January 2005

January 29, 2005

Ick

Categories: Food and Drink

You don't want to find big hairy green mold patches on the second slice of Havarti in the package after you just ate the first slice. I'm just sayin'...

(If I keel over and fall into a mysterious coma, I'd appreciate it if someone would show this blog post to the doctors.)

Posted January 29, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

January 26, 2005

Premeditated evil

Categories: Kids

Michael (4) is getting more devious. This scares me.

The other night, I did my usual bedtime routine where I asked him what the best part of his day was.

Michael: [smiling cutely] "Throwing stuffed animals at you."
Me: [stupidly] "When did you throw stuffed animals at me?"
Michael: [obviously] "Right now."

Bam! Boom! Kapow!

Duh.

I was hit with a flurry of stuffed animals that appeared from under his comforter. Michael, obviously, was delighted and very satisfied. I had no doubt it truly was the best part of his day.

Posted January 26, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

January 20, 2005

Pinewood derby madness

Categories: Kids

Andrew with his Pinewood Derby car and his third-place ribbon.
Andrew's (7) Pinewood Derby race was last night. His gloss red wedge-shaped "Dragon Fire" took third-place out of approximately 30 cars, delighting Andrew to no end (and surprising the heck out of me.) The event was long, but the kids did surprisingly well (contrary to my previous Cub Scout experiences). It was very fun, and I'm pleased to report the kids (and parents) were uniformly good sports.

For those who don't know, the Pinewood Derby is an even where kids build little cars and race them down a track. It's a Boy/Cub Scout tradition (I did it as a Cub Scout too.) I understand Girl Scouts and others do it too. The kids get a basic kit with a pine block, four wheels, and four nails. After that, you can do whatever you want, modulo a few rules around weight, moving parts, etc.

The kids are supposed to do most of the work on the car. Andrew did a little of each step (cutting the block, rasping it into shape, sanding, painting, etc.) but the Derby-elf (me -- thanks, Bruce, for this turn-of-phrase), moved the process along too. It was fun to make the car with Andrew. I don't do a lot of woodworking usually and am not the handiest guy around, but it's fun. I'm already looking forward to next year.

Posted January 20, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

January 18, 2005

Take that you comment spammers!

Categories: Admin

I'm super pleased about a new weapon against comment spammers. The top search engines including Google, Yahoo, and MSN, will ignore links that have the rel="nofollow" attribute set. Thanks to a plug-in from Movable Type (the maker of my blog software), this tag gets added to all of the URLs in the comments and trackbacks that people post. If the search engines ignore those links, there will be way less incentive for comment spammers to do their nasty deeds since their links will not increase their page rank.

Nice to see the industry doing something good together without a ton of bureaucracy and worries over IP.

Thanks to Scoble for pointing this out.

(Also, I should note that although Movable Type only tested the plug-in on MT 2.664 and above, it appears to work fine on my 2.64 installation.)

Posted January 18, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

January 17, 2005

It's hard to be Michael

Categories: Kids

Michael (4) came up to Michelle the other day and sighed, "It's not easy being dangerous."

I'm sure Darth Vader had his bad days too.

Posted January 17, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

M-M-Milk Stout!

Categories: Food and Drink

snowplow_pour.jpg
I think I've died and gone to heaven. I just had another bottle of Widmer Brothers' Snowplow Milk Stout. (This is a beer for those who are not hop-saavy.)

This is an incredibly smooth, chocolately stout with an amazing finish attributed to the milk sugar they add to the beer before fermentation. It's really quite unlike any beer I've ever had. (And I've had a lot of beer...)

I think I'll go have another.

Posted January 17, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

You can't go back home.

Categories: Random junk

I loved growing up in Minnesota, but I don't miss this.

Posted January 17, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

January 2, 2005

Great article on fighting blog spam

Categories: Admin

Jay Allen, author of my beloved MT-Blacklist, recently wrote a great article on how to fight blog spam using MT-Blacklist. I learned a few tips that will greatly improve my success on this front.

Getting the most out of MT-Blacklist by Jay Allen.

Posted January 2, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Washington State History Museum

Categories: Random cool stuff

leftcol-2-logo.gifWe went to the Washington State History Museum today in Tacoma. This was our first visit. It's a surprisingly good museum; Andrew even proclaimed it was "better than Chuck E. Cheese" which, for him, is saying something. (I admit, this may have been because of the train exhibit where they let you play with Lego trains and Lincoln Log stuff.)

