Monday, December 31, 2012

I seem to be missing something...



This is the result of $110 billion in annual spending cuts, and they call it a "meat axe"; but the deficit is that plus $1Trillion.  Exactly how do they plan to cut the $1T if they can't even bring themselves to cut the $110 billion?  Mort Zuckerman (elsewhere) pointed out that the annual interest on the debt is actually around $360 Billion (this despite the fact that the Federal Reserve is buying the debt at whatever rate the Treasury wants to sell it at).  I just, well, don't see how this ends well, or even just 'badly'.

I'll point out again what I'd said before: there should be no more debt ceiling increases.  Make Obama and the lefties actually sell what they're shoveling instead of getting away with the back door inflation tax that only enriches the well off while piking everyone else.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

12/12/12

[Edit: BTW, what's with Glenn Reynolds recent tune obsessions?
http://pjmedia.com/instapundit/159444/
I happen to (unsurprisingly) like the Tiesto remix better, but then BT's tunes are really more of blank slate, like Way Out West, where they really only shine upon remixing.  The source tends to be under-produced (compare this to this).]

Glenn Reynolds remarks:
HAPPY 12/12/12! We won’t see this sort of date again in this century.

Or until Obama declares that it's "year zero".
--------------
 
I had been back out to Colorado for work and I had remarked to my boss that even in padding the length of time of my visit I felt rushed;
Her: "...and it's not like you want to have to move to Colorado."
Me: ...
Her: ...
Me: "OH, no.  I mean, Cleveland!  Who'd leave Cleveland for that dump? Heh heh. heh."
 
 
--------------
Speaking of travel, I keep forgetting to mention my rental car experiences.  The first car that I had rented was a Dodge Avenger (from Thrifty) which I really wanted to like and found it to be an okay vehicle.  The rental had a slightly up market interior with the leather/pleather wrapped steering wheel, auto everything, and the best sound system of the bunch.  The acceleration though, was about the same (or worse) than my Honda Fit, so I wasn't exactly blown away by whatever was supposed to live under the hood (that and Chrysler hired back the union pot heads who had a hand in building it, so I'm sure that there's plenty of post-warranty surprises hiding in that bad boy).

The second car I rented was a Nissan Altima (from Dollar).  This version had a more 'plastic fantastic' interior though everything worked right.  This car had the best acceleration, handling, and overall power of the bunch.  My one mild gripe (beyond the interior) was Nissan's efforts to chart a new course in cruise control buttons.  I don't remember what wasn't intuitive about them, but I do however remember getting used to it after a day or two.  This was also the car that I found myself easily going 110mph down the Colorado toll way with my coworker.  He exclaimed "geez, you wouldn't drive one of your own cars this fast!".  To which I said "none of my cars go this fast!".  I later discovered that he wasn't being altruistic towards rental companies, but was prone to motion sickness and was having issues with the Sandmich roller coaster.  "Just keep it around 80" he later quipped.

The last car was a Chevy Malibu (from Hertz).  An interesting story about the Honda Fit's audio system: when I was tooling around under the menus one day I noticed that it was set to adjust the volume of the radio to how loud the car was, but it was so subtle that I didn't even notice it.  The same can be said for the Avenger and the Altima, but no one would make the same mistake in the Malibu which varied from too loud to too quiet constantly, and suddenly.  The car also had a nifty light detector which would automatically turn on the lights when it was dark.  My old Matrix had a similar feature, but I don't recall it ever flashing everything off and on whenever I hit an early morning shadow in the road.  Turning off this feature (as I recall, the Matrix just played with the exterior lights and left the driver to tune the interior however they wanted it) would lead to some sort of "light management interface hell" where the dash would flash and essentially tell you to turn the auto-lights back on because GMs crappy software knows better than you when to turn on and off.  The icing on the cake was a trunk support above the spare tire that was already worn out and looked like something out of my '84 Tercel.  I constantly worried about items slipping under bent up cardboard into the well for the spare.  Granted the interior was nice, but it all somehow felt 'cheap', like the cruise control buttons that looked like they were pulled from an '84 Tercel as well; as if one good bump would shake loose all that good looking interior muck and land it all on my lap.

By the way, of the three rental places, at least in Denver, I preferred Dollar.  Hertz was the only one that wouldn't let me choose a car, they charged too much for it, and it was crap.  However, it was on work's tab and my boss suggested it as I could rack up big time frequent flier miles in doing so.  Dollar also has an all-u-can-eat toll charge of $35, which I'm not sure how they make money on that (Thrifty was $55 if I recall, and Hertz, supposedly, just passes the toll charges to your credit card).

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Post-Apocalyptic


The Fallout series of games take place after a nuclear apocalypse and earlier I had briefly mentioned Fallout 3 (which takes place in the post war Washington DC area).  The game (especially the game-of-the-year edition) comes with a huge variety of quests, mini-quests and encounters as you wander the wasteland.  I keep meaning to point out two that stuck in my mind.

While just wandering around, I came upon a slaver camp.  I should point out that 99% of the encounters with bandits, slaves, slavers, etc. are white/Caucasian NPCs.   Anyway, not being a big fan of slavers I took it upon myself to be inquisitive...with my assault rifle.  It turned out that the guy running the slaver camp was a black 'preacher' by the name Eulogy Jones.  Since I used non-verbal methods to invade the camp and never got to speak to him without many bullets inside of him, I kind of wondered what Mr. Jones's story was, but I did get a nice suit out of the deal anyway.  (As an aside to this, in an add-on where a former military man has turned Pittsburgh into a glorified slave colony, the master of the colony is also black).

Later in the game there is an interesting side quest surrounding one Mr. Tenpenny.  Tenpenny had set up a quiet oasis in an old hotel in the wastelands, but no black people ghouls (semi-civilized zombies) were allowed to live there.  Naturally the ghouls living underground nearby resented Tenpenny and felt that they should be allowed to live there as well.  The quest kind of kicks off with either encountering the ghoul leader in their shelter, or entering Tenpenny Tower as it's called, as a couple of ghouls get turned away at the gate.
Tenpenny Tower


Before continuing, I'll point out that in Fallout there's a 'karma' characteristic where you can be either good (help people, kill only bad guys, etc.) or bad (thieving, help bad guys, etc.).  Being good brings some long term benefits later in the game while being bad gives you (generally) short term benefits early in the game.  For the Tenpenny quest, the game guides you into good karma by working to give the ghouls a chance to live at Tenpenny Towers.  Every time the player kicks an anti-ghoul human out of the tower, or convinces another human to the idea of letting the blacks ghouls live in the Tower, the player's karma is improved.  After enough hard work Tenpenny finally relents and allows human and ghoul to live side by side in peace.

It seems a lot of players leave it at that, but if you return to Tenpenny Towers a few days later you discover that the ghoul junta has wiped out the humans.  Speaking to the new ghoul residents leads to reactions like "oh that's a shame, the white people humans didn't seem that bad, but oh well...".   Although a nice prize is given for helping the ghouls I couldn't help but feel sick and I have a hard time believing that whoever scripted the event wasn't in on the double meaning.

Anyway in the end, as with the slavers, I let my assault rifle do the talking; karma be dammed.

A Sandmich-Drudge Connection

Drudge links to this story about a driver who drove up on the sidewalk to get around a school bus that was waiting to pick up a disabled child.  Interestingly enough, or not, Mrs. Sandmich herself played a part in this story and the entire reason that the event was filmed to begin with.

For a time, Mrs. Sandmich had a job on the near east side of Cleveland.  On her first day of work she saw a woman drive on the sidewalk to get around the traffic waiting behind a stopped school bus that was waiting to pick up a disabled child. And then Mrs. Sandmich saw this same woman do it again the next day, and the next day, and so on.  She finally asked the bus driver what was up and the driver said that "she always does that" and then said that it wasn't important enough for the local law (Cleveland) to do anything about.

