Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Shave at the End of the Galaxy, or My Afternoon at Aidan Gill

Say what you will, most men do not get to go out and have a "Spa Day" like their significant others/female counterparts.  I discovered the relaxing effects of the shave years ago at The Art of Shaving, where they still use the age old tradition of hot towels and straight razors.  Fast forward to this year, I had the opportunity to accompany my wife to New Orleans for a conference, years before she discovered Aidan Gill on Magazine Street and she was in awe of all their products, and said if I ever came down, I should get a shave.  So I called the week before our trip and set up an appointment for saturday for a shave, and needing a haircut, went ahead and did that too.  First off, the back areas are for men only, sorry ladies, you'll have to wait in the shop area and peruse the hundreds of products for men and women.  Upon arrival for my shave and haircut, I was greeted by a young man in a suit and bow tie (because first bow ties are cool, and second its the standard faire at the shop).  He confirms my appointment, and then offers me a beverage, water, soda, beer or scotch.  I opt for an Abita amber, which was handed to me in a pint glass, I can already tell this is a class joint.  I am offered a seat in the middle of the store in an antique barber chair to wait while a young man of 6 or 7 is getting his hair cut. The child's mother stands at the edge of the space between the retail section and the barbershop.  She is directing the cut from their, based on the discussion, the poor kid got a bad supercuts and needed it fixed.  I drink my beer and take in the ambiance of the old world styling of the shop.  Everything seems antique and classic.  Shortly after, about a quarter a pint of beer later, Nathan introduces himself to me and says he will be taking care of me today and guides me to the "chair", now this is THE CHAIR, the one that was in the playboy article, you know the article, the one that said this was the #1 barbershop in America, plus Hunter S. Thompson has been here as well, so you know this place is legit!

The typical barbershop chatter starts, how do you usually get your hair cut, how often do you get it done, now give me those glasses and we'll get started.  I'll admit I've never had a haircut while holding/drinking a beer, and must admit, its now a new guilty pleasure.  We discussed the usual, what brings you to town, how did you hear about us, and my question, I as of all citizens of NOLA (becuase you get a different answer every time) "Where do you go for a po'boy?"  Nathan spouts off three different places, because one place has better oysters, the other has better shrimp, and then of course if you want roast beef, go to Mothers, all the while over this 30 minute period my hair is getting shorter, and my beer is getting lower.  I am then guided to the back of the shop, to what appears to be the studio of the masters, the subtle, yet classic shave room, two chairs, from here it's very quiet for the next 30 minutes/7 hot towels and an ice cold one last.  Into position in the chair, its shave oil first massaged into the beard to loosen things up, then a hot towel, then shave cream to start to soften the beard, then another hot towel, this goes on once more, all this before the razor even touches my face.  I ask about the razor and am told for sanitary reasons, they are not allowed to use straight razors in Louisiana.  They use the Gillette Mach 3, which surprised me, but still made the experience no less amazing.  I was amazed at the use of 7 hot towels and then the ice cold, I wondered if my beard was so tough thats why they used so much, but was told no, thats the standard for every man who gets the shave.  Rather than bore you with all this, I'll take the excerpt from Mr, Gill himself...

"And so, we begin a timeless shaving ritual honed to perfection by Mr. Gill in his sanctum, beginning with the first application of shaving lather massaged into the beard with great vigor.
This is followed by wrapping the face in a hot towel, dispensed directly from Mr. Gill's own antique chrome towel steamer and wafted gently over the face before wrapping. Mr. Gill explains: "The hot lather and hot towels are applied three times prior to the first pass of the shave. We do this to soften the beard and the skin."

The astute will notice that Mr. Gill refrains here from the use of a shave brush, as this is necessary in the shop for hygienic purposes. At home, Mr. Gill advises a good brush as an indispensable accouterment to the perfect shave. A good shave brush, he notes, should cost its user between $75 and $200 and will last for 10 to 20 years. Not a bad investment for the face.

And now, the razor's first pass. Having previously softened the beard, its bristles surrender more readily to the razor. The face is kept moist with the application of shaving oil, meanwhile, to ensure the maximum closeness of the shave.

Since the days of the barber-surgeons there has been much spirited debate on the merits and perils of shaving against the grain. Mr. Gill advises it in subsequent passes of the razor, after a first, with the grain endeavor. "Shaving this close and shaving against and across the grain is now possible because of the softening effect of the cream, the hot towels and the hot oil," he says.

Upon completion of the shave, after shave balm is applied (which will maintain the softness of the skin and beard, thus preparing it for the next day's assault), followed by another hot towel, more shaving balm and a final hot towel. To rouse our friend from thirty minutes of silent, blissful reverie, we conclude the ritual with the final towel. Mr. Gill explains: "The last towel of the shave, the coup de grace, is plucked from a tub of ice water and applied to the skin with a warning for the customer to brace himself. The towel calms the skin, closes the pores and invigorates."

