Friday, June 27, 2008

New Shoes for the Z06.

Toyo T1R:

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Help Find Sabrina.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

New Music Musings - Weezer and Coldplay.

The last two albums I've purchased are Weezer's The Red Album and Coldplay's Viva La Vida, or Death and All His Friends.

Listening to the new Weezer yielded one slightly unexpected benefit - it made me revisit all their other albums and think about how insanely good they are. The Blue Album and Pinkerton are straight-up pop-rock genius, albums that are consistently good the whole way through. Then, of course, there's the dark horse, Maladroit, my nominee for "Best Weezer Album That No One Ever Talks About."

What about Red, you say? Ugh. I was hoping you'd forget. It's not a terrible album (this isn't looking good). It's just not good. Most Weezer albums, even Make Believe, are good albums. Red is just somewhat scattered and self-indulgent. Ironically Rivers Cuomo is usually immune to self-indulgence, but in this case he's had his card revoked, because the thing is all over the place. Three tracks are sung by the three other band members, and two out of three are virtually intolerable - "did they really just release this to a national audience?"

Regardless, it's a Weezer album and retains enough quirky goodness to be worth ten bucks if you're a fan. If you're not a fan, RUN!

The new Coldplay has been touted as the big departure from their first three albums, pure pop-rock self-indulgence. And I'm here to tell you that they were somewhat successful, in that VLV is slightly less mainstream pure pop-rock self-indulgence. They didn't reinvent the wheel by any means, but they at least expanded their palette, and I do give Chris Martin credit for using less falsetto, the typical "go-to." It's only used sparingly here. In a nutshell, I recommend VLV and would probably give it a 7 or 8 on a scale of 10 as a consistently good album that has no real holes other than that it never quite achieves the delirious highs of "Shiver" or "A Rush of Blood to the Head," two standout tracks from their first two albums.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Golf: What a Fine Game.

Today Tiger Woods pulled off a somewhat improbable (it is Tiger, after all) victory by winning the U.S. Open despite enduring pain in his knee. Kudos to Tiger for staying strong and remaining clutch through round after round to pull off the victory.

But while most will focus on the feat of myth and legend that Tiger pulled off, I couldn't help but be reminded of a perpetual debate among my friends and I: is golf a sport? What exactly is a sport? Typically our definitions involve some sort of scoring system, direct competition, and some degree of athletic prowess. It's the last criteria that tends to get people all worked up, and also one where I assert that golf is not a sport, but a game. The fact is, if you can win a round at the highest level of a particular activity while injured to an extent to where you can barely walk, it's not athletically demanding enough to meet the criteria for sport. Now, Tiger happens to be physically fit and talented enough that had he trained for some other sport, I have no doubt he'd be successful, but that's another story.

For the naysayers: yes, I've seen various games and matches in other sports where players have come up clutch and pulled off victories despite bad cramps, or bad blisters, or slight sprains. But you straight-up don't see players in any of "the majors" (football, baseball, basketball, tennis, soccer) come out with a post-surgery bummed out knee and mow down an entire field.

Also, yes, golf is hard as hell, hence why I am so terrible at it. Just because it's difficult doesn't mean it's athletically demanding.

Bring on your arguments.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Black Cupcake Wrappers - More Valuable Per Weight Than Gold.

Monika is making cupcakes for her friend's wedding. The bride has requested cupcakes with white icing and black wrappers.

It turns out that black wrappers are virtually impossible to find. Not black wrappers with ghosts on them, not black wrappers with "over the hill", just plain black cupcake wrappers. Does anyone know where the hell to find these things? Anyone who finds 'em gets an e-cookie.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Law of Conservation of FAT.

Monika is watching Dr. Phil right now. A woman called in complaining about how her 2-year-old son weighs twice as much as he should for his age and refuses to eat anything but orange chicken. She's concerned and doesn't know who to turn to. "Dr. Phil, can you help me?" We return from our friend the video montage so see Dr. Phil say "Yeah, I have a few thoughts on how to fix this, mainly STOP FEEDING HIM ORANGE CHICKEN." Hell yes, Dr. Phil! "He's two years old. He may not like it when you switch to healthier food, but eventually, he's going to learn to like it, because he's going to want to eat." YES!

I'm going to write the shortest, but most successful book in the history of mankind soon. It's going to be called "The Secret to Being Thin." The book will be quadruple shrink-wrapped and there will be a few combination locks surrounding it for good measure, like the really deviant adult magazines at the Quickie Mart ("Mr. Simpson, here is your copy of Gigantic Asses"). Inside the thick binding there will be a single page where I won't even bother writing anything, I'll just include this handy internet link:


It's called "The Law of Conservation of Mass." But staggeringly, over the years, people refuse to accept the fact that if they eat junk food, they need to exercise to balance the calorie delta, or that the diet version of items that substitute sugar for fat have almost just as many calories as the regular versions.

I know some people that are overweight, but at least it's typically by choice. They know that if they ate better or worked out more they could lose some excess body fat, but they choose not to, which is totally fine. It's the complaint train that pisses me off.