Mrs. Sandmich then took it upon herself to call the police to report the issue.  "Not our problem" they said, "that's the traffic cops, get them to come out and stop her".  She calls the traffic cops, but they regret to inform her that they don't get into work until eight (am), so they can't do anything about the incident which was happening around 7:30am.

I kid you not.

The whole reason the video exists is that Mrs. Sandmich relayed from the traffic cops to the bus driver that if they got it on film that the traffic cops would bust the woman after the fact.  Knowing this, the bus driver got the incident on video and what passes for law enforcement in Cleveland roused themselves long enough to bring her in.

And yes, this is the same city that had the time to bust vendors in that same section of town for selling single cigarettes.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

30

Happy birthday to my youngest brother who turns 3-0 today! I'll point out again that for the next exciting two and a half months, myself and my five siblings are all in our thirties.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Benghazi

The more I hear about this thing, the uglier it gets.  So a theory is that Obama, who needs cover to release the blind sheik to placate Muslims (right) arranges for his consulate staff to be kidnapped so that he can exchange the sheik for our staff?!?  Or is it that Obama wanted to clear up loose ends of illegal arms dealing to Libyan rebels?  Any way you slice it, weak incompetence is at the heart of Obama's foreign "diplomacy" and all it's doing is getting Americans (preferably white ones) killed for no good reason.

Someone should tell him that the Muslims gave money to Mitt Romney, maybe that will make him slight less incoherent.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Event Horizon

[Update 4: It turns out that all Romney had to do was to get everyone who voted for McCain to show up and vote for him, which he couldn't do apparently.  I hope Americans like what the Western Hemisphere looks south of the border, because that's paying a visit to us here, but I fear the visitor will never leave...]

[UPDATE 3: Well, this is just crazy talk, or is it?  I'm of a similar mind though.  Most would agree that the polls are wrong; for example, the RCP poll average has Obama winning Ohio bigger than he did in '08?  Really?  Even a doom and gloomer like myself has a real hard time buying that.  So I would think that either A) Obama edges a narrow victory by looping in the hopelessly dependent gulags of Ill., Cali., NY, and their hangers-on and enough other useful idiots to pull him across, or the polls are way-crazy stupid wrong and Romney smokes himself some cheap, Kenyen dope.]

[UPDATE 2: After playing around with the map here I've determined the obvious: that it's pretty impossible for Romney to win without both Florida and Ohio.  He can lose Virginia but then he'd need some help from unreliable places like Iowa, New Hampshire, and Colorado.  I was hoping the opposite was true, but it's actually not all that hard for Obama to win without winning Ohio, Florida and Virginia.  I agree with Michael Barone though in that if Obama starts losing states like Wisconsin, it's unlikely that he'll pick up the rest of the slate that he needs to pull him across the finish line.  Just an aside as well, I don't think that it would bode well for the future (and would actually further reinforce the point of this blog post) if Obama were to win while losing in places like Wisconsin, Iowa, and/or Minnesota.]

[Update: I'm more than happy to have to eat some crow on this post, and it really says something about Obama as well that it looks like he's going to lose to someone who lost in the primary against the guy Obama beat in 2008, who, McCain, in turn lost to GWB in 2000; that's like super loser status for ol' liver lips.  In fairness as well, as I've said on several occasions, only someone as dreadful as Obama could get me to vote for Romney.  My hope for the future now is that we run out of money before we cross the debt horizon (if we haven't already).]

Mrs. Sandmich related a tale of seeing a former squeeze of Kid Sandmich who was at work while wearing an Obama button of some sort.  Big surprise there, she's a single, white, anthropology student at a local college; does someone like that even have any aspirations at all to be a member of the productive class of society?  As I also related (and this is an observation I may have stolen from Rush Limbaugh, but it's pretty common sensical) that single women* are losers and they need big government to be their husbands because it's obvious that no real man wants anything to do with them. They're also overly concerned with birth control for sex that they'll never have, abortions for babies they'll never conceive and health care for diseases that they'll no doubt contract in an effort fight those two inevitabilities.  I've also seen feigned interest in loony lefty causes like politically driven environmentalism, animal rights, and food fascism since their lack of a family gives them plenty of time to worry about bullsh!t that doesn't matter.

That's one big group that's in the bag for Obama.  Heck, Bill Clinton had that group in the bag even though he was (more than likely) a sexually harassing rapist.  What other bandwagon pals can Obama count on?

  • "Organized Labor".  Private unions haven't figured out that public unions are the Borg that will annihilate them.  Government bureaucrats hate the working class by nature of their positions.  Public school teachers, although nominally government union workers themselves, have just started to figure this out, but too late I'm afraid.  The government elite will makes slaves of them all, union or no.  Too late to change course now, full steam ahead into the abyss says the AFL/CIO!
  • The "elderly".  It's been said that the WWII generation had the hardest childhood and the easiest retirement, while their kids had the easiest childhood, and the hardest retirement.  It matters not that the full money printing panic is making them poorer every minute; current and near-future retirees can see death's finish line in their sight and they figure that Obama can drag them there with the most ease and comfort before the systems that they depend on blow up and everyone who is left (alive) is stuck eating dog (like Obama).
  • The Free Sh!t Army (aka, the FSA).  Free school, free child care, free food, free phones; you name it, President Obama Camacho has your goodies ready at the trough.  One day the trough will be empty though, and the FSA will discover that they have been betrayed as the nation was destroyed in an effort to keep the trough filled and that there's now no great resources to fall back on.  Oops!  I also have to point out though, that in addition to the FSA, there is the FSA's support network, the trough fillers if you will.  That group is also heavy on the Obama bandwagon.  Heck, making the FSA not-FSA would endanger their jobs as trough fillers!
  • Rich (mostly coastal) Elites.  The more people made beggars by the government, the cheaper high end goodies and lawn care will be for snobs who benefit the most from currency devaluation, poor government performance, and any manner of other social ills that help destroy the middle class so that the American Oligarchs can reign over the land uncontested.  It's always fun to see lefties try to put the screws to Romeny for being rich while never wondering in their itty bitty heads why rich geniuses like Warren Buffet and George Soros (to say nothing of Jon Corzine) are so supportive of Obama and his policies.
  • Religious Nut Jobs.  I'm not referencing people who actually have religious values, oh no.  I speak, of course, of those who think that (ironically mostly Christian) religious values should be further espoused by the government.  The fact that such values are bankrupting the nation and are often having the exact opposite effect that they desire is a non-issue: it merely means that enough has not yet been done!
I, and a lot of people, have been amazed at the ability of our elites to punt our economic ills this far.  How much further can they push it?  Days?  Months?  Years?  Who knows, but it's certainly less time than people want it to be.  The economy is currently being held together by horrific government debt levels, and trickle down wealth from bankers made rich by Fed policies (policies which have impoverished everyone else), both of which are unsustainable.  The question mulled over by many is: has it gone too far?  Have we crossed the event horizon where escape is now impossible and our only exit is through the black hole of national insolvency, currency destruction, and possible national dissolution?  Or is it still possible to burn off our debt overhang, to put the nation's economy back on a traditional, sustainable path and to see a brighter future within all of our lifetimes?  

Romney may not have the chops to try to get us away from the black hole (should he even believe in it's existence), but Obama certainly doesn't, and one would be willing to bet that Obama doesn't care about the black hole even if he has knowledge of it (somebody else's problem to him).  But that's what it is to me.  Can someone do as BAD a job as Obama, someone who has the nation's worst interests at heart and still get re-elected? 

My guess is: yes**.  You never know that you've passed the event horizon until you try to escape, and by the time you realize that you need to escape, it's far, far too late.

*Just to be clear, single women != divorced women

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Yeah, What He Said...

