue Man weekend in town, and closing weekend at Cedar Point.

November: Two trips to Columbus, plus a trip out to Indiana coming for some holiday and birthday fun.

December: Orlando again. Finally going to take the time to feed The Rat and get my Universal love on, and see where my mom lives.

As for next year, I'm looking at probably two trips to Orlando again, and one or two to Vegas again. I'm glad that I've had the "disposable" income to do this stuff this year and still fund my toy purchases. I'd also like to visit the Bay Area, Portland and the mid-Atlantic if I can. Hawaii and Japan... high up on my list.

My forgotten site

posted by Jeff | Friday, November 10, 2006, 10:38 PM | comments: 0

Almost two years ago, I started Volleybuzz, a site for high school and J.O. volleyball players, coaches and parents. And somehow, I forgot all about it.

I had a lot of grand ambitions for the site, and somehow just lost track of time and interest. You know what the ironic thing is? With only a couple thousand visitors a month, coming to see the same old stale content, it does a massive CPM of $7.43 with click-throughs around 6.7% on simple Google ads. That's insane!

I started the site originally because most everything on the subject sucked on the Internet. Truth is, it still sucks. I've never seen such an underserved market. But even more weird is that maybe people just don't use the Net in this space. That seems impossible to me, considering our region of USA Volleyball does everything online to manage its 12,000+ members.

I need to decide whether or not I want to sneak in some new articles there. I have plenty of stuff in my head, it's just not always easy to translate that into actual usable content! Goes back to that not enough hours thing.

Stomp Your Feet, Clap Your Hands

posted by Jeff | Thursday, November 9, 2006, 10:48 PM | comments: 0

Nice audio feed, clearly right off the sound board...

It's a fun variation of "Utne Wire Man" from the stage show. At that point in the show, the audience has "the feeling." Here's another cut from some PBS show. There is a lot of stuff on YouTube from them. This is an interesting mix of stuff from older shows, although the finale looks a lot like the Vegas show.

Dedicated Roof Dweller

posted by Jeff | Thursday, November 9, 2006, 12:42 PM | comments: 5

Just ordered two tickets for Blue Man Group in Orlando on opening night, fifth row, just behind the poncho section, dead center.

Orlando adjustments

posted by Jeff | Thursday, November 9, 2006, 10:04 AM | comments: 2

It turns out that Animal Kingdom Lodge is uber-booked or something. Not much I can do about that I suppose. But I realized then that my three night constraint there was because of the expense, even though we planned to spend a lot of time at Disney. So I dropped my Royal Pacific reservation down by one day at Universal (I feel so dirty) to three nights, and booked Disney's Pop Century for four at $80 a night.

The change saves me like $450 oddly enough, and I suppose it's not that much less than ideal. So on transition day, we'll probably work the pool at RPR and maybe pop into the parks in the late afternoon, though I hate the 6pm closings. You actually need to go in at 9am when they open to get your money's worth. Price of going in the off-season I guess.

Animal Kingdom closes early almost every day, so that makes hitting the couple of worthwhile attractions at Disney-MGM a no-brainer on that evening. In fact, on Sunday, they have "extra magic hours" with a later closing, so we can hit the place after AK and see if we can get all of the different programs that Tower of Terror does. :) Cath will love that.

So the only real variable is finding reputable cab service on transition day, and I'm pretty sure there are already shuttles from Universal to the airport on the day we leave.

Crossing my fingers for ad revenue

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, November 8, 2006, 2:01 PM | comments: 0

As much as I won't apologize for advertising and trying to monetize my sites, I'm far from happy with the quality of said ads. Most of it is crap, the fill rate sucks and the CPM's are sad. I do get a few self-sold campaigns with various advertisers every year, but they account for only 5% of total revenue.

That said, I was contacted by Federated Media, who handles ad sales for Digg, Boing Boing, GigaOM, Revision3, Fark and other new media darlings. Our audience for CoasterBuzz is tiny by comparison to these sites, but the prospect of getting quality, non-annoying advertising could be a huge boost to the site. It sounds like they're ramping up a travel channel.

