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Archive for June, 2009

Fitter with Wii

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

Yesterday I finished the 30 day challenge with EA Sports Active. It’s actually 20 workouts, doing two in a row, then taking a day off. I took a couple days longer than 30 – doing real life things like concerts and 5Ks sometimes got in the way, but it just treats it as another day off, doesn’t try and punish you like Wii Fit. It does use the balance board sometimes, but it’s optional.

It’s more like working with a real trainer, so it’s interesting to compare Jill and my experiences, as she’s been working with a real one. My opinion is both this one and a real one will kick your ass. Wii Fit nags you to do stuff, but EASA will just tell you what to do and when to do it. It’s a lot easier to keep going all the way. Now I’m going to do a mix of custom exercises and roll your own stuff.

I’m on a boat!

Sunday, June 28th, 2009

Jill was tired Friday evening, but I made a quick dinner and headed over to downtown Herndon to see Love Seed Mama Jump. They were pretty good and it was nice to see the Jewells, but I was tired and being overcharged for beer didn’t help.

Saturday was busy, as we were trying to leave by 2 and make a grilled chicken Caesar salad before we left. But we left not too late, traffic was bad on our preferred route but ok over the Wilson Bridge, and we were at the boat early. Our second weekend in a row at the western shore of the bay, this time for a house concert on a boat. We had to wait for all the folks to show up, but soon we we were on the water, sharing the food we’d brought.

Jill on a boat

The reason we were there was to see Jake Armerding, and he performed two sets on the custom stage on the front of David’s catamaran. We’d seen him at workshop stages at FRFF, as well as his recent sideman gig with efo, but this was our first chance to see him on his own. He put a good show, playing both guitar and fiddle. It was a great day for a day out on the water, too.

Jake

Today we went out for brunch with our friends Dave and Hannah to Mon Ami Gabi, a French bistro in Reston. I liked the brunch offerings, but couldn’t resist an open face lamb sandwich (my salad did have an egg in it, though). Jill opted for French onion soup and a ham and cheese crepe. Very good, and we were too stuffed for a proposed post brunch gelato.

Aside from a little exercising, the afternoon was lazy, mostly spent indoors reading. I grilled some chicken with BBQ sauce and we split a baked potato for dinner, now it’s movie time (Once or Kung Fu Panda).

Return of the ’80s

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

Last night at Wolf Trap, the Regeneration Tour returned for its second year. And we enjoyed last year’s show, so we were there too. This time we were on the lawn (another free show), enjoying some rotisserie chicken, fruit and veggies. It was a bot warm when we got there, but cooling off nicely by the time Cutting Crew took the stage. I only knew the hits, but the other songs were decent. “I’ve Been In Love Before” I remember well, and they did a nice version of “Died In Your Arms” (and snuck in a tease of “Relax, Take It Easy” – I didn’t know Mika had used a sampled their song for that before).

I was a little more familiar with Wang Chung, “To Live And Die In L.A.” was pretty good, but everyone in seats got up for the one two punch of “Dance Hall Days” and “Everybody Have Fun Tonight”. The real surprise was Berlin, because it seemed like her band had been hand picked by Trent Reznor (maybe not the keyboardist, I don’t think Trent would go for porkpie hats). There was a bit more guitar soloing and drumming than I was expecting, but it was fun. Their cover of “Somebody To Love” definitely had an industrial tinge to it. I knew some of the lesser singles, but really wanted to hear “No More Words” and “Take My Breath Away”, so we left after they played those in the middle of the set. There was more music (as well as ABC), but it needed to be an early night for Jill (plus we saw ABC last year).

Lots of roadtrips with a dog

Sunday, June 21st, 2009

Jill picked up her sister, Robin, at the airport early in the morning Friday and they did a bit of shopping during the day and I managed to beat them home. We got in the car and headed out into the wonderful traffic, to East Falls Church and managed to get to Nationals Park right before the National Anthem. We hadn’t been there before, and I scored some nice seats on the third base line. I got a half smoke from Ben’s – “all the way” of course and a beer, and settled down to watch the game. It was fun, but we left towards what we thought was the end (it was tied 1-1, and ended after 11 innings with a Nats win, their third win in a row).

