Monday, December 14, 2009

John Mayer was Wrong...

...I really should start carrying a camera on me at all times.

Anyway...I drove The Tick in this morning to work.  I'd say my excuse is that I never completely winterized the car (by filling the tank up and putting Sta-Bil in it), but of course, the real reason is that it was relatively warm and I felt like driving it.  Felt good to feel closed into such a small car but with my head open to the elements (yes, I will drive top-down when it's 40deg out).  I really can't describe what a feeling I get driving it, so you'll just have to take my word for it.

I noticed that my boss's car and The Tick would have made for a wonderful Mazda ad this morning:

(pardon the crappy cell-phone pic!)

Seeing two bright Mazdas in a boring gaggle of grey, black, and navy cars was too good of a picture to pass up--even if I wasn't carrying a decent enough camera  to capture the scene.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Other Car Blogs

Just for fun, I recently started a thread on Club Roadster about car blogs folks on the forum read.  While the list isn't by any means finished, here's what we have started with:

Have a look!

Friday, October 23, 2009

1989...Coolest Year. EVAR. Part 1

When my brother Lance got married back in '04, I took the one opportunity I'd ever had for some comedy at his expense by recounting world history over the time he and Gretchen had been friends, dating, or otherwise. As I rolled over current and past events, a thought occurred to me: 1989 might have possibly been one of the most important years of my life--maybe even in recent history!

OK...maybe that's going a bit too far...

That said, some pretty cool stuff happened in '89. The 90's weren't yet here, the 80's were going out in a blaze of glory (didn't someone in the 80's sing about that once? wink, wink...), and the world was indeed going through some big changes. So what's the big deal about 1989?

Yup...time for another list! Perhaps I'll put this one in order later, but for now, these are in the order I can recall them.

10.) Lance is Gone! - For the first time in my life, I was without my big  brother. Having graduated in Perry High School's class of 1988, he headed off the next fall to Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. Even though he was only two hours away, at 8 years old, that two hours may as well have been 12. His room was still as he left it (which meant I could sneak in and play with his Star Wars stuff!), but not seeing him in front of that Apple IIe in our dining room was...weird! Since I had pretty much all good memories of growing up with him (despite Dad's telling me that that story wasn't always true), I was really missing him...the guy was my idol!

9.) Batman - If you don't remember this movie, you:
a.) Apparently have no soul
b.) Were not alive in the past century
c.) Did not watch TV or go to Taco Bell, your local shopping mall, or pretty much anywhere public in 1989
d.) Did not enjoy Diet Coke just for the taste of it

For an 8yr-old whose older brother was into comic books, the release of Batman was nothing short...of epoch-making (how's that for a play on words?). In 1989, you simply could not escape Bat-mania. The movie made $750 million in merchandising alone and, for those whose last picture of the Bat was Adam West running down the pier carrying a giant cherry bomb above his head, a completely redefined our vision of the man in the cowl. Well, that and I still randomly quote some of Jack Nicholson's lines from it to this day.

8.) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Arcade Game - I guess you could argue that X-Men or The Simpsons had more famous beat-em 'ups, but as anyone who lived through the late 80's and early 90's knows, the only other thing you couldn't escape besides Batman were the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Heck, the only reason their first live-action movie won't be on this list is that it came out in 1990.

I never had enough time or quarters to beat this one, unfortunately. Maybe one day I'll buy an old cabinet to go right next to my "one-day" Marvel vs. Street Fighter cabinet!

7.) Mom and Dad celebrate 20 years together - On November 1st, 1989, Dad dragged Spence and I out on the front lawn to take a picture with a big sign while we waited for Mom to get home.  I'm guessing given that I'm holding my RC car that he had to bribe us a little bit to do it (though making Mom smile didn't take much bribing on our part!).  Of course, I wasn't thinking about it at the time, but this was a pretty big moment for them.  These days, 20 years of doing anything is to be commended--to be married for that long is nothing short of astounding.  The only thing that makes this moment any less significant is that in a little over a week, they'll have been married for double that!

