Sunday, September 30, 2007

Unsolicited Opinions: Post 326

Well, we are now a few weeks into the cascade of fall TV premiers,* and I thought I'd share my opinions with you. Not because you asked, of course; I'm just very opinionated.

So far:
  • Chuck. I checked out this lead-in to Heroes on Nick's recommendation, and I enjoyed it. The premise is rather silly but fun, and, importantly, the title character is quite charming and well portrayed. Plus, it's always nice to see Adam Baldwin (Jayne Cobb from Firefly) getting work. Some of the plot points were unrealistic, however. I'll tune in tomorrow and decide then whether to stick around for more.
  • Heroes. The premiere of the sophomore season of this show didn't disappoint, and I'm excited to see more tomorrow night. I found out today that even my mom likes it. Interestingly, her favorite and least favorite characters are the same as mine. Weird. Anyway, last season, it was a toss-up as to whether this series or Battlestar was the best show on TV, at least in my opinion. I'm expecting good things.
  • Bionic woman. This show is yet another '70s remake brought to you by one of the minds behind Battlestar Galactica. I wasn't completely happy with the show. Not surprisingly, some of the science was a bit too much to believe, but I'm willing to let that go. What really irritated me, though, was how the security procedures were portrayed. For example, the characters frequently discuss classified material over the phone with uncleared individuals. What is that? Additionally, I was really unhappy with the recasting of the deaf, punkish kid sister as a hearing, all-American girl. I felt that replacement made her quite a bit less interesting. I did find the lead actress quite likable, though her character is rather inconsistent. Speaking of actresses, I really enjoyed seeing Katee Sackoff (Starbuck on the aforementioned Battlestar) as the prototype bionic chick; she did a good job of being creepy and intimidating. As long as the writers don't make her the best pilot, sharpshooter, poker-player, and smoker in the show, as they did on Battlestar, I'll be happy with her recurring role. Lastly, I should mention that the reimagined Bionic Woman is much darker than the original, much like David Eick's other remake, and it really works for the show. I'll tune in Wednesday to decide if I'll make it regular viewing.
  • My Name is Earl. The third-season premiere of My Name is Earl indicates that the amusement level provided by this show isn't falling. As long as we get a good dose of Randy and a dollop of Darnell in every episode, I'll be happy.
Upcoming (definitely):
  • Pushing Daisies. I've already posted about my extreme affinity for this show after seeing it's pilot, so I won't say much here. But if you like off-beat, dark comedy, then for the love all that is pure, holy, and good,** watch this show Wednesday night. If you don't like it, I'll give you your money back.
  • Battlestar Galactica. OK, so Season 4---the final season--of Battlestar doesn't premier until early next year. But the semi-prequel telefilm Razor will be broadcast in November, ao I'm going to include the series in this post. Battlestar has been good for all the way from the pilot mini-series through the end of Season 3. Granted, I wasn't as happy with the main plotlines in the second half of Season 3, but I'm still stoked to see the Pegasus-centered TV movie and the final season.
Upcoming (maybe)
  • Aliens in America. No, this show isn't about the type of aliens I'm usually interested in, but I might DVR it tomorrow and check it out after Heroes is over.
  • Reaper. On the one hand, this could be simply a rip-off of Dead Like Me. On the other, I've heard good things about it, and I might check it out. Technically, this show isn't upcoming, since it premiered last Tuesday, but I haven't seen it, so I placed it in this category.
So there you have my take on this new season so far. Your feedback is, as always, appreciated.

* And it's not a moment too soon. Now that Monk's and Psych's seasons are over, there's some free space in my tube-watching schedule.
** I've stolen this phrase from Alison by the way.


I've recently joined the zillions---nay bazillions---of people who've sold their worthless old crap---I mean gently used articles---on eBay. I found the process quite easy, especially after setting up the first item. The way eBay and PayPal are interlinked---because the former owns the latter---makes all the seller's post-auction actions simple; it takes very little time to send an invoice, leave feedback, or print a shipping label. It's also quite liberating to take five boxes of your not-used-recently belongings to the post office and send them out of your life forever.