Upon completion, I am offered another beer and the opportunity to just sit and relax, which I do, my face feeling smoother than a piece of glass, I hate to say that I've never come away from a shave with so close and smooth skin without so much as a nick or cut.  Nathan, hats off to you sir, you are an artist and a king among men!

So there it is, one more thing I can say without a doubt everyone who goes to NOLA needs to try,  Stay away from the one by the Casino, take the bus (it's an experience all to itself) head down to Magazine Street (the original) get a shave, get a haircut, get both, buy some supplies and then take the wife/significant other out on the town for dinner and then  just kiss her with that smooth face and she will tell you that it was worth it!  Oh and from what I hear, Juan's Flying Burrito is a couple doors down and pretty good!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Taking A Big Chance

So by know all you readers know that the iPhone 5 is coming, and well we all knew what it was gonna look like, thanks to all the leaks.  While I dont really know what all iOS 6 is bringing, they claim over 200 new features, but hell I'm sure I dont use all the features of iOS5.  That being said, the wife and I are both eligible and she needs an upgrade badly, so I did some research and thanks to @evolvedmommy, I went to Gazelle earlier in the week and locked in a great price for 2 pristine iPhone 4's (not 4s), that deal was $235 each, basically for two years use I lost $64, or I am getting a $235 discount on each phone.  But I did not pre-order via apple or AT&T, I'm going local this time, we have a reseller in town that seems really good and has waaay better customer service, and I'm 20th on the list for 2 new phones.  Fingers crossed they get enough on day 1 to take care of me, but if not its ok.  I'm not gonna stroke out if I dont have it right away.  I think the feature I'm most excited to play with is the new maps/navigation and passbook, you all know I already love the KeyRing app, so I will be interested to see how much was borrowed by apple.  I will try to keep you all posted as to my status, in the mean time, please enjoy this video showing how people really pay no attention!

Friday, August 31, 2012

What Happens to Our Brains During Exercise (and Why it Makes Us Happier)

All the credit for todays post goes out to lifehacker and Leo Widrich at Buffer (Thanks you guys, love your work!).  This is some Good stuff, sorry its so wordy!  There's a picture in there too to help with the words....

Most of us are aware of what happens to the body when we exercise. We build more muscle or more stamina. We feel how daily activities like climbing stairs becomes easier if we exercise regularly. When it comes to our brain and mood though, the connection isn't so clear. Leo Widrich, co-founder of social media sharing app Buffer, set out to uncover the connection between feeling happy and exercising regularly.

What triggers happiness in our brain when we exercise?

"Yes, yes, I know all about it, that's the thing with the endorphins, that makes you feel good and why we should exercise and stuff, right?" is what I can hear myself say to someone bringing this up. I would pick up things here and there, yet really digging into the connection of exercise and how it effects us has never been something I've done. The line around our "endorphins are released" is more something I throw around to sound smart, without really knowing what it means.

Here is what actually happens:

If you start exercising, your brain recognizes this as a moment of stress. As your heart pressure increases, the brain thinks you are either fighting the enemy or fleeing from it. To protect yourself and your brain from stress, you release a protein called BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor). This BDNF has a protective and also reparative element to your memory neurons and acts as a reset switch. That's why we often feel so at ease and like things are clear after exercising.

At the same time, endorphins, another chemical to fight stress, are released in your brain. Your endorphins main purpose are this, writes researcher MK McGovern:

What Happens to Our Brains During Exercise (and Why it Makes Us Happier)"These endorphins tend to minimize the discomfort of exercise, block the feeling of pain, and are even associated with a feeling of euphoria."

There is a lot going on inside our brain and it is oftentimes a lot more active than when we are just sitting down or actually concentrating mentally:

So, BDNF and endorphins are the reasons exercise makes us feel so good. The somewhat scary part is that they have a very similar and addictive behavior like morphine, heroin, or nicotine. The only difference? Well, it's actually good for us.

Don't do more, but focus on when

Now here is where it all gets interesting. We know the basic foundations of why exercising makes us happy and what happens inside our brain cells. The most important part to uncover now is, of how we can trigger this in an optimal and longer lasting way?

A recent study from Penn State shed some light on the matter and the results are more than surprising. They found that to be more productive and happier on a given work day, it doesn't matter so much, if you work-out regularly, that you haven't worked out on that particular day:

"Those who had exercised during the preceding month but not on the day of testing generally did better on the memory test than those who had been sedentary, but did not perform nearly as well as those who had worked out that morning."