It was an early day Saturday, got up around 6 and on the road by 6:30. One of the reasons Robin wanted to come this weekend (besides Jill having a four day weekend) was the 5K that was part of the Alexandria Waterfront Festival. And when we went to register we learned they had a Doggie Division, so I decided to take Illa along. We got ready, then Jill and Robin got to the back of the runners and I got to the very back with the runners with dogs.

If you’ve ever seen a sled dog getting ready for a race, you’ll know what Illa was like, jumping and crying. My plan to get him ready (not playing with him for 24 hours) worked, as he was raring to go. When the race started, he wanted to start running right away, but there wasn’t really room, so I walked with him for a minute or two, then we started running. I had thought he’d run for a bit, then we’d start walking and the others would catch up. But he kept up a great pace for at least a mile. We did have some periods of walking, but every time another dog started to pass, he broke into a trot to stop them. The end result was a great time for me, 35:16. Jill and Robin had personal bests as well.

It had started raining during the race, and after the race it really started coming down. We managed to get to the car and get dried off, and made it home before the thunderstorms started. I made eggs and bacon for me and Robin, then took a shower and a nice nap. Jill had bought steaks, and she made a salad, then I grilled them and baked some potatoes. We ate them, and we headed out.

Next stop was back to the Alexandria Waterfront Festival. The 5K included admission to the regular festival, and they had a good lineup of bands. By the time we got there, we heard the end of Stephen Kellogg & The Sixers set, then watched the fireworks and caught the beginning of Pat McGee Band’s show, but both Jill and Robin were pretty wiped and we headed home.

Sunday we got up a little later, around 9. We all had some breakfast, then hit the road – again with Illa. This time we went to Chesapeake Beach to spend the day at Dad’s. Sharon showed up soon after, and we had a salad, fruit, sausage and chicken for lunch. Then Jill, Robin and I went to North Beach for a while (and neither Jill nor I used enough sunscreen and got a bit burned).

For dinner we went back to the Fabulous Brew Cafe and had an interesting surprise – Sundays are Mexican night there, no seafood at all. But that was ok with us, I had a chimichanga and Jill had fajitas, and they were pretty good. We went back to Dad’s and he served bumbleberry pie for dessert before we all headed home. Now we’re watching Forgetting Sarah Marshall – none of us had seen it and it’s pretty funny.

Leesburg and Liberty

Monday, June 15th, 2009

Friday was a short night of burgers and newspapers. Saturday I got up, exercised, and managed to sprain my foot, which meant a bit less mobility for the weekend than planned. I read papers, watched TV and played with Illa.

Jill made chicken wraps for dinner, then we took them with us to Leesburg and their Saturday night concert series to see Todd Wright. I always enjoy seeing Todd, but this was a special performance as he was joined by old Excentrics guitarist Dan Rebeiz. We were having fun, but right as they began a second set, the rain began to fall. Jill and I were fine in our chairs with the little umbrellas, but they ended up cutting it a bit short. We came home and I walked Illa, then we finally watched the last of Reaper (shame they canceled it, but they ended it in a good place).

Today I took it easy – my foot’s feeling better, but I didn’t want to push it. I did the elliptical machine for a while, then finished off with some bicycle crunches and made breakfast. After that I enjoyed some sun on the deck while I read the paper, then cam back in and cleaned for a while. I stopped before it got too late, showered and we left early to meet my family at The Liberty Tavern in Clarendon. No one else was there, so we had some drinks at the bar, as my dad, then my mom showed. Sharon was later than usual thanks to some delays on the Red Line – no problem seating us, though. We had a good dinner, Jill had the Tavern salad and the skirt steak while I had the apple and endive salad and the Yorkshire Pudding (with goat cheese, nice twist on a classic). Since we were there to celebrate my mom’s birthday and an early Father’s Day, we ordered desserts for them, a slice of black forest cake for Mom and Key Lime cookies for Dad, both pretty tasty.

