05 October 2008

The IT Crowd on US television!

Good news! Someone pointed out the other day that The IT Crowd is now airing on US TV! Set your DVRs and Tivos to record it from 3-3:30 am on Wednesdays, on IFC (which apparently is the "Independent Film Channel").

And stay tuned... in a week I'll have more to say on this topic! :)

19 September 2008

26 May 2008

what's that I hear?

If you know me, you know I have... well... eclectic music tastes. If you're seeking some good music, here are some of my top recent choices:

- House of Cards and All I Need, Radiohead
- Believe, The Bravery
- Starlight, Muse
- The Stone, Ashes Divide
- Hello and Little Sparrow, David Cook
- Psycho, Puddle of Mudd
- Here's My Hello, Blake Lewis
- Rose Red, Emilie Autumn
- This Is the Night, The Weird Sisters (from a Harry Potter soundtrack, featuring two Radiohead members)
- You Know My Name, Chris Cornell
- The Wind that Shakes the Barley, Solas
- The Carlow Set, Culann's Hounds
- Tables and Chairs, Andrew Bird
- Release, The Tea Party

25 May 2008

miss me?

Sorry for the long dry spell in my blogging. What have I been doing all this time? Good question. I most certainly have not been making progress on my personal goal of visiting three new countries a year. Alas.

Here are the last couple months, in pictures:

Easter Egg dyed with onion skins (the traditional way).

Kite festival in DC. I appreciated the dragon kites and pirate ship kites.

More from the kite festival.

Cherry blossoms.

This pretty much sums up life in the passenger seat with Emily driving.

Radiohead in Tampa, FL. Uh-MAY-zing! I think we stayed at the same hotel as the band, too. And I'm not to be blamed for Emily's newfound gambling addiction.

31 March 2008

popularity x2

I really like the fact that this season's American Idol songs are on iTunes. It's not necessarily fair that they're raking in all that money... but it is good to get a preview of what the contestants' recordings will sound like. Even better that they're now doing full studio versions of the songs. I've realized that yes, I still do like David Cook (lots), and David Archuleta is cute but his music sounds very Broadway tune.

I hope they start early on recording original songs. That will really help us see whether we want to make a longer term commitment to their albums.

It kinda makes you wonder... What happens if one of these contestants' songs go gold or platinum. Would we (or they) even know?

Let's say, hypothetically, that you could run a general search in itunes for "american idol," or some other text that shows up in every American Idol song title. Hypothetically, then, you might see not only songs from the current American Idol contestants, but also songs from previous winners and runners up. Let's say, again hypothetically, that you right clicked on the column headings and turned on the Popularity column... which you clicked on to sort in descending order of popularity. What if (and this is a big if) you found that David Cook's version of "Billie Jean" was more popular on itunes than Jordin Sparks' songs "No Air" and "Tattoo," as well as Daughtry's "Home." Would you be impressed?

08 March 2008

predicting the future

So, American Idol fans. Have you downloaded any of the competitors' live recordings from iTunes yet? I've only downloaded one -- "Hello," performed by David Cook. Wow, that was an amazing version of that song.

There's another reason to check out the American Idol songs on iTunes: to get a feel for how well your favorite contestants are doing. It's not possible to see in (more or less) real time how people are voting on the phone, but you CAN see how people are voting with their money. It's that nice little "popularity" rating that iTunes shows.

So here's what you do... run an iTunes search for "American Idol Performance." When you get the results, sort them by popularity. If you take a leap and assume that people are also voting for the contestants whose songs they're buying, David Archuleta, David Cook, and Jason Castro are at the top of the pack. Brooke White and Carly Smithson appear to be the only girls with songs currently in the top 15 most downloaded.

It will be interesting to see whether the download trends match the voting trends for future episodes... or if iTunes will decide to hide the popularity stats at some point.

29 February 2008

Just go rewrite the calendar, why doncha?

As I pointed out here, the sad news is that people who were born on leap day are unlikely ever to celebrate a golden birthday. That fact is so sad, it causes me to weep mightily.

Have you ever wondered why we have leap years? Or April Fool's Day, for that matter? You can thank Pope Gregory XIII. He and some other guy didn't like the fact that the Julian Calendar rounded the length of the year off wrong, so every year, the first day of spring (which I think was used as a marker to determine various religious holidays) fell on a slightly earlier date. At some point it became so early in the year that they decided to revisit the whole calendar thing. They created the Gregorian calendar way back in the 16th century... 365 days in a year, plus a leap year every fourth year, except for "centenary years," which are only leap years if they're divisible by 400.

TMI? Ah, sorry. Calendars are yet another random interest of mine.

SO... way, way later... 1752, if I remember correctly (shoot, now you know how old I am!) the UK (which was not called the UK at the time) adopted the calendar. At least, that was the first full year that they used the calendar. Shifting dates, confusion, craziness, etc. April Fool's Day was the day that would have been the start of the year, except that the Gregorian Calendar made January the beginning of the year... the "April fools" were the people who (silly them) forgot that April was no longer the start of the year.