New York Times bestselling author Gretchen Reynolds wrote a whole book about the subject matter called The First 20 Minutes. To get the highest level of happiness and benefits for health, the key is not to become a professional athlete. On the contrary, a much smaller amount is needed to reach the level where happiness and productivity in every day life peaks:

"The first 20 minutes of moving around, if someone has been really sedentary, provide most of the health benefits. You get prolonged life, reduced disease risk - all of those things come in in the first 20 minutes of being active."

So really, you can relax and don't have to be on the lookout for the next killer work out. All you have to do is get a focused 20 minutes in to get the full happiness boost every day:

"On exercise days, people's mood significantly improved after exercising. Mood stayed about the same on days they didn't, with the exception of people's sense of calm which deteriorated."(University of Bristol)

Make it a habit

Starting to exercise regularly or even daily is still easier said than done. At end of the day, there is quite a lot of focus required to get into the habit of exercising daily. The most important part to note is that exercise is a keystone habit. This means that daily exercise can pave the way not only for happiness, but also growth in all other areas of your life.

In a recent post from my colleague Joel, he wrote about the power of daily exercise for his every day life. Coincidentally, he follows the above rules very accurately and exercises daily before doing anything else. He writes:

"By 9:30am, I've done an hour of coding on the most important task I have right now on Buffer, I've been to the gym and had a great session, and I've done 30 minutes of emails. It's only 9:30am and I've already succeeded, and I feel fantastic."

I've spoken lots to Joel about his habit of exercising and here are some of the most important things to do in order to set yourself up for success and make your daily exercise fun:

  • Put your gym clothes right over your alarm clock or phone when you go to bed: This technique sounds rather simple, but has been one of the most powerful ones. If you put everything the way you want it for the gym before you go to sleep and put your alarm under your gym clothes, you will have a much easier time to convince yourself to put your gym clothes on.
  • Track your exercises and log them at the same time after every exercise: When you try to exercise regularly, the key is to make it a habit. One way to achieve this is to create a so called "reward", that will remind you of the good feelings you get from exercising. In our big list of top web apps, we have a full section on fitness apps that might be handy. Try out Fitocracy or RunKeeper to log your work outs. Try to have a very clear logging process in place. Log your work out just before you go into the shower or exactly when you walk out of the gym.
  • Think about starting small and then start even smaller: Here is a little secret. When I first started exercising, I did it with 5 minutes per day, 3 times a week. Can you imagine that? 5 minutes of timed exercise, 3 times a week? That's nothing you might be thinking. And you are right, because the task is so easy and anyone can succeed with it, you can really start to make a habit out of it. Try no more than 5 or 10 minutes if you are getting started.

The highest level of happiness happens at the beginning

As a quick last fact, exercise, the increase of the BDNF proteins in your brain acts as a mood enhancer. The effects are similar to drug addiction one study found. So when you start exercising, the feeling of euphoria is the highest:

"The release of endorphins has an addictive effect, and more exercise is needed to achieve the same level of euphoria over time." (McGovern)

So, if you have never exercised before (or not for a long time), your happiness gains will be the highest if you start now.

Leo Widrich is the co-founder of Buffer, a smarter way to share on Twitter and Facebook. Leo writes more posts on efficiency and customer happiness over on the Buffer blog. Hit him up on Twitter @LeoWid anytime; he is a super nice guy.

Image remixed from Julien Tromeur (Shutterstock).

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

How to Flatten Your Wallet (no not by giving me all your money)

In this age of membership cards, reward cards, and anything else that needs a barcode, if your like me you hate having to keep up with all those damn cards.  We men hate when our wallet looks like Costanza's, and we all know what happens then...  So along comes a not so new iPhone/Android app (trumpets sound), Key Ring.  It rediculously simple, you take all those cards, scan them in, most even have a lot of the company data preloaded, but whats even cooler, it doesn't even have to be a reward based card, your library card have a bar code, load it in manually.  Free you wallet of all that extra plastic.
Now I'm not getting any money from this, but this is one of those cool pieces of tech that I think everyone should know about.  The other cool thing is that the app will let you know if a company has an offer, like just know I checked and I can get a free cheese dip at On The Border, hey who doesn't like free cheese...especially in dip form.  So I hope you check it out, you can find it via tha app store just search for Key Ring or click on this link or here if your on android.  And you can follow the @keyringapp on twitter.

On a side note, week three of the new diet lifestyle, I'm down 8.5 pounds, and my blood sugar has been consistently in the 120's, down from the 200's.  :)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Today is the First Day of the Rest of Your Life...

