Archive for April, 2007

Scullin’ Pints with Gaelic Storm

When I was in high school back in Hawaii, one afternoon my tech theatre teacher asked if anyone was going to go see Gaelic Storm.

“No, what kind of music do they play?” we asked.

“Irish music,” he replied. None of us were terribly impressed until he continued, “They’re that band from the party scene in Titanic.”

That changed everything, and we couldn’t get tickets fast enough. Now, nine years later, I’m still a fan. I’ve been to two of their concerts (two years in a row in Hawaii), have all six of their CDs (one of the signed!), and several T-shirts (again, one of them is signed).

I’ve tried to keep up with the band over the years. I’ve bought every new album, kept track of the how the band has changed (which is a lot; for some reason they go through fiddle players like mad), and kept an eye on their tour schedule. Sadly, they’ve never some near Spokane.

Never, that is, until last night.

A couple of weeks ago, Morah and I were in Clarkston visiting her mom. As we were driving back from our fourth trip to Home Dept that day (it wouldn’t be our last), out of the corner of my eye, I noticed the words, “Gaelic Storm” on a billboard.

“WHA?!” I exclaimed.

I was excited to discover that they were coming to Dogwood Festival in Lewiston, ID (which, if you don’t know the geography, is literally a stone’s throw away from Clarkston, as long as you’re standing at the border). I was going to bum around Spokane this weekend or go up to my parents’ cabin, but there was no way I was going to miss seeing Gaelic Storm again.

Morah, unfortunately, was in Kennewick for a seminar or conference or something.

So last night, Morah’s mom and I went to the show, which was awesome as usual. They tried to get people to dance, and I wanted to, but the only people who danced were a group of pre-teen girls who actually knew what they were doing (they were trained in Irish Dance) and girl who I think had ADHD. The Irish dancing was cool, but the girls couldn’t break away from pre-rehearsed dances, so they couldn’t improvise at all and only did a couple of routines before sitting down again. The girl with ADHD was, no joke, all over the place. Her boyfriend was embarrassed and refused to dance with her (I told him it was the price, and he agreed with me, but I don’t blame him for not wanting to dance with her). Alas, no one else danced (actually, ADHD girl did manage to yank one guy out of the audience, but as soon as they dance near his seat again, he quickly sat back down). Back in Hawaii, tons of people would dance. None of us really knew what we were doing, but at least we were having fun doing it. Even without the dancing, I had a great time singing along with all of the songs.

One thing that the band has always done is announce which bar they’re going to after the show. Now obviously, back in high school, I couldn’t go hang out with the band at the pub. Now that I’m old enough, I couldn’t be stopped from going.

While we were waiting, I decided to order a pint of Guinness. Friends, family, and long-time readers will know that I don’t have a taste for beer. I’ve never liked it, even though I wish I did (it really would make life easier sometimes). I am proud to say that, not only did I finish the entire pint, but I didn’t hate it. Needless to say, I was quite pleased with myself.

The band showed up and we told them what a great time we had. I mentioned to Steve and Patrick that I hadn’t seen them in eight years.

“Where did you see us eight years ago?” Patrick asked.

“In Hawaii in ’98,” I replied.

“Jesus!” he exclaimed, “Really?”

Patrick seemed genuinely impressed. They were really nice and thanked me for coming to the show and being such a big fan. I’ll have to be sure to keep checking Gaelic Storm’s website so I can see them the next time they come to the region.

It was a late night, and to make it to the concert, I had to miss the A T. rex Named Sue media party in Spokane (where I would have been highly lauded for creating the SueCam), but it was definitely worth it.

Live Blogging the Death Bed

This is so going to be me.

Friday Funday CXLIV

Friday Funday brings you some fun and interesting links from my travels around the internet. Funday links will open in a new window.

Processing Game [del.icio.us]

I have no idea why this is called Processing Game (perhaps that’s not really the title?). You’re a little purplish-blue block and you have to avoid the oncoming bars. Click and hold the left mouse button to float up, release to float down.

Tom Mabe funny phone call [del.icio.us]

What I don’t like about Tom Mabe is that he breaks the law for some of his pranks (in this one, he impersonates a police officer). What I like about Tom Mabe is that he’s hilarious.