We had a gift exchange in the parking garage in Clarendon, easier to meet after dinner and not bring things into the restaurant (especially since one of things I had for Dad was a fan). Felt a bit like being a spy, or a newspaper source. We headed home, then Jill walked Illa and I hopped online (for the first all weekend, much easier with no auctions going on).

We left the building before Elvis

Sunday, June 14th, 2009

But not because we didn’t like it, more that Jill felt the breath of that 5AM alarm on her ear. I’m talking ’bout Elvis Costello of course, and his show at Wolf Trap on Thursday. Much like Robert Plant and Alison Krauss did last year, Elvis cut a country/bluegrass album with T-Bone Burnett, then decided to tour with some talented country/bluegrass musicians.

Apparently Ted Leonsis and Steve Case, among other folks, weren’t big fans of his new sound, but I enjoyed the show. In addition to playing most of his new album, he also played a handful of hits recast for the musicians with him, as well as some songs from the last album he did with T-Bone. Good stuff.

Google Reader shared items 6/4-6/10

Thursday, June 11th, 2009

hemisphire:
 
Very funny.
Introducing the new Dave Matthews GPS Navigational System.

via Wired: Underwire on 6/10/09
hemisphire:
 
Sweet.

NUP_131080_0456

A little bit of X-Files intrigue, a little bit of Indiana Jones-style supernatural archaeology and a whole lot of steampunk gadgetry fires up the pilot episode of Warehouse 13.

A clever drama debuting July 7 on Sci Fi Channel’s soon-to-be-renamed SyFy Network, the show follows feuding federal agents Pete and Myka (Eddie McClintock and Joanne Kelly, pictured above) when they get unhappily reassigned from Washington, D.C., to South Dakota.

There, they encounter a cavernous warehouse filled with weird artifacts stored over the past century by the federal government. Rumpled manager Artie, played by Saul Rubinek (pictured above, center) welcomes the agents with an array of antique gizmos. Their mission: Track down a sinister artifact each week and bring the relic back to South Dakota for safekeeping.

“Making the pilot, we had this notion that Artie is like Q in the James Bond world,” says producer David Simkins, checking in from the Warehouse set in Toronto.

“Artie hands out the gadgets,” Los Angeles show-runner Jack Kenny adds. “Creating this show, ’steampunk’ was our mantra.”

If subsequent episodes live up to the pilot, SyFy may have a hit on its hands. Borrowing a page from the Breaking Bad school of high-contrast desert cinematography, the artfully shot Warehouse 13 emphasizes its characters’ isolation. Most importantly, stars McClintock and Kelly generate exceptional on-screen chemistry. He’s loosey-goosey; she’s rigid. It’s been done before, but these funny, relatively unknown actors make the bickering investigators’ shtick seem fresh again.

Simkins and Kenny got on the phone with Wired.com for a show-and-tell sampling of Warehouse 13’s low-tech gewgaws.

The Farnsworth

The Farnsworth was named for Thomas Edison's rival.

Named after inventor Philo Farnsworth, the Farnsworth communicator is supposedly hacker-proof.

“This is basically a video cellphone and it was invented by Philo Farnsworth, the unrecognized inventor of television,” Simkins says. “We imagined that Philo invented it one weekend in 1929, it worked, and it’s been in the warehouse ever since. One reason they still use it is that the technology is so old, no one can hack it. It’s not digital. I don’t even know what it runs on but it’s untraceable because the Farnsworth exists totally off the grid.”

The Tesla Gun

Telsa Gun named after Thomas Edison's brilliant rival.

The Tesla Gun is named after brilliant scientist Nikola Tesla.