So, I'm working again, which is reeking havoc on the toddlers schedule, she hates getting to daycare too early b/c the kiddos have to all play in the gym till 8 and the big kids are scary.  So from past posts, sporadic as they were, I mentioned that I have type 2 diabetes.  Well, just got more good news with my latest lab work, I have low testosterone, a vitamin D deficiency, my uric acid is too high, and my cholestorol was bad.  Yippee, more meds!  So, in addition to all this, I met with a diabetes educator and got put on a 2000 calorie/day diet as well as limiting my self to 17 carb units a day (a unit is 15 grams), the weight loss program has me on an appetite suppressant (another pill) plus weekly b12 shots.  So in addition to tracking everything on paper, I'm going to try to keep up with some stuff here, I know its not tech, but I hope you'll all support me through this.  So day 1, starting weight 263 pounds, BMI 42, average blood sugar 190.

Speaking of blood sugar, I got a free new meter, which is nice, it logs it all and then you can upload it to your pc or you Mac, thats right they support Mac, awesomesauce!  So we'll see how it goes, the lancet that came with it is far less painful than the one that came with my accucheck, but I dont like loading a needle everytime.

Wish me luck, I have two beautiful ladies to take care of and I need to stick around.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

How secure is your password

This past week, this article flew by in a whir and was almost missed.  I'm a loyal macrumors reader, but sometimes I just breeze past the More MacRumors stories sidebar.  But this should have been bigger news.  Blizzard, producer of the worlds largest MMO, World of Warcraft, and owner of the Diablo and Starcraft franchise, so when they report that they've been hacked, its big news, well it is to me.  I try to be secure, so secure in fact that some of my passwords are 50 alpha-numeric characters long.  In addion to that, I use a program that I find invaluable, 1Password, it works for Windows and Mac and saves all your passwords and all you have to remember is 1 password (see what they did there).  It also has a password generator, and the really cool thing you can save your password list to your dropbox account and have access to it everywhere.  They also have and iOS app, which comes in handy if your passwords are too long to remember.  I think what scares me the most about the whole Blizzard thing, is that they offer a free app on Android and iOS, the Mobile Authenticator, which is very similar to the RSA security fobs most businesses use.  It generates a random number every 30 seconds or so, and if you have one tied to your account you cant login unless you know the code.  What's worse is WoW players (like me) get a lot of spam, and it all looks legit, they are trying hard to get your authenticator codes, to hack your account sell your stuff and use you as a gold farmer.  I know everyone hears this all the time, if you get an email from someone, whether you know them or not, DO NOT just start clicking on links all willy nilly.  I'm sure the surprised cat is cute, but do you really want to chance it?  And no, you did not do something unbeleiveable in a video on facebook or twitter, again DO NOT click on these links.  I will not fix your computer because you were stupid.  Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is, even in real life as well as virtual, a free tablet is never a free tablet...

Lastly, want to know how quick your password can be cracked, check out this little doozey of a website, kinda cool.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Playing Catch Up

So given my penchant for irregualar posting, I feel some catching up is in order.  Last time I came to you dear readers was with my Dallas Comic-Con experience.  Well San Diego Comic-Con was last weekend, and no I didn't go, but I did hear about some cool stuff, Image Comics/Skybound/Robert Kirkman is doing a Zombie obstacle course, and when you complete it you get an exclusive Walking Dead #100, only available at the con.  If you know me, you know my love of TWD, its such an amazing story, the comics are incredible and really pull you in like no other book out there currently.  The TV show is also amazing, albeit the seasons are too short, but who thought we'd have a zombie TV show on in prime time?

Other than all that, just been trying to find a job, who knew how hard this was going to be, at this point i'd take my chances as a fry cook, in-between all that I've been sucked back into the world of Magic: The Gathering, a fun, yet addictive card game that I played way back in college (wish I hadn't sold all my cards).  The nice part about the game is it is social and I've made a lot of new acquaintances playing.

Got back to the Rock last weekend, it was nice, didn't do a whole lot, mostly time with family, did get to eat lunch with my 3 friends in Searcy, mmmm Mi Pueblito....and I got to see The Dark Knight Rises, oh my god, what a great movie.  To steal a quote from a friend, this is on par with the Lord of the Rings trilogy, they are not 3 separate movies, but one long epic, meant to be seen back to back.

The tech rumor mill is all abuzz regarding the new iphone, we all know its coming, and we all know we're going to buy it, but the question is, is this the new iphone?  I kinda hope so, I'm ready for something different, the 4 was a nice departure, but it still feels the same.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Reflections on Comic-Con

So, I went to my first official Comic Con, Dallas Comic Con was last weekend, and it was a surreal experience.  First let me forewarn you readers, this post will be dripping with fan boy rantings, and full of name drops.  That being said, the first rule of Conventions, wear comfy shoes.  A good friend of mine from back home came down for the weekend, not being a comic book fan, but a Star Wars nerd, I was confused as to why he would want to go to a comic book convention.  I realized it was more for the experience and of course to hang out with me (I mean who wouldn't want to hang out with me!).