National Geographic: Japanese Hornets / Bees [del.icio.us]

I saw this once before, but it’s been a while. Pay close attention the temperatures mentioned toward the end of the video. Further proof that nature is simply amazing.

Circlo [del.icio.us]

This game starts out easy enough, but quickly becomes more challenging (make sure you have a plan!).

Best Online Documentaries [del.icio.us]

I don’t about them being the best, but the list is certainly long at over 500 videos. Many of them are quite good, though.

Twitter: WTF?

Much ado has been made about Twitter since its release (actually, it only really started to get popular after SXSW), but is it much ado about nothing?

To be honest, I don’t get it. I’ve been wanting to blog about this for a while, but I’ve been apprehensive lest I was just missing the obvious (ironically, Obvious is the company that created Twitter). Yesterday, Kris and I were chatting and we were both relieved to hear that the other was absolutely clueless as to the point. At least now we know we’re not the only ones.

So what is the point? According to Wikipedia, “Twitter is a social networking and micro-blogging service”. Twitter poses the question, “what are you doing,” and users have 140 characters to answer.

In other words, Twitter is like Blogger, but instead having long, pointless posts, there are short, pointless tweets (yes, posts on Twitter are called tweets).

Twitter isn’t the only site offering this, uh, service. Jaiku and Dodgeball both do, more or less, the same thing The real question is, how do companies like Twitter make any money? As it happens, I read an article earlier today that sought to answer that question. The only problem with the article is that the six ways Twitter can make money are all stupid. Twitter Pro? You expect people to pay for… What? What would they be paying for? 280 characters? Merchandise? I don’t mind looking like a geek, but even I wouldn’t wear a Twitter T-shirt.

The bottom line is, in order to make money, the product must have value. Until I can figure out what the value is, I don’t see how Obvious can possibly hope to make any real money from Twitter. So please, if you can explain what the point is and why Twitter has value, let me know.

Until then, you won’t hear a tweet out of me.

Me vs. The Universe

The universe is conspiring against me.

I suppose it really is my fault for going to Starbucks in the first place. When a couple of my co-workers asked if I wanted anything, I said no, but decided to tag along anyway. When we got to Starbucks, the pastries all looked at me from behind the glass. I tried to ignore them, but they all looked so good (except for the Lemon Zucchini Loaf. I mean, yuck, right?). In the face of such temptation, I made a deal with myself. I could get a snack or a drink, but not both.

After briefly weighing my options, I decided that a drink could act as a snack, but a snack — that is, a pastry-type snack — couldn’t act as a drink. So drink it was.

If you’ll allow me a brief departure, the story will make a lot more sense later on.

When I was in Hawaii back in October, Morah and I met our photographer at a Starbucks. One of the employees there had invented a variation on the Green Tea Frappuccino that made it taste, more or less, like mint-chip ice cream. At the time, I didn’t have the presence of mind to ask how it was made (actually, I think I did ask, I just didn’t write it down or bother to remember). When we got back to the mainland, I found myself wanting one more and more, which led to a horribly failed experiment (a horribly failed Venti-sized experiment, no less). I finally came to the conclusion that the only way to satisfy my urge was to call up the Starbucks in Hawaii and ask for the recipe, which is as follows:

1 Green Tea Frappuccino

Substitute peppermint syrup for the melon syrup.

Add java chips (they’re sometimes known as mocha chips).

With the recipe in hand (well, in mind anyway; it’s pretty easy to remember), I was finally able to start ordering them at my local Starbucks. And I have been, pretty much every time we go (which isn’t as often as I’m making it sound). It’s such a unique drink, that about half the staff knows what it is, and I only have to start ordering it (or, in the case one guy, walk up to the counter) and they know what to do.

That brings us back to this morning’s adventure.

Part of my deal with myself was that, if I got a drink, it could only be a Tall. After all, I’m trying to cut down on my calorie consumption. I know, I shouldn’t have had it in the first place, but that’s why I think the universe is conspiring against me.

I was good (mostly). I ordered the Tall. I paid for the Tall. I waited patiently for my Tall to be made. Which is why I was so surprised when a Venti showed up at the drink pick-up counter. At first I thought, “Oh, a Venti, that must not be my drink, even though it looks exactly like it.” Then the barista rattled off the order.