Well, that's it for the first installment.  I'll be adding to the list periodically.  Share some of your experiences from '89 if you're interested :-)


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Odd Stuff of the Day - The Garden of Las Pozas

It all started with a song I couldn't get out of my head. If you've seen the recent "V" Vizio ads, you know what I'm talking about:

After running around all day yesterday with that song stuck in my head, I decided to look up where the tune came from, and that's where the story begins.  The song is "We Are the People" by Empire of the Sun, an electronic duo from Australia:


The video for the song was shot in various locations in Mexico.  The most striking of these was the garden of Las Pozas, a surrealist concrete garden built between 1949 and 1984 by Edward James.  As the story goes, James, a British poet and patron of surreal art, wanted to build a veritable Garden of Eden but decided that his current location of Southern California was unsuitable.  Heading for Mexico, he contracted a guide and together they found a location in Xilitla, San Luis Potosi.  Already home to several natural pools and waterfalls, Las Pozas was built at a cost of $5M US.  It has a collection of temples, stairways, arches, and palaces, among other features.

Looks like I've got another destination for the bucket list!


Friday, August 28, 2009

Ten Years? Really?

For those that don't know, I graduated from the University of Cincinnati on Friday, June 13th, 2003. There are any number of reasons I happen to remember that date (mostly because it was Friday the 13th...seriously, who graduates their class on Friday the 13th--they couldn't have waited until Saturday?). It's kind of crazy to think I've stayed in one place this long. However, if you count my time at UC (UUUUUUU KNOW!), I've been here for over 10 years! Of course, that means...

le sigh...'s time for my 10yr reunion this weekend.

Oh, I'm not really scared, disappointed, or anything bad like that. It's just kind of crazy. My class (thankfully, I think) skipped its 5-year for whatever reason (I'm guessing Matt and Meagan were busy getting married, which I can definitely understand, having tied the knot myself), so for some of the folks in my 364-person class, this will be the first time I've seen them in a decade. A decade? Really? Think of just what's happened in the world in a decade...think of the famous folks who died, the fact that we've had three Presidents take office (and all the hilarity that ensues)...geez, too many things to think of otherwise! Point is, it's amazing to think of what happens in ten years and even funnier to think that I'll walk up to someone this weekend and say:

"So...what's been happening?"

Loaded question if I ever heard one.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Yay...I've been scammed!

Thought I'd throw this one out there for everyone. Just a warning.

Just today, I received a relatively unmarked envelope from Canada, of all places. Here's what I saw:

Now, in case you didn't get a good enough look at the check on the right, here it is:
If you read the letter closely, you'd see that apparently, Homelife Trust is offering me $25,000US and all I have to do is cash the check attached and send in $2500 to pay for taxes on my $25,000 which is supposedly part of a stimulus package (considering I already got the homebuyer's credit, that's more than a little odd). So...I get $2500 for nothing with the promise of about $20k more? In the words of mah homey Admiral Ackbar:

Basically, you can deposit the check, but eventually, the bank will figure out it's a fake and come after you for the full amount. Hopefully by that point, you a.) haven't spent any of your ill-gotten gains or b.) have not been stupid enough to actually send the jerkwads the $2500 to cover taxes. If you've done either or both, now you're out $5k and you've got no one to blame but yourself.

You have been warned.

Monday, August 10, 2009

"Top 10" of Sorts

Trying to break from my rule of car-only topics (hey, The Tick is running, and not much has changed), I'm going to break up what is normally the NHL off-season to talk about something I thought about while I was washing the dishes tonight. Those of you who have known me long enough know that I have been a hockey fan since my brother Lance started at Carnegie Mellon back around 1990. I'm not sure what I can exactly call the start of my love of hockey, but I'm guessing it was the combination of one of the coolest logos I've ever seen and the fact that, as a Gen Y kid, I am genetically doomed to take up whatever my Gen X brother thinks is cool.

Ok...that was one of the longest sentences I've seen quite awhile! Moving on.

What I want to talk about today is a list of my favorite players in NHL history. I'll preface this by saying that this is not a list of the greatest players ever. Several of the players had their glory days before I was really able to follow NHL coverage regularly and a lot of my memories are full more of rosy nostalgia than concrete numbers. To that point, all of the players on this list have played during my lifetime--sorry, Bobby Orr...

Oh yeah...Wayne Gretzky is NOT on this list. If that offends you, close this window and politely bugger off. He's just not one of my favorites and never will be. End of story.

