Thursday, July 31, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me (bork bork bork)


Ok, just so everyone knows, my birthday is coming up. Because I'm such an accommodating person, I have provided a picture of the kick-ass Muppet cake I need Lynette to replicate. It looks sort of intricate... maybe she should get started.

The HALO Corpse Alphabet

Funny. If you're a gamer. Ok, so maybe it's not so funny. Whatever.
LINK

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Some Facts About Owls

The Top Ten Sexiest Stormtroopers

Because, well, I'm a nerd. And this is AWESOME.
LINK

Sirius XM, Or Does Lynette Still Have a Job?


Yes, Lynette still has a job.

It's been on our minds for the last year and a half, since Sirius and XM announced they'd like to merge.

In case you don't read the newspapers, the FCC (finally) made a decision regarding the merger. A vote of 3-2 in favor was officially passed late Monday night.

The new company has been named Sirius XM Radio. Yesterday, the CEO of the new company met with the XM employees and tried to answer questions on people's minds.

Though it is still theorized that redundant music channels will be eliminated, the general message to the employees was that both services will continue to operate separately. For now.

Truth is, there's too many subscribers out there they'd risk alienating if they suddenly dropped random channels, or forced everyone to buy new hardware. Think of all the cars with satellite radio pre-installed - there's no way those people are going to run out and get new dashboard radios.

Also, it was communicated that the studios in DC will remain. For us, that was a HUGE relief.

Lynette is excited about the endeavor. Let's face it, these companies, which offer excellent services, need to start making money. Now we just have to hope her channel is deemed better than the same offering on Sirius. I read on various message boards on the webs (not that it holds much water) that her channel is the preferred channel in her genre.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Counter Culture Coffee


My coffee came! In the mail!

Last week, I ordered some coffee from Counter Culture Coffee, a roaster in North Carolina. All the coffee is organic, shade grown, and fair trade.

There was an article in The Washington Post last week about our area's specialty coffee shops after a brief altercation occurred at one of our independently owned coffee shops refused a customer espresso over ice. The event made its way onto the internet and a blog war erupted. In the end, the question still remained: Is the customer always right, or Must store policies be adhered to to protect the integrity of the product? There was no clear winner, but it made for an interesting week on the webs.

So The Post saw fit to run a piece about our various coffee shops and how serious its patrons take their sacred Joe.

Come to find out, several of the local joints order their coffee from Counter Culture. I have been known to say, "I wish there was a good coffee shop around here." I only want a cup of coffee. I don't need any of those iced frou frou milkshakes now being prioritized by the national chain coffee "shops." The simple act of serving REGULAR COFFEE is gone at these places.

Have you tasted their coffee lately? It's disgusting. Mostly, it tastes like it's been sitting there since morning. Because it has been. For shame.

By the way, you Frappucino lemmings, a grande (or MEDIUM - duh) Caramel Machiatto from Starbucks is 720 calories. (I might be exaggerating.)

Anyway, I ordered GOOD coffee and now I'm drinking it. All is right in the world. For now.

Monday, July 28, 2008

A List of Good Things that Happened Over the Weekend

1. Leia had a successful visit to her new vet. And I was very impressed with the office itself. It was a very positive, cheerful place for both animal and human.

2. I discovered a comic book store next door to Leia's vet's office. It's a small shop, but the comic book guy working there (his name was JR) was able to recommend a few books. I will definitely be going back to that place.

3. The party we attended in the courtyard of our building was a lot of fun. We only planned on staying for a few hours, but ended up staying out there for eight hours.

4.

5.

6.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Mad Men

Look, I spoke earlier about how Lynette and are getting into this show Mad Men on AMC, but that post was written after only watching one episode. We're trying to watch the entire season before Sunday when season 2 starts, and I have to stress how much this show blows me away.

We're five episodes in and I can't remember a show having such rich and layered characters as this. I am so totally sucked into this world of 1959 New York City - where the men have secretaries and wear fedoras, where wives stay home preparing dinner and looking pretty. (I'm speaking satirically.)

Let me say this: It's the wives on this show that I find most intriguing. Yes, it's the 50s, women were "expected" to be a certain way, but as we all know in retrospect, things weren't always "perfect" like we were supposed to think they were. The women on this show are the most complex and interesting.

Here's the cool opening credits sequence... I think it's awesome:


And the TV trailer for the first season:

Thursday, July 24, 2008

BBC Olympics Marketing

Music by Damon Albarn, and imagery by Jamie Hewlett — the duo that brought us the Gorillaz. (BTW, I can't wait for the Olympics.)

