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December 2008

Written By: Gary on December 29, 2008 One Comment

I know I should stop drinking bottled water, but I can’t. It’s too convenient to just grab a bottle on the go. It’s generally less than 17 cents a bottle when I purchase a case (this week it’s way on sale for 11.5 cents a bottle for an odd sized case of 35 at Meijer). I keep a case by the car in the garage and I take grab one to go all the time. I generally refill it as the day goes on. It’s just too easy to grab it and go; if I make it more inconvenient I might end up drinking less water and I probably don’t drink enough as it is (I used to hate drinking water).

Brita 42629 Slim Pitcher BritaAnd yes, I do understand that much of the bottled water is tap water.

Why am I talking about this today? Because I just read 10 Reasons To Stop Drinking Bottled Water over at The Good Human and I’m feeling a little guilty. The two statistics that really blew my mind were that it can take nearly 7 times the amount of water in the bottle to actually make the bottle itself and that on a weekly basis, 37,800 18-wheelers are driving around the country delivering water.

Nalgene ATB w/ Lid BPA-Free Bottle - 22oz NalgeneI will mention that at home I do drink tap water and while I prefer to run it through the Britta Filter first, it’s not a requirement. I do not open bottled water to drink in the house and I’m perfectly fine drinking non-filted ice from my freezer (hmm, I wonder if there is a filter on the freezer that needs changing?).

I just don’t see me washing out some kind of travel bottle to reuse over and over. If I drink two plastic bottles a day (and that would be a lot) we’re only talking about saving $2.50 a week (not counting purchasing and cleaning the reusable bottles and the time); wouldn’t I be better off saving a gallon of gas or two? I see me needing to get out of the house and wanting some water and the bottle isn’t clean or full or the Britta pitcher is empty or some other barrier stopping me; a few times a week I’d probably have to skip it and have to stop somewhere and buy a bottle for $1.50 which is counter productive. Maybe if I had 3 or 4 refillable bottles?

Written By: Gary on December 29, 2008 No Comment

You can watch the full pilot episode of the new Showtime series The United States of Tara for free with promo code tara (pretty tricky, eh?). Toni Collette plays the multiple personality mother and John Corbett (Chris in the Morning from Northern Exposure) plays the (very accepting) dad. The semi-wild daughter is played by Brie Larson and I’m confident before the end of the series she’ll show some similar traits to her mother and Keir Gilchrist plays the smart/good son.

As you can see by the images below, Toni Collette plays a wide range of characters.

Toni Collette

I enjoyed the episode, but it starts a little slow as they have to introduce everyone and all their issues. It definitely picked up towards the end and I was laughing out loud at the few scenes at the end. If iTunes picks it up, I’ll certainly try it for another episode or two.

Written By: Gary on December 28, 2008 No Comment

So I really like playing dominoes and I don’t mean standing them all up on end and knocking them all down. Playing dominoes is like playing card games: you’ve got a bunch of “bones” instead of “cards” and an infinite number of games that can be played with the cards bones. Dominoes come in different sizes: double sixes (this would make the highest domino have a 6 at both ends), double nines, double twelves and double fifteens, think of them as playing a game with multiple decks of cards. Using double nines is my favorite for about 2-4 people and double twelves for 4 or more; double fifteens just have too many dots on them to look at. Oh, and I like the dominoes with the dots with different colors; it helps in avoiding mistakes after too many hours of play.

And of course with all games everyone has their variations; in Euchre you’ve got ‘Ace, no face’ and you get a re-deal (if they play that way) and if no one picks trump do you ‘screw the dealer’ (make them pick a suit) or re-deal? And many people play Monopoly with their own rules, such as: put utility payments on Free Parking and whomever lands on it, wins the the cash. Dominoes is no different everyone plays every game slightly different.

One of the games I like is “Mexican Train” (which I’m sure has racist origins with it’s name), the nice thing about it is that it’s easy to teach, there is no math (except at the end of a round) and you’re really just (strategically) matching your dominoes from end to end. Here’s a good set of Mexican Train Dominoes instructions with some additional directions. It’s really too complicated to explain here which is why I provided a link to the instructions. Many sets are sold as Mexican Train sets but they just include a “train station” for the starting block and little train pieces as markers, we just use the starting block as the train station and pennies for markers.

About halfway through we realized we that we forgot the mexican train part! That plus the few other parts we goofed up made me think that maybe we made up a new game?!?