Trying desperately to study up for Oracle's Java exam, but a single sentence carries the same effect as a bottle of dramamine, and a paragraph can put down a horse:
However—what if you have a non-static method that accesses a static field? Or a static method that accesses a non-static field (using an instance)? In these cases things start to get messy quickly, and there's a very good chance that things will not work the way you want. If you've got a static method accessing a non-static field, and you synchronize the method, you acquire a lock on the Class object. But what if there's another method that also accesses the non-static field, this time using a non-static method? It probably synchronizes on the current instance (this) instead. Remember that a static synchronized method and a non-static synchronized method will not block each other—they can run at the same time. Similarly, if you access a static field using a non-static method, two threads might invoke that method using two different this instances. Which means they won't block each other, because they use different locks. Which means two threads are simultaneously accessing the same static field—exactly the sort of thing we're trying to prevent.
In fairness, I've tried repeatedly to saw through MSDN articles on Microsoft's various "multithreading schemes", but can't saw more than a paragraph or two off before the eyes glaze over. Not from lack of understanding mind you, just utter and complete boredom (though I did chose to work on this rather than subject myself to the presidential debates, so I guess it still trumps some forms of..."entertainment").

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Replacement Regulators

The good Doctor sent me this link on the NFL replacement refs:

The regular NFL referees are back at work, their labor dispute with the league having been resolved. Good. The replacement refs who worked the first three games of the season were poor. However, the performance of the replacements didn’t just highlight their own shortcomings. They also highlighted imperfections in the pro game itself.
The article then dives into some of the byzantine rules for the game. I know at one point in time I had remarked that American football is a highly regulated game for a highly regulated society. I know rugby fans have pointed out that their sport has all the action of American football and more, but doesn't suffer from the rule and delay overloads. From what I hear, the lack of padding makes rugby actually safer than American football.

So the intentions of American football (like American government) are good, but the end result is an unmanageable morass (as they say about "good intentions").  First they needed less rugby related injuries so they got pads.  The pads made the players more impervious so they needed more pads.  The protection turned into a weapon itself so there are rules about face masks, horse collar tackles, helmet-to-helmet, "undefended receiver" hits, etc.  Repeat this process for every facet of the game where an unbalanced fairness issue crops up and then you end up with stuff like 'illegal formation' or 'illegal shift'.

As far as the replacement refs, I didn't think they were bad, they were just different, kind of like if the guy inspecting your restaraunt changes and the new guy cares about different stuff than the old guy.

Along those lines then, I think the major complaint was related to consistency. The regular refs have been calling games years and the crews are kept together so I think what aggravated the players and coaches was that they were used to having, say, crew "A" with the set refs and umps and they would basically know how the game was going to be called (how loose pass interference is, how anal they are about holding, etc.). Another piece is that the NFL didn't seem to give two sheets about the replacement refs. They didn't seem to get much training and the NFL office would only begrudgingly stand behind them. Given the fact that the NFL wanted to avoid getting sucked into a long term liability of a defined pension plan (why in the hell are they unionized anyway?), it seems like they should have made a more concerted effort to give the replacement refs the best chance for success.

BTW, I myself didn't see anything all the outrageous about that Seattle touchdown pass.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Drunk Blogging 2

Ooof, using a batch of 'turbo yeast' I made a batch of homemade 'rum'.  I figured I would at least relate the fact that homemade booze has a tendency to sneak up on you (as a warning). The conspiracy theory around how low proof alcohols are manufactured (beer, bottom shelf booze, etc.) is that they distill ALL the alcohol out of it and then put the proper amount of 'canned alcohol' after the fact (from a home brewers perspective, it's really difficult to arrive at a specific alcohol content without using this method).  It's interesting then the affects (effects?) of home brew booze as it seems to drink like water, until you suddenly need the computer's spellchecker to spell words like 'booze'.

I'll note only for the time being that Mrs. Sandmich* is upset at my little bro (I only have little bros, all of them great, except for one, HA!**) for introducing me to Archer.  It's a royally fun show, but I must admit that it's even more fun with some home brew.  It reminds me a bit of this Futurama intro that I found mildly amusing.

*I'll admit now that on more than one occasion Mrs. Sandmich has kindly volunteered to drive us home from a bar after I partake in...too many, er, "spirits".  On these occasions though, I'm always amused that I'm never so drunk that I think that I would be the worst driver on the road.

**Just kidding, they're all great!  Dr. Kendall related a tale from my last drunk blog, and while sober, I had to admit that I didn't recall which sibling went with wich, umm, which, umm, you get my piuint.  Time for a gin and tonic and more Archer!

Friday, August 31, 2012

August Diary

We finally made it to the shooting range with Sally and her sister.  I must confess that my horrid shooting shone through yet again as Sally, who had never shot before, had way better aim than me.

There was a tea party rally in downtown Cleveland (a couple of near-do-well attendees pictured).  The crowd was decent sized, especially for a union backwater like Northeast Ohio, but the lack of press coverage surprised even my cynical self.  Perhaps the next time it can be a tea party / puppy adoption marathon and the press will be guaranteed to show up!

My brother-in-law kindly purchased these pricey bottles for me at a place in Ann Arbor and I had been neglectful in telling him how the worked: great!  Although the bottles were non-too-cheap, it might amaze him to know that a place with $150/lb ham (no joke) sells this type of bottle for the cheapest price that I've found.  Some microbrews use them, and although they cost a bit more, at least they come filled with beer.  Thanks a bunches for the bottles bro, they're easier than capping!
File this under "do not eat this".  Mrs. Sandmich had brought some blank CDs home from one of her acquaintances, but they had oddly left the clear and black plastic spacers in the sandwich bag.  I guess they had to write on the clear one to keep from using it (which made me wonder if they'd try to use the black spacer when they got to the bottom). 

Cute!  A favorite joke of mine is that some people come over and say that they'd love to have a dog like that, to which I say "how about one exactly like that?"
Some interesting college notes.  Kid Sandmich had taken a math entrance exam for the local community college and did horrible on it.  This, as I theorized, was due to the fact that he rushed through it so as he could get back to screwing around.  I gave hime the benefit of the doubt though, figuring that he was rusty.  Low and behold, his remedial math class starts up and he remarks how bored he is since he already knows it all, to which myself and Mrs. Sandmich both remark that he should have spent more friggin' time on the entrance exam so that he wouldn't have to take that class.  Good thing we're making HIM pay for it, perhaps he'll learn a lesson in patience and frugality, eventually.

As well, Sally had to rearrange her schedule to avoid taking a $440 a credit hour hit if she went over the local college's 16 credit hour limit (this was put in place so that they could build more buildings).  For her trouble she was dumped into an upperclassmen level chemistry class with 170 students (to which she say she has to show up early to avoid sitting in the cheap seats).  I recall a defender of brick and mortar universities saying that STEM fields in particular are immune to online universities and that only computer science-ie stuff works online since those type of students bring their own 'lab' with them.  But what, pray tell, is the difference between an online chemistry class and one that has 170 friggin' people in it?  (I mean, besides the inconvenience of having to crowd into a lecture auditorium).

Finally a congrats to my brother/in-law/sister/in-law on our latest niece and nephew.  Belatedly a little bit on the niece to be sure (do try to be born closer together), but still, the more nieces and nephews the merrier!  BTW, keep nude baby pics to yourself. ;-)

NOT my car


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Colorado Thoughts #2

For #1 from back in February see here.  Otherwise, I was looking at the photos on my old phone and figured I'd finally get around to dumping a LATE post.
 
Firstly, at the end of the last post I remarked that rental company should let me know when the snow is up to my bumper, hahahahaha! ha......
Anyway, I guess they generally don't get a lot of snow there as I think that there's four salt trucks for the whole state.  This made for some real white knuckle driving at times and I stand corrected as far as failing to rent four wheel drive.
 