75 Things Every Man Should Do Before He Dies

Here's what Esquire magazine thinks every man should do before they die.

I know, it's Esquire (giggle), but surprisingly I have done many of these things already.

LINK

Nosey! (What's JC Into Lately?)




Here's what I'm into lately:

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle
, by David Wroblewski, has been my summer read. Friend E informed me of this book and I've been hooked ever since page one. (Yes, I'm a slow reader and it'll take some time for me to get through it.) The story is an interpretation of Hamlet set in northern Wisconsin and the main character is a mute boy who trains dogs.

Fate, by Dr. Dog, is an album I read about in a couple magazines. The reviews were positive and my curiosity was piqued. It released on Tuesday so I purchased it that night. It's very good. I have already listened to the entire album four times. Dr. Dog's songs have been likened to the Beatles and the Beach Boys, but with a modern alt twist.

Watchmen, by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, is the comic book that changed the way comic books were written forever. Published in the mid-eighties, it still stands as one of the greatest graphic novels ever created.

Chicken Fried Rice, from any take-away joint. I'm hooked on the stuff.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

New Dinosaur Exhibit


Extinct, my ASS! from The Original Joe Fisher on Vimeo.

New TV Show Alert!


There's been a lot of hype lately over this show on AMC called Mad Men.

It won a Golden Globe for best drama and actor.

I guess I can't really say the hype has been "lately" because season 2 of this show begins this Sunday.

As a self-proclaimed TV aficionado, I decided to tune in. Last night. Six days before the start of season two. Thankfully, onDemand on my DVR (provided by our unnamed cable company) has every episode available for instant viewing.

So Lynette and I watched the first episode. And we liked it. A lot. It's very stylish and fresh, considering the show takes place in the late 1950s in New York's Madison Avenue advertising world.

The show is not for the liberal squeamish. True to its setting, there's plenty of sexism and racism. And smoking! Holy crap, was there a lot of people smoking. I couldn't help but chuckle when a particular scene depicts a doctor lighting up in an examination room.

But these portrayals are merely observations of the time. I didn't live during that period of our history, but I'd be safe assuming what I was watching was a pretty accurate recreation of how things were back then. Women were relegated to secretarial jobs fetching coffee and aspirin for their bosses, black people were only seen operating elevators and serving drinks, and cigarette smoking was "healthy."

The characters seem complex. Only one episode in and I already despise a few of the men on the show. The main character is difficult to like as well. I couldn't help but think of Tony Soprano and the complexities of that character.

So it looks like I have five more days to watch the rest of the first season before the start of season two this Sunday on AMC. I have had more daunting challenges in my life.

Monday, July 21, 2008

America Runs on Dunkin

I'd like to preface this post with a statement: As I have mentioned in a previous post, I do not have a problem with places like Starbuck's and Best Buy and Target as long as they're providing a service I cannot get elsewhere in a more convenient fashion and/or for a cheaper price. If Mom and Pop can't give me a place to park, or have what I want in stock, then I'm out - headed somewhere where I know will have it on their shelf. Hey, that's business! The better business gets my money.

So, this weekend I had to do some needed maintenance on my 50 gallon reef aquarium. I ordered new bulbs for my lights and replaced the pump on the skimmer (blah blah blah). I decided that I needed to refresh my "cleaning crew" which is jargon for snails, crabs, etc. They're little creatures that naturally keep a tank clean.

I asked Lynette if she was up for a drive to one of our favorite fish stores which was about a 30 minute drive west into rural Virginia. We hopped in the car and headed out. It was Sunday and the drive was pleasant. There are tolls part of the way which was annoying, but I figured I didn't get out this way often so it wasn't that big of a deal.

When we were getting close to the store Lynette stated that I looked like I needed a bump, meaning some sort of coffee drink because I may have looked tired or said something crabby. We remembered that there was a bakery right across the street from the fish store, so we could just go there for some coffee and maybe something sweet.

Unfortunately, when we arrived to the fish store we discovered it was closed. Apparently, they're not open on Sundays. I got angry. "I drove all this way for nothing! NOTHING!"

I wasn't a business major in college, but one would think with such a niche market such as salt water reef aquariums, you might want to be open on Sunday. At least for a few hours. Just an idea. Considering most reef aquarium enthusiasts probably work full time jobs Monday through Friday, weekends are the best time to get out to the fish store. (My actual rant at the time was much longer and more heated, but I'll keep it short for this blog.)