So I checked out the rules, trying to remember the parts we forgot and saw some different rules:

  • “In this first turn only, the player may play as many dominoes as they wish, so long as they form a valid train”, I’ve never seen anyone play it that way, we’ve always taken turns putting one down at a time per turn.
  • “If any player is unable to start their train – having no domino that matches the centre double – they do not draw from the boneyard”, don’t think we’ve ever done it that way either! Always make them draw one.
  • We also play that you have to announce when you are down to your last domino, if you don’t by the time the next player picks up and someone calls you on it, you pick up another piece (I don’t know if I learned it that way or accidentally transferred the rule from a different domino game).

There were some other differences too, but some seemed to be tied into the earlier differences. But as long as you all play by the same rules, I guess it really doesn’t matter.

There is another domino game game we play that I like (and don’t know the name) where you don’t score unless you add up all the ends of the pieces of the board and it’s a multiple of five, this one is a lot more confusing.

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Written By: Gary on December 27, 2008 No Comment

Been getting more and more sick the last few days, but (most importantly) made it through most of the holidays. The coughing got worse throughout Christmas day but the ultra-bad congestion didn’t start until nighttime and hasn’t stopped since. Himalayan Institute Ceramic Neti Pot Himalayan Institute>I’ve used my netty pot over and over; more times than I’ve ever used it in a day but it just won’t clean it all out (I use it all the time and I think it helps with my allergies and getting sick). I’d like to take a sleeping pill to help me sleep but I’m afraid I’ll drown/suffocate in all the mucus.

But other than the pounding headache, it’s really not that awful. It’s not too bad when I sit up, which is why I’m typing and not sleeping. I can eat and I’m semi-hungry so those are good things. I just don’t understand where all the snot comes from!

Hopefully you didn’t just read this over breakfast…

Written By: Gary on December 24, 2008 No Comment

So I only thought the Santa Radar Tracker was only semi-interesting. But I brought it up for my cousins kids when I was over there tonight and they went nuts over it (from little kids to a sixth grader). They kept running in to check out where he was in the world. The fact that they give you a countdown to the next update even made it more enticing.

They’ve got photos from various sites around the world and some locations have a video such as this one from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (which includes some very mild educational bullet points in the audio).

THEY PULLED THE VIDEOS (MADE THEM PRIVATE), I’VE REPLACED THE VIDEO WITH A PROMO WITH SEVERAL CLIPS IN IT.

Here’s the direct link to NORAD Tracks Santa – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (and there is a High quality link on that page).

Here’s a little background at the Google Lat Long Blog about the Santa Tracker (and the regular Google Blog).

UPDATE: At 11:11 PM he made it to the United States. I like the video from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Written By: Gary on December 24, 2008 No Comment

tree2008.JPGEveryone, please travel safe during the holiday festivities! In Michigan the roads are awful but be careful no matter how the roads are (especially if you’re drinking while celebrating).

Be thankful that you get to spend time with your family and friends. It’s a time to be nice (so don’t fight with your family about stupid things)!

And if you’re in a place that has snow, don’t forget to go for a ride and look at the Christmas lights!

 

 

 

Written By: Gary on December 23, 2008 No Comment

weatherdec232008.2008The roads are awful right now. I’m working my way down to my neck/back doctor’s office and finishing up Christmas shopping as I pass by places. The speed of the traffic determines how many of those errands that I’ll get done. Unfortunately, it probably won’t be anywhere near enough time…

And the weather doesn’t make it look like it’s going to get any better any time soon. That’s Michigan in the center if you can’t tell…

Written By: Gary on December 21, 2008 No Comment

I swear that I eat more candy and desserts more the last two weeks of December than I do the rest of the year. Plus it’s usually mixed with a few drinks. Not a good mix for my stomach any time of the year let alone the holidays.

On the other hand it’s really nice to see friends and family!!!

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Written By: Gary on December 19, 2008 No Comment

THIS OFFER IS OVER.

20081118 Tows Holiday2 284X218Here’s a free Christmas Album sponsored by Oprah. This is the same album from a few weeks ago.

Don’t miss the cover art links too!

