Monday, July 31, 2006

Movin' on In

Alison and I moved all of our belongings into our new co-residence this weekend, with lots of help from Lisa-and-Greg, Nick-and-Amy, Megan, and Andrew. Now, we just need to put everything were it goes before Ashley and Sharon arrive next Monday. Ready...set...unpack!

Mmm, Helmety Fresh

If you ride a bike, you may be wondering how to keep your helmet smelling nice, by which I mean not smelling at all. I just spray mine out with Lysol after each ride, which works pretty well, but here's an alternative method that might do a good job, too.

Pretty in Pink, Eh?

It appears that, in an effort to broaden its fan demographic, the NHL will produce mostly-pink uniform sweaters for each and every one of its teams. (Fortunately, the sweaters will not be worn by the teams.) As a follower of sports fashion, I think this move odd at best. If I were a woman, I'd feel offended rather than catered to.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Man, this Place is Dark

Alison and I also watched the premiere ep of Garth Marenghi's Darkplace last night. All I have to say is, "What the...?" Stream the episode from the Sci Fi site and judge for yourself.

That Screw-On Head is Amazing

Alison and I watched the first episode of The Amazing Screw-On Head last night on the Sci Fi Channel. It's an odd, animated parody of steampunk and supernatural horror, featuring a megalomaniacal zombie, a vampire, a werewolf, a sentient chimpanzee, an undead canine, a disembodied head, and---strangest of all---Abraham Lincoln. I found it quite entertaining---through I don't think Alison did---and suggest that you watch the episode, which is available on Sci Fi's site.

Is Galactica as Big as the Enterprise E?

Hey there, cats and kittens!

Given the general geekiness level of my readership (high) I bet you've often wondered how big the SDF-1 is compared to an Imperial Star Destroyer. Has it ever occurred to you to ask whether a full-grown Leviathan is longer than Galactica? Is it important for you to know how the Sulaco compares, size-wise, to the Whitestar? Do you lie awake at night pondering how a Defiant-class escort matches up against a Firefly-class freighter like Serenity? Well, Nick has pointed me to the site for you, which he asserts "may very well be the geekiest thing [he's] ever seen." (When you click on a page corresponding to a given scale, be sure to give all the images time to load before moving on to the next scale.)

Monday, July 24, 2006

Movin' on Up

Hey, check out what happens if you type "industrial strength science" into Google. Granted, it's pretty unlikely that anyone will do that. But still...

Sunday, July 23, 2006


It's time, gentle reader, for my final TdF post of this year. After Floyd Landis's amazing stage win and rebound into third place on Stage 17, his third-place finish in the time trial of Stage 19 was good enough to push him into the overall lead. As expected, there were no changes to the overall standings in today's final stage, so Landis took the overall win.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

TV Review: Psych

(This review contains no significant spoilers.)

I've seen a couple of episodes of the USA Network's new fake-psychic/real-detective series, Psych. I must say I've really enjoyed it. Not only is the solving of each crime clever, but the dialog is very witty. Additionally, the acting is good. In particular, I like Dulé Hill's understated performance as the main character's best friend and reluctant sidekick.

Overall, I give it 8.0 out of 10.

Psych works really well in its time-slot following USA's verteran defective detective series, Monk. Sadly, these shows are on Friday night, so I won't be watching Monk once Season 3 of Battlestar Galactica begins in October. At least not during the first of the few times it's broadcast each week.

Movie Review: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

(This review contains no significant spoilers.)

Lisa, Greg, Alison, and I also saw Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest recently. (Alison and Lisa, being Johnny Depp superfans, both wore their Captain's Wench T-shirts.) The film was much like the first one: not the most artistic or intellectual film ever made, but not overtly stupid either. Plus, it was rollicking good ride.

Overall, I give it 7.5 out of 10.

Movie Review: Superman Returns

(This review contains minor spoilers.)