It's also a nice feeling to be recognized for a certain amount of legitimacy, and after nearly seven years, I should hope that comes naturally by now. Honestly that's the thing that has always been one of my greatest concerns. I've got the ears/eyes of industry types almost despite the enthusiast slant, but got there by focusing on the news that the trade rags were too slow to deliver. I do think that I have to make a decision on whether or not to start a new brand, more industry focused, but that's expensive unless I can sell ads to industry vendors.

The gears are certainly turning, that's for sure. I can't stand floating between hobby and full-time job forever.

Blue Man in Orlando

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, November 8, 2006, 12:04 AM | comments: 2

I first heard they were looking at Universal Studios as home for a new show quite a while ago, and I'm excited to see it's out in the open now.

It's wrong that they were talking in public though. I mean, you don't see a Blue Man break character very often!

Election results

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, November 7, 2006, 11:13 PM | comments: 5

Well, at least for Ohio, I got my new governor and my Senator. Most of the things I voted for are winning.

While Ohioans are voting down the stupid casino amendment, they're approving the non-amendment smoking ban. I'm about as against smoking as possible, but I still think it's up to individual businesses to decide this. But hey, what do you expect from the state that banned gay marriage.

Locally, my school levy, a renewal, looks like it'll pass. Thank God for that, though in the long run they need to figure out how to deal with school funding at the state level.

Interesting to watch the results nationally. Looks like the Democrats will take control of the house, which is no surprise. The Senate looks a lot closer. All things considered, I'm a lot more comfortable with a split power arrangement between the Capitol and the White House. Historically that's what has gone on for decades, and some historians I've seen on TV point to periods of greater stability in these arrangements.

The whole process is pretty fascinating to me still. I look forward to hearing what the overall voter turnout was like. I'm actually looking forward to the presidential race. God knows we need something to look forward to. Greg and I were chatting about how cool it would be to actually have, gasp, two decent candidates to choose from. Wouldn't that be a nice change of pace?

I <3 female singers

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, November 7, 2006, 2:18 PM | comments: 4

What's Jeff listening to lately? Girls.

Given the How To Be A Megastar Tour, I'm naturally quite into Tracy Bonham lately. I don't know why I didn't make a greater effort to check her out after the Complex tour, but I totally dig her now, especially after seeing her live. It's such a bummer that she won't be on the tour after this month. If I do go to the spring shows, it won't be the same without her.

I first saw Nitza as the opening act for the Cirque du Soleil show "Delirium," which was their version of an arena rock tour. She has a unique mix of sounds that include Indian, Middle Eastern, Asian, African and Latin. Yeah, like I said, unique mix. If you go to her site, you can hear "Ageless" in its entirety right from the home page. I've exchanged e-mail with her, and I'm impressed the way she not only loves music, but is hell bent on maintaining her own destiny. She's self-publishing and retaining her copyright. Good for her.

In the summer of 2005, my friend Jess suggested I check out Jem, since I'm a big Dido fan. Somewhat similar in vocal sound as Dido, but she's got her own styles too. I don't know why I waited so long to actually buy her stuff. "Just A Ride" is a song I can't get out of my head, given the obvious roller coaster allusion and "shit happens" sentiment.

Evanescence released a new album finally, sans the guitarist who shared writing duties on the first album. Let me first say that I'm still totally infatuated with Amy Lee, even though her live performances showed a lack of practice. But as much as I had high hopes for the new record, so much of it sounds the same, and the guitar stuff feels forced and repetitive. That's not to say there aren't some grate moments. The song "Good Enough" is beautiful, with all of the piano and strings you love to hear with Amy's voice. Her writing strength is still there, but she needs someone who can compliment her with the rock side of things.

The equality myth

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, November 7, 2006, 2:02 PM | comments: 2

Thinking of my own relationship history, and a recent discussion with Cath, I started to wonder if there really is such a thing as equality in a relationship. My conclusion is that it doesn't exist.

Let me first qualify that statement by saying that certainly people should treat each other as equals, not just in personal relationships, but in general. That doesn't mean you can't or shouldn't work within the world's hierarchies, but you should keep in mind that every person will be worm food, just like you. That's even more important in intimate relationships. Equal respect is non-negotiable.

