Carn You Reds

Friday, October 21, 2005 | 9:27 pm

[Ruud and Rooney] With me old mucker The Cheeseman away on permanent St Louis duty, I have had to convert our recently traditioned Man Utd -v- Liverpool rivalry to another fresh local Premier League recruit. This Saturday morning Dave(id) and I will hunker down in front of the pay per view (Fox, you bastards) for the first bi-annual Red Devils v Tottenham grudge match.

Where We Can Win It: With an injury list greater than the number of fractures in Giggsies cheek, The Reds chances rest squarely on their ability to put in more goals than the opposition. And so far this season, that task has been taken up almost singularly by The Roos, Ruud and Rooney. Ronaldo's creative spark has not really ignited yet, and unlikely to burn this week as he is still recovering from a few personal distractions. Park Ji Sung though has shown a work-rate like no other, and I am pining for him to add a goal to his list of assists. Spurs also have a new Korean recruit, and this will be the first time the two national team mates have lined up against each other in the Premier League. I hope Fox own the pay-per-view rights in Korea, that'd take a little pressure off my wallet. [Carroll Blunder]

Where We Could Lose It: If it had been last year, the answer to this question would have been the always surprising Roy Carrol (pictured just after one of the greatest keeping blunders of 2004, immediately followed by one of the greatest linesman blunders of all-time). But Van Der Saar's form between the sticks has been excellent, so that's looking as secure as it has ever-been post-Schmeichel. Old Trafford is not the fortress it was in years gone by though, and with 3 backs out injured, we need Rio to be wearing his thinking cap. But our weakest area is midfield. Alan Smith has a long way to go to command the presence of missing Captain Keane, and Scholes has been far from dominant while failing to trouble the scorers.

I'm backin' United to eek out a one goal win over an opposition who are brimming with confidence, vaulting us over them into second place. The bet? Nothing more complicated than the loser having to cover the exorbitant pay-per-view fee!

Mixed Messages

Sunday, October 16, 2005 | 6:27 pm

You know, I am not sure that Virginia Tourism is really getting value for money with their billboard placement. Here is a photo I took from the corner of Virginia Beach Blvd and Monticello. Perhaps they are sharing costs wih the Dept of Health?

Here they both are stacked, for those with failing eyes.

There's so much dark humour here - "mountain" (not mounting!), the fact that thy think a billboard will help? But in the end, nothing could have been as ironic as the placement.


Saturday, October 15, 2005 | 10:32 am

[american dad face and flag] Funniest adult-swim quote of the week goes to American Dad.

The CIA serving might-is-right titular character walks into a SciFi Convention. He glances around in horror at the costimne wearing, lightsaber wielding, schwag-bag carrying sea of geekdom and exclaims: "My god, who's manning the internet?"

I swear I laughed again, just then while typing it.


Tuesday, October 11, 2005 | 10:18 pm

I have come to a morale crossroads. I have reached a deep, philosophical-metaphysical dilemna. Whilst breathing the perfumed rose of friendship, I have inhaled a nostril of thorns. While blissfully traversing the river of life, I have been brought to the waterfall of decision.

I now find myself in need of your advice my good blogospherical companions, in order to guide me through this treacherous ravine, this cavernous gulf, this personal hell.

After years of a close and very fulfilling friendship, one of my closest mates has made the decision to support Arsenal.

My god. What can I do?


Monday, October 10, 2005 | 10:10 pm

Three years of walking to and from work, recently altered to an (admittedly quite palatable) 20 minute drive has led to three simple revelations:
  1. Driving is fun when done for fun, and sucks when done for work
  2. The iPod is a wonder device for walkers, and it is made so by iTunes, which is in turn enhanced by the Airport Express (which lets you send your iTunes wirelessly from your machine straight to your stereo).
  3. Because of (ii), I now realize that I have not a skerrick of patience for commercial radio (especially in the morning). Nothing to do with the personalities Mkae (ok, a little to do with that), more to do with commercialism and crappy thin playlists. During my walking years, it seems I got too old for today's music (and not quite old enough for more than a half-hour of NPR).
[podcast icon]

This little list explains why I am in love with Podcasting right now. Don't let the name fool ya, it's just a slice of recorded audio from any old person willing to commit audio to bytes, and then publish it somewhere so you can download it onto your machine and dig-audio device of choice. It's like having some guy mail you a tape of your favourite radio show each week.