A few weeks ago, Lisa, Greg, Alison, and I saw the latest Clark Kent flick, Superman Returns. I wasn't expecting a lot, but I was disappointed. Here's why:
  • The physics is handled poorly. I'm willing to accept all of Superdude's powers, but the way he interacts with the world around him is very annoying. For example, when he lifts very large objects, they don't bend or break under their own weight.
  • As usual, Lex Luthor's plot is ridiculous.
  • Again, as usual, Luthor's moll is a ditz who ultimately sympathizes with Superman.
  • There's a significant plot twist that the audience can see coming "from a mile away," as Alison said
  • Superman's powers are very inconsistent. He always seems to have just enough strength to accomplish the task at hand. (Nick has a name for this phenomenon, which I have stupidly forgotten.) This problem wouldn't be so troubling, if the resolution of the major threat didn't hinge on a one particularly blatant example.

I do have some positive things to say about the film, though:
  • Kevin Spacey was very enjoyable as Luthor; he played the character with great relish and just a little insanity.
  • The visual effects were very good.
  • There were some cute references to the Christopher Reeve films, especially the first one.

Overall, I give it 3.5 out of 10.

If you are looking for a good superhero movie, you should steer clear of this one. Instead, I suggest these:

One Ring to Bring Them All

I'm sure you've been waiting eagerly for the latest wedding update. Well here it is.

My wedding band arrived from Boone a few days ago. Here's a poorly lit photograph:

Based on our experience, I'd recommend Bruce and Trish Boone's mom-and-pop organization very highly. Here's why:
  • Bruce started out making titanium-alloy bike components, and, as a cyclist, I think that's cool.
  • They make-to-order rings in a wide range of styles from two alloys of titanium: 6-4 and 8-1-1. (Please note that these links are for alloys with specific heat treatments; I'm unsure what heat treating is used on Boone's rings.)
  • Bruce very promptly answered the questions I e-mailed to him when I was narrowing my choices.
  • The price was quite modest, even for the stronger 8-1-1 alloy.
  • The band arrived surprisingly soon after it was ordered. (I think Alison placed the order on Friday night. On Saturday night, we received an e-mail saying the ring was done and would go out in Monday's mail. The package arrived on Wednesday.)
  • The ring is very light as would be expected with a density of 4.37 g/cm^3. (For comparison, Alison's platinum ring has a denstity of 21.45 g/cm^3.)
  • The band is clearly well crafted, and as a surprise bonus, it came with a silly certificate of authenticity, signed by Trish:

Friday, July 21, 2006

What's in a name?

Check out this guy's website. He wants to change his name and is asking the public for suggestions. He will pick his top 10 faves and then people can vote. The winner gets a hefty cash prize. So, go give this guy a name, people!

Best. Stage. Ever.

Did you see Stage 17 of the Tour yesterday? If not, you'll wish you had.

On the preceding day, the second in the Alps, race leader Floyd Landis---Flandis, as Alison likes to call him---lost over 8 minutes (and 22 places) on the final climb. As a result, he was clearly out of contention for the overall race.

Yesterday, on the final Alpine stage, Landis broke away on the first ascent of the day, 125 km from the finish. He rode essentially solo to the finish line, winning the stage and pulling himself into 3rd place, behind race leader Oscar Pereiro (Spain, Caisse d'A‰pargne) and Carlos Sastre (Spain, CSC). In other words, he gained almost 8 minutes on the leader. Here's what current professional rider Bobby Julich (USA, CSC) had to say about the stage:
Floyd Landis's’ Stage 17 ride on Thursday was the most amazing ride I have ever seen in my life and will go down as one of the best rides of all time, and Landis will go down as one of cycling'’s gutsiest riders.
Former pro rider and current cycling commentator Bob Roll had similar comments:
Today we'’ve seen the greatest single day ride in the history of the Tour de France.

Here's the kicker: There's only one hard stage left in this year's TdF: a 57-km individual time tral on Saturday. Landis is typically a much stronger time-trialist than Sastre or Pereiro, in fact, he beat them by more than a minute in a 53-km ITT earlier in this Tour. So Landis could win the Tour de France after being over 8 minutes down.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Transformers Transfigured

Based on this comic and this post, it looks like Tycho and Gabe share my concerns about the upcoming Transformers movie. I can't imagine Ohio National Guardsman Optimus Prime is happy about Michael Bay's choices.

South Africa Saves the Day

Well, would you look at that! Just a few days after I complained that the blog had never been visited from Africa, we got our first hit from that continent. Now if we can only get Antarctica to join in the fun...

Flapper Lives!

