Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Small Victories

A couple of weeks ago, at my Parkour class, I had access to a pair of still rings, and, with a bit of instruction, I was able to do my first-ever muscle-up. A muscle-up, for those of you who don't know, is essentially a combination pull-up and dip, and it's usually performed on rings. The actual pull-up and the dip aren't difficult for a person of my size and build; the transition is where all the work and technique lie, and the proper grip is essential for pulling off the transition. Anyway, muscle-ups are quite challenging.

The next week, I had access to a climbing rope, which I managed to ascend without using my feet.

So, to sum up, yay me.

Monday, February 26, 2007

The Dark Tower: The Movie(s)

Those of you in the readership who are married to me will be interested to know that Steven King has announced that he's optioned the film rights to his perhaps-signature Dark Tower series of books to Lost co-creators J.J. Abrams and Damon Lindelof. The option was sold for 19 dollars.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Let's Germinate, Baby!

Are you into soy milk, seitan, and organic food? Do you feel the need to be just one step more granola? Then you may be interested in this tutorial on making your own sprouted brown rice.

Xbox xBot

Need a robot to play all those tedious video games for you? Well, here you go.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

I'm kinda famous...

by association! My friend Ryan has just published a book of public health-themed cartoons. Ryan and I used to be cube-mates at the CDC. He has since moved up in the world (insert Jeffersons theme song here) to an actual OFFICE which is prime real estate in government buildings. Anyway, you can order the book from Amazon. I just received my copy last night and I laughed out loud! Even Michael liked it, although I had to explain a few of the cartoons to him. I was informed that if I have to explain it, it's not funny, but I think he's full of it! :P

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

I Married a Nerd

Apparently Alison's been spending way to much time with me: she recognized Stan Lee during his cameo on Monday's episode of Heroes.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Wii! Gasp!

A recent study indicates that kids who play Nintendo's Wii consume up to 40% more energy than those that play other consoles or simply watch TV. Neat, eh? Perhaps the latest generation isn't doomed to obesity after all.

Maybe Brian can use this research to persuade Kerri to let him get a Wii of his own.

Apparently, Bike- and Car-Jackers are Morons

Brian's stolen bike has been recovered, and the Baltimore Police has a lead on the perp. How did the cops find a nondescript single-speed mountain bike in a medium-sized city like Baltimore? Here's Brian's explanation:
Apparently this criminal mastermind nearly ran into a cop car while riding the bike. He tried to ride away, but wasn't very successful. I conjecture that he didn't know how to ride that kind of bike. So he ditched it to run and got away.
I guess I shouldn't be as surprised at this development as I am: anyone who takes up bike-jacking for employment or entertainment can't be that intelligent. This reminds me of my mother's recent run-in with the criminal element:

She was confronted at gunpoint in a parking lot and forced into her car. Her assailant then attempted to drive the car away, with her in it. He was unable to operate the vehicle because it had a manual transmission, so he fled. Thus, my mother was saved from who knows what fate by the perp's ineptitude.*

* And her own frugality. Those of you who've met her may realize that it's perhaps her most distinguishing characteristic.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Adult Human Brains Can Make New Cells

This is a pretty cool finding. Here's hoping applications arise.

Zee Eks-Box

Not to rub salt in Nick's wounds,* but Alison and I are still enjoying our XBox 360 experience.
  • Alison's been fighting the good fight against the evil hexagons in Hexic.
  • We've taken a break from slaying Locusts to explore Cyrodiil in Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.
  • Last night, I downloaded the demo of Tomb Raider: Legend. Lara's learned some new moves since I last played one of the Tomb Raider games. Both of us had a good time with it.
  • I also downloaded the demo of Dead Rising, since Alison loves anything to do with Zombies. Perhaps we'll give it a try tonight.
* Nick encountered the "Red Circle of Death" a week or so ago and is waiting for his repaired 360 to return. On the upside, the unit is still under warranty.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007


The Sci-Fi channel is apparently happy with the ratings Battlestar has received since moving to Sunday nights; they just announced that the series will return for a fourth season. Interestingly, the order is only for 13 episodes, the same number as the first season, and far fewer than the 20 ordered for the second and third seasons. Might Battlestar be nearing its end?

Generally, for a series to be considered viable for syndication, 100 episodes are required. If the show ends after the short fourth season, there will be 66 eps and the pilot mini-series. Since the mini is equivalent to about 4 episodes, there would be 70 eps worth of syndicationable material. Hmm.


Brian was mugged at fist-point while bike-commuting home in Baltimore last night. Fortunately, he was mostly unharmed. This event really makes me worry not just about his future safety, but also about Alison's.

Newton from Dad's Perspective

After seeing the last post, my dad sent in a few shots he took of Newton during our December visit.

The first two are good shots are Newton cuddled up with his role model, Marley.

This last one is just funny. Newton, as you may recall, often sleeps or lounges in uncomfortable-looking postures.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Newton's Makeover

Well, we took Newton to the groomer yesterday. Here are a few "before" and "after" shots for you.

A scraggly, beige puppy...

Now look how clean and white and cute!

Kissably cute, in fact!

Rude people suck.

Yeah, you heard me. They suck.