My brother was kind enough to take me out for a brief hike in the mountains, a first for me:

Not pictured: Oxygen, as there isn't any.
All around were these exotic boulders/rocks which Mrs. Sandmich later informed me are something called "granite":
 
I was going to have a separate post about my Portland trip, but since my posting time is tight I figured I'd post a picture that says it all:
EV station at a Portland area Walgreen's
This brings up a larger point that bounced around in my head in visiting both places.  The cares, concerns, motivations, environment, etc. of the people in both places are all subtly different enough to produce a people that are just different from those of us in northeast Ohio (I begrudgingly include myself for the point of this exercise).  Not 'bad' different or anything like that, but by necessity the lives that they live day to day aren't the same.  Do people in these places know this?  Are they satisfied having a Dennis Kucinich character dictate to them what kind of laws they should live under?  Likewise, why do the people in Ohio tolerate the idea of living under the yoke of bad ideas inevitably churned out by the legislative idiots produced by places like Washington and Oregon?

Federalism is an idea long past revisiting.  People in Ohio, Oregon, Colorado, etc. have their own ideas about how life should be lived and it may well be that those ideas are best for the people in those particular areas, but it's sloppy to try and mix those colors and apply it to everyone.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Small Talk

Drudge (and others) note the TSA "chat" downs.  I have to say that I was "subjected" to this on a recent flight and found it amusing that being friendly and talking to people was a strategy that the TSA had to intentionally implement.  I thought so little of it (I even knew what the dude was doing and why) that I didn't think to mention it, perhaps because the TSA guy did most of the talking ("Oh you're going to X?*  Why I...."etc.).  It seemed like the guy was relieved to be assigned to some task other than "be an asshole all day" and I didn't want to spoil it for him.

I can see where some of the controversy is in the latest dust up (the TSA isn't law enforcement and has no business playing pretend police), but along with the 'racial profiling' accusation I'm almost (almost) of a mind that the TSA was starting to get a clue about how to do it's job; but there will be none of THAT in our fine Federal government!

*Sorry, I don't remember which flight it was, but I really want to say it was the January Denver flight.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

July Diary

School
First, I should note that after blowing off a couple weeks in the early spring, I've found myself way behind where I need to be in pursuit of my economical bachelors degree.  I spent a great deal of my free time in July plowing through assignments and I'm nearly on track with where I need to be, thankfully.
Fit as a Fiddle
Needing more time for school work, I shelved some work out days and unfortun-ate-ly didn't do the whole 'eating less' thing too.  This has resulted in a 10 pound weight gain over the last month and a half (about 5%).  No biggie until you visualize carrying around a 10 pound weight with you where ever you go.  Needless to say, it's protein bars and veggies until I can get back down to my binge weight again.
Along the 'Fit' lines, I had commented to a coworker that Mrs. Sandmich and I would be doing about twenty hours of driving over an extended weekend.  She looked at my Honda Fit and mournfully remarked that "we'd be getting a divorce".   Since the road trip is over, I can say with confidence that divorce was never in the cards; however, whether it was me playing music Mrs. Sandmich didn't like, or Mrs. Sandmich not liking the music that I was playing, I can't completely rule out the possibility of murder.
Crimethink
On a tour on the USS Cod, the guide (an old war horse) mentioned that women would be allowed to serve on submarines and made a (very) weak effort to defend the move, probably to placate the views of those who might be on the tour (which is understandable given the love that wing-nut PC lefties have for war boat tours).  Mrs. Sandmich took a mild, humorous exception to this to which the tour guide replied "you can't think that...".  Can't think that?  I took great exception to this, not caring about making the rest of the tour uncomfortable.  That kind of (not) thinking needs to be stomped out where it is found.
Game of Throes
I incurred a hand injury while trying to get the Platinum trophy in SSX and I've been instead putting the PS3 to work in playing my collection of perfectly legally acquired digital content.  Among these was the HBO series A Game of Thrones.  My hope was for a medieval action series, and instead what I got was a medieval themed soap opera.  I finally gave up on the series after I came to a conclusion that it was never going to settle down into a rut and that the purpose of each new episode was to find some new excuse to display some outrageous amount of violence (especially against women and children) and to portray what can only be described as pornographic levels of smut (only without the same levels of mutual respect and adoration that is in regular porn; so kind of a low brow, snuff house porno).  This series is total crap in hindsight.
Pastarama
There was this not-very-good episode of Futurama that was a glorified campaign commercial for Obama, based around the ideals of his 2008 campaign; only this episode that's full of dated material aired this year.  It is interesting though, to see how Obama believers duped themselves into buying his message.  Only in the case of Futurama writers I should say 'dupe'.
From the PD: Five People Stabbed in Nightclub at Quarter till Four in the Morning
Needless to say, 'comments are now closed for this entry'.
Whiskey
 I'll have to correct myself on something I told my dad and note that the Kentucky 'bourbon run' can now be done in a (cramped) day.  I've been unable to verify, but it looks like some of the lesser brands have pulled out of the cross promotion leaving 'only' six distilleries to visit (though you'll be mildly snookered after taking in samples that are offered at most).  I should point out though that liquor sales are booming so more than half the distilleries have amazing palaces for visiting areas (Four Roses (the weakest, but still nice), Maker's Mark, Heaven Hill (which also has a whiskey museum of sorts), and Woodford Reserve) while the rest (Jim Beam and Wild Turkey) are in the process of aggressively updating.  (I should also note that the stores of those places won't rock the distributor boat and their easier to find wares (Jim Beam Black Label, etc.) can be found cheaper elsewhere, but it's usually still cheaper than Ohio).
Chinese Food
 The aforementioned Sally and I ate at a Chinese restaurant near the Kent campus many months ago.  When we arrived I had forgotten my phone in the car and Sally went on ahead of me and got a table.  When I sat down to eyeball the menu I heard some gringos behind me ordering kung pao chicken, etc., but that stuff wasn't on my menu; the reason being that since Sally is real Chinese, we were given the real Chinese menu (whereas I'm guessing that if I went in, we'd had gotten the kung pao menu).  Skip ahead to last week when we were by Arkansas State and were treated to dinner by Sally's family at a Chinese restaurant close to the university.  When we sat down we were given gringo menus, but then gave permission for Sally's family to order food for us off of the 'real' menu (which was devoid of English).  It would appear that so many East Asian nationals attend our colleges that local Chinese restaurants cater to them and their families with "home cooking".  So a piece of Sandmich advice, if you're at a Chinese restaurant by a university, and you're feeling adventurous, ask for the 'Chinese' menu (there are some iApps that do Chinese OCR if you don't feel like asking what-is-what).

Sniper Tower of Babel
Excepting food, Sally's family, especially her father, was looking for some real American...'stuff'.  One idea I had was that we could go down to the gun range.  I ruled this out for a few reasons though.  Primarily I was concerned with communicating proper firearms procedure to Sally, who would then in turn translate those instructions to her dad.  After seeing some inconsequential things mistranslated using this process, I figured that the gun range was a poor choice of venue to see if the translation kinks had been worked out.  I also figured it would be a let down of sorts since her family lives a cheap plane ticket away from various Southeast Asian venues where they'll let you shoot a full auto 50cal machine gun at live chickens.  I later learned that Sally's dad had never fired a gun and would have loved the experience, and as Mrs. Sandmich pointed out, although he lives close to Southeast Asia, that doesn't mean the guards will let him out of that prison of a country to visit it.  "Maybe next time", I said.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Agitator

