Friday, October 27, 2006

Music Review: The Open Door by Evanescence

It took me a few listens to warm up to Evanescence's newest album, The Open Door, but now I'm enjoying it quite a bit. In particular, I find tracks 2 and 5 ("Call Me When You're Sober" and "Cloud Nine" to be quite entertaining, but tracks 10 and 12 ("The Only One" and "All That I'm Living For" are my favorites. Overall, it's not as consistently enjoyable as Anywhere But Home, but still quite good, so I'll give it 8.0 out of 10.

By the way, Alison's enjoying this CD, but she was disappointed that it didn't contain a studio version of her perhaps-favorite song from Anywhere But Home, "Breathe No More". Meanwhile I'd still like to hear studio versions of "Farther Away" and the band's cover of Korn's "Thoughtless".

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Newton Live!

One of Newton's favorite activities is chasing his tail. Here is a very cute video of him engaged in his favorite activity:

Also, of all the toys we have bought him, his favorite thing to play with is a used water bottle:


Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Fiaster and Disasco

For the first few years Alison and I would use this word with each other:
fiaster, noun. Something that's more than a fiasco, but not quite a disaster.
Then, one day, Lisa pointed out that if you swapped the order, you got something a little funnier:
disasco, noun. 1. Something that's more than a fiasco, but not quite a disaster. 2. A Latin dance performed by a poorly coordinated person.
Not surprisingly, I use "disasco" exclusively now.

Six Words Only? Take That, Haiku!

Read nanostories. Comment in six words.

Monday, October 23, 2006

White & Nerdy

Lisa sent just sent me this hilarious Weird Al video of what is now my new theme song. I really should be coding some Java, but I think I'll watch this a few more times. Seriously, the project needs to be done by Wednesday.

(By the way, keep an eye out for Seth Green and Donny Osmond in the video.)

Telly Tidbits

My last post reminded me that I've been meaning to give you, dear reader, an update on my latest TV watching. I'm sure you've been just dying to know what I've been tuning into lately. Well, here you go:
  • Battlestar Galactica, Season 3. Battlestar continues to be not only the best sci-fi on television, but also the best series on TV. If you aren't watching it, start here.
  • Heroes, Season 1. This show is a more realistic take on the superhero genre that's so popular these days, but with a heavy dose of mystery mixed in. It feels like Lost meets Rising Stars.
  • My Name is Earl, Season 2. This series is 75% Wonderfalls---sniff---and 25% Raising Arizona, so it's qute amusing. The Randy character really pushes the show to the next level.
  • The Dog Whisperer, all seasons. Since before the arrival of our new critter, Alison and I have been boning up on our dog training by watching new episodes and reruns. Cesar Millan, the whisperer from the title, has an uncanny ability to establish dominance immediately, with very subtle body language. Impressive.
  • Dirty Jobs, all seasons. Mike Rowe finds out, first hand, what some people have to do to make civilization possible for the rest of us.
Additionally, here are some shows that I'm looking forward to seeing in the near future.
  • Torchwood, Season 1. The anagramic Doctor Who spinoff debuted in the UK on Sunday, to mostly positive reviews. The setup is somewhere between The X-Files and Men In Black.
  • Doctor Who, Second Christmas Special and Season 3. The second season was better than the first, which was quite enjoyable. I like that trend.
  • The Lost Room, mini-series. This show looks pretty intriguing. It could be clever, or it could be stupid.
  • Psych, Season 2. Alison and both enjoyed the first, short season of this fake-psychic detective comedy, and we are looking forward to the next.
You know, from looking at this list, I've decided that the NBC Universal family of networks, which includes Sci Fi, USA, and, of course, NBC, must be my favorite.

Colonial Public Radio

Shuaib pointed out this NPR story about how Battlestar Galactica has attracted critical praise and an audience outside the conventional boundaries of science fiction. Maybe this story will persuade whatever part of the NPR demographic isn't at least watching the show to check it out.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Giving Hope to Nerds Everywhere

Last Saturday, as promised, Todd married the lovely and intelligent Laura, thus giving hope to nerds across the land. My congratulations go out to the groom; the bride has my condolences. ;-)

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Africa Strikes Again

It looks like a second person in Africa has finally happened upon our blog.