The big draw for the con was of course Stan "The Man" Lee, who had to cut short his trip and was only available on Saturday, so they set him up special on Friday night, which I did not attend, although Stan has been an invaluable soldier in comic book creation, my goals were on a few other things.  Firstly, my two favorite people in the comic industry, who also happen to be Harding University graduates and from Little Rock, Mitch and Elizabeth Breitweiser were going to be there and they had a limited edition print that Mitch drew and Bettie colored.  Even cooler I found that it was limited to only 60 copies.  Those who don't know, the smaller the batch run, the more valuable these things are, but I don't care about that, I mean its original, and its limited, auto-buy.  Secondly, I had my three volumes of Batman by Neal Adams hardbacks that I wanted to get signed, which I did, and had them personalized to me, which I was informed made them less valuable, again, those are for me, no one else, so value be damned!  Oh wait, back to Mitch and Bettie, I had Mitch's first official series he did for Marvel, "Drax the Destroyer" 4 issues mini series, which I had him sign, along with Defenders #5 (the best so far, art wise), this was also a collaboration with Bettie, so I got her to sign as well.

Now let me go back a step here, so we got to the Irving Convention Center at 10 am, the show was supposed to open at 11, describing the line is hard, so lets just say it snaked its way from the door, up the stairs, down the stars, along the side of the building and then back to the street and then up the center of the stairs.  I really didn't pay a lot of attention to the time, but it was 1145 before we were inside.  another 75 minutes waiting for Neal Adams.  Then to learn that as I was heading to Kevin Conroy's line (he was the voice of Batman in the animated series in the '90's) only to learn it went all the way around the convention center and was capped, ok over to George Perez's line, oh wait its capped too.  Well lets check out the wares.  Tons of toys, books, comics, a booth selling knives and swords, no thats not dangerous...a booth selling custom leather work, including bracers, superhero masks, etc.  Costumes, yes, nerds do it right, from 7 year olds as Captain america, to a 60+ creepy Riddler (I swear he had free candy!).  We decided to grab some lunch and that took over an hour, then went to the panel room to get ready for Patrick Stewart, we got there an hour before and sat in on Neal Adams, who of course talked about how he was turned down by DC at first and wound up at Archie Comics, and was told all along that the industry would be dead in a year...Tons of stupid questions bounced off him and his son, but the best he answered with and get this he told us it was a lie.  "Who is your favorite character to draw?"  the truth is all of them, its just that much fun.  The lie, Batman, because he has a cape, and thats like drawing two people.  Honestly, I liked the lie!

Patrick Stewarts Panel, was packed, although not all the VIP seats were filled, so he made a comment about it and all of the sudden they were like you guys move on up... He told stories about his childhood growing up in England, and how he got started, and how he loved playing bad guys on stage.  About midway through, a question was pitched from the other side of the room, "Who was your favorite villain?"  Holy shit its John Delancie (Q from TNG).  He approaches the stage, and they have one of those moments, you know two old friends, give each other the handshake hug, and then start to reminisce.  So very cool!  Not one question about X-men, all about Star Trek and his Shakespearean works.  Fast forward, I leave a bit before its over to try one last time to get Perez, I have been lugging around the first six issues of the New 52 Superman for him and the lines not horrible, I am however at the very end.  told I will not make the cut today.  Fortunately one of my friends who works at the local shop is there and like 15th in line, tells me to give him my books and he'll get it for me.  That was awesome, thanks again Brad, you totally rock!

Sunday, my friend says we need to get there earlier, but today won't be as crowded as Saturday, as they never are.  So we get up and have a great breakfast at the Old West Cafe, 2 eggs, 2 bacon, hash browns, and some toast, they do it up right!  We roll out, 45 minutes later we're at the convention center, maybe 100th in line.  90 minutes till doors open.  Got a few shots of some great costumes, a great Batgirl, a mini Batgirl (she had to be 5 or 6), Maverick, Goose, and Iceman, a little girl as Indiana Jones (it was too cute!), Master Chief from Halo, Bane from the new Batman movie, a family of Superman, Supergirl, Green Lantern and the daughter was also Supergirl.  My one goal for Sunday was to get Kevin Conroy to sign my Batman the Animated Series Boxed Set.  I went immediately to the line to queue.  So, the ruling here is first is VIP then Priority, then General Admission.  We are told that the first hour will be only VIP and Priority, my thought is 11-12 right...well 1230 rolls and then we are told the line is capped and he has a hard stop at 330 to catch a flight.  the 3 people in front of me start raising all kinds of hell, and genuinely so, we could have been up there waiting, but they held us all back.  They claim if they get though all that that then they will let us through.  The Red-shirted nerd with a little power leaves and the orange shirt guy was like you 4 go on, no promises, but I'll let you through.  fast forward 2 hours and we are through, I'm standing in front of the man who no one will recognize in a photo, but the minute you hear his voice its like, holy shit your batman!  He signs my stuff, even stops for a photo, and I'm done.  Wow, that was incredible, and to the soldier in front of me, good luck on your deployment, and thank you for being such a hard ass to the line nazi and getting us through!  I also found out that Mitch's print of 60 sold out mid day saturday, which is awesome!

