Maybe it’s just me…

December 23, 2011 5:23pm
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…but this seems a tad bit, errr, insane.

I love me some Chex Mix, especially during the holidays!

I didn’t get around to making any this year, but it’s sort of a tradition of mine to bake several batches of Chex Mix over the holidays because I seem to go through the stuff just about as fast as it comes out of the oven. I actually prefer making it myself because that way I can just omit the pieces that I don’t particularly care for – namely, pretty much everything except for the cereal itself! This year I’m settling for just a bag from the store because it was a lot cheaper and quicker than buying 3 separate boxes of Chex cereal and then spending an hour slowly sealing in the juices in the kitchen.

Also, with our stupid convection oven, the long, rectangular pan that I normally use for making this stuff wouldn’t have really worked anyways, so this is probably just as well…

More Internet Chex Mix Fun!

December 14, 2012 can’t come soon enough…

December 21, 2011 11:31pm
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eM–4UklaL4

Starting to get kind of excited about this, despite it being another two-parter – the latest Hollywood dollar-stretching technique that I’ve come to despise. Still, I guess Martin Freeman is playing Bilbo, which should be kind of interesting – I’ve really only seen him in the Hitchhiker’s movie and the British version of The Office, but he seems like a good-natured chap that at least through the trailer appears to fit the role well!

Just for the record, though – isn’t it a little weird how both Frodo and Gandalf are still being played by the same people, yet we get a younger, more handsome Bilbo this time around? How much time passed between The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, and why didn’t Frodo age, too?!

Dentistry via Nerf Weaponry

December 21, 2011 7:38pm
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And one more, just because I’m supposed to be packing and this video is pretty awesome…

I can only hope that I’m that fun of a Dad when I have kids! 😀

Happy Holidays to the War on Christmas

December 21, 2011 7:35pm
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I really liked this video because I think that comedian John Fugelsang does a great job of explaining why people maybe shouldn’t get quite as bent out of shape about hearing “Happy Holidays!” as opposed to “Merry Christmas!”

Is it really that wrong to acknowledge that their are other special holidays on the calendar in December that don’t necessarily correlate with your own personal beliefs? If you celebrate Christmas, then by all means wish everyone you meet a Merry Christmas, but when someone else goes out of their way to wish you well in the spirit of the season, really, who are you to denigrate the specific words that they use to do so? You’d be equally offended if companies just swore off the holidays altogether and instead put out commercials that said, “It’s December – make sure you stock up on beets…” so really, what your “war on Christmas” amounts to is simply your being upset that everyone else doesn’t just believe in the exact same thing that you do.

Sorry, but that’s not really ever going to happen, so you can either give up the crying game and learn to co-exist in a culturally diverse society, or you can pretty much plan on spending this time of great celebration for so many different beliefs instead being pouty and crabby because you can’t have your own way.

And not for nothing, but a lot of little boys and girls end up getting coal in their stockings for that kind of behavior… 😳

Just the other day, another one of these crackpot, opt-out web services aimed at innovating the future came across my radar. Like pretty much all of them, it was brought to my attention by a deluge of upset people on Twitter who never actually signed up for the service in the first place…

The concept of this one seems a little too weird and artsy for me to really be interested in – the idea is that you trade your time for time talking to other people … the tricky part being that while the no-name film director might very well want to chat with someone more successful, there in turn needs to be someone else who the more successful guy would also want to talk to, otherwise it seems like they’d just end up with a pyramid where lots of people on the bottom are left wanting to talk to a relatively few number of people at the top…who I’m not sure why they would want to use the service anyways.

And yeah, maybe there’s some potential for cross-genre blending and whatnot, but the concept itself isn’t really even what I wanted to talk about here today…

The problem is actually that instead of only letting its users trade time with other users who had already signed up for the service, AllThis also took it upon themselves to create “non-member profiles” for people when they were found to be not a member by an existing user. Kind of like how when you plug-in your email account to Facebook to allow them to search your address book for friends to add, then offering the option to “invite via e-mail” people who aren’t yet Facebook members … except in this case, AllThis just went ahead and created a profile for them anyways as a way of hinting that there was already a demand for their time on this new site that they weren’t a part of yet.

Like clockwork, a lot of people got mad because as a general rule, people don’t like getting signed up for things without their consent! Consider spammy e-mail lists when you place an order from a website – all you wanted to do was order their product, and as a gentle thanks, they proceed to bombard your e-mail account with promotional offers that you never asked for in the first place. It’s the reason why I’ll never, ever go on a Princess Cruise – because after being signed up for some Carnival Cruise Line promotions that I also didn’t ask for, they went and shared my address with all of their sister brands and now for the life of me I can’t seem to get them to stop sending me cruise promotions for this line that I’ve never even had the slightest interest in buying from!

But as far as web services like AllThis are concerned, I think the main problem is that they see somebody like Facebook or Twitter who already have hundreds of millions of users and with the idea of starting from the ground up being so daunting beside those numbers, the gears start to turn with ways that new companies can leverage the existing user bases of these much larger, completely opt-in successes.

AllThis certainly isn’t the first and they won’t be the last, either – before them, we saw TwitShirt, a company that saw potential in creating on-demand shirts of any tweet in the Twitter stream, despite the small detail that copyright over individual tweets is retained by each individual user. Not too long ago we were introduced to Kachingle, a micro-payment service which offered to accept donations from readers for their favorite websites before actually soliciting those website owners for permission to do so! The ideas were fine all by themselves, but nobody has the patience to wait several years for their user base to grow organically these days, so they try to cut corners like this and end up doing more harm to themselves than good.