Ever wondered why Orthodox Easter, etc. are on different days than Roman Catholic Easter? That also ties into the calendar change. They still estimate some of their holidays by using the Julian calendar, which predated the Gregorian calendar.

And you think your calendar is stable now? Ha, hardly -- just look at the way they keep moving Mr. Ben Franklin's beloved Daylight Savings Time around. Incidentally, don't forget to change your clock next weekend! :)

26 February 2008

This will save you some time on Election Day

Ah, well, there goes the illusion of democracy. I hope our nation's shadowy overlords forgive the technical glitch.

Diebold Accidentally Leaks Results Of 2008 Election Early

Hooray for the illusion of democracy! :)

22 February 2008

Work is fun!!

Ah, Google. They're all about tricking us into working for them... for free. The latest? Google Image Labeler. It's clever, actually. You and some arbitrary other Internet user team up to assign labels to images... you have to guess labels until you both say the same thing. Once you both come up with the same label for an image, you get points and move on to another image.

Interesting idea! Keywording, the game.

p.s. maybe it's not new, but I hadn't noticed it before today..

17 February 2008

Thanks, Hollywood writers, for caving in

Life without Hollywood writers has been pretty rocky. I wasn't sure whether I'd survive. I've had to resort to watching reality TV! Oh, that's right, I watch reality shows anyway. Never mind, then. But life without good writing really is miserable.

Case in point: that new movie, Jumper. Ugh. It was like The OC trying to do SciFi. Our guess is that desperate movie producers hired 14-year-olds to write the script. It was JUST THAT BAD. I gave it two stars (out of five) on Netflix. Later realized that it didn't have enough redeeming qualities to push it to 2 stars. I need to go back and cut that rating in half.

Lost has been good so far. Better than Season 3, which was just meh.

Project Runway = GREAT! This has been a good season. It's up there with Season 1 and Season 2 (I've convinced myself that Daniel Vosovic won Season 2).

Celebrity Apprentice has been mostly blah, with the exception of one bright star. Country star, that is. And I don't even like country music! I have been nothing but impressed by Trace Adkins. He sits quietly in the corner during brainstorming, arms folded or hands together. Inane ideas float about. Then suddenly he decides to voice an idea, in his deep Southern drawl. Every time, it's this genius marketing slogan. He's like the country music version of Gandalf. I want him to win. But that doesn't mean I have to like his music. :)

Oh, important news: FINALLY, the SciFi channel is going to have an HD channel!! We're getting it in my area on 1 March. Exciting event--must party!! Ooh, yikes, I'm afraid I've become a boring person...


15 February 2008

Just needs a little sparkle

Feeling down this Valentine's Day? Just add a little sparkle to your life...

10 February 2008

It's that time again

It's February 10th already. And you know what that means: less than a week until... the Great Backyard Bird Count! Oh, yeah, you thought I was going to say Valentine's Day, didn't you. I'm saving that for another day.

SO, what's this bird count thing? Basically, you sit at home and stare out the window. You can do this in a depressed manner, if you like... that may help round out the Valentine's Day season. If you see any birds, try to figure out what they are (this can help), and then submit the info. It doesn't take long, and there's the added bonus of creeping out any neighbors who see you sitting at the window, simply staring (even better... with binoculars). Rockin'.

31 January 2008

Snow day!

Aww, it's the last random recipe of January! Don't be sad. I may post more next month.

Today's recipe is filed under "didn't quite turn out as expected." Tortilla snowflakes! Just fold a tortilla, then cut out shapes, just as you would with a paper snowflake. Careful, cuz they like to break. Unfold the tortilla, then bake at 350 degrees (F) for 10 minutes or so, til it's crispy. The recipe I found had some funky steps after that, like melting chocolate chips on it, but it sounded too complicated. Sprinkle powdered sugar or a cinnamon/sugar combo on it (may need to butter it up a bit to make the topping stick).

End result was okay, but not wonderful. What I did learn was how easy it is to make my own baked (i.e. substantially healthier) tortilla chips! Woohoo!


24 January 2008

Nests of Jelly Birds

Jelly birds make chocolate nests, and lay jelly beans. I mean, jelly eggs. Oh, whatever, I just want to provide another random recipe.

OK, today's simple, random cooking lesson is on candy birds' nests. This is a variation on the "chocolate haystacks" recipe, which itself is quite simple. Melt chocolate chips, then mix in a little bit of peanut butter. Stir in chow mein noodles. Drop spoonfuls of the mixture onto waxed paper and carefully smoosh down the center parts. Refrigerate the nests til the chocolate solidifies, then add jelly beans to the middles.

Hmm... this would probably be a good Easter or springtime treat. Ah, so maybe I'm a few months early... At least I used Valentine's Day colored jelly beans.

21 January 2008

Yum, sushi!

Anyone who knows me knows of my love for sushi. Oh, wait, it's the opposite. I'm not a big fan of that particular Japanese dish. Or most other Japanese dishes. However, I do like this version. Start with a fruit roll up (unrolled). Add shredded coconut. It wouldn't be sushi without fish... I used the Swedish variety. Roll it up, then slice it. Mmm, sugary...