I just put up five more items today. One of them is something I think is worth a couple of hundred bucks. I intentionally waited to post it until after I'd shipped out my first round of...gently used articles. Now that I have 100% positive feedback, I expect to get a good price for it. Well, that's the plan, anyway.

Speaking eBay, here's the video to Weird Al's song of that name.

It's About Style, Man. Style.

I've mentioned before that I think Alison and I have very different writing styles. I can't help but wonder if you agree, gentle reader. So, when you read a post here on ISS, can you immediately determine it's author? I mean, without reading the byline. Your comments are encouraged.

How Time Flies...

Wow! It has been a long time since I have put up a blog entry. I fully plan to explain my absence, and I have pictures to prove that I was being productive while not blogging. I swear!

Part of the reason I have not been blogging much recently is that I have been very excited about my various knitting projects. Check it out: this is my very first sweater! It was pretty easy (not a lot of shaping or sizing involved), but I'm still proud. I have worn it several times and have gotten several compliments on it, which is pretty cool when you made something yourself.

There is actually no clasp or button built into the sweater; you just hold it together with a pretty pin/brooch of your choice. If anyone is interested, I found the pattern here.

I also recently finished a scarf that I'm really excited to wear. I saw this yarn and really loved it, but couldn't find a cool enough pattern to use it on for quite a while. Then I happened upon this pattern that someone used for the same brand of yarn and voila! I was set. Here is my completed version. I added tassels because I just think it's more fun that way...but looking at the pictures maybe I need to trim them to be all the same length. Hmm....

Please also note the dog in this picture (and all of the following pictures). It was a fine art to tell him "No! Leave it!" and then snap the picture before his self-control entirely melted away under the temptation of yummy, fuzzy, chewable yarn.

I also finished a dog (um, I mean, cat, a cat sweater) for Crazy Aunt Purl's Druken Cat Sweater Sweepstakes. Newton was nice enough to model my dog (oops, I mean CAT) sweater for me.

How cute is that? Michael says it makes him look like a little old man (Is it cold in here? Turn up the heat! *waves cane in the air*) I adapted the pattern from this one using more dignified colors since the poor doggie in that picture looks like an ad for his local gay pride parade, and he doesn't seem particularly happy about it. This was kind of a cool intro to knitting with different colors, which led me to try this pattern, which was featured in my latest Craft magazine that came in the mail.

I'll give you three guesses as to what it's supposed to say when it's done. I'm doing this one a little at a time because what I have now learned from doing the striped pattern and then moving on to this one is that knitting in large blocks of colors (like stripes) is kind of fun and interesting, but knitting detailed color patterns where you switch colors often (like letters) is a major pain in the ass. I think I'll be working on this one a little at a time for a while....and then I may not do a lot of color stuff for some time.

Meanwhile, I have also started working on this pattern for a knitting bag. I plan to give this one to a fellow knitter for Christmas. Here is half of the bag...

That is one side of the bag plus one handle. The pattern is kind of cool because, as you can see if you click on the link above, the finished bag leaves the needles in at the end (as you can see I have done here) to form some structure at the top. That needle is just one of a cheap pair I have that I'm using as a place-holder. Once I block the bag (which involves getting it wet, hence the cheap plastic needles) I'll find a pretty pair of decorative needles to use instead.

So, there you have it! That's what I have been up to lately. Um, ok, fine, that and playing Scrabble on the computer. Oh, and working. I swear I have gotten some work done in there somewhere, too! Now,if it would just hurry up and get cooler outside I could start to wear all of my fun new knitted items! Hear that Mother Nature? Hurry up with the fall already! I can just see myself in my new scarf sipping hot apple cider and eating some kind of baked good containing pumpkin....mmm...