Glenn Reynolds linked to this story about the over exuberant police force in Evansville, Indiana whose SWAT force tossed a pair of flash bangs through an old lady's front window in an effort to track down someone who was posting mean messages about them on the Internet (the police, not the old lady).  Proving that they couldn't even rise to the level of 'all thumbs', police chief Billy Bolin's force's target wasn't even at the house they raided and looted all the tech gear from; and then insult on injury they refused to produce a search warrant.  The story reported that "Authorities say it should prove their point, though". What point is that?  That they're nothing but a bunch of idiot thugs that are protected by the courts? Not to sit by idly, I figured out the police chief's e-mail address (hint: first initial, last name, i.e. bbolin@evansvillepolice.com) and sent the following missive:
Looks like from this story that you are doing your best to give police a bad name everywhere.
"Authorities say it should prove their point, though."
Oh it sure does, just not the one that they want!
Your SWAT team should be dismantled. Using flash bangs against an Internet troll? I guess you would have carpet bombed the neighborhood had there been an actual threat?
Born from the crack wars, The Sandmich has cooled quite a bit towards the existence of militarized police forces like SWAT units.  It seems like a solution in search of a problem 99.9% of the time, be it no-knock raids on pot heads, or worse, the wrong houses entirely or bungling up the few things they're supposed to get right.  I fail to see what they're supposed to do that an ordinary police force can't.  (It might be argued that the existence of SWAT units provide their own deterrent, but I'd need some convincing of that).
...................................................................
Later I was reading that the busy bodies on the Parma Heights city council (the city where my underwater house unfortunately resides) decided to cash in on the 'texting' ban craziness.  The PD reports:
Texting or typing on electronic wireless communication devices while driving in Parma Heights is prohibited after City Council passed an ordinance banning those practices. The ordinance defines electronic wireless communication devices as including wireless telephones, text-message devices, personal digital assistants, computers, iPads or any similar device that is used to communicate text or data.
It goes without saying that I think this stuff is nanny-state bullshky, so I fired off an e-mail to my council person Marie Gallo (who is no doubt in the process of trying to have my street moved out of her district):
So changing the song on my iPod is an offense, but changing the radio station on the radio is not? Or does a radio with bluetooth in it count since it has wireless capabilities?
I'm starting to think that council is in session too much if they have time for this, aren't the laws regarding reckless vehicle operation enough? Guess not.
However, as an interesting addendum to that bit (none of these e-mails have gotten replies BTW), on the way home I was passed by a car that was violating the law in a MOST flagrant fashion. I was sure to alert the council person:
By the way, I noticed that the Parma Heights police officers utilize wireless enabled laptops in their vehicles; will they be giving themselves a citation each time they use the car, or only once per shift?

Friday, June 22, 2012

Beer Self Esteem

A friend linked to these dissolvable labels and it got me thinking about some beer labels that I had to remove.  For my latest four gallon batch of home brewed beer, I needed to clean up the many used beer bottles that I had sitting around.  Being occasionally extra anal, I also wanted the labels off the beer so that there would be no doubt that the product therein was my own.  It was interesting though how the different breweries affixed their labels and there seemed to be, in my mind, a correlation between the difficulty of the removal of the label, and the brewery's self esteem (or lack thereof).  First I soaked all the bottles in a tub of water and then went to remove the labels.  From highest self esteem to least:
  1. Russian beer: the fine Russian breweries obviously know that their stuff sells itself as the labels fell off the bottle when I removed them from the water.  These are mild flavored beers with roughly the same alcohol content as wine.
  2. Oregon micro-brews: these beers had great taste and a desire to recycle as their labels scraped off with minimum effort.
  3. Sam Adams: A bit of work with the plastic scraper was need to get the labels off of these bottles of somewhat drinkable beer.
  4. Dos Equis: Starting a trend in Mexican beer that desires never to be forgotten, the Dos Equis labels were like the Sam Adams labels with twice the glue.
  5. Modelo: kindly donated to my cause by my brother-in-law, these beers must have been intolerably awful as they had gold foil glued to the neck and a front and back label adhered with some sort of epoxy resin.  I gave up on the plastic scraper and used a razor blade.
  6. Corona:  The label cannot be removed as it is painted on.  This is done so that someone will not mistakenly think that they were double charged for their Bud Light.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Rot of Federal Law Enforcement

There's stories aplenty on this, such the government's inability to keep people from walking across a patch of dirt:

Each year illegal immigrants leave behind an estimated 2,000 tons of trash—including soiled diapers, plastic bottles and abandoned vehicles—in public Arizona lands along the border, Darwin said, and it’s becoming tougher to clean up the huge mess. “These are dangerous areas,” Darwin told the panel. “These are known areas of illegal immigration, illegal drug trafficking.”
Of course the Obama Overlord doesn't help when he goes out and gives lawbreakers get out of jail free cards, and health care, and a free education, and so on.  Makes one wonder why they try to stay within the letter of the law anyway.  "Destroyers of civilization", that's what Obama and his ilk are.

On the same token, one was to wonder why law enforcement bothers.  From this story John Derbyshire makes the following point:
Back to that [illegal immigrant] Hispanic couple in the forest. An outfit called the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project complained to the Agriculture Department about their treatment. You know, of course, that any group with "immigrant rights" in its title would not lift a finger to help me, who is certainly an immigrant; its entire purpose is to make a nuisance of itself on behalf of illegal Mexican immigrants.
That complaint went through the bureaucratic machinery, and this week we got a ruling from Dr. Leonard's office. Ruling: The Forest Service violated the Hispanic woman's civil rights by calling the Border Patrol to translate for them. It was, said the office, "humiliating" to Hispanics and furthermore was an illicit way to capture more illegal immigrants, which of course nobody in our federal government wants to do.
Got that? If a law enforcement officer from one Federal agency calls for assistance from the Border Patrol, which of course is another federal agency, someone's civil rights just got violated.
This makes sense to the federal government in the Age of Obama.
And then on top of that Stacy "the other" McCain notes that the FBI can't be bothered to properly investigate the left's harassment via law enforcement of their critics:

Is the FBI incompetent? Or — I hesitate to suggest this — has the Justice Department become so corrupted that even the FBI’s hard-won reputation for integrity has been compromised?
A question worth pondering perhaps, but don't worry as the FBI are hard at work tracking down crimethink (h/t Glenn Reynolds):

“Two FBI agents showed up here with a picture of Zimmerman asked me if I recognized him,” said gun dealer Khaled Akkawi, who was listed as a witness in the case. “They were pretty much asking along the lines of if he had made racial comments or anything."
So Obama/Holder have pretty much set out:
  • Black Panthers and lefties can harass whoever they want with impunity, along with that person's family and neighbors.
  • Illegal immigrant and other favored law breakers (Jon Corzine, etc.) get a pass.
  • Anyone who dares to take issue with Obama or who he views as an enemy will have their taxes audited, the SWAT team 'mistakenly' sent to their house, cleverly edited "news" stories done to vilify them, and federal law enforcement sent around to see if they had any 'naughty thoughts'.
Well, what could possibly go wrong.


Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/06/15/2851642/fbi-queried-gun-dealers-in-zimmerman.html#storylink=cpy

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Attack of the Summer Movies

Or at least some of them.  I was amazed when I was outside of a nearby theater and I realized that I could sit through all eight movies on their marquee.  I might not love them, such as schlock like Battleship, but I could sit through them.  Alas time is short so I've only seen four.