Once again – It says it’s only available for 48 hours, but I don’t know when the clock started ticking…

  • Faith Hill, “Joy to the World” from the album Joy to the World
  • Tony Bennett, “I’ll be Home for Christmas” from the album A Swingin’ Christmas
  • Il Divo, “O Holy Night” from the album The Christmas Collection
  • Josh Groban, “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear” from the album Noel
  • Brian McKnight, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” from the album I’ll Be Home for Christmas
  • Amy Grant, “O Come All Ye Faithful” from the album The Christms Collection
  • Harry Connick Jr., “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” from the album What a Night! A Christmas Album
  • Aretha Franklin, “Silent Night” from the album This Christmas
Written By: Gary on December 19, 2008 No Comment

Walgreens Photo offers a Free 8×10 Photo Print with coupon FREEGIFT through December 20, 2008 with free in-store pickup.

Found at SlickDeals.net

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Written By: Gary on December 17, 2008 One Comment

doctorwhochristmas2008b-51i9enadytl-sl500-aa240.jpgUntil the Doctor Who christmas special!!! And I bet you thought I was going to say “Christmas”?

The Christmas Special is traditionally a pretty great episode and takes place on Christmas (or the eve of). I didn’t think I was going to like it because I’m not a big CyberMen fan but they showed a preview of the first 4 minutes and it looked pretty good.

But, we aren’t getting a regular season of Dr. Who next year, we’re just getting a series of specials throughout the year (3 or 4, I think).

This isn’t the best quality of the preview, but the one I saw earlier may have been pulled from YouTube (even though I thought it was BBC sponsored).

On a related side note, The Sarah Jane Adventures will get a third season and will be overseen by Russell T Davies.

Written By: Gary on December 17, 2008 No Comment

It seems to be going very well so far. I think I’ve got everything imported. Feel free to try a test comment (please).

Most entries and categories and dates should be redirecting. Date based pages are not redirecting (need a .htaccess rule or need to rewrite all those pages in MT with a redirect), but that’s okay, you’re only going to find that from a search and if you clock to comment it takes you to the correct page, just a weird interface change.

Categories still need to have hierarchies and descriptions.

All RSS feeds are redirected, so you’ll probably get a full reader by the time you get this post. And as of right now, they’re all redirected to an Atom feed. Does anyone really care/have a preference?

Not thrilled with this blog template but that’s easily changeable later. I’ll break down the steps of the whole migration later for anyone wanting to go from MT to WP.

Any .htaccess people who can help me with a rewrite rule?
I need date formats like /chapters/2008_12.php -> /2008/12/ and the same for /chapters/2008_12_16.php -> /2008/12/16/ . Actually the latter is really the only one that matters since the first was prevented by robots.txt and I don’t think I did any posts linking to a month (maybe a date).

Honestly, I’ve had harder version upgrades with Movable Type, but we’ll see once I start modifying templates for myself.

Disappointments: I wish the categories could have been in the root directory without having to be in another directory (my /topics/ directory). I wish I could have more easily moved the old files in with their old filenames so things didn’t have to be redirected.

I’ve still got to fix “About”, “FAQ”, etc. and I need the date archives to redirect.

Spam filter is working great! I really like the way the tags work, but they need some cleaning up. Ecto really helped me to turn my technorati tags into WP tags.

Fixed the search engine with a smart redirect. Needed that since I do searches in the middle of my posts (I should be tagging but I’ve have 3 years to go back and tag).

Updated the sitemap.xml files too.

These last few things should really help with the search engines reindexing me (I hope!)

Google has already been cruising through indexing pages….

It imported my pings/trackbacks as comments :( But at least they are still linked.

Some drafts became posts. This may have not been an import/export issue, this may have been something I did after the fact when I reposted posts to get my blogging client, Ecto, to convert my Technorati Tags to WordPress tags.

Written By: Gary on December 16, 2008 No Comment

Expect some outages over the next day or two(?) as I’m getting the migration to work and redirects and such.

It might be viewable in a few hours but there might still be bugs you can’t see.

Written By: Gary on December 15, 2008 No Comment

A free update, weighing in at 190 MB!!! OS 7 was probably only about 8 MB total and I think a few floppies of that was fonts! (Or am I thinking 6.0.5?)

I’m hoping for better Airport connectivity and some more reliability with Mail and faster sync with MobileMe. Better security and a Trackpad System Preference Panel for the MacBooks too. More info here.

A reboot before installing might be a good idea… Backing up too, but that’s not likely to happen…

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Written By: Gary on December 14, 2008 No Comment

So it looks as if I use Ecto 3, with WordPress it’ll automatically convert my posts Technorati Tags to WordPress Tags jsut by reposting them to the blog. Very cool.