It has been around for a few years, but was never this easy. Previously you had to find it, download it, and then push it into your iTunes. Now you just cruise a massive searchable directory through iTunes 5, and click the subscribe button. Your iTunes will then show you all the recent 'episodes', and you can set it to automatically download each week/month as required as well as how many to keep.

Room To Improve I will say though, that iTiunes great shortcoming for the wife and I is its inability to handle a single library syncing with multiple iPods. As a two-iPod household though (+1 shuffle, but thats managed as a Playlist) we really need an iTunes version that can handle multiple iPods, rather than the 1:1 forced relationship we have now. Thus we end up with music library doubled

This is, for me, the ultimate solution to radio content. I can subscribe to the things I am interested in, I can listen to it when I want to (fast forward etc), and importantly they're are commercial free (at least my faves are). Now I listen to a podcast via main room stereo every few nights while making dinner etc. Bloody brilliant.

My current favourite podcast is TWiT, or This Week In Tech. It's a conversational hour each week with a lot of the old blokes from The Screen Savers (when TechTV actually had more tech content than Top 10 Gaming lists) bantering about anything that crosses their target reticle. More animated than the also good Engadget, thanks to a diverse bunch of folks with some broadcasting experience (which helps). Geeky goodness.

For a great introductory episode, subscribe via iTunes and listen to Episode 25 (10/3/2005). Hilarious section about the quality of the Serenity movie and the effect it should have on George Lucas.

Other good links from recent TWiTs:

  • Read which senators are quietly trying to attach to a Congress bill such that your TV/VCR/etc should come with a broadcast flag whereby the broadcaster can have approval control over the features allowed on your receiving device.
  • Need help organizing your life? Then you may be a geek. Read why GTD is nerd-friendly
  • Microsoft want to sell you a subscription service where they help keep your machine safe from spyware and viruses. How the hell is this gonna encourage them to fix their leaky operating system? Conflict of interest is putting it lightly. Someone commented that if it was The Mafia you were paying for protection, at least you knew you were actually gonna be safe.
  • Australia Supreme court rules that it is legal to modd your own Playstation. Thank god, I was waiting for that ruling (4 years in the making...) before I did it.
  • For the old TechTV fans, keep an ear out for the Ep 25 discussion of where pieces of the set went, and what was auctioned for how much when the company was bought out. It was an employee fire-sale to rival The Big D's. Try and guess how much they got for Morgan Webb's mouse mat...

Did you notice the post date/time? I swear, plus or minus a few minutes it just turned out that way!

Wet Nothing Weekend

Saturday, October 08, 2005 | 7:44 pm

The Gorgeous wife has just phoned in, having arrived safely with 200lbs of luggage in the western suburbs of Sydney, Australia. What a funny old life it is where her job sends her to my homeland, where neither of us have been since my proposal.

So that leaves me to my own devices for two weeks, and what a slow start. My wife-pining mood was matched by it pouring rain most of Saturday—a flash-flood-warning level of rain. I have no soccer game tomorrow due to Columbus weekend tournament stealing all the refs, and even the normal Saturday refuge of the English Premier League was thwarted by World Cup Qualifying - which at the hands of Fox became a bunch of $20 pay per view games I was not touching, while free to air (where 'free' means after cable costs, equipment rental, and an extra digital cable subscription) means gignatic tussles amongst nations like Luxembourg, Russia, Hungary and Bulgaria. Thanks for nothing Fox.

Trunk FinalSo I busied myself with the mighty iMac and my new book on Photoshop, which I am thoroughly enjoying, even if it is teaching me once again that there are not enough hours in the day, even the day you just sit inside doin' very little.

This waterlogged trunk was my play picture for today, with some fiddling with Levels, bleaching of the sunny side of the trunk, and a little sky substitution for dramatic effect (here's the original). Came out nicely.

I really am enjoying the Photoshop stuff, although I am sure that doing it on a deadline sucks all the fun from it. In fact, I paid for the new book with a few dollars I got from a photography mate to touch-up a couple of model shots he took for his ex-wife's clothes store, then published in the Virginia Pilot. Here's the last one I did, which I think still needs work... but you gotta stop sometime.

The original had a lot of crap on the floor and on the wall, and if you view the large version, you can see the photographer in the window flash!Touch-up A has a lot of cosmetic additions to the model, clothes and surroundings, along with a lightened then burnt in background. Good depth. If only I could have fixed her right hand. Touch up B was because I wanted to remove the distracting window pane to improve the composition of the model, so cleared it out and added a new background (which looks a little too purple). That's Sydney as viewed from the Virginia Beach SkyBar!