Nick pointed me to this interesting article, which chronicles the first flight of a self-powered, manned ornithopter. Check it out.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Photos: Niagara Falls: American Side

Here are some photos taken from the American side of Niagara Falls. By the way, I should have mentioned before that the falls are about 55 meters (180 feet) tall, and the Canadian (Horseshoe) falls are about a mile across.

Update: Mustang Review

I just thought I'd let you know that I've added some photos to my Ford Mustang review.

Hip-Replacement Surgery, What Fun!

You may be interested in reading this fascinating but long article about one man's struggle with his ruined hip joint. He walks with a limp, can't climb stairs without a railing, and plans to have his hip replaced in August. Did mention that this guy, Floyd Landis, is currently second in the Tour de France and is favored to win?

By the way, I believe this is the artificial hip Landis has his eye on.

Lessons Not Learned

I'm sure my politically minded readers will enjoy what Illinois Representative Rahm Emanuel said a few days ago about White House spending. I just hope Bush taps Bart Simpson to be the Secretary of Keeping it Real.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Photos: Niagara Falls: Canadian Side

Here, for your entertainment, I present a few photos of our trip to Niagara Falls. These were taken from the Canadian side of the river and from the Maid of the Mist. Perhaps I'll put up some more, later.


I can't help but feel that the entire continent of Africa is snubbing us.

TV Preview: Heroes

Speaking of superheroes on television, I've recently become excited about this new series called Heroes. Based on the 4-minute trailer at the official site and on this fan site, it looks quite X-Men-like, but done more realistically. It will air Mondays at 9:00 PM (Eastern) on NBC, starting this fall.

Dr. Dino

Speaking of creationists, two of my blogging buddies, BriBreakfast and Evil Monkey, have recently posted about Young-Earth Creationist and criminal, Kent Hovind. So I just have to join in their reindeer games.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Take That, Creationists!

Check it out: evolution caught in the act.

This Advert Brought to You by Brian & Kristan

I forgot to mention the uber-cool favors Brian and Kristan gave to Todd and me for being ushers in their wedding. First, each of us received a Gerber multi-tool with bitdriver. That was pretty generous, right? I mean who doesn't like multi-tools? But wait, there's more! We each also received a black T-shirt bearing the address of our blog/site, along with the title/cathphrase. Here're a couple of photos of mine:

Neat, eh?

Le Tour de France, Stage 11

(This report contains no significant spoilers.)

I think I'll take page from the book of Soccertopia---I mean, Footballtopia---I mean Neurotopia---and tell you that today's stage, Stage 11, of the Tour was very exciting. If you receive OLN, you should at least check out the last hour of the prime-time coverage, from 10:00 to 11:00 tonight. All you need to know to enjoy Stage 11 is this about the standings after Stage 10:

Yesterday, a few-man break got away, putting Cyril Dessel (Ag2r) in the yellow jersey at 4:45 ahead of American Floyd Landis and even farther ahead of the other big names, such as Andréas Klöden (T-Mobile), Vladimir Karpets (Caisse d'Epargne), Cadel Evans (Davitamon-Lotto), and Carlos Sastre (CSC). Meanwhile, because of an unnusually poor performance in the time trial, American Levi Leipheimer (Gerolsteiner) was in 58th position at 10:28 back.


Alison and I often use this word in conversations that also feature "barform:"
ade, noun. Any beverage designed principally to rehydrate one and replenish one's electrolytes, such as Gatorade or POWERade.
Example: After a 3-hour ride in 90-degree weather, I could really go for some ade and barform.

By the way, as Alison can tell you, my favorite flavor of ade is 32 ounces.

Suitcase of Courage

Here's a phrase that I stole it from cycling commentator Paul Sherwen and have been using for a few years. I really enjoy the unusual imagery.
suitcase of courage, noun phrase. A reserve of strength, determination, or bravery that must be called upon, usually by reaching or digging into it, in order to overcome a seemingly insurmountable disadvantage.
Example: Thomas Voeckler is reaching deep into his suitcase of courage as he climbs l'Alpe d'Huez; he wants to stay in the maillot jaune just one day longer.

*I* Want to be a Superhero

Now this is reality TV I can get excited about.

So Cool!

I read this and just thought it was incredibly cool. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


I thought this website was hilarious. Enjoy!