So, I was at the gym the other day, waiting in the hallway for my aerobics class to start. They have a display in the hall of all the personal trainers and a little bio blurb about each of them. Since some of them teach the aerobics classes I have been taking, I was killing some time reading about them. All of a sudden, this guy comes out of the weight room and says to me, "You know, you're not going to get any faster or stronger just looking at their pictures." I was so annoyed, I had absolutely no idea how to respond. I just stared at him and, in the most scathing tone I could muster, said, "No, I suppose not." He then said, "Well, you can try it, though!" and ran up the stairs. What a freak!! He was very chipper and friendly the whole maybe he was trying to strike up a conversation? Why run up the stairs after delivering his little bit of wisdom, though? Urgh. Jerk!!

Friday, February 09, 2007

Primal Parkour

It turns out that one of the few gyms in the US that offers classes in Parkour is in DC, not terribly far from Team Grondul World Headquarters. The gym is Primal Fitness, an affiliate of CrossFit run by two traceurs* who feel that CrossFit is the best conditioning program for Parkour. Both of these guys are prominent in the American Parkour community and friendly dudes to boot. Plus, since we all have pretty much the same haircut, how could I resist? So, on the last couple of Sartuday mornings,** I've been heading into the District to clamber up walls, over barriers, and along monkey bars like a fourth-grader at recess. It's been great fun.

* Practitioners of Parkour.
** The weeknight classes are impractical for me to attend.


My recent interest in Parkour has led me to discover CrossFit. What is CrossFit, you ask? It's a, philosophy...paradigm...approach...that aims to promote functional fitness by specializing in not specializing. The idea is to train the body not for one specific task, but for any activity one might encounter in "real life." The way it works is that the, one of its affiliates, or a certified trainer---provides a Work-Out of the Day (WOD) each day, which the trainee then follows. The workouts can include low-rep weight training, high-rep weight training, bodyweight exercises, running, rowing, balance exercise, or agility work. (Most of the WODs do not repeat, but a few benchmark routines do infrequently recur, to allow the trainee to measure his or her progress, if any.) Additionally, the trainee is encourage to learn and participate in new sports. For more detail, check out the first issue of the CrossFit Journal.

I've been following the WOD---when I wasn't taking a Parkour class or taking the surprisingly challenging yoga class with Alison---for the last couple of weeks. The workouts are challenging, and I'm enjoying the variety so far. So, if you are looking for a new sport, I encourage you to check it out.

Let's Tango, Baby!

On the other hand, I could be persuaded to get one of these.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Is that Pronounced "Ex-Bow" or "Cross-Bow?"

Here's another in the long line of cars-from-the-interweb-that-I-really-really-need:

Austrian motorcycle manufacturer KTM will debut its X-Bow at the Geneva Motor Show in about a month. The X-Bow is an extremely minimalist, motorbike-inspired sports car. It has no roof or doors and only a hint of a windscreen.* The car will be powered by a 2-liter, turbo-charged, direct-fuel-injected engine from Audi/Volkswagen and should weigh around 700 kg (1540-ish pounds).** Since I am both a minimalist and a proponent of high power-to-weight ratios, and since the KTM incorporates a way-cool rocker-based suspension, this little vehicle may unseat the previous ultimate Michaelmobile, the Lotus Exige. Of course, I doubt this thing would meet American safety standards, but a man can dream, can't he?

PS: Shhh. Don't tell Alison. She thinks my next car will be something practical, like a Toyota Matrix. As if!

* Thus, it's quite similar in size and style to the Ariel Atom, but it's designed to be road legal, at least in Europe.
** Because of the Audi connection, there's even a rumor that the VW Group will build an Audi-branded incarnation.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Ping and/or Pong

Yesterday, Alison and I attended a party Brian threw to break in his new Ping Pong brand table-tennis table. A good time was had by all. At least by me, anyway.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Wonder Woman Whedonless

Whedonites in the readership may recall that Joss Whedon's writing of Wonder Woman has taken quite a long time. Those same readers will be disappointed, but perhaps not surprised, to learn that Whedon has been pulled from the project; he'll no longer be writing or directing. Surf over to Whedonesque to read Whedon's announcement, which is written in his typical funny-but-sweet style.

The goos news is that, I would surmise, Goners is now his priority.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Buffy Hits the Comic Pages

In other comic-book-adaptation news, the MTV* site has a text interview with Joss Whedon** about the Buffy Season 8 comic-book series.

* Hey man, I heard this crazy rumor that MTV used to be about music. I mean, like, back in the 1980s, they actually played music videos. I know, dude; weird.
** My master.

HP7: 2007.07.21

Harry Potter groupies in the readership---or in Team Grondul---may be interested to know that that seventh and final* volume in the series will hit bookstore shelves on July 21.

* I can't help but wonder, given the enormous profit the Potter books, movies, and merchandise have generated for author J. K. Rowling and others, if the authoress will eventually be persuaded to pen prequel or spin-off stories.

Stevie K Hits the Comic Pages

Fans of Stephen King in the readership---or in Team Grondul---may be interested to know that the first issue of the new comic-book adaptation of The Dark Tower series hits the racks on February 7.

Network SF&F

Sci Fi Wire, "a news service of the Sci Fi Channel," has a run-down of the science-fiction and fantasy pilots picked up by the major networks this year. Check it out. Note that the description of Reaper sounds a lot like Team Grondul's favorite newly-discovered-but-old series Dead Like Me.