In an attempt to get me calm, Lynette suggested we just head over to the bakery and get our refreshments. We walked into the bakery and saw a delight of cakes and muffins and pastries and cookies. The smell of coffee wafted in the air. People were sitting at tables enjoying a Sunday afternoon in the bakery.

We stood at the counter waiting for someone to come serve us. No one was there when we arrived so we had time to think about what we wanted. I was leaning toward the black and white cookie.

We waiting some more. Still no one was helping us. An actual employee of this place was no where to be found.

We waited some more. Then I put my wallet away and walked out the door remembering that we passed a Dunkin Donuts a block away.

So there I was - ready to give my money to TWO independently owned businesses. And they BOTH failed me. Rather than support the little guy, I marched right into a national chain store and received precisely what I wanted in a matter of minutes.

I friggin' tried to help you, Mom and Pop, but you disappoint yet again! THIS is why you will fail. I can't wait for the next hipster to cry about how big box stores are ruining our country. Because I got a story to tell him.

On this particular day, JC was runnin' on Dunkin.

Star Wars Fine Art

Isn't this simply delicious? I saw it on Boing Boing this morning and had to investigate.

Apparently, Worth1000 had a photoshopping contest where contestants had to create Star Wars fine art. The entries are awesome!

This one is my favorite.

Check out the rest of the entries by clicking the link I provided above.

Friday, July 18, 2008

I Heart Fridays

I've had a few obsessions in my lifetime. When I was about 10 years old my first love was a girl named Olivia (Newton John... you may have heard of her). And then when I was in junior high, after my musical tastes had already shifted into the ridiculous heavy metal hair band phase, I discovered Heart. Here's the video that rocked this (then) 14-year-old's life:

Oh yeah, and I also fell instantly in love with Nancy Wilson because of this video.

Anyways, Happy Friday, Everybody!