But beyond that mutual and essential respect, one person will always do more in most every way. It doesn't matter if it's about who makes more money, does more cleaning, does more shopping, is more mentally stable... whatever. One person will always be stronger in certain areas than the other. I've come to the conclusion that this is just the natural order of things.

One might instinctively think that means no relationship can ever work, because of the expectation that everything has to be equal, and that expectation can't be met. However, that's where love and acceptance really come in. You have to support your partner's "deficiencies" because the only alternative is to not be with them. And actually, that's OK too. Everyone has to figure out what their tolerances are for expectation gaps. But if you can't support your partner, or they don't support you, you need to consider that perhaps they aren't the person for you.

I can think of instances in my life where I totally short-changed myself and made concessions I shouldn't have (that's especially true for my college years). That's the closest thing I've had to regret, but I suppose I learned from those experiences. On the flip side, I know of instances where I was inflexible in ways that may have harmed relationships too, so I've been on both sides of that situation, trying and failing to create an illusion of equality because that's what I thought you were supposed to do.

I thought maybe there was some bigger picture way to keep score too, so that the inequalities would eventually balance each other out. I don't think that's true either, because no one plays by the same scoring rules. I might make a ton of cash, but is that reason to expect my partner to keep the house spotless if money doesn't mean much to her? Of course not.

The bottom line is that we need to decide for ourselves where we're willing to be the bigger or lesser contributors. Some personalities (like mine) are all about providing, while others want to be cared for.

I suspect that, for me, the ultimate relationships are those where both people are providers (in the emotional and/or financial sense), because providers are passionate people that derive pleasure from giving of themselves. At the very least, I suspect they have the highest likelihood of success. It's a delicate situation, because any one person could wake up one day and decide, "This doesn't serve me anymore."

Hey, Dr. Phil isn't a real doctor either. :)

Electronic voting

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, November 7, 2006, 12:32 PM | comments: 3

Ohio won't have any hanging chads this year because we've gone electronic. It was pretty painless, and I think the paper journal that the machines do certainly creates a comfortable enough paper trail. Heck, it's probably more cheat-proof than a stack of punch cards.

Crossing my fingers that Ohio voters aren't stupid this time around.

Not enough hours in the day

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, November 7, 2006, 11:00 AM | comments: 2

It's funny how I have all of these "great" ideas (and domain names) and yet I don't have time or a high level of motivation to make them into reality.

I wish CoasterBuzz made a little more money so I could hire someone to spend a couple hours a day running it. I also wish I could get to a point where I could very quickly deploy new ideas. Certainly the forum rewrite will help with this, but it still requires more time. Having a day job gets in the way.

I actually hit one of my coding milestones last night, which felt pretty good. I think I'm going to take an iterative approach when I start coding CoasterBuzz around the new forum, and release features in stages instead of waiting for one grand relaunch. If I do that, it'll feel like there's progress because I'm actually delivering something.

HD: Where DV was seven years ago

posted by Jeff | Monday, November 6, 2006, 6:56 PM | comments: 0

Granted I'm a big video geek, but I'm amazed that consumer HD video is finally just under the grand mark, where regular DV was when I bought my first camcorder about seven years ago.

NewEgg is selling the Canon HV10 for $999.99, which is what I bought my old Sony TRV-8 for. That's pretty amazing.

Sony has produced a few HDV camcorders so far, two of which I've seen at Best Buy, but they're still over a grand. This is a great move for Canon, not to mention yet another failure of Sony to reach the market with products it wants. At this price point, they aren't just toys for the rich.

Strides and setbacks

posted by Jeff | Monday, November 6, 2006, 1:13 PM | comments: 1

Quite by accident, I ate pretty well most of the weekend. I actually got through without eating any fries at all, which is unusual. Again, it wasn't really on purpose, it just happened that way. Still feels much better to know I wasn't being an asshole after finding out what my blood work looked like.