Friday, September 28, 2007

Light Activity is Good For You, Right?

I apologize, gentle reader for the lack of activity on the blog lately. I have five different hobby projects going on at home, plus all my CrossFitting. Oh, and I've been busy at work, too; it's the end of the fiscal year. I'm hoping to put up some more posts in the near future. Thank you, gentle reader, for your patience.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Heroes Sneaking Up On Me

Somehow, I didn't realize until yesterday that Heroes was returning tonight. That's right, tonight. So, if you watched last season, be sure to tune in. If not, TiVo it, and get caught up.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Pushing Daisies

Well, I've done it yet again. I've gotten excited about a television series before it has even aired. This time, the series in question is ABC's Pushing Daisies. This series was created and is executive produced by Bryan Fuller, who created Dead Like Me, co-created Wonderfalls, and both wrote for and co-excutive-produced Heroes. If you know I'm a fan of all these shows, you can see why I'd be excited about Pushing Daisies without even knowing the setup. Now here's the setup: a young piemaker named Ned (played by Lee Pace, who portrayed Aaron in Wonderfalls) who can resurrect the dead, but for only one minute, and only once.*

Now, you might think the plot sounds a bit like Dead Like Me, and you might think that my excitment was based entirely on faith in Fuller or in the positive reviews written by critics who've seen the pilot. If so, you'd be mistaken. Through the magic of YouTube, I've also seen the pilot, albeit in low-res form. The show is more light-hearted than Dead Like Me and more quirky than Wonderfalls. In fact, it's quirky in exactly the kind of way that I enjoy.

So, I urge you to check the pilot out on YouTube. And please let me know what you think.

* There's a bit more to it than that, but I won't spoil it for you.**
** By the way, maybe Fuller should consider talking to someone about his evident fascination with death.

They Call it Pandora For a Reason

Two guys named Brian have recently recommended the Pandora personalized music-streaming service to me. After carefully examining it for an hour, my considered opinion is as follows:

OMG ponies!

Ahem. You should be sure to check it out.

Friday, September 14, 2007

I Think They Meant "Luge"

Alison and I have been quite happy with our iRobot Roomba Scheduler vacuum-cleaning robot. That's why, when I learned about iRobot's upcoming Looj gutter-cleaning bot, I immediately thought, "My mom needs that." That way, she won't ask me to clean the gutters every single time I visit Atlanta. If only there were a robot that would make her stop telling me that my hair is too short.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Newton is Growing Up

The funniest thing happened on our walk today. least I think it was funny. Not to mention super cute!

As we were walking along, two fire trucks drove past us with their lights and sirens blaring. Newton stopped walking, watched them for a few seconds, then threw his head back and said, "Aruuu...rurururu"! He howled. My fluffy, small, white Bichon HOWLED. It was the cutest, tiniest howl ever! OK, fine, it wasn't this cute and tiny, but it was pretty cute and tiny. Just don't tell Newton I said so. He thinks he's a fierce wolf. ;)

Politics on the Brain?

I heard about this today and thought it was fascinating! If you have access to the actual scientific journal article I highly recommend checking it out. It was published in Nature Neuroscience in the September 9, 2007 issue.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Like a Record, Baby

Here's an unutterably hilarious xkcd comic from the archives. Once again, be sure to hover over for the long caption.

Monday, September 10, 2007

You Creep Me Out, Dear

Those of you who are our friends in meatspace may be aware that Alison once considered a career in forensics. It's not surprising, therefore, that she often enjoys watching forensics-centric TV series, both fiction and nonfiction. Recently, this fascination has kicked up a notch. Alison usually gets home before I do, so I often come home to find her watching Cold Case Files, Forensic Files, or Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. All this talk of serial killers, rapists, and child molestors---oh my!---is making me question the worth of humanity. This could just be a deal-breaker.