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Automobile Review: 2006 Ford Mustang

When planning our trip to the physicist-physicist wedding and Niagara Falls, we reserved the cheapest car we could from Budget. When we arrived at the Buffalo airport, however, we discovered that they only had one car left: a 2006 Ford Mustang, which, of course, normally rents for considerably more than the rate we were paying. So, we got to test-drive a Mustang while attending the wedding activities and seeing the sights. Our Musty---I know most people like to abbreviate the model name to "'Stang," but I prefer something less self-serious---was the base model: the hardtop with the 4.0-liter V-6 engine, and it was painted a fun, lime-green color. Here are my thoughts on the car, and a few photos.

The pros:
  • I must admit that the retro-futuristic exterior styling, while surely very high-drag, has a certain charm to it.
  • The interior was also done in a retro-modern motif, which was quite attractive. Gauge visibility was good.
  • The Musty had pretty good pick-up, which you would expect with 210 horsepower.
  • The fit and finish was better than I remember for American cars, but my experience my be out of date.
The cons:
  • The car never seemed comfortable cornering. I attribute this to the high center of mass and the solid rear axle.
  • Rear head and leg room wasn't great. Granted, you have to expect this from a vehicle in this category, but I feel that, if a car has rear seats, they should be usable.
  • I had trouble finding a comfortable seating position. This problem was exacerbated by the way the seatback returns, after being flipped forward for rear-seat access, not to any vaguely useful position, but to one forward of vertical.
  • Because of the car's very high beltline, visibility out of the vehicle was poor. In particular, the triangular---OK, trapazoidal---rear three-quarter windows are nearly useless; I felt that I was constantly in danger of changing lanes into a Miata. Also, due to the high, long hood*, I could never be sure of the front bumper's location, which I found quite frustrating when parking.
  • Parking is also made difficult by the large footprint of the Musty. Given its seating capacity, it should really take up less space.
  • Fuel efficiency was not great, though admittedly, it was not as bad as I expected, given the 4-liter engine and the brick-shaped body.
Overall, I give it 5.0 out of 10.

* I suppose Ford wants the onlooker to think that the engine bay needs to be large to accommodate the engine, but that's not even true for the GT, which has a 4.6-liter V-8. Consider the Chevrolet Corvette C6; it has a 6.2-liter V-8 and a much lower hoodline. Shoot, the C6 Z06 has a 7.0-liter engine under the same hood.

Slowly I Turned, Step by Step, Inch by Inch

While we were in the Buffalo area for Brian and Kristan's wedding, Alison and I visited Niagara Falls. Here's a little of what we learned:
  1. The Niagara River flows north from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario. Thus, in the Buffalo area, Canada, specifically Ontario, is to the west, which seems to confuse some people.
  2. The Canadian (or Horseshoe) Falls are larger and more impressive than the American Falls or the Bridal Veil Falls*.
  3. All three falls can be seen best from the Canadian side of the border. For this reason, in many films and television series, scenes are shot on the Canadian side, even if they allegedly take place in the States**.
  4. You can get much closer to the falls from the American side.
  5. The Maid of the Mist boat tour of the falls, available from either side of the river/border, is way cool. I suggest taking swim goggles.
  6. We didn't get a chance to do the Journey Behind the Falls, available from the Canadian side, or the Cave of The Winds trip, available from the American side. (These journeys take you right up to the rushing water.) They seem worthwhile, though.
  7. Because of Points 3 and 4, to really maximize your tourist experience, one should see the falls from both sides.
  8. There's an extended tourist trap lining both sides of a street just west of the river, about a km downstream of the falls. It contains all manner of wax museums, haunted houses, "adventure" centers, and so on, and it should be avoided at all costs.
* The Bridal Veil Falls are on the US side of the border and are separated from the so-called American falls by a tiny island.
** See, for example, one of my favorite series of the many that were canceled prematurely by Fox, Wonderfalls.

Brian and Kristan Sitting in a Tree

Two weekends ago, Alison and I traveled to Buffalo for Brian's wedding to Kristan, at which Todd and I were ushers. It was great fun to see Brian, Kristan, and Todd again. We also got to meet---and pass judgment on---Laura, whom Todd will be marrying in October; we decided that we like her.