I know there are a lot of Photoshop experts out there... any advice as to good books, good reference sites, or good habits?

Original version [larger] Touch-up A [larger] Touch up B [larger]

So Much For Planning

Monday, October 03, 2005 | 9:50 pm

To had two logistic challenges to overcome last weekend. Catch the Coldplay concert Thursday night, and use a housewarming party Saturday night to help me stay awake till the 4:30am live telecast of Festival of The Boot Part 2.

I had both planned down to the minute.

Coldplay was a challenge as we had $20 lawn tickets, an open area behind the covered seats section that is available on a first-come first served basis. There's not many concerts that pass through here that I actually want to see, my last being Duran Duran (which should be some indication of something). I didn't want to spend this one singing along 300 yards from the band surrounded by people more into their conversations than the music, and with Gorgeous Wife not arriving from Philly until later that night, I was committed to doing whatever it took for one-man to secure front lawn position.

I arrived 3 hours before the concert started, and half an hour before the gates had opened. I battled with all the kids half my age and squeezed through the gate, hired two lawn chairs, bought a fistful of $8 beers and staked a place at the very front of the lawn. Needing enough space for 4, I growled like a rabid dog at any group of teenage girls (actually, the crowd was pretty mixed, age-wise) that encroached upon my chairs-towel-and-beer area. It rained briefly, but the slightly-bent brolly and my beers kept me safe until the wife, the Hairy Italian, and his short-lived date turned up.

And 15 minutes after that I ran into friends who spirited us 2 tickets into the box seats, where we watched the concert with a table, leg room and our own waitress. So much for planning. Great concert, and a very personable band. You know you've had a good concert when your last to leave, you have to locate the now drunk Hairy Italian to drive him home (sans date), and your throat hurts from singing.

That night of adventure and Friday's early morning return of Gorgeous Wife to the airport so she could attend a Ft. Lauderdale hen's night, meant that Saturday was a slow day of naps, EPL and spinach-alfredo pizza. Until The Brad texted me a "where are you?" at 10pm. I had completely forgotten BaybrEve's housewarming! With the party only two blocks from home, I hot-footed it down there and shared a brace of Miller Lites (thats what you get for not taking your own beer) and a couple of Tequila shooters before me old mate Lee rang in a change of bar request, and we walked downtown with The Brad and Mikey G packing a few scrums on the way for practise (Mike womn all the scrums), and then we closed down Bar Empire. Good to see The Mighty G before he ships back out for the 'dry-heat' of Arizona. I've missed his laconic wit.

As I walked home with 2 hours till the footy, I went back past the party locale and found people still on the balcony, so I headed up for a few 'settlers'. Hostess #1 was unsurprisingly passed out, and I am sure she suffered almost as much as the my touchable-pants, on which she deposited a good portion of her cocktails throughout the night. I joined the four remaining stalwarts with a shot ro two before joining enjoying the nice fall evening from the balcony with Hostess #2. After a chat, she went inside, and I finished my beer and wandered in to find the three guys passed out on various furniture, and Hostess #2 unconscious in bed. I have never been one for leaving a party early, but this may be a new record. Maybe it was supposed to be a sleepover?

I snuck out, got home for the start of the Rugby, fell asleep 10 minutes before the kick-off, and woke up 20 minutes late for the Sunday morning soccer game.

So much for planning.

Woof Woof.

I am one of those people that listen quite literally. I often throw back literal retorts to standard expressions and those little clauses that people include when they don't have something to say. I once spent a whole night at a bar counting the number of times a girl said "like" (an expression I am guilty of also). She ran into double figures per sentence. It's a curse though, as once I started paying attention, I could think of nothing else, and remember none of what else she was actually saying.

And when I haven't muted the TV commercials, I am amazed at how some marketing mopes today seem to write paragraphs full of catchy buzzwords, but never actually listen to them once they are all in a sentence. Maybe this is due to the review process where every manager/editor makes an edit and you lose all sense of continuity, but sometimes it's like they assume no-one is really listening that hard. Perhaps consumers are like dogs, they react more to vocal tone and colours than the actual content of what the advert is saying.

My current peeve is a Revlon commercial, I think it features Halle Berry. The voice-over remarks "preferred over the leading brand!" Now, wouldn't this make it the leading brand?

On a completely different note, this link is to my immigration lawyers site, where they maintain a small page of outrageous cases. Big Mouth is funny, but Cheaper To Keep Her is a truly astounding example that high-falutin' occupations like judges maintain no stranglehold on common-sense or IQ.