“We say this little ray gun was invented by Thomas Edison’s great rival, Nikola Tesla,” Simkins says. “It’s basically a stun gun, like a Taser: There’s an electrical charge, you aim it, it fires.” Kenny adds: “And the Tesla destroys immediate short-term memory.”

The Contraption

This device has an unknown function.

Encrusted with dials and flashing lights, this device serves an unknown function.

“In figuring out the kind of world Artie inhabits, we talked a lot about Jules Verne and steampunk,” Simkins says. “We’re not quite sure at this stage what a lot of these things do, just that they’re really important.”

“I have no idea what the hell that thing is,” Kenny laughs.

Steampunk Typewriter

If it's not broke, don't fix this steampunk typewriter.

A new computer screen is patched into an old keyboard in the Warehouse’s gadget-filled office.

“This goes back to the steampunk aspect of old tech meets new tech,” says Kenny. “Besides this piece, Saul has a portable computer that’s actually an old Smith Corona typewriter that we steampunked up and turned into a Sea-Monkey-looking portable laptop computer.”

Warehouse 13 episodes will also include a holographic device repurposed from a 1960s-era Bell & Howell slide projector, implosive grenades that suck all the energy out of a room, “schlags” that send spiderlike tendrils into lock mechanisms, and hypnotic Eye Flower fireworks from China that appear to freeze time and space.

“In this show, we’re dealing with the concept of magic and illusion and what’s real and what’s not,” Simkins says. “We put things in this warehouse that we don’t quite understand.”

See also:

via www.wired.com on 6/9/09
hemisphire:
 
Only 10?
Geeks, as a general rule, are pretty easy-going. We like to think things through, so passionate confrontations aren’t commonplace for us. When we get well and properly provoked, though, watch out! We won’t stop talking until every last point that we can think of has been made at least twice. So, what do you say to provoke a geek? Glad you asked!

via www.accuweather.com on 6/5/09
hemisphire:
 
100 mph updrafts? Wow.
The latest information indicates that Flight 447 encountered severe turbulencein explosive thunderstorms prior to the catastrophic chain of events leading toa crash.

via popwatch.ew.com on 6/4/09
hemisphire:
 
I think I need to watch this tonight. Also, Burn Notice returns!
Will Ferrell on ‘Man vs. Wild’: Top 5 Moments

via www.hypebot.com on 6/4/09
hemisphire:
 
Hey musicians, pay attention – embedding 30 second samples on your website or on MySpace doesn’t help you or me.
A report to be published in the International Journal of Internet Marketing and Advertising says that longer, higher quality free music samples engage more listeners and reduce the number of “free riders”. Ask any food manufacturer, free product samples give…

Concert stats geeks rejoice

Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

For now there is a social networking/ticket buying site just for you. Songkick.com was originally launched as a concert encyclopedia/ticket shopping comparison site, but is now relaunched with a crowdsourced aspect (you can still buy tix, of course). There are over a million current and future shows online, but anyone can add shows (someone started the HFStival shows, and I finished them). Very addictive for me – I’ve been writing down my shows since college, and I’ve had them all online for over ten years. It’ll take a while to put all of mine in, but that’s fun for me.

Celebrating Fairfax and the life of Eric Lowen

Sunday, June 7th, 2009

Friday night we trusted the wise folks at Capital Weather Gang, and after a quick dinner of grilled sausages, headed over to Celebrate Fairfax. We were a little late, and got to the stage during Blues Traveler’s first song. But the rain had indeed stopped, and we had wisely brought seats, so we were comfy and grooved to the show. We left during the fireworks, got home not too late.

Saturday Jill did her own thing, and I returned to Celebrate Fairfax. First up was John Ireland’s latest band, HeLO – a nice dose of pop-rock to start the day (and they were giving out CDs too). I met my friend Norm after the show, he’d made the long trip from DelMarVa with his son and we chatted for a bit, then I went and got ribs for lunch and explored the fair.