  • That Snow White Movie - Whereas teen girls could trick their boyfriends (maybe) into seeing a vampire movie, the crew that brought us Twilight has given us a movie where the boyfriends can turn the tables.  Featuring a Lord of the Rings level of medieval themed action, and 2D characters to hold place settings throughout the movie, this one ranks as 'watchable'.
  • The Avengers - Actually better than I thought it was going to be, and I thought that it was going to be pretty good.  I'm puzzled how Joss Whedon pulled off a a great look at so many complex characters, including the villain, while the Snow White and the Huntsman director couldn't pull off the same feat with half the cast.  This is obviously a movie that shouldn't be missed.
  • Men in Black 3/III - This one was definitely a surprise.  Rather than pulling the same action/comedy movie stunt and adding more characters to the storyline, this one is actually a bit stripped down and relies heavily on the modern day Abbot-Costello routine of Smith-Jones (who is aped well by Josh Brolin for better than half the movie).  I wasn't a big fan of the other two, but this one I genuinely liked and I consider it the best of the MiB bunch.
  • Prometheus - What was that deal the bit at the beginning?  And the bit at the end?  And all the bits in between?  Shorter than it wanted to be, and longer than it should have been, Prometheus makes the case that Ridley Scott has actually only made one good movie, Alien.  I know, I'm a fan of Blade Runner too (well, you probably aren't), but let's face it, the directors cut of that film is art house sci-fi.  In fact, that may have been where Ridley Scott went wrong as he may have internalized Phillip K Dick's writing strategy for his novels: a string of set pieces and ideas that are strung together in a barely coherent form.  Although I have to admit, I have no idea where Ridley Scott picked up his love of staring.  Tolerable to sit through once, but like Gladiator, you'll wonder why you did.
Staring...staring!!!  I hated that woman-character from her first appearance.  Guess who lives through the whole movie!  Prometheus would have been much better in it was just the android character (right) walking around the set as the eye candy is the only reason to show up.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Drunk Blogging

Whenever I'm ill disciplined and feel that I need proper guidance, I miss my sister.  Whenever I feel that I lack the proper motivation to clean and craft my house I miss my sister.  Whenever I feel a little short in the 'brain focus department, I miss my sister.

As well, whenever I need an honest discussion I miss my sister.  Whenever someone that will tell me that my laid back attitude is okay I miss my sister.  Whenever I need blunt insight I miss my sister.  Whenever I want to get my drink on I miss my sister.

Did I mention that I have two sisters? ;-)

On a different note, that post about US Airways was my 1000th post, believe it or not.  I scanned through, well, half the posts.  I still stand by my thought that I'm genuinely proud of probably no more than a dozen of those posts.  I found several named after songs, movies, video game characters, and even anime in an effort to be cute, but I'm afraid that creating genuine, intellectually challenging content is much harder than I thought it would be ;-)

Anyway, the bourbon has run out of my glass, be back later....

Monday, June 04, 2012

US Airways Fail

Over the past several times, whenever I've flown out of Cleveland-Hopkins (CLE), I find myself flying the reconstituted United-Continental airlines.  Since I have their credit card, I can check a bag for free, and their service (such as it is in the modern airline industry) has grown predictable to me.  Over the past six months on several flights they've gotten me to where I needed to be within the time that they promised, and although the flights have been packed I've never had to wait through an airline lottery because they overbooked.  Of interest as well is that Mrs. Sandmich had a flight that was delayed slightly due to maintenance issues and it still got to Cleveland on time.

When purchasing her ticket for a flight to New York, our guest daughter Sally purchased it from US Airways.  I was going to denigrate this decision out of hand, but a quick check of flights in the future, booked with the same lead time that she used, shows that US Airways is $100 cheaper (about 1/3 less expensive).  This sounds like a steal, if they actually happen to get you to where you are going.

Sally had a brief layover in Philadelphia on her way to New York and she called to say that the flight was delayed by an hour, which already sounded ridiculous as a cab ride was within striking distance of beating the flight at that point.  She later called to say that it was canceled and when Mrs. Sandmich called US Airways it turns out that the cancellation was due to "congestion"; in other words US Airways over-scheduled their gates and the small flight from Philly to New York drew the short straw and was canceled. I have to wonder if this is something that they're in the habit of doing: playing the lottery with their customers time in the off-chance that they can get every flight in and out of the airports in a too-tight time window in the hopes that they'll win big bucks.

With her flight canceled, Sally was given the next best option: a flight to Reagan National in DC that was departing in about thirty minutes (she found out that her flight in Philly had been canceled around 8pm), and then a 7am flight from Washington to New York.  Now the main issue that I have with this is that Philly to New York is two friggin' hours away driving, but it was going to take US Airways nearly 12 hours, and more than 18 hours total to fly her there (which is actually more time than driving from Cleveland to New York!).  Sally initially said that she would take that ticket, but then seconds later when she conferred with her uncle in New York, she said that she would cancel out and try to get her bags since her uncle said that he would drive down from New York to get her.  Mrs. Sandmich was on the phone with US Airways and got them to cancel her two checked bag fees and, generously enough, her flight from Philly to New York.

That left me puzzled.  US Airways said that they couldn't refund the flight from Cleveland to Philly since that was "consumed".  They're not selling milk though, they're selling a destination; as if they get the option of getting you to a destination whenever they feel like it and however they want to go about it once you set foot on their plane.  It's like with any sold service: half finished isn't "half finished", it's completely unfinished.  Would anyone buy a half done haircut or a half done engine rebuild, it'd be better for the service not to have been performed at all!

To add insult on injury, one of Sally's bags found it's way onto the flight to DC (I should point out that Sally said that she could have more easily understood if both her bags went).  US Airways was kind enough to fly it up to New York and and charge her $50 for the honor of having her baggage get to her too late to accompany her on her flight to China so that she then has to pay again to have it shipped to China.  Mrs. Sandmich called to complain but US Airways stands steadfastly by their crappy customer service, that they went over and above in getting someone half way to her destination and getting her baggage all messed up.

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Pizza Dough FAQ

Previously I figured that to make real pizza dough I needed to plan around making the dough and letting it rise.  I typically went about this by using a breadmaker, but it was tiresome to start the dough an hour and half (or so) before making the pizza for dinner.  It was more of chore than anything else and the results were usually less than stellar.  Kind of accidentally I came across this no-rise pizza dough recipe that I've now been using for years:
http://recipes.robbiehaf.com/T/272.htm
The trick is priming the yeast and just stirring it into the flour.  The resulting product actually tastes much better than the risen variety which has a knack for tasting too much like bread instead of pizza crust.  I'm lucky in that the hot water comes out of my tap at just the right temperature, but before I had discovered this I used a thermometer to figure out the proper microwave time needed to bring cold water up to the proper temperature.

The recipe works great but I have several caveats.  One big fault with this recipe is that it doesn't give a weight for the amount of flour, so your results may be inconsistent when not performing the kneading step that I mention in the next paragraph.  I'll also point out that I use this recipe on both a 16" and 14" pan (I've never done the 12" that's inferred in the recipe).  The 16" comes out pretty thin and the 14" a bit thicker (obviously), however...

Whenever I make the recipe the dough comes out wet so I knead flour* into the dough until it doesn't stick to anything (continually flouring hands and work surface as the flour gets absorbed).  This usually adds another quarter cup or so of flour to the dough (this step is required for the 16" pan).  After kneading I'll put the dough in a bowl that has a little bit of olive oil in it and let it rest for about ten to fifteen minutes so that the dough is workable (otherwise it's like trying to stretch a rubber band out over the pizza pan).  I should note though that Mrs. Sandmich and Sally like the recipe as printed, but the dough is really hard to work with, like a ball of half congealed Elmer's glue.  If you can get it down into the pan (probably using oiled dough and hands), the crust will come out thinner and crispier, if...

I use a two phased approach where I put the pizza in the pan and put the pan on a hot stone that's been preheating in the oven.  So after the pizza has been in the pan sitting on the stone for about six minutes or so (when the dough is done enough not to fall apart) I then transfer the pizza directly to the stone using a metal pizza peal (obviously with some oil in the pan to help it to keep from sticking).  I would suppose a good alternative might be to use one of those pans that has the holes in it, but I've never used those so I can't speak to their effectiveness.  If you cook it in a regular pan with no pizza stone, the pizza will come out as if it was cooked on a giant slice of lightly toasted bread.  I got around this on occasion by putting the pan right on the bottom of the oven for the last minute or so, but your timing has to be impeccable: it worked great a few times, but I gave up on it after burning three pizzas in a row**.