Jack-O'-Lanterns on Parade

The Second Annual Team Grondul Pumpkin-Carving Extravaganza is drawing closer, so here are some ideas for making something other than the same old jack-o'-lantern. These ideas all come courtesy of MAKE and the "softer side" of MAKE, CRAFT:
  • If you're a danger to yourself and others when wielding a knife, perhaps you should consider simply decorating the outside of your pumpkin, like Bert and Ernie here.
  • If pumpkins are just too messy for you---though personally, I think the mess is half the fun---then you might want to buy a rubber foam pumpkin. Since these often come already "carved"---by which I mean "molded"---I'll expect you to do something creative with yours. Perhaps you can make a porch-light cover out of it, like this one.
  • Plastic is another option for the real-pumpkins-are-too-messy crowd. That's fine, but, again, I'll expect you to do something clever. Here, for example, is a solar-powered plastic JOL.
  • If you're more of the needle-and-tread type of person, you could crochet your jack-o'-lantern. If your design come out well, you can submit it to this contest at Monster Crochet.
  • And finally, if you just want to carve up a really kickin' JOL, then you should check out Extreme Pumpkins. (I know I mentioned this site before, but no pumpkin-carving roundup would be complete without it.)


Well, in my daily attempt to not start work before 10am, I found this cool website. Apparently, it is quite new according to their blog, having just launched last week. Still, the idea is pretty neat. As they describe it on their home page:

The problem with our large bookshelves is that they are buried in our home where only a subset of people can see what we have read. Now with Shelfari you can show off that book collection to your friends and the world!

Huh! Kind of a cool idea! So, I joined today (it's free). I am in the process of building my shelf and have already run into something I think could be changed, but they have "feedback" links on each page, so I told them my thought. I wonder if they will implement it? Anyway, I suggest you check it out. Happy reading!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Hedy Lamarr

Ah, the classic combination of beauty and brains. How can you beat that?

More Than Meets the Eye

Here're some more fun, geeky costumes from the MAKE blog.

Monday, October 16, 2006

I Hope We Aren't Cancelled

It appears that our ratings are slipping. I guess I need to start wearing my T-shirt more often.

I Think They Should Call it Michaelium

The most massive element yet, element 118, has was created earlier this month in Russia by a Russian-American collaboration.

Once Over Easy

I discovered this weekend that Alison likes the yolks in her fried eggs runny. Eww. I seriously think this could be a deal-breaker.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Mr. Skellington, I Presume?

I need this.


Here's a rather strange piece of sci-fi news. Apparently David Eick, the co-executive producer of my much-loved Battlestar Galactica, is planning to re-imagine another sci-fi series from the seventies: The Bionic Woman. That's right, the Lindsay Wagner-led spinoff of The Six Million Dollar Man. What? Hunh?

Bad Plot! Bad!

Nick sent me a good link about bad graphs.

Monday, October 09, 2006


We've finally settled on a name for our little critter: Newton. He's officially named for the famous scientist and mathematician, but if you'd like to think of him as being named for the fig-filled cookie, I guess that's OK, too. Of course, just because we've decided on the little guy's name, that doesn't mean he knows what it is. We'll be working on that in the near future.

Anyway, here are some more photos of the pup. Alison's still in her pajamas in these pics, so don't think less of her fashion sense. But do be sure to notice her stumpy little toes.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

No-Name the Puppy!

Hello everyone! Well, we finally did it. We got ourselves a puppy! He is a little 12-week old Bichon Frise. We are very excited...and very tired. We still have not decided on a name for the little guy, but we are committed to figuring that out by tonight. Anyway, here is a first look at the little cutie. Sadly this first pic was taken on the way home when we stopped to let him get some air after he got carsick. :( As you can see, though, he did get better soon after we got home. Enjoy!

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Happy Birthday, Dear Mickey

Today is my mother's birthday, so happy birthday, Mom!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Muffy Story #3: Opposable Thumbs?

Muffy is, as I have said before, a very smart dog. Here is one example of her uncanny canine intellect.