On Ecto 3, I really liked Ecto 2 and was avoiding version 3 due to some key-press changes and some other visual changes. I might remember more later, but I just wasn’t liking the feel before, but with it handling WordPress tags properly, it’s now a no-brainer.

Another big bonus – It’ll actually let you edit the “Pages” in WP (like the “About” page) and it treats them differently than the posts! (But it seems to have some problems retrieving pages/posts once your site gets more full).

BTW, I had to set it to access the XML-RPC, I couldn’t get it to use Atom for the posting, I’m not sure if this really matters.

Written By: Gary on December 14, 2008 One Comment

This is pretty much all the topics that I talk about. Larger means it’s mentioned more often. Closer to the top means I’ve mentioned it lately. This is based on my first five years of blogging. I usually keep a dynamic version of this page at what I talk about, but I thought I should keep a static version since it’s my fifth year blogging and I’ll probably have to start a fresh one with my new WordPress blog (coming soon).

talkabout-dec2008-a.png
talkabout-dec2008-a.png
talkabout-dec2008-a.png

Written By: Gary on December 14, 2008 No Comment

I really like the way Apple did this iPod Touch ad.

I couldn’t see it when I went to http://games.yahoo.com/, I assume I need to be running Windows? I tried Safari and Firefox.

Here’s the direct link. I found this at MacRumors.

Written By: Gary on December 13, 2008 No Comment

So after 5 years of using MovableType, and talking about sticking with things yesterday, I’m planning on switching this blog to WordPress. As I said a few months backWordpress-Logo

I think WordPress is easier to setup and it’s also easier for beginners to do quite advanced things with WP than Movable Type. From the other perspective, I think that doing really super advanced things is easier with Movable Type, while doing ultra-advanced things are probably equal between the two.

I’ve slightly modified that a bit to make it more accurate in what I’ve learned since then. I’m also going to add that

Upgrades appear to be much easier to do in WordPress, they’ve all been pretty painless for me. (I never even liked doing incremental upgrades with MT)

Maybe as I customize things more this won’t be as true but for now it’s been pretty easy. And it’s an educational thing for me too, I’ve really enjoyed learning about it…

So for the next month(?) I’ll be changing and testing things. I’ll be running both in tandem stating soon, I’ll want some posts/archives once the switch is made. I’ll probably switch back and forth a few times as I’m testing so be patient with me as I make changes. The worst tests might be for the people using RSS readers, but I’ll try to keep those disasters minimal. If you see things broken for more than a day it means I didn’t notice, so please e-mail me and let me know.I don’t think I’ll be able to ever import everything the way I want to: keeping all my old permalinks and everything else so that I don’t break a million back-links to my site (and throughout my site). So I think when I do the final cut over everything 2008 and before will stay on MovableType and everything 2009 and after will be on WordPress.

I’ll be documenting this since I’m sure I’ll have to do some interesting things for category archives (I think I’ll fudge the last entry of each category to include the old posts) and searching the archives (this may require two searches, but I’m not sure yet).

If I can’t integrate them very well, I’ll just have a prominent button that says “click here for 2008 and earlier”. And I’ll modify a lot of the old templates to say ‘click here for the new stuff’. I’d just hate to have to do that for all the category stuff.

Any tips on the migration from anyone? Any resources?

Written By: Gary on December 13, 2008 One Comment

I cannot believe how much gas has dropped in the last few months. It’s really insane, but in a good way.

Ch.Gaschart
I got this graph from DetroitGasPrices.com. Looks like they shot back up 10 cents in the last few days, but still. Compared to gas prices from 5 years ago, we’re right around the same area but pretty much since then it’s a much better deal.

I was talking two years ago about “how low” prices had dropped but it almost peaked at a dollar less these past few weeks.

FYI, when I buy my gas I try to check DetroitGasPrices.com (I think it’s an offshoot of GasBuddy.com). I’m not going to drive way out of my way for a few cents, but if I’m driving through an area that’s cheap, I’ll wait until I get to the cheaper place…

Written By: Gary on December 12, 2008 3 Comments

Wow! I’ve been doing this for five years! There aren’t many hobbies that I’ve stuck with for this long. Heck, there aren’t many jobs I’ve kept this long (only one). I did stick with Michigan State University that long (undergrad and grad school) and I collected comics as a kid for this long. Besides living with my parents, I’ve never lived anywhere but my current condo for that long. I’ve owned my current Sebring Convertible for that long too (my car before it was the same model, just a few years earlier model).