There exhibits where well done, covering Washington's relatively short history in reasonable detail with a good mix of reading, hands-on stuff, and multimedia. The museum is in the recently restored area of Tacoma near the Museum of Glass and the Tacoma Art Museum. The whole area is pretty cool, although it was empty today, despite being a beautiful Sunday. I imagine people in the area (like us) are still not used to hanging out in downtown Tacoma. I hope it improves. They've done a good job.

Anyway, we'll be going back again.

Posted January 2, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

January 1, 2005

How to sell your boss

Categories: Random cool stuff

I ran across this useful and well-written blog called Working Smart. The author of the site, Michael Hyatt, wrote a great article called How to Sell Your Boss. I think he's right that your success depends on being able to convince your boss of things. It's a good list of ideas; good enough that I'll pass it on to my team and peers. Briefly, his main points are:


  1. Meet your boss' needs

  2. Pick your battles

  3. Do your homework

  4. "Bullet proof" your proposal

  5. Make the pitch

  6. Accept responsibility for the outcome


Obviously, he has more detail in the post. The ideas seem obvious, but I can't tell you how often I've seen people (including myself) fail at one or more of these steps. Worth a read.

In addition to this article, he has good stuff on how to make David Allen's Getting Things Done work in Microsoft Outlook, tips on cool apps and add-ons to make Office work better, and some good life insight.

Posted January 1, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

What's in my camera bag: Keep it steady!

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Honestly, I don't use support for my camera enough, but when I do, I'm always happy with the results. There's no faster way to negate a great lens and body than by moving them around when you're shooting.

I have four support systems depending on what I'm doing.

My main support is a Bogen 3021 tripod with Giotto MH-1000 ballhead. This is a nice tripod with good height; I can raise it up high enough to get some unique perspectives. However, it's too heavy and long for me normally to carry a lot, so I don't use it often; I've been lusting over a newer carbon fiber tripod for some time and will finally bite the bullet someday. (Note, the updated version of the 3021 looks like has a shorter closed length which would be attractive to me, but it's still heavy at 5.1 lbs.) I switched from a tilt-pan-zoom head to the ballhead a while back. It's a lot easier to use in most cases.

More often, I use my Bogen 3016 monopod. (This is no longer available. I think the Manfrotto/Bogen 679 is the closest currently available version.) I've added a Bogen 3232 tilt head so I can flop my camera into portrait mode. I've made it easier to carry the monopod by adding a Giles Tactical Sling; this is actually a rifle sling that happens to be perfectly suited and cut to carry the monopod. Super convenient.

On top of both of these, I use a quick release clamp from Really Right Stuff with the matching plates for my cameras and lenses. These guys make beautifully milled clamps and custom plates for each camera body. They're a joy to use and totally rock solid. Their site is also fun to read; they have thought a lot about how to build the right gear for shooters. You have to have quick-release plates if you shoot a lot; turning the little screw knob to attach and detach your gear will give you RSI and drive you nuts.

I always have a Manfrotto 3007 Tabletop tripod in my bag. This is a little "pocket" tripod, but it's no cheap plastic support. This is a well-machined metal guy with a ballhead and an extender to give it more height. Super versatile. I've even used it to steady (not hold!) my big 70-200 2.8. It packs up pretty small and comes with its own case.

Finally, I have a cheap plastic Velbon video tripod that I got for free with my video camera. It's a piece of crap, but it's light and folds up small enough it fit in my rollaboard suitcase. It's a good reminder that having high quality gear that is too big or heavy to use is useless.

So, some closing thoughts on supports. It's nice to have a tripod that puts the camera at your eye level while you're standing up. It's actually been useful to have one that goes even higher so I can project a camera over the crowd or a fence (I have to stand on something to see through the camera then.) However, this is somewhat antithetical to having a tripod that is small enough to carry. So, either get two, resign yourself to carrying the big one, or live with the trade-off. I'll probably get two.

Also, if you're shooting with a tripod, it's nice to use a remote release. I love shooting this way. It allows me to be more interactive with the subject. I've also used the remote release when the tripod is too high for me to see through or when I'm sticking the camera out somewhere with the monopod. Finally, it keeps the camera from moving at all on the tripod.

Previous "What's in my camera bag" posts:
Keep it clean

Posted January 1, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Happy New Year!

Categories: Random junk

Happy 2005! We had our traditional New Year's Day beignets again. I'm looking forward to Hoppin' John tonight. It's good to be married to a Southern cook...

Posted January 1, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)