Frankly, I think it takes an awful lot of nerve to spend all of this time creating a new project, then only to design its business plan around the assumption that everyone will just naturally want to be associated with your craft genius. It’s a great goal to be loved by everyone, but in the meantime you’ve got to work for it and luckily these days the Internet provides plenty of resources for folks to voice their concerns about you if they think that you’ve overstepped your bounds with your latest and greatest venture.

Whether they’re scared because they don’t actually think that their service could hold its own to build growth organically, or even if they’re truly just inexcusably naive to the idea that the entire world might not think that their idea is as great as they think it is, either way it amuses me that the proven track record itself of opt-out technologies that people actually enjoy alone isn’t enough of a deterrent for them to take a step back and launch their products the right way.

The web isn’t built on tricking users into trying out your service – you still actually have to sell them on it the old-fashioned way, and at that point if it’s not cool enough to actually persuade people on its own merit, then maybe that should be a sign that could save you 6-12 months of your life and several million dollars in venture capital before pissing off the very people who you’re hoping will become the passionate users who will make or break your latest vision.

I’d forgotten just how great this Stephen Colbert holiday special from a few years back truly was…

What’s that? Still not quite sure exactly what Hanukkah is all about?! Well, this little song by one Adam Sandler should help to resolve all of your outstanding questions. :mrgreen:

The unveiling of Christmas morning was always a huge deal at our house growing up…

The colored lights from the tree peaking around the corner, my parents’ favorite holiday music playing on the stereo, and even before we got to the epicenter of it all, we’d find a letter from Santa awaiting us on the dining room table, along with some visible cookie crumbs, an emptied glass of milk, and of course, a myriad of chocolates and Hershey’s Kisses and M&Ms in the candy dish, all perfectly coordinated in reds and greens and silvers.

The tree itself was nothing short of incredible, with gifts piled high around the entire base, and in hindsight knowing what things actually cost, it’s no secret that Santa most certainly over-extended himself in the name of bringing wonder and amazement to our faces on Christmas morning! Once we had finished unwrapping presents to the view of several cameras and video cameras for future embarrassment, Mom took to the kitchen to ready our holiday breakfast – sometimes  a giant green Rice Krispie treat shaped like a tree, sometimes a special pineapple pastry whose recipe had been passed down through many generations, and always chocolate milk because I think that my Dad liked it just as much as us kids.

I remember it being a really big deal and frankly, it’s the kind of excitement that I want to shoot for when someday I’m a father myself. For a kid, Christmas is really the pinnacle of all holidays, filled with treats and toys and lights and music, and at least for me, it’s just not really Christmas unless all of your senses are just completely and utterly overwhelmed with all of the joy and happiness and collective efforts come Christmas morning…

anticipations of a chilly vacation!

December 19, 2011 9:37pm
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So with only a precious few days left before we find ourselves running smack dab into our Christmas vacation on the horizon, I’m starting to get a little, shall we say, concerned about just exactly what kinds of weather conditions we might expect throughout the duration of our journey.

I asked the oracle weather.com what the fates had in store for us, and it returned the following…

You see, our plan is first to drive up to West Virginia, where we will gather for Christmas with all of my wife’s family, and then push onward even further north to Michigan, my own personal stomping grounds, where we will ring in the new year and hopefully not find ourselves catching hypothermia along the way. Did you see those lows?! I wouldn’t wish a frozen drink on somebody with those kinds of blizzardy temperatures, and yet we’re actually making plans to willing visit an area where those numbers aren’t just the ages when most of the local residents actually graduate from high school!

I kid, I kid, but seriously … it’s already painfully obvious just how ill-equipped these two Floridians are for this trip. I mean, just tonight we finally went out and bought ourselves coats. Thanks to that same trip, I now own two pairs of pants. I try to think back to the last time I actually drove on snow-covered roads, and all I can picture is just a car recklessly spinning out of control off the side of a cliff…despite there not really even being any cliffs in Northern Michigan!

So I guess what I’m trying to say is there’s a good chance I might not actually make it out of this trip alive. I think rigor mortis is already starting to set in every time I even glance back up at those temperatures in the 20’s. Unless I’m able to make like Cleo and grow an auxiliary coat of fur between now and next Tuesday…

So the picture above is actually about 10 years old, of one of my last light displays at my Mom’s house before I moved from Northern Michigan down to sunny Florida. I’ve always gotten a real kick out of putting up lights for the holidays, although for what it’s worth even though I’ll admit that the snow adds a certain quaint ambiance to the scene, I can’t deny that not having to shovel it as well as being able to put up the lights in shorts are two perks of living in the south that I particularly enjoy!

I would’ve loved to post a picture of our house this year, but sadly I kinda fell behind the ball and only put up an embarrassingly small number of lights the other night on a couple of bushes out front. Part of the problem is that we have an extraordinarily tall house, making it seemingly impossible for me to hang lights around the perimeter of the roof because A) I’m a wuss who’s afraid of heights, and B) we don’t have a ladder that reaches that high anyways. It’s still something that I want to figure out for next year, though – this house just has too cool of a street presence to not take advantage of it by lighting it up brighter than the North Star for one month out of the year…

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