Some other notes:

  • She says to use a "heavy spoon", but I use a wooden spatula.
  • Reading over past missives, it looks like at one point in time I would put a tablespoon of olive oil into the water/yeast mix.  I'm not sure why I got away from this as it really helped the dough as I recall (made it easier to work with and added a level of internal fried crispiness to the crust).***
  • I make a crazy amount of pizzas (Sunday and/or Saturday is usually pizza day, but the crust is so easy to make that I've cranked it out for dinner during the week on the odd occasion) so I keep a big container of yeast instead of packets.  I measure it out to about two and half teaspoons of yeast instead of using the packets.
  • Your skills might be better than mine, but I've never been able to do the 'wooden peal' method where you make the pizza and then slide it right onto the stone.
  • When not using a stone (maybe using the 'bottom of the oven' method), I transfer the pizza to cardboard, otherwise moisture will build up under the crust and make it soggy.
Why this recipe is cool:
  • After a bit of practice this pizza can be cranked out faster than a pizza can be acquired from a local pizza shop, especially if you're having it delivered.
  • It's easy to change up the cheeses and toppings so the variety is much better than a pizza shop as well (ruben, chicken BBQ, and cheesesteak pizzas are constant favorites).
  • It can be cheaper (not by much mind you).
What might not be appealing:
  • If you want something besides pepperoni there's going to be a bit of prep involved.  Vegetables, especially mushrooms, should be precooked.
  • The inevitable kitchen mess.
  • It can be more expensive (putting higher end cheese, sausage, and bacon on the pizza can lead to some sticker shock).
*I no longer do this.  I make the dough in my kitchen aid using a bread hook and work flour into the dough until it no longer sticks to the sides of the mixer.  If it already isn't sticking I just let it run until the dry pieces are absorbed.  I can double the recipe pretty easy in my normal sized Kitchen Aid, three is possible at lower speeds but no more than that.  This method also has the advantage of not kneading the dough as the mixer is constantly tearing it apart so the dough doesn't have to "rest" as long (if at all).

**Another strategy that I've used in the past is to put the dough in the pan, poke many holes in it with a fork and then pre-cook it before assembling the pizza, as even on the lower oven shelves with the thinnest pan the toppings will be done well before the crust gets crispy.  However I consider this a non-starter as the crust usually turns out lobsided and it still doesn't get crispy as the moisture gets trapped between the dough and the pan and the crust winds up self-steaming for however long you leave it in there.

***I still don't add oil to the mix, oh well.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Radio Notes

Could broadcast radio get any worse?  I keep getting this post half written and then the owners of the radio stations shuffle up the formatting (for the worse) in order to double their listener audience from one to two.

A fun example from a few years ago was when Clear Channel made their staff at 106.5 listen to Christmas music for two straight months and as a thanks for their tolerating listening to Michael Jackson's 'Mommy Kissing Santa Claus' 500 times the corporate conglomerate fired the lot of them and replaced their "Top 40 with 80s" format with a 'throw everything on the wall and see what sticks' strategy.  (They actually changed it further, letting listeners pick "anything" to be played on the station.  "Anything" of course is limited to the same meager pile of 500 songs that their computer was going to cycle through anyway).

Then there's the local FM station of talking jackasses, and when the jackasses aren't talking you can bet that they're playing a song by AliceinchainsMetalicaAcdcMotleycrew.  Or then there's the FM sports talk channel which is notable for being the best thing on half the time.  Anyway, it's slim pickens so I typically listen to the iPod in the Fit, but in the Kia we have satellite radio.

We had Sirius when we had first gotten the vehicle (for free, Sirius, not the car unfortunately) and I liked it okay; however, it's Mrs. Sandmiches car and she never listened to it so we let it lapse.  Of course it wasn't but a few months later that Sirius began trying to get us back in the fold and eventually they gave us an offer we couldn't refuse.  It's still okay, but in their effort to cram in more channels they have compressed the audio streams to within an inch of their lives.  What was once near CD quality is now somewhere around FM quality (so long as what you're listening to doesn't bust out of the bandwidth channel and you get a hollow, tinny sound approaching AM quality).  I guess it's worth it though for the 'Chill' channel if nothing else, though the SiriusXMU had this great tune that I ended picking up:


Despite it's flaws, combing through Sirius is still easier than combing through the local college radio channels (which, Cleveland has several good ones, when you can tune them in).

Friday, May 11, 2012

Video Game Roundup

It's been a while, so let's catch up...

Y's: The Ark of Napishtim

Good Enough for Cosplay
The thing about most Final Fantasy games is that some trick is required to beat them.  Whether it's unlocking hidden weapons (7,10), holding on to every super potion found in the game (12), or going in with a specific configuration that the boss is susceptible to (the rest, except for 8), it doesn't matter how much you "grind" your characters as you will have your ass handed to you on a plate if you didn't check Gamefaqs before walking past the last save point.

I played this Y's game on the PSP to satisfy my JRPG jonesin' while (for the most part) traveling, so it took some time to get through.  Being a portable title it's a little shorter than a full blown console game and it pads the game time with a merciless "grind".  Beating the same monsters over and over and over (and over) will be required to get past the dungeons (though oddly enough, not most of the bosses), but the game is fair.  After I had "grinded" my character to the limit I was rewarded with the ability to put the royal smack down on the baddies at the end.  For a portable game the music is top notch while the art and story are a reminder of a time gone by.  Three sandmiches for being a fun trip, minus two for hand cramps and that stupid wasp boss who was harder than the final boss and had to be fought twice!

Uncharted 3

Nolan North isn't just a Nathan Drake fan, he is Nathan Drake
I got caught up on this review because it's hard to add anything to the discussion of this game.  This was one of the few titles that I paid list for and also one of the few titles that I sucked up all the DLC for.  The single player game astounds with the visuals, but it feels like a set-piece exercise compared to the second title ("I made a level in a shipyard!"; "Good, write that into the story.").  Going in I figured it would be hard for this game to beat it's predecessor in terms of Uncharted 2's great story, amazing art and well done characters and the third game certainly met that low expectation!  If you're looking for a great single player game, I'd still go for the second title obviously, but the main reason I bought this was so that Kid Sandmich and I could play the co-op multiplayer.

The multiplayer in '3' is much improved and includes a variety of upgrades and locals to keep us busy.  We only played competitive multiplayer once, out of fear of the borg gamers out there, but even that was a blast as it was obvious none of the other players (who are paired off) were playing together on the same couch.  Four sandmiches for another outstanding title, minus one for thinking it could be as good as '2'.

SSX

It's difficult to put into words how big of a fan I was of the original SSX (12 years old! A Playstation 2 launch title) and then SSX 3.  The original SSX featured (among other things) an unlockable non-competitive open ended map featuring a great track from Hybrid (That video is worth checking out not only for the great tune, but the visuals from a game that was probably the best looking launch title on the PS2).  SSX 3 had the great outlandish characters cranked up, a great soundtrack and even better visuals; along with an amazing unlockable track down the mountain which combined the best race tracks into a 25 minute jaunt down the mountain (with no load lines!).

Somewhere in the development of the new SSX game, the developers managed to suck the fun out and replace it with an aggravating snowboard based platformer.  Make no mistake, it looks great and it handles great, and while not on a par with SSX 3, the soundtrack is acceptable.  Where it shines though is in the passive multiplayer.  I have several "friends" on my list (these are people I do not know), and some of them are noticeably inferior to my O-K SSX skills; so when I find that they've beaten one of my times, it's "game on".  I will sit for far too much time mastering the line on a course so that I can earn fake SSX bucks and provide the same level of aggregation to a player who had the audacity to beat my score.  As well, although I haven't gotten to that point yet, this the one game that I own where a platinum trophy is in the realm of feasibility.  Three and a half sandmiches, minus one and a half for sucking the life out of the colorful characters and maps, and for designing levels with swiss cheese like meshes in which your racer can become trapped.