But I have been turning a new leaf these days - I mentioned the other day that I no longer considered it just buyers' faults when the make idiotic purchasing decisions; this stuff simply isn't taught in school. Can we start holding Health classes in Preschool? I remember taking some when I was in High School. Apparently people don't know any better, though, so again I see a situation where the vast majority of the population needs to be educated on nutrition and exercise. Even better - I took gym class in every grade - gym class should feature more explanations of what an activity is doing for the kids and how many calories it's burning. They might not understand it when they are young, but it'll plant the seed for future understanding.

On a side-note, clearly I know that a totally financially and healthfully educated society is somewhat of an impossibility in this country, because it would inevitably lead to a socialist nightmare. I think I just jumped too many thoughts ahead here. We'll just stick with the overweight thing. Burn more calories than you take in, people! That's how you lose weight! I await your campaign contributions.

Sunday, June 08, 2008


I bought Monika a Wii for her birthday and we love it. I have yet to play a game I flat-out dislike, and the general tone is lighthearted, with great games to play in groups. I can see why they are still almost impossible to find.

Which of course, is why I want to mention that I had to return ours to Gamestop yesterday. Here's why:

- Guitar Hero III: every time we tried to play the Social Distortion song, the game would seize up and we'd get a disc read error. Every other facet of the game worked perfectly except for that one song. When we first observed this, we actually returned the game for a new one, and the new disc showed the exact same symptoms so we knew it was the Wii that had the problem.

- Mario Kart Wii: every time we reached the third lap of Koopa Turnpike (I believe that's the right name), the game would freeze and we'd get a disc read error. The first two laps always worked correctly, and every other track worked perfectly.

- I called the Nintendo help line and was a little surprised to hear that they had never heard of the aforementioned problems. Apparently, though, there are myriad problems with Super Smash Brothers. So it figures when we borrowed that game from friends it worked just find on our system.

- There were other miscellaneous problems such as problems syncing the controllers in various games, but we'd eventually get those things to work. At the end of the day we had to return the buggy system because in Mario Kart, for example, we literally wouldn't have been able to complete the game because we have to be able to beat that level to unlock everything. At least in Guitar Hero you can choose 3/4 of the songs in a given level to advance to the next one.

Anyway, our poor Wii has been returned and we're waiting for Gamestop to call us when they receive a new one, which will hopefully be within a week. Luckily for us, we have friends who are addicted to Rock Band on their PS3, so they literally do not use their Wii and let us borrow theirs until we get our replacement system.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Here's How My Friday Went. How About Yours?

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Attention High School Planners:

Before graduating from high school, all students should be required to take a basic class that goes over money, explaining interest rates, time value of money, basic supply/demand, etc. Someone sent me this link earlier:


First one:
"Before losing my job we were somewhat overextended with several credit cards due to inattention and the American need for instant gratification"

UGH. Just because everyone else buys things they can't afford, I should too! More on this later, though.

"We also really did not plan for the high cost of daycare when we purchased our home"

Before you have kids, you need to figure out who is going to take care of them, and if you are going to put them in daycare, you better know how much freaking money it will cost! People spend all sorts of time finding out invoice costs when they buy a car, but then they have a kid and don't even know how they will afford taking care of a human being. Unreal.

Second one:

"We had revolving debt that was manageable and we qualified for a mortgage on a fixed rate. Our credit scores were okay, but they were not good enough to qualify for an adjustable-rate mortgage."

You've just got to cut it off right there. ARM mortgages are complex financial instruments that are powerful, but only for those who CLEARLY KNOW WHAT THEY ARE DOING, which is only about 1% of the people that actually buy with ARMs. It's fundamentally messed up that someone would be upset about not qualifying for an ARM.

Part of the "New Badger" is that I actually don't think these things are entirely these people's faults. I think that fundamentally, most people don't understand the concept that if they buy things they can't afford and pay the minimum credit card payment, for all practical purposes, they will never pay it off.

It's time for the education system to start helping these matters. I know I've done a lot of complaining about the sub-prime crisis, but this is just a glimpse at a bigger problem. If we don't start working to temper this type of behavior, we will only face worse crises in the future.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Behold the Majesty!

For those of you who've wondered whether you should take a trip to Alaska, I can tell you the answer should emphatically be YES. It was an amazing trip, filled with relaxation and views that you can't see unless you head that far north.

Here is a picture of Monika and I in Juneau:

Now I have to give you one of my favorite picture sequences of all time, featuring my beautiful wife. For those of you that are unaware, Monika is actually a bow hunter, and when we were walking around the land surrounding a glacier, Monika was determined to find a bear with her binoculars. I took each of these about 10 minutes apart; here is the sequence:
"Are there any bears around here?"
"How about over there?"

"There must be one here somewhere!"

"I found one!!!!!!"

You've got to love it.
I also highly recommend cruises in general - this was my first one. You can't beat it for an absolutely worry-free, relaxing experience.