September 28, 2008

My 2009 Calendar

Several months ago I caught an article on self publishing that featured links to a number of sites, including Lulu. Then I later found out that you can create calendars on Lulu.

Now I'm a big fan of art and enjoy all sorts of computer wallpaper, which I change daily. But the thought of creating a calendar with images I hand picked was just too good to pass up.

It arrived last week and it's beautiful! I can't find links to all the images, but here are most of them:

January (screen capture from Babylon 5)
March - a wallpaper created from this strip on Penny Arcade
April - a clever digital manipulation, April Fools!
July - a closeup on the snake's head doubles as the cover
November (photo of a leaf floating on pond, dark blue, w/black branches reflected in water.)
December (there are 4 images in 'water flame fantasy', you should Google it.)

For those that know me well enough, you're probably saying "What, no Trek?" There was an image that was a close runner-up, but just didn't make the cut this year.

September 27, 2008

Energy Drink

I've tried several energy drinks, much to my dissatisfaction. They all taste like a mouthful of Ginger Ale and Pixie Stix.

I have found that Nitro2Go not only works, but isn't as foul as the rest. (I don't know why it's listed here for $9.99, it's like $4 in Wawa.)

'Isn't as foul' - no that's a ringing product endorsement!

Seriously, it's the size of a shot, so you slug it down and you're done.

September 14, 2008

Biplane Flight

On Saturday I drove up to Van Sant Airport in Bucks county PA, where I met Jim, Rusty and Bob. While there, I took a flight in a Stearman biplane.

Not just a normal flight, mind you. When given the options over the phone, I was told that the Barnstormer package was basically a nice scenic flight in this vintage aircraft, whereas the Aerobatic plan was a flight with rolls, spins and stuff you'd see in an air show. Given that it was only a 25 dollar difference, plus the fact that I'm a huge fan of roller coasters, I went with the Aerobatic.

I definitely made the right choice.

For one thing, being in an airplane you're not thrown around as much as in a roller coaster. Coasters are designed for hard turns, basically battering the passengers around inside the car. Airplanes, especially propeller aircraft with their slower air speeds, aren't designed for that kind of battering.

Wearing a parachute was a nice added bonus.

The ride was great. For one thing, you're in an open cockpit, so other than a very small windshield directly in front of you, you're in the open air. And it doesn't hurt your eyes or anything, matter of fact for the first few minutes I forgot to put my goggles on. As an added bonus I was sitting in the front seat; I suppose this is because the Stearman was designed as a military trainer.

We started out with a couple of loops. The pilot would explain each maneuver, then warn me just before execution. After each one he'd ask how I was doing, I guess to see if I was getting sick or something (I wasn't - matter of fact, I was loving it more and more!) We progressed to an Immelmann, then a variety of Cuban Eights (which I'd never heard of before). We finished with a Hammerhead (vertical climb to stall, then knife over until nose points toward ground), into a corkscrew spin. Then we buzzed the field before circling back around for landing. (Here's a link for most of these maneuvers).

It was fantastic. On a lot of these turns I found myself looking out over the wing, to watch the horizon pivot around the aircraft. Or I'd look at the ground (when we were pointed at it), watching it rush up towards us. Even upside-down, this was a great experience.

I've seen many air shows in my day and marveled at the aerobatics. I've even got to watch a couple of fighter planes knife out of the clouds to refuel in the KC-135 I got lucky enough to get a ride in. But now I can finally say that I've been in an aircraft and experienced this first hand.

September 12, 2008

World War Z Movie

I just found out that the book World War Z is in pre-production for a film. The screenplay is being written by J. Michael Straczynski (of Babylon 5 fame) no less!

The book is written after a worldwide outbreak of zombies; humanity has recovered and is rebuilding civilization, when the author travels the globe to record first-person accounts. All types of people are represented, from every corner of the globe, each with a unique viewpoint. The story is even graced by a few famous people, some real and others thinly disguised doppelgangers of well known people.

Like the great Romero films, the science in this is lightly handled...the dead have risen and eat the living, it's just about that simple (though it seems to be a viral infection of some sort, not something mysterious ala Romero).

If you're a fan of zombies or horror, you'll find this book impossible to put down. But a movie based on this book? I can't wait to preorder my ticket!

September 08, 2008

A Second Death for Smooth Jazz WJJZ

WJJZ was the smooth jazz station of Philadelphia for a long, long time. For over a decade 106.1 was the home of jazz music in the Philly region.

Then, in 2006, it was usurped without notice by Clear Channel, becoming a soft rock station.

WJJZ managed to return several months later at 97.5, thanks in part to fan outcry. There it's managed to stay, until two days ago.

Now, once more, WJJZ has vanished from the airwaves, to be replaced by a soft rock format.

At least this time the new management posted a letter on the official web site, explaining what happened. Still, this was a station I used to relax to at night, so I'll miss it.

September 06, 2008

Watch Leasing

I was reading Maxim and saw an ad for this site. At first I couldn't believe it, who in their right mind would lease a wrist watch? But I suppose there must be a market for today's Yuppies who can't afford a Rolex outright.

Death of The Voice

Don LaFontaine, "that announcer guy from the movies" featured in the GEICO commercial, has died. He had a long career and voiced over 5,000 movie trailers, as well as other voice work. For more, read this article.