So that was my experience for Stan Lee presents Dallas Comic Con, lots of line standing, great people watching, and overall a fun weekend!  Next time, I'm going VIP, 30 minutes early and line cuts sound good to me!

Live long and prosper.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Schools Out (Almost)!

Doesn't quite ring as big as I can remember in my younger years, that last day, no books, throwing out all the garbage from your locker, expelling all that knowledge as you push that door to the summer wide open and hit the bricks for home.  At least I rode my bike, I lived close, and it was fun.  Now, I ponder, I really need to find a part time gig, something to allow me some walking around money, I don't need to get rich, just be able to spend my own money.  Not working has really made me realize that all that time I was told it was "our" money, well it really was, and it still is.

There are a few things on my to do list for the summer, first I need to get this bunion removed from my foot, that is supposedly going to put me out of commission for at least 2-4 weeks (driving at least).  Second, I have a lot of reading that I want to do, number one on  the list is "Steve Jobs" by Walter Isaacson, and yes I have a real hardback book, I know theres something about reading the biography of Steve Jobs on my iPad, but I have the book and I'll read the book.  The second book, a bit more niche is "The Walking Dead, The Rise of the Governor" - by Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga, those who read the comics will know who The Governor is, and no its not AH-nold.  Beyond that, I just want to survive my first Texas summer and spend time with the Toddler.  On the Toddler, we are still fighting the I don't want to eat anything thats not brown and fried, and still trying to potty train.

Not much else at the moment, will try to update more often.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Good Friday

So it's almost here, Easter, for those of you who are good catholics, it means next friday you can eat red meat!  But seriously, it is Easter, and we all know thats when we celebrate the reanimation of zombie Jesus with chocolate bunnies and deviled eggs (seriously whose idea was that?).  For those of us who are parents its another excuse to get your child more toys/games/etc.  In our case, I made the mistake of showing the wee one the Dora the Explorer Microphone, not fully thinking of the ramifications of my actions (no remember pre children, my favorite thing was buying the most annoyingly loud toy for any of my friends kids).  All through Target she's pressing the button and singing along..."Come on vamanos, everybody lets go!  Come on, let's get to it.  I know that we can do it."  Which mind you is cute there first two or three times, but after 10 minutes of various songs, I wanted to put it back, and we all know how hard that can be once they have it in their hands.  So, its been hiding out since we got home last weekend, and I really don't know what to do, I need to explore it to see if there's a volume control, but I fear there isn't one.  What do you do in these situations?

It's been this way for almost two years now, and next Friday I'll be 38, which puts me closer and closer to 40 and further and further away from 30.  20 year reunion, yes I'm sure its sometime this summer, and yes I'll probably go to see everyone who didn't like me then, but now we're all Facebook friends.  See how many kids everyone has, see who's already going grey (this guy, but it blends well with the blonde).  I remember my 10 year, sorta, the first night was a drunken haze, the bbq the second day was a total blurry hangover.  And the dinner the last night was really nice down at the train station.  Queue Boyz II Men's its so hard to say goodbye (which every senior class from 92-95 used as their anthem), and scene.  But seriously there are a few people who I genuinely miss and will enjoy seeing.  Did I mention my birthday is next week?  Presents are not optional, please send cash or gift cards.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

All Tapped Out

Good morning, as I sit here with my cup of Barista Prima House Blend, I was thinking, "self, you haven't posted on your blog in a while."  So here we go...

The Walking Dead - so did you watch season two?  I know I did, man what a ride, SPOILER ALERT, The show started off to me what seemed very slow, I thought the whole search for Sophia took a bit too long, but man the payoff was well, sad, but omg, when she came shambling out of the barn, I was like oh no, but then it turned to holy crap, I can't believe they did that!  The continued transformation of Shane was also a great journey.  Note to readers, if a friend comes back from a supply run alone, and then immediately shaves his head and has a dark look about him, don't trust him!  Throughout the comics and the TV show, I always felt Dale was the moral anchor of the group, his death hit me the hardest on the show, I felt it was too soon, I have been emotionally connected to his character ever since the first season when he was going to stay behind with Andrea, "You can't just come into someones life, make them care, and then just check out."  He was always the voice of reason, the voice that said we're still human, and we need to act like civilized people.  Oh yeah, and we're all infected and this is not a democracy!  And as per Chris Hardwick (@nerdist) Armless Zombies are the new spring style!