I was over near the main stage at the side stage to see Lloyd Dobler Effect, but Norm sent me a text that he was down front to get a good seat for The Fixx, so I went to talk to him and ended up staying there until they went on (Lloyd Dobler Effect were fine, but I hadn’t seen him in a while, then another friend of his came up, and the conversation kept going). The Fixx were good, but loud and it was hot and I retreated for some water before long (and props to Fairfax Water for providing free water – with ice cubes, no less). I only stayed halfway through their set, as I was on a schedule.

After I got back home, I headed straight to the grill with some chicken breasts that I’d been marinating while Jill made guacamole, and soon we were eating fajitas. As soon as we were done, we headed over to The Birchmere. Traffic wasn’t bad, and though it was sold out, wasn’t too crowded at 6:30 and we snagged seats in my favorite area.

We’ve seen Lowen & Navarro at FRFF a number of times (and hung out with Dan Navarro when he came up to our camp), but with increasing sadness – Eric Lowen has ALS, and after struggling to perform the last couple years, this show would be their very last. While that’s a show we might consider, hearing they’d be joined by Eddie From Ohio and Ellis Paul made it a necessity. Plus in an interesting coincidence we ended up seated across from a couple who got engaged on a Lowen & Navarro cruise.

It was a very moving show. Eric wasn’t able to contribute more than backing vocals on some songs, so a number of other artists came up to sing with Dan – also including John Jennings, The Kennedys and SONiA (from disappear fear). For the final song of the set, Eric did sing “If I Was The Rain”, heartbreaking both knowing this would be the last time and watching Dan moving to the mike and back to be there if he faltered. For the encore everyone but Eric came out into the audience for “We Belong”, going out on a high note (Here’s a version from the night before in Annapolis). We caught up with the Jewells after the show and said hi to the band before heading home.

Today I was going to give Illa a walk, then go for a run, but he burst into a run after we got down the steps, so I decided to take him along. We went for nearly 3 miles before getting back home – he was panting pretty hard for a while. Jill had requested I make my oatmeal pancakes with apples, so I did, and they were tasty. I did a little grass trimming, then went outside to read Saturday’s paper. I finished some auctions, played with the dog, and had a leftover sausage for lunch. Jill went out, and I read Sunday’s paper, then made turkey chili for dinner (it’s a lighter summer recipe) before going to surf. She made some cornbread muffins to go with the chili when she got home, then we watched some TV before she went to bed.

Google Reader shared items 5/29-6/3

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

My apologies to the folks that have seen these already, but Facebook’s not playing nice with Google, and it’s also nice to archive my notes somewhere.

via dcist.com on 6/3/09
hemisphire:
 
Jill has announced she’s going if Weezer and Blink-182 headline as some predict.

via scifiwire.com on 6/3/09
hemisphire:
 
Man, these guys should have done the prequels – I’d pay just to watch 90 minutes of this.
E3: We preview Star Wars: The Old Republic, by Jenna Busch, for SCI FI Wire, Part of the SCI FI Online Network

via Wired Top Stories on 6/2/09
hemisphire:
 
Sounds like someone else I know…
Alexey Pajitnov, who designed one of the world’s most-copied videogames, wages stealth campaigns in the popular MMO. You could be playing with him and not even know it.

via Wired Top Stories on 6/2/09
hemisphire:
 
Just recently discussing this with co-workers. I think a possible solution is 2-way RSS.

The social web trend is more or less complete. Oprah’s gone Twitter, your co-worker has a MySpace problem, and if your parents aren’t bugging you with Facebook movie quiz invites, they probably will be by the time you’re done reading this. People are flocking to these sites in record numbers, as Facebook now boasts over 200 million users worldwide, and Twitter has grown 3,000 percent since last year. But for the social web to evolve into its final stage and take flight, the walls that separate these services, their users and everything they create will have to come down.