So it seems like it’s the latest stuff I’ve been sticking with the longest. Does that mean that I’m figuring out what I like beforehand and sticking with it?!? That’d be nice.

So I originally started out blogging and thinking that’d I’d try not to complain at all but that didn’t last; while I do whine I try not to do it too much. Also, I’ve always thought I’d break out tech stuff into a separate tech blog and get even geekier but that’s never happened (yet).

I’ve met more than a few bloggers and other people from social networks over the last five years which has been awesome. Not only do I get to read these folks, I get to meet some of them too! I’m sure I’ve met 25-40 different people over the last few years, I’d have to count since some of them came to multiple events. And I really hope to make it to TequilaCon this year (is there a location/date set yet?).

I blog for myself but I try to post stuff I think others will find interesting too. When I’ve got 10 topics that I’m thinking of blogging about I do try to choose stuff that I want to talk about and stuff that you might find interesting. They might not be the same post but sometimes they are.

Speaking of blogaversaries: During my first year I had changed the name and the URL a few times (that probably didn’t help with traffic). Halfway through the second year I started using GarySaid.com, changing the URL to it’s own permanent home; I think I’ll always keep this short URL for my personal blog, even if I change the title of the blog itself the address is nice and short and easy to spell. The third year I didn’t post much on the anniversary date but I posted some stat and info a few days later. Year four wasn’t the best, I just never got into gear much this past year but I did get to travel a lot which gave me some good blogging material :)Speaking of whining, it’s been a pretty crappy year this past year. I haven’t talked about all of it on-line much, but things started going downhill last October and I just never got back into gear. I’m sure it’s seemed worse to me because everything was going pretty awesome before that (but that might just be hindsight). While I didn’t blog about much of those issues, I’m sure it affected my blogging some…

Things started picking up a few months ago and I’ve still got a few major potholes that I need to fill. As I start filling them in, I’ll probably start talking about some of them (I just never got around to it before, I had planned to). I’m sure it’s affected the tone of some of my blogging and the blogging itself. Thanks for sticking around!

I’ll be making some changes in my life and around here; since I plan to make it better for me, hopefully it’ll be more interesting for you in the year to come…

Written By: Gary on December 11, 2008 No Comment

oldgarylapointe.com.jpgSo I’ve had some pretty crappy pages up at GaryLaPointe.com and I was just planning on putting up WordPress as a CMS for it. Coincidentally, when I went to download one of the betas of WordPress 2.7, it turns out they had just released the final version of WordPress 2.7 so I used that! So far it’s working really great and I’m really liking the 2.7 admin interface (I really didn’t like the 2.6 interface) I think I originally started with 2.3.x.

Now GaryLaPointe.com looks nice. Although if you frequent this site there probably isn’t much there that you haven’t seen here (maybe some photos or something).

It’s got some great new features. I especially like the clickable installation of plug-ins and widgets (but it really needs a much much better search to find them). It’s supposed to run with GoogleGears, but I’m not really sure what it’s actually supposed to be saving me.

Here’s a video showing off some of the new features. Notice the HD link in the upper right corner for some great quality and try it full screen, you’ll love it.

I’ll be using it more and I hope to discover more features as time goes on (and as I wait for the Second Edition of WordPress for Dummies).FYI, If you’re reading this site there isn’t really anything you’re missing at GaryLaPointe.com, it’s mostly just reruns and stripped down versions of what I post here and on some of the social networks. It’s where I point other people for things about my travels without pointing them to all the other stuff I blog about here; I just feel that’s more professional with co-workers and such…

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Written By: Gary on December 5, 2008 One Comment

Here’s a quick video of the crowd gathered for the sunset and (of course) the sunset. This was at the north end of Jaco, almost in front of Clarita’s on the beach.

Watch the beach sunset video in HD!

Written By: Gary on December 5, 2008 No Comment

Taking a break from riding the scooter all over. I’m somewhere south of Jaco but north of Quepos, Costa Rica. Looking at a map, maybe somewhere near Parríta. Just a beautiful ride and a great day! I think I did about a 120 km and it was a blast.

Watch the video in High Definition.

Written By: Gary on December 1, 2008 One Comment

I found this over at MacRumors. It’s the Simpsons at the “mApple” Store. The more you know about Apple the more inside jokes you might catch (including a poke at a 20 year old commercial).

Direct link to the mApple Simpsons video.

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