Everyone nearby looked sort of nonplussed.

“Oh,” I thought, “A Venti.”

Most people would probably think, “I paid for a Tall but got a Venti? I’ll just keep my mouth shut and this can be how Starbucks pays me back for over-charging me for their coffee, which tastes like shit.”

All I thought was, “Shit.”

I know I said Tall, but perhaps she heard Venti (I do tend to mumble). Perhaps she gave me the larger drink on purpose as a friendly gesture. Or, since she’s one of the employees who is familiar with the drink, perhaps she went into auto-pilot and thought, “This guy always orders Venti Fraps.”

I don’t, by the way. I can’t remember the last time I actually ordered a Venti. Remember when I was telling you about the experiment gone wrong and how it was a Venti? I had ordered a tall.

In all honesty, I really didn’t want a Venti. A Grande wouldn’t have been so bad, but a Venti? I get a stomach ache just looking at one. How anyone can drink that much and not feel gross afterward is beyond me.

I could have pointed out her error, but the line was huge (and full of hot chicks, for some reason) and I didn’t want to waste other peoples’ time. Plus, I get the feeling that she would have let me keep the Venti anyway.

Was this some sort of punishment for ordering a drink being meted out by a cruel and vindictive universe? Is it just my bad luck that the one time I don’t want a gigantic drink, that’s when I get one (for free, no less)?

So I drank the stupid Frappuccino, and now I feel kind of sick. Perhaps I should have bought one of the pastries instead. And all this on the heels of yesterday’s post.

Eating Like Goldilocks (Just Right)

This started out as a comment on Kris’ recent blog post about dieting, but grew to be so long that I decided to post it here.

In his entry, Kris talks about eating until you’re “not hungry” instead of eating until you “feel full”.

That’s a real key to eating less. We’re conditioned to think that we’re supposed feel full at the end of a meal (such as those Taco Bell ads where the guy triumphantly shouts, “I’m full!”), but really, we’re just supposed to feel =not hungry=.

When I first started counting calories, I was surprised at how little food it took to feel “not full”. Instead of eating a whole big bunch of food, I only had to eat a little bit. Instead of feeling either hungry or full, I found that, by changing how much I ate and when I ate it, I reached a point where I never felt full, but also never felt hungry.

Another change was when to eat (and how frequently). Different diets will tell you different things about the exact times (for example, The Zone says you should eat within an hour before going to bed, whereas other diets tell you not to eat within three hours of going to bed), but one thing they all agree on is the frequency. You should eat about five times a day, three meals and two snacks. It’s usually a good idea to start with carbs and move toward proteins as the day goes along. A high-carb breakfast will kick-start your metabolism and a high-protein dinner will end up with less of your food being stored as fat (depending on how lean/sugary your meat is).

My pattern is pretty well established, but if I eat a particularly large meal (say, lunch), I’m not afraid to skip my next snack. The really hard part was eating when I wasn’t hungry. If it’s snack time and I’ve had a normal meal (that is, one that I wouldn’t consider to be big, or that wasn’t high in calories), then I know I’m supposed to eat. Again, the idea is not to feel hungry or full. If you’re hungry, it’s a sign that you need to eat; if you’re full, it’s a sign that you’ve eaten too much.

I just said that, when you feel hungry, you need to eat. Be careful with this one. When I first started eating less, I found that, from time to time, I would think that I was hungry when I really wasn’t. I quickly learned to drink some water and wait. If I thought about it and I was still hungry, then okay, perhaps I really was. But most of the time, after a few minutes, the feeling went away.

Another thing to be careful with is eating too few calories. If you do, bad things can (and probably will) happen. For example, you can pass out like I did once when I didn’t eat enough (luckily Morah was home to help me. Believe me, it was scary as hell). Also, your body will start to panic and go into starvation mode. This means that you’ll actually store more of your calories as fat. Your body thinks it won’t be getting enough to eat, so it stores everything it can as quickly as it can. People who are obese are often shocked (and sometimes angry) when they’re told that, in order for them to lose weight, they need to eat more.

Anyway, that’s plenty for now. I hadn’t planned to write a whole diatribe about dieting. Geez, I’m blogging like Phoenix does (except that Phoenix hasn’t updated his blog in almost half a year).