When Muffy was a puppy she was very, very tiny. This made us very, very lax about keeping things out of her reach. However, one day we came home to find that she had learned to jump up onto the coffee table where my mom kept a little dish of Hershey's Kisses. Of course, we were horrified since chocolate is poisonous to dogs. Once we got over being horrified, though, we were frankly amazed. I imagine that when most dogs get into individually-wrapped chocolates they eat as much foil as they do chocolate. Not Muffy. She had perfectly unwrapped her prizes, as if she had opposable thumbs! There were perfect squares of foil all over the floor. They were barely even torn! She even managed to leave the little Hershey's Kiss flags behind.

Well, no more of that! We put the chocolates on the sofa table which was much taller...way too tall for Muffy to jump up on. Except Muffy learned that if she jumped up on the sofa and then climbed up the arm and across the back of the sofa, she could easily hop onto the sofa table and knock the chocolate onto the floor and have a feast. At least, that's what we assume she did since we came home to, you guessed it, perfectly unwrapped and totally eaten Hershey's Kisses.

Now my mom keeps the candy dish on top of the antique icebox which is about four feet high and sits by itself in the corner. Muffy has not figured that one out yet, thank goodness, and it has been eleven years now, so we feel pretty comfortable keeping the candy dish up there. I'm not convinced, however, that Muffy has not been plotting this whole time. I half expect that we will come home one day to a rope ladder made out of her dog bed lining, an empty candy dish, and very neatly unwrapped candy wrappers all over the floor.

Websites I Enjoy

I just thought I would put these few websites out there that I have been enjoying lately.
  1. If you secretly enjoy the celebrity rags at the checkout stand, but feel bad spending money on them, then check out The Superficial. This site serves up lots of good old fashioned turn-your-brain-to-mush celebrity gossip/pictures with plenty of snarky captions. Keep in mind that said captions sometimes contain content not appropriate for work. I especially don't recommend reading the comments left by the people who frequent the site. They are stupid, boring, and often profane.
  2. This site is for those of us who particularly enjoy those shows or magazines where they do the best and worst dressed lists, but who really can't stand the insipid commentators or, again, don't want to spend money on the magazines. Plenty of pics of absurdly dressed celebrities with very funny, well-written comments. I also enjoy that they don't just bash people who are dressed poorly, but they also recognize people who look really good.
  3. This site is for people who enjoy cute pictures. Yep, that seems to be its sole purpose. Enjoy!
So, there are three more ways for you to waste your workday. I have also posted them under my recommendations. Now go forth and surf!

Rice University to Add 2 New Colleges

Somehow I missed it, but my undergraduate alma mater, Rice University, has announced some major expansion plans. The school intends to increase the size of the undergraduate student body by 30 %. I'm not sure I agree with that move; I think perhaps Rice should stay the small---some would say "elite"---university it's been for so long. Anyway, to accommodate all these new students, the school will be adding two new residential colleges. That's right: a tenth and an eleventh. What's more, these two colleges are slated to be occupied by Autumn of 2009. It appears that the new colleges, along with their joint kitchen/servery, will be squeezed into the north side of campus, next to Jones. The tenth college will be named McMurtry, after a couple who began dating as Rice undergrads and who have recently donated 32 M$ to the University. That's 32,000,000 dollars. (I think it's safe to assume the McMurtrys are doing pretty well for themselves.)

A bit of Rice history: In the late 1990s, the University planned to add two new residential colleges to its set of eight. After the most recent recession began, the money dried up, so the plans were scaled back; only the ninth college was built. I guess the cash must be flowing more freely now, but I wonder how long it will last, or if the eleventh college will be constructed anytime soon.

I know two occasional readers of this blog are Rice alumni. I'd like to hear their opinions on this news.

Extreme Pumpkins

Those of you who will be honored with an invitation to our annual pumpkin-carving party---pretty much all the Marylanders reading this---should peruse this site. Alison and I will be expecting greater-than-average creativity this year.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Software Review: Google SketchUp

OK, this post isn't a full-blown review; I've only used Google's SketchUp 3-D drawing program for an hour or so, working my way through the tutorials and generally playing around. Still, I found it to be very powerful and easy to use. Also, Google hosts a "warehouse" where users can exchange their drawings. I encourage you to check it out.

Cube Me!

Here's another fun-yet-geeky costume from MAKE: a Rubik's Cube.