The setback was yesterday afternoon, when I pigged the fuck out at Cheesecake Factory. I ate there for the first time about a month ago with Cath, and I was stunned at just how many different things they had there. It all looks so fantastic, even the stuff I wouldn't normally eat. This time I had teriyaki chicken with white rice. The portions are so huge, so I should have quit at that point, but I saw someone else get something chocolate, and I couldn't resist. I got some chocolate tower something-or-other that was awesome (for the record, cheesecake is a little rich for my tastes). Cath and I each ate a significant portion, and still took some home.

I was so ridiculously full after that. What a contrast to the day before, where I had a little sweet-and-sour chicken at the zoo, Friday leftovers and popcorn at the movies. It's weird how I can binge at times and not even realize it until after it's done.

Stephanie outlined some relatively simple steps to take, one at a time, to get my overhaul eating habits in the right direction and get my chemistry closer to where it should be. Of the five things she suggested, two I already do, but I need to resolve to take action toward some of the others. The only thing really radical that I need to do is get off my ass and exercise. The other things should come fairly easy. We'll see what the doctor thinks too if he ever gets around to calling me.

Getting to know a new lens

posted by Jeff | Sunday, November 5, 2006, 10:46 AM | comments: 0

A couple of years ago, while Stephanie and I were at a Medieval Times show in Baltimore, I had an accident involving some soda and my relatively inexpensive zoom lens. Well, the issue caught up with me recently when the lens started to cease up. I got a lot of mileage out of it (had it since 2000 with my film camera), but it was a stupid mistake.

So I decided to replace it, but this time get a decent "L" lens. Canon's 70-200mm f/2.8 L has been like the gold standard for a long time, but at $1,200, it's a little steep. In the last year though, they came up with a less expensive version that opens to f/4, at less than half the cost, so that was a slam dunk.

Anxious to use it before going to Orlando, Catherine and I went to the Columbus Zoo. Neat zoo, with lots of recent improvements.

The depth of field is of course very short when you're up close, so this one isn't quite on the nose of the turtle, but it's close.

Jeff's Orlando ramblings

posted by Jeff | Friday, November 3, 2006, 3:07 PM | comments: 10

Everybody's doin' it.

I decided for my Orlando trip that I'd budget two grand, including food, rooms, planes, theme park tickets, etc. Given my taste for four-diamond or better hotels, I figured I'd have to allow myself that much to do it in true J-Pizzie style.

So far I don't think there's a problem in terms of the dollar amount. I'm at about $1,100 with the flights, four nights at Universal's Royal Pacific with tickets. The trick is the Disney leg of the trip. We only really need three whole days there because I don't see going to the studio park for more than Rock-n-Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror. The thing is, the last in-park day would be the transition day to Universal, so I don't know where we'd drop our crap without having a car. Plus I hate the idea of buying the park hopper nonsense when we'd probably only use it one day. And the last snafu is that Animal Kingdom Lodge appears booked for the cheaper rooms.

I'm half tempted to stay at Universal all week and either get a car or take a cab to the nearest Disney point with transportation (which is probably Downtown Disney).

Gotta figure it out by Monday so that it's just done.

My not good labs

posted by Jeff | Friday, November 3, 2006, 10:23 AM | comments: 13

So my labs came back, and some things are not good. Cholesterol is 205, triglycerides at 410. Glucose at 102, which isn't good considering I hadn't eaten in 12 hours.

Reading up on what the numbers mean (and yes, I'm going to talk to the doctor too), it would appear that it's not so much my fat intake that's a problem, but rather all of the straight sugar and grain. It also appears that it's "simple" to correct by eating more green veggies (that's no shock) and getting off my ass now and then.

And hey, the motivation to do so is good enough. These particular numbers lead to heart disease, stroke, heart attacks and diabetes. None of those are particularly good for you.

I'm a little freaked out, though I shouldn't really be surprised. I just feel like the normal rules shouldn't apply to me. Still, in trying to keep perspective, everything else is quite normal and I don't appear to have any serious damage to my body yet.

Growing up can really suck sometimes.

Caity's best year ever

posted by Jeff | Friday, November 3, 2006, 8:54 AM | comments: 0

Caity posted this on my Facebook wall...