The thing to take away from all of this is that dieting is different for everyone and you need to find what works for you. Do the research, talk to a doctor or nutritionist, and be smart. Everyone needs to eat a different number of calories, so what works for me (or Kris), may not work for you. And before everyone starts flaming me for what I’ve said, this are things that I believe to be true based on what I’ve read or learned over the years. If you’re going to correct me, please be polite about it.

Why do straights hate gays?

I just read this great op-ed written by 72 year old ACT UP founder Larry Kramer. It’s a frank and honest look at what’s wrong with America.

Friday Funday CXLIII

Friday Funday brings you some fun and interesting links from my travels around the internet. Funday links will open in a new window.

Aqua Teen Hunger Force Low Bandwidth Site [del.icio.us]

There’s also a high bandwidth site, but this low bandwidth site made me laugh out loud. If you haven’t been on the internet long enough, this is what most personal web sites looked like back in the late 1990s (yes, even mine looked awful. Not quite this awful, but bad nonetheless).

Twiggy the Waterskiing Squirrel [del.icio.us]

This is a bit of inside joke in news industry. In the movie Anchorman, they poke fun at it, and Twiggy was recently on David Letterman, where the same joke was told (the joke is that, each time Twiggy is shown, it’s touted as being either exclusive footage or the first time it’s been shown on TV). Most news stations play a Twiggy clip at least once a year, but more frequently is not abnormal. Ask almost anyone who has worked in television news for any length of time and they’ll know about the clip. What made me seek out Twiggy’s website in the first place was something I got in the mail at work from CNN. They were talking about the various type of news stories they have for us to put on our site. One of the categories is “offbeat”. Each category had a few photos next to it, and the largest photo next to offbeat was Twiggy. I burst out laughing.

Neave [del.icio.us]

Remember back in Friday Funday CXV when posted Neave TV? I recently discovered that there’s a lot more to Neave, and it’s all pretty damn cool.

Feed the Head [del.icio.us]

I don’t even know how to explain this. It’s not really a game, most just a… Thing.

10mg [del.icio.us]

I wasn’t going to post this, but I ran out of interesting things to post, so I’m posting this weird one instead. First you kill a stuffed rabbit, then perform surgery to save its life. I’m entirely sure what the point is, and let’s just leave it at that.

O Fortuna

On Friday night, Mike, Emily, Morah, and I got dressed up and went out to dinner at The Palm Court Grill at The Davenport Hotel. The food was incredible, but that wasn’t the highlight of the evening.

After dinner, we went to the opera house and enjoyed the Spokane Symphony’s performance of Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana. I’ve been in love with Carmina Burana for quite some time (you’ve probably heard the opening song, O Fortuna, in some movie trailer or student film), so when I found out that I would have an opportunity to see it live, I jumped at the chance. Am I ever glad I did! The show sold out, and rightly so. The demand for the one-night-only performance was so great that it was broadcast live on the local public radio station for those who couldn’t get tickets.

The symphony was joined by several choral groups and three soloists, all of whom did a fantastic job, but what was most impressive was just the sheer number of people on stage. The official number published by Spokesman Review the day before the show was 341, but I suspect that the number increased for the actual performance. No matter what the number, it was a lot of people and made for a spectacular show.

Friday Funday CXLII

Friday Funday brings you some fun and interesting links from my travels around the internet. Funday links will open in a new window.

Indestructo Tank [del.icio.us]

You’re an indestructible tank. You score points by being blasted into the air and crashing into helicopters and planes as they fly by. It’s actually more fun than it sounds.

Max Dirt Bike [del.icio.us]

I was actually surprised as how few levels this game has, but it’s kind of fun nonetheless. Then again, I just driving the little guy around making him do flips off of the ramps.

Stunt Bike Draw [del.icio.us]

This is sort of like Max Dirt Bike, but instead of controlling the biker, you control the track. Once you figure out how not to die, the game starts getting more fun.

Pendulumeca [del.icio.us]

For some reason, I can’t ever seem to do very well at this game. It took me long enough to figure out how to play. Perhaps having a real mouse (instead of a trackpad) would help.

Artillery Live [del.icio.us]

It’s a bit like Scorched Earth, but you get to play with people from all over the world.

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