If you examine them closely, the social websites that are all the rage now have a strong family resemblance to the earliest internet giant, America Online. In the early ’90s AOL built a walled garden that functioned as the shallow end of the internet pool. People joined to get their feet wet, and then eventually abandoned AOL. The social web is the new walled garden: the photos we upload to Facebook, the 140-character messages we post to Twitter, and all of this other social activity is more or less locked away in those services. A friend cannot reply to your Twitter post without registering an account, and you are basically locked out of doing anything on Facebook unless you sign up. And it’s all-but-impossible to take all your stuff out of these services in order to switch to a competitor.

To be sure, authorized features like Facebook Connect allow users to share their activity from other services with their Facebook community, such as movie ratings at Flixter.com or high iPhone game scores. And there are also unauthorized tools that allow you to cross-post your content to multiple sites, but they are basically hacks, and they do not enable any of the real two-way interaction that defines the “social” web. In the words of Forrester Researcher Jeremiah Owyang, “the inhabitants of today’s isolated social networks will adopt a more useful social experience” by importing cool stuff from the wider web. But, he emphasizes, “they’ll still be stuck on those islands.”

Leo Laporte, a broadcaster who runs the popular TWiT network of technology podcasts, calls the phenomenon “the social silo,” and he doesn’t think it can last much longer. “People are pouring all this content and value into individual sites,” says Laporte, “but they aren’t going to want to keep dealing with Facebook, and Twitter, and FriendFeed, and whatever is next.” Laporte and Owyang agree that in order for the social web to move forward, the separate ecosystems which make it up need to unite.

Google has taken the first step toward knocking down the walls. Last week, the company announced, to great fanfare, something called Google Wave. It’s an open platform for real-time communication and sharing media, and it’s aimed directly at Facebook and Twitter. With Wave. any competent developer will have the tools build a Facebook or a Twitter — or more to the point, whatever comes next — and, even more important, any user content poured into a Wave-based system will be accessible by anyone that user has granted permission to have it. The philosophies of openness and accessibility are baked right in to the tool. If Wave turns into the tsunami that Google hopes it to be, then for the web of the future you will truly need only a single log-in.

The vision of a web where users are no longer locked up with their content away from others just because they picked a different social networking service, is a big one. “We’re essentially creating virtual reality, except that it’s more of an intellectual, informational reality,” Laporte muses. “It’s hard to imagine what this world will look like … but it’s really about breaking down barriers that, up ’till now, have been about the scarcity of resources and information. Now those are coming down.”

The Future of Social Media: Is a Tweet The New Size of a Thought?

Wired.com reports: The Importance of Being Twitter

Read More

via scifiwire.com on 6/1/09
hemisphire:
 
Saturday’s ep was great, I’ll be watching the other tow, then waiting for the comic.
Bryan Fuller: How Pushing Daisies ends—and how it was supposed to end, by Kathie Huddleston, for SCI FI Wire, Part of the SCI FI Online Network

via Slashdot on 5/29/09
hemisphire:
 
Really, Sun?
An anonymous reader writes “The monetization of Java has begun. Sun released the Java 1.6.0_14 JDK and JRE today which include a cool new garbage collector called G1. There is just one catch. Even though it is included in the distribution, the release notes state ‘Although G1 is available for use in this release, note that production use of G1 is only permitted where a Java support contract has been purchased.’ So the Oracle touch is already taking effect. Will OpenJDK be doomed to a feature-castrated backwater while all the good stuff goes into the new Java SE for Business commercial version?”

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

via scifiwire.com on 5/29/09
hemisphire:
 
Nice recap before the last three air starting Saturday.
Why you should watch the final episodes of Pushing Daisies, by Adam-Troy Castro, for SCI FI Wire, Part of the SCI FI Online Network

via scifiwire.com on 5/29/09
hemisphire:
 
Intriguing.
Producer: What to expect from Chuck’s new season , by Kathie Huddleston, for SCI FI Wire, Part of the SCI FI Online Network

via www.theregister.co.uk on 5/29/09
hemisphire:
 
Interesting response.