"20-8... Best turn around in MC history, best winning pct. in MC history (.714), 996 assists... 5th best all time in a season ( and thats running a 5-2 for 3 matches)...68 total blocks... not too shabby if i may say so..."

That's my girl! :) What I'd do for a chance like that at a nice D3 or D4 school, especially with the group she's playing with. None of them look like they were all-stars in high school or J.O., but together with that coach's system, they're making magic.

Marie Antoinette

posted by Jeff | Thursday, November 2, 2006, 11:34 AM | comments: 1

Stephanie and I went to see Marie Antoinette last night. I was seriously impressed.

First off, I have to admit that I wanted to hate Sofia Coppola when The Virgin Suicides came out. I wanted to hate her because I figured she was daddy's little director and that's how she got her in. But the thing is, she's a great writer and director, and I love all three of her feature films. Lost in Translation may in fact be one of my favorites of all time.

Marie Antoinette, as I've come to find out, is based on a more modern biography of the queen, and focuses only on her time in Versailles, from age 14 to the raid in Versailles. It also seems like a more fair representation of who she really was: A teenager thrown into a monarchy she had no interest in. The film portrays her as a good mother who grows out of the excess of her position. According to most historical references on the Internet, it would appear that the hate many of the French had for her was completely unjustified, and the revolution was a bloody and uncivilized process. Most historians apparently feel she never said, "Let them eat cake."

Kirsten Dunst impresses me with every new movie she's in. She'll do the big blockbusters like Spider Man, and still do movies like this one or even Eternal Sunshine in a supporting role. I guess I like her so much because she does all of the movies that I want to see!

Coppola's treatment of the film is interesting to me because she has a period film that doesn't feel like a period film. Yes, the costumes are amazing, the real French locales still feel 18th Century, but she chose not to get into forced accents or fill the soundtrack with constant classical music. I think it took some balls, in fact, to use something like "Candy" in the soundtrack. She makes decisions that you would make if you were suddenly dropped in that time and had to go with what you knew, and that makes it infinitely more interesting.

It's a very tragic story, but she chooses to end it with the royal couple leaving Versailles for the last time, Marie maintaining her composure to do what she has to going forward.

This story, as with Suicides and Translation, whether intentional or not, deal heavily in the realm of fate and destiny. The characters in all of these movies seem doomed to live (or die) in an existence they either didn't ask for, or don't want. Ultimately, they do make choices and do things on their own terms. The girls chose to break out of their lives permanently, Bob chooses to stop being miserable in his life, and Marie chooses to accept her role as the strength of her persecuted family.

Maybe that's why people identify with these movies. Everyone has a period, or periods in their life where they feel stuck and trapped and miserable. Isn't it weird how you can know you're not happy, know you're miserable, and not break out of the cycle? We do it with jobs and relationships all of the time. If someone stands there poking us, we know it's unpleasant so we move. So why is it so fucking hard to get out of unpleasant situations in our lives? What do we really stand to lose by leaving these situations behind? Is the fear of pain, loneliness and regret (all temporary) more powerful than the prospect of feeling liberated and happy? Sadly, I think it is a lot of the time.

Ah, the joys of cinema. :) The good movies always challenge you to think about stuff.

Doctor visit

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, November 1, 2006, 12:45 PM | comments: 0

I survived my first doctor visit in fifteen years, or so it would appear.

The doctor said all of my vitals are "super normal," and an EKG didn't show anything weird either. I still have to wait to see what if the blood work shows anything not normal. He wasn't happy about not finding anything regarding the arrhythmia though, so he gave me a heart monitor to wear for the next week. If I get the weirdness again, I push a button to record it.

He thinks it's probably stress related, and aggrevated by lots of caffeine and alcohol over the weekend, but that depends heavily on what comes back from the lab.

Overall, he said I was pretty healthy for someone my age, aside from the need to lose some weight. I guess I was expecting much worse. I'm glad my insurance covered having a doctor with the Cleveland Clinic too, because their facilities are very full-service.

So I'll cross my fingers that the labs don't show anything scary.