How-To: Mod a Nerf Revolver: Part 2

My last post demonstrated how to modify the Nerf Maverick revolver to let the cylinder swing all the way out and spin freely. This post will show you how to mod the "weapon" to shoot slightly farther.

First, disassemble the gun as a I described last time. Then pull the cylinder out. Pry off the orange plug pressed onto the end of the axle, which will allows you to pull the axle out.

The cylinder is made of two parts. Unscrew and remove the back part, and you will see the orange spikes onto which the darts, which are hollow, slide.

Pull the spikes out, and you will find a spring and flow limiter behind each one.

Discard all 6 of the flow limiters and 5 of the springs. Put the spikes back in place and reassemble the cylinder, but don't put it back on its axle yet. This omission of the limiters and the springs will allow more air to flow to the darts.

Slide the reserved spring onto the axle. Then slide on the cylinder. The spring will help keep the cylinder pressed up against the plunger mechanism, thus preventing air from escaping between the plunger mechanism and the cylinder.

Now reassemble the revolver and unleash your fury upon your spouse. Or on a smooth, flat surface. Your choice.

In our testing, Team Grondul found that a gun with the cylinder mod from the last post and the mod describe herein fired, on average, about 5 or 6 feet further than a gun with only the cylinder mod, when all 6 darts were discharged from each gun while it was held at an angle of about 30 degrees.

How-To: Mod a Nerf Revolver: Part 1

A long time ago in a blog very nearby, I reviewed the Nerf Maverick revolver and promised to post a how-to on the mods I've made to it. Here, finally, is the first of them:

In stock form, the Maverick's cylinder only swings out about 20 or 30 degrees, just far enough to load a couple of darts at a time. Additionally, the cylinder doesn't spin continuously; its rotation is quantized into increments 360/6 = 60 degrees. These 2 shortcomings make reloading in the heat of a harmless, foam shoot-out time-consuming and frustrating. This post will show how to mod your Maverick's cylinder to swing out about 90 degrees and spin more freely, increasing both the reload speed and the all-important coolness factor.

Place the "weapon" down on its left side. Remove the 3 screws holding the slide together. Remove the slide.

Remove the remaining 8 or so screws holding the right half of the frame to the left.

Lift out the cylinder, along with the gray front and rear arms that support it.

Examine the front support arm, and you will find a nub that prevents the arm from swinging out of the frame.

Use a utility knife to cut off the offending nub.

You are now halfway done. Examine the left frame, just to the rear of where the cylinder would sit. You will find another nub, this one preventing the rear arm from swinging out freely.

Cut that nub off, too.

Now reassemble the gun.

The cylinder will now swing out all the way and spin easily, enabling quick reloading and fun, nontoxic Russian roulette.

Your newly modified Maverick can now be used to rain brightly colored, suction-cup-tipped terror down upon your young nieces and nephews. But not your dog; that's just mean.

The second modification can be found here.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

As Long as Michael Bay isn't Involved

Apparently, Warmer Brothers has purchased the film rights to the 1980's transforming-mecha series, Robotech, which is the series that introduced me and a lot of people my age to anime. What's more, Tobey Maguire's production company will produce the film, and Maguire is considering staring* in it. I'm not sure what to think of this move. In many respects, Robotech was superior to the similarly themed Transformers,** and it was certainly better than Voltron, but Transformers made such an awful film, I have to worry. Maybe, if Michael Bay isn't allowed anywhere near the set or the editing room, things will work out.

* I can only guess that means he's interested in playing Rick Hunter.
** The singing was not one of them.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

500 Reps of Torture

Egads! Tomorrow's workout is going to bite.

Monday, September 03, 2007


Alison and I learned this word, strangely enough, from Bobby Hill:
soysage, noun. Artificial sausage made from soy.
I'm surprised it's taken me this long to post this neologism. I guess, since we eat soysage exclusively, and never have reason to say "sausage," I must have filed "soysage" away as a real word. "Sausage" doesn't even seem like a real word anymore. I mean, "sausage?" What is that?