Comic Books - Not a lot to mention here, but Scott Snyder (@ssnyder1835) has just been killing on Batman.  Apparently without Bruces knowledge there is a secret society called The Court of Owls thats been ruling Gotham for what sounds like centuries.  The books are nothing short of the best read from a comic I've had since "Hush" or "Identity Crisis"  Both excellent reads and I highly recommend them, and they are available in beautifully collected "Absolute Editions".  You should totally buy them.  SPOILER ALERT, Nightwing (Dick Grayson) was selected to be groomed as a Talon, and by the by, Batman can hit you in exactly the right spot to knock out a specific tooth!  EPIC.  I don't know where this story is headed, but as long as Snyder stays on it, we're in for one hell of a ride!

Magic: The Gathering - Yes, I got back into it, I hadn't played since college, some friends back in Arkansas reignited my interest in this social card game.  I have to say I forgot how much fun it is, the thrill of cracking a pack and the hunt for rare cards.  The joy of opening a $3.99 pack of cards and pulling out a $60 card (good return on investment imho).  What I don't like is that I got back in during the middle of a cycle, so everyone else seems to have way better cards than me, so I tend to lose a lot.  The sets come out in Blocks, and each block contains three separate sets of cards (about 400-600 per block), plus each year they drop a Core Set, now you dont need every card, but you do want to try.  Currently Standard consists of Mirridon Block, Innistrad Block and 2012 Core set, I have Innistrad and core, but I don't have Mirridon, which sometimes puts me at a disadvantage, and I'm not about to drop $$$ on a set that will soon be phased out of Standard, which is October I believe.  Mind you I'm a very casual player and collector, some of these guys have way to much MTG committed to memory, kinda like those sports guys who know every roster and stat for high school/college/pro football/basketball.  I also listen to the guys over at MTGCast's weekly podcast Limited Resources, although they don't do a lot of standard, its informative and they occasionally talk about current strategies/cards, I love the draft talk and their judgements on what cards are worth drafting when they do a crack a pack.  Just found another one this week, not sure what they spend all their time on yet, but its called The Mana Pool.  My only complaint is that these are not on Stitcher, this app is so good, you take your favorite podcasts and then it will auto update each time you launch and boom there they are.  So much easier than having to check itunes all the time.

Well, thats all I have for now, Catch up on the walking dead on iTunes, or pre-order the Blu-Ray, go play some magic on Friday Nights, its fun and a great way to meet new people.  And go to your comic shops, I know digital is cool, but you cannot beat the experience of going to the store, finding something new, and just having those great geeky conversations about how Rob Liefeld can't draw feet, or that female superheroes must have major back problems from the heaving pendulous breasts.   Signing off, you have the con, get to the choppah, and remember, I'll be back!

Oh, crap, totally forgot about this, but this looks so cool....

Thursday, March 1, 2012

words, words, words, BBC America....

When it comes to TV, I am trending more towards BBC America.  I started watching Being Human there first, but now I watch both versions, and sometimes that confuses me.  Doctor Who, while I admit I am not a full-on Whovian, I do like the show, I watched when Eccleston took over, then bowed out, but for some reason Matt Smith in fezz and bowtie, bowties are cool!, got me sucked back into the show, and I have been watching religiously ever since.  My most recent show was a short series called The Fades, a interesting supernatural show about a young boy who as it turned out has supernatural powers, basically he can see spirits, called Fades, and this power makes him an Angelic.  The story was slightly hard to follow, but I really liked it, it left the ending open for more, which I assume they are going to do.

Now, lets talk about Being Human on BBCA, it was great for the first 3 series, believable, great storyline, easy to see how each character feels.  No with Series 4 just starting last week (spoiler alert), they've jumped the shark, pulled a Back to the Future, and killed off 3 of the 5 main characters, of which I really don't like 1, so its the core 4 that have always been my favs.  I'm going to give it another couple of shots, but I just don't know.  I'm so ready for Doctor Who to come back on, and not ready for Walking Dead to end their season and have to wait till Halloween for more...

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

ZOMG, this looks so cool!

How cool does Darkseid look?  This is from the variant cover to Justice League #6.  Oh, in other news, I just read that Justice League #1 has gone back to print for a seventh time, making it the bestselling book of 2011 and still trending strong into 2012.  I think this is the only New 52 book to hit this milestone.  So far its been a great read, but if you haven't gotten into it yet, I'd wait for the trade, as the story is slow, and being able to read it without any ads would be very nice. 

My other favorite so far has been the Court of Owls storyline that Scott Snyder has been running in Batman.  I have to say that this is by far my favorite Batman story since Hush.  The emotions running in the story really resonate and you can see how Bruce is dealing with all that's happening throughout.  This is IMHO Snyder's best work to date.