Final Fantasy: Crisis Core

Also good enough for cosplay
It's difficult to talk about this game without giving spoilers to the game that it is a prequel to: Final Fantasy 7.  The problem is that it's a bit of a mystery who would play this outside of people who are at least vaguely familiar with 7.  The game is made for the PSP, which has no trouble outshining the crude PS1 visuals of Final Fantasy 7.  HDish locals and characters from the original game make appearances much to the delight of fans.  For those who love eco-pago-Christianity, you're in for another heaping serving of that as well!

That being said, the game is one of the better, if not best, Final Fantasy RPG off-shoots.  The "grind" is contained within missions, so I never felt like I was pointlessly wandering the map in a never ending effort to level up.  The missions might get to be a 'grind' as well, but they feature character appearances, great loot, and fun monsters.

While playing this game on my cheap PSP, a game that featured fully voiced cutscenes, a deep story, and long and engaging gameplay, a guy next to me while I was on a plane was playing this POS on his several hundred dollar iPad (I'd seen the game before because Kid Sandmich talked it up on his iPod).  My game design buddy thinks it's inevitable that the iStuff will reach FF:CC levels of gameplay, but none other than one of the execs at Unreal (who made one of the best iStuff games) thinks that won't happen because games have trouble cracking the dollar, let alone ten dollar price tag on the app store and that at least for the time being there is no market for a $30-$60 iStuff game that can amount to something more.

Anyway, four and half sandmiches for FF:CC, a great portable game that makes those long trips melt away, but losing a half a point for that somewhat grating storyline.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Gardening Notes

Home Depot has their gardening plants at half off for the weekend, but some of their tomato plants helpfully already have blight. Be sure to buy a blight less one along with the fungicide/disease control that they sell and hope for the best.

As well they are also selling mint. If you are not psychotic and want some mint, just stop by my yard and grab as much as you can. Don't plant it though, it can never be defeated, only contained.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Make Work

Ann Althouse notes:
But Michelle [AntoinBama] was making $300,000+ doing "community affairs" at the University of Chicago Medical Center. That was no ordinary job...
Indeed, the job she was doing was so important that the position was eliminated after she had to resign so that she could take luxury, taxpayer financed trips to Spain, Las Vegas, etc. Less 'job' and more 'bribe' methinks; unless someone thinks that a disposable "community affairs" position at an organization prone to regulation by her husband in the state senate is actually a serious "job".

Monday, April 02, 2012

Barbarians at the Gated Community

The local YMCA loves to put CNN on one of it's four TVs, which I guess doesn't matter since everyone reads their books while listening to music anyway, but I couldn't help but notice that they've been providing a valuable service.  Should you find a thug beating your head into a curb, you can apparently call CNN and they will let you know if it is right and proper to defend yourself.  Thanks guys!

As well, in a typical, though entertaining, Denninger screed he notes a CNN quote:
Today's cameras, fences, walls and gates do little to create an atmosphere of openness, which is an essential element in a diverse society.
I think this quote needs some "NBC work" to better fit reality (actual reality, not NBC fever dreams):
Today's cameras, fences, walls and gates are essential elements in a diverse society. 
What's amazing is the number of break-ins in that community despite being gated. It sounds like it's time to pull out the razor wire!
Paraphrasing two fun comments that I saw on boards related to this story:
Zimmerman is "white-Hispanic"?  Is that what they'd call him if he won the Nobel Prize?
and
"Justice for Trayvon"?  I think that's already been taken care of.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Sandmich Drive Time

Back in Sandmich's day, when it came time to get a driver's license, we would take our temp test (hand written, of course) go to drivers ed, the go take the driver's test and get our Official Ohio State Driver's License, a license that is the same type of license I have in my pocket now.

In the intervening millennia when Kid Sandmich became old enough to drive, the powers that be passed a raft of laws (PDF link) restricting the drive time of those under 18.  Additionally, in addition to the other requirements, it is required that the teen driver have 50 hours of mentored time behind the wheel.  Now, the easiest way out of this, as far as I can tell, is to lie.  However, Mr. and Mrs. Sandmich being upstanding citizens (well, at least one of us), we were determined to get those 50 hours.

Luckily, an 18 year old doesn't need 50 hours because there was never a prayer of us logging all 50 of those hours (that's like 6 round trip drives between here and Chicago, and the thought of the price of gas alone was enough to scare me off).  Anyway, Kid Sandmich's temps expired, which required him to retake the written test (now on computer) at the DMV.  We had some issues with his car and the long story short is that the battery died in his car at the DMV.  Me being the only one who could drive, I 'volunteered' to huff it home and get a car that worked (me also being the only one who could do the two and half miles in less than two and half hours).

After we had the new battery in his car however, we had a dilemma, two cars, and one properly licensed driver (who wasn't about to huff it from home to the DMV).  I resolved that Kid Sandmich would have to drive with his semi-legal temps and follow me home (my logic being that if President Obongo's illegal alien uncle could drive drunk with a fake license, I figured that'd make Kid Sandmich a legally licensed test pilot or something at least!).

I drove out in front and watched in my rear view figuring that Kid Sandmich's lane fidelity and driving consistency would be worse than when I was in the car with him, only it wasn't, it was better.  The logic hit me: kids my age had to learn how to drive while Kid Sandmich had been tasked with learning how to chauffeur.  It was much easier for him to drive when he was driving rather than waiting for constant feed back from me.  All the more interesting since no two drivers drive exactly alike, and it must be that a driver must find their own peace with the driver that they are meant to be.

(I was 50% sober when posting this, just as I'll probably be from now on now that I have designated driver in the house :-)

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Mac .75 Years Later


  • Don Jones, Microsoft genius extrodinare, says that Microsoft "Office for the Mac is a wonderful product". No, it's not. It's stuck in some unholy ground between Office 2003 and Office 2007 (except for Outlook which is stuck between Office 97 and Office 2000, which still makes it the premiere e-mail handling program on the Mac). Maybe Don Jones sees something I don't, or maybe he just hates the ribbon with an undying passion (it only makes a guest appearance in MS Office for Mac).
  • What is up with the network stack bombing out?  On more than one occasion the Internet dies (for everything), but is brought back to life if I quit out of Safari and get back in.  (Other times it dies completely, but I blame that on Vuze, my bittorrent client).
  • One time Steam died out but it left processes running in the background, like way in the background.  A little UNIX command line action would clean that out, or so I thought.  Not so much luck as a reboot was required (to be fair, every *NIX system I've ever been on has been prone to zombie processes, and I shouldn't have been playing Half Life 2 anyway as I had school work to do).
  • Another time iTunes dumped out and I figured I'd be clever and hit the command line again.  The command "ps -aef|grep iTunes" will report back the offending processes responsible for iTunes.  I killed off one of the three processes without incident, but when I killed off the second process the system crashed to a gray screen.  No reboot, not task monitor, no nothing; had to turn it off and on because of iTunes :-(
  • The Time Machine disk, you know, the disk that a Mac owner depends on for backups, seems to get the flu at the drop of a hat.  Any issue that can cause the Mac to have issues (power outage, etc.) will almost certainly trash the Time Machine drive.  It seems like a much better plan to run the computer off of the Time Machine disk and back it up to the apparently more stable drive inside the Mac itself.  (I just checked, and a power outage did indeed crash the Mac file system on the USB Time Machine disk.  Nothing like undependable crap for your backup solution, thanks!)
  • On the plus side: the Cisco VPN that I need for a side job is much easier to setup on the Mac; Adobe CS5 is the same product on Mac or Windows, the touch pad is my favorite pointing device since the Kensington mouse balls, and I do like the Doc better than the Start Menu.  At least on the model I have, the screen real estate helps a great deal with multi-tasking and the easier than anything multiple desktops let me stack task on top of task.