On to the list!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Live from Vienna, Austria - HGM, Reumannplatz, and Alisha and Brian's Office

Christy's dad and I went to the Museum of Military History yesterday as sort of a guys' activity. Me in a museum is like a kid in a candy shop--even if most of the exhibits are noted in another language! We really had a good time and I took LOOOOOTS of are a few:

Here's the car Archduke Franz Ferdinand was shot in that basically started WWI:

The upper turret and one of the rudders from a B-24 Liberator shot down during WWII:

The first production Albatros BI reconnaissance aircraft:

The funeral arrangements for Prince Eugene of Savoy:

The museum is housed in the center of what once was the arsenal of the Austrian army as seen in the two photos below:

The halls of the building contain beautiful frescoes commemorating Austria's imperial history under the Hapsburgs, some of which I tried to take photos of. These do not do justice to just how amazing they look in person!

It also contains many statues, many of which are of various figures in the empire and can be found in the entrance hall:

The museum contained many artifacts that are multiple centuries old, which simply blows my mind. How many times to you get to see 400 year old flags?

Okay, enough gushing about the museum. Time to move on and cover the rest of the day!

We met up with Christy and Alisha and took the U-bahn over to Reumannplatz to go to Tichy (Tee-kee) Eis Salon, one of the better ice cream joints in town (there are lots, by the way!). While we were eating our ice cream in the park nearby, I got up to take a couple pictures:

I last snapped a shot of the memorial to the victims of Fascism 1933-1945

Once we got back to Alisha and Brian's place, we decided later to head out to the mission office. While we were walking along, I decided to play with the low-light settings on the camera. Most of the shots turned out bad and were trashed, but some I kept:

After a short walk, we arrived at the newly painted office and had a look around.

We got to ride on the S-bahn (Strassenbahn) back to the U-bahn station. On the walk back to the apartment, we found that a group of snails had decided to have a race. Man, this city has everything!

One parting shot for tonight...the valiant Sharkdog (the coolest Beagle I've ever met):

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Live from Vienna, Austria - Leopoldsberg and Centimeter (or, How to Eat Your Meal On a Sword!)

Busy days abound!

Today, we went up to Leopoldsberg to have a look at the city from a different perspective. Unfortunately, it was a little hazier than we'd hoped, but I was still able to get some decent pictures. I was just bowled over by how beautiful the area is around Vienna. I was just as impressed by how densely packed people are here. Houses, apartments, shops, and cafés--all of them are just stuck wherever there's space; the streets are quite narrow as a result. However, folks always seem to be either moving about or sharing a conversation at a
café everywhere you look. It's a very different lifestyle from what I'm used to at home. Anyway, here are a couple pictures from Leopoldsberg:

After we came back down, we met up with Brian and went over to Centimeter V where we enjoyed Das Schwert, a meal of Weiner Schnitzel and porkchops on a sword over French Fries, Chicken Wings, and Chile Con Carne. It was quite a meal!

Stuffed, we decided to head for home. Unfortunately, there was a problem with one of the U-bahn trains that caused a delay. What that meant was that the train was so full that the last person barely fit in the door (and no, this photo doesn't really do that notion justice):

We ended up hopping a different train and barely even fit on that one!

(that's Christy's dad 2nd from the left behind the post next to the next door on the train)

Monday, April 6, 2009

Live from Vienna, Austria - Stephansplatz to Mariahilfer Strasse

This week, Christy and I are in Vienna with her parents to visit her sister Alisha. This is is my first ever trip to Europe (in fact, it's the first time I've ever officially left the country!). Despite the fact that we could be accused of not doing much, today was a long day full of activity. Our day started by taking the U-Bahn (subway) to Stephansplatz where we were greeted by the wonderful St. Stephen's Cathedral:

I'd never seen anything like this back home! Needless to say, I went a little crazy taking photos! Not all of them turned out well, but here are a few highlights:

Before we headed off to the Hofburg Imperial Palace, we were briefly entertained by one of the "living statues" who perform in the plaza:

On our way down the Graben, we passed the Pestsäule, a memorial to those who died during the Plauge:

The Hofburg itself is really pretty impressive. It's so massive as a facility that you almost forget that it really was someone's house (though I guess that's a pretty simplistic way to look at it)!

From there, we passed the Austrian Parliament Building, with its beautiful statue of Athena:

Next was the Rathaus, which sits across from the Hopsburgtheater:

We ended the day with a walk up Mariahilfer Strasse. This district is a perfect example of what makes this city so interesting. There are so many different people and something going on everywhere you look. For a boy from Perry Township, Ohio, it's a bit overwhelming!

Here are some articles on the places we saw today:

St. Stephen's Cathedral
Austrian Parliament
Mariahilf (the district in which Mariahilfer Strasse can be found)

More updates tomorrow!