Nothing else new to report on the geek front, go out and have a great Wednesday, its hump day after all, go get some humps, some humps, some lovely lady that was so bad.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Comic Book Men

So, it's been two episodes and I just can't give Kevin Smith anymore of my time.  I guess I just don't dig him like I used to.  The premise, albeit gave me a nerdgasm, a day in the life of the comic book store.  But it just feels too scripted, too fake, and honestly the shopkeepers seem like douches and jackwagons.  I've spent many an hour at a CBS, browsing, reading, playing games, geeking out, discussing who'd win in a fight Shazam or Thor, Batman vs Iron Man, Superman vs well anyone (still think Wonder Woman could take him!).  I've also been listening to comic book podcasts of late, and maybe that has me jaded, these are from the fans, not shop owners, these are they guys who are out there every Wednesday hitting the shelves to fill their needs (yes a comic book is like a soap opera for guys, without all the bad acting).  I've been working on my list of things I'd like to do this year, so far I've gone back to school...I'd like to participate in or start my own comic fan podcast.  I am slightly slanted as I really only read DC, but I'm always up to talk about anything... Did you see The Walking Dead this week?  See that's how my brain works, it's the whole ADD, oh look a duck, but with cool geekiness.   That being said, I really don't know how many people actually read this, I don't get many comments, but I do see the page views spike after a new post.  If your reading this, leave a comment, let me know who you are and where you come from, feel free to comment, call me a clownshoe, whatever, just don't sit back and lurk the boards...

Back to geekiness, I've been messing with DSLR photography since October more seriously, yes my camera is off of Auto.  I'm running into issues trying to catch the kiddo in action, by the time I get the settings down she's right up in the lens, should I use my 55mm or the 18-55mm  I like the fixed focal length on the 55mm, but sometimes I think it should really be just for portraits, please tell me your thoughts if your a photo nut on what the 55mm should be used for.  Should I just carry my DSLR with me everywhere in case I see something that just looks great, or should I just go out somewhere I've never been and just take a ton of pics?  Seems like all I ever take are family shots indoors or out at an event like the Zoo, etc.  What did you do to get better at finding "the shot"?

With all the hullabaloo about the iPad 3, a friend of mine on Facebook summed it up pretty well, "I'd rather have thin than a ridiculous pixel density."  I think I have to agree, while I love my iPad, I still don't see how it fits into my digital life fully, I don't like using it for typing notes in class, as I just don't like the non keyboard tacticity (is that a real word?).  My daughter is content using it to watch Dora or Diego, which is great, since it frees up the big TV for adult use.  I'm starting to feel like I use it less and less, I don't read on it all the time, I still prefer a real book, I don't play as many games on it like I used to, and well, the movies I have on it are great, but I don't have a lot of free time to watch them.  Occasionally I'm a Twitter S#|$$er, or will browse the web while on the throne (who doesn't?).  I guess since the move, the relegation that I'm unemployed, and now a student, the iPad just doesn't seem like the business tool I thought it would be.  And why does blogger look like a steaming pile on it?  How can I blog remotely when it looks like something that a cat coughed up?  Although, it appears that MS Office has been seen running on the iPad, and its close to a release, shame apple beat you to the game here with iWork for the iPad, think I can squeeze in another i product into this sentence, how about iOS is great, I love iMacs, and I'm a total iTool!  HA, Bazinga!

Monday, January 2, 2012

My Tech Wishes for 2012

Since it's the new year, and while most people are making resolutions that will be devoid of completion in the next 30 days, I've moved on.  Yes, thats right, no resolutions, reservations, rest stops, repartees, raptures, or ray guns, well maybe ray guns, ray guns are cool!

No, just a few things on my tech wish list for the year that I hope to see.

First, a new iPhone, yes I like the idea of a new phone with an aluminum back looking like a mini iPad.  I like it, I think its sexy, classy, and cool.  With all the other phones, the iPhone needs a bigger screen, those new Samsung's are very sexy with their big wide screens.

Second, an affordable TV made by Apple (oxymoron I know, nothing by Apple is generally accepted as "affordable" but given the "smart TV's" that are already out there, I think its doable.  Keeping it at manageable sizes; 32" & 37" would be ideal as a companion for most folks as your main home theater setup is generally in a man cave/living room/theater room, this would be an ideal size for an office, bedroom, etc.  All the added features of an iOS connected TV would be great when your getting ready to go, weather, maps, etc.

Third, an updated MacBook Air lineup with a new 15" model, I've always wanted one of these, but 11" and 13" is just a bit to small for my sausage hands to manipulate the keyboard.

Fourth, and these are just things that are already out, and are on my want list.  I really want a 55-300mm lens for my camera, a nice tripod, and a speed light.

So thats it for now, just a quick post of what I think may happen, and some stuff I'd love to see!

Be calm and don't blink.