Guide to Happiness from ZenHabits.net

  1. Be present. Don’t think about how great things will be in the future. Don’t dwell on what did or didn’t happen in the past. Learn to be in the here and now, and experience life as it’s happening, and appreciate the world for the beauty that it is, right now. Practice makes perfect with this crucial skill.
  2. Connect with others. In my experience, very few things can achieve happiness as well as connecting with other human beings, cultivating relationships, bonding with others. Some tips on doing this.
  3. Spend time with those you love. This might seem almost the same as the item above, and in reality it’s an extension of the same concept, a more specific application. Spending time with the people you love is extremely important to happiness … and yet it’s incredible how often we do just the opposite, and spend time alone, or disconnected from those we love, or spend time with people we don’t much like. Make it a priority to schedule time with the people you love. Make that your most important item of the day. For myself, I have a time when I cut off work, and the rest of the day is for my family. Weekends are exclusively for my family. And by setting aside this sacred time, I ensure my happiness by letting nothing come between me and the people I love most.
  4. Do the things you love. What do you love doing most? Figure out the 4-5 things you love doing most in life, the things that make you happiest, and make those the foundation of your day, every day. Eliminate as much of the rest as possible. For me, the things I love doing are: spending time with my family, writing, reading, and running. I do those things every day, and very little else. It may take awhile to get your life down to your essentials like I have (it took me a few years of careful elimination and rescheduling and saying “no” to requests that aren’t on my short list), but it’s worth the effort.
  5. Focus on the good things. Everyone’s life has positive and negative aspects — whether you’re happy or not depends largely on which aspects you focus on. Did you lose today’s softball game? At least you got to spend time with friends doing something fun. Did you sprain your ankle running? Well, your body probably needed a week’s rest anyway, as you were running too much! Did your baby get sick? Well, at least it’s only a flu virus and nothing life-threatening … and at least you have a wonderful baby to nurse to health! You can see my point — almost everything has a positive side, and focusing on the positives make all the difference. My Auntie Kerry died last week (as you know), and I’m still grieving, but 1) I’m happy I spent time with her before her death; 2) her death has brought our family closer together; 3) her suffering has ended; and 4) it reminded me to spend more time with the people I love while they’re still alive.
  6. Do work you love. An extension, of course, of doing the things you love, but applied to work. Are you already doing the work you love? Then you’re one of the lucky ones, and you should appreciate how lucky you are. If you aren’t doing the work you love, you should make it a priority to try to find work you’re passionate about, and to steer your career in that direction. Take myself for example: I was doing work that I was good at (just last year), but that I wasn’t passionate about. I was passionate about writing, and so I pursued blogging … and with a year of hard work, was able to quit my day job and blog full time. I’m so much happier these days!
  7. Lose yourself in your work. Once you’ve found work you love, the key is to lose yourself in it … clear away all distractions, find an interesting and challenging task, and just pour all your energy and focus into that task. With practice, you’ll forget about the outside world. There are few work-related joys that equal this feeling. Read more.
  8. Help others. Is there any better feeling than helping a fellow human being? There aren’t many. And it’s not too hard — here are 25 ways.
  9. Find time for peace. With the hectic pace of life these days, it’s hard to find a moment of peace. But if you can make time for solitude and quiet, it can be one of the happiest parts of your day. Here’s how.
  10. Notice the small things. Instead of waiting for the big things to happen — marriage, kids, house, nice car, big promotion, winning the lottery — find happiness in the small things that happen every day. Little things like having a quiet cup of coffee in the early morning hours, or the delicious and simple taste of berries, or the pleasure of reading a book with your child, or taking a walk with your partner. Noticing these small pleasures, throughout your day, makes a huge difference.
  11. Develop compassion. Compassion is developing a sense of shared suffering with others … and taking steps to alleviate the suffering of others. I think too often we forget about the suffering of others while focusing on our own suffering, and if we learned to share the suffering of others, our suffering would seem insignificant as a result. Compassion is an extremely valuable skill to learn, and you get better with practice. Here’s how.
  12. Be grateful. Learning to be grateful for what’s in our lives, for the people who have enriched our lives, goes a long way toward happiness. It helps us to appreciate what we have and what we have received, and the people who have helped us. Read more.
  13. Become a lifelong learner. I find an inordinate amount of pleasure in reading, in learning about new things, in enriching my knowledge as I get older. I think spending time reading some of the classics, as well as passionately pursuing new interests, is energy well invested. Try to do a little of it every day, and see if it doesn’t make you happier.
  14. Simplify your life. This is really about identifying the things you love (see above) and then eliminating everything else as much as possible. By simplifying your life in this way, you create time for your happiness, and you reduce the stress and chaos in your life. In my experience, living a very simple life is also a pleasure in itself.
  15. Slow down. Similar to simplifying, slowing down is just a matter of reminding yourself that there’s no need to rush through life. Schedule less things on your calendar, and more space between things. Learn to eat slower, drive slower, walk slower (unless you’re doing it for exercise). Going slowly helps to reduce stress, and improve the pleasure of doing things, and keeps you in the present moment.
  16. Exercise. I’ve written about the pleasures of exercise many times. It can be hard to start an exercise program (here’s how) but once you get going, it relieves stress and can really give you a good feeling. I feel joyful every time I go out for a run!
  17. Meditate. You don’t need to join a Zendo or get a mat or learn any lotus positions, but the simplest form of meditation can really help you to be present and to get out of the worrying part of your head. You can do it right now: close your eyes and simply try to focus on your breathing as long as possible. Pay attention to the breath as it comes into your body, and then as it goes out. When you feel your mind start to wander, don’t fret, but just simply acknowledge the other thoughts, and then return to your breathing. Do this a little each day and you’ll get better at it.
  18. Learn to accept. One of the challenges for people like me — people who want to improve themselves and change the world — is learning to accept things as they are. Sometimes it’s better to learn to accept, and to love, the world as it is, and people as they are, rather than to try to make everything and everyone conform to an impossible ideal. I’m not saying you should accept cruelty and injustice, but learn to love things when they are less than “perfect”.
  19. Spend time in nature. Go outside and take a walk each day, or take the time to watch a sunset or sunrise. Or find a body of water — the ocean, a lake, a river, a pond — and spend time taking a look at it, contemplating it. If you’re lucky enough to live near some woods, or a mountain, or a canyon, go hiking. Time in nature is time invested in your happiness.
  20. Find the miracles in life. I absolutely believe in miracles, and believe that they are all around us, every day. My children are all miracles. The kindnesses of strangers are miracles. The life growing all around us is a miracle. Find those miracles in your life, and enjoy the majesty of them.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

NPH FTW!

So there I was leisurely strolling through the web, metaphorically, of course, when I came across Dr. Horrible's Sing A Long Blog. Out of curiosity, I clicked. And what I found was pure joy!

Neil Patrick Harris is Dr. Horrible and this three-part musical is hilarious! I had no idea NPH was such a funny guy. I mean, sure, everyone knows Doogie Howser blah blah blah. And I believe he's on some crappy sitcom I never watch, but this guy has some comedic talent.

And, yes, it's a musical... which makes it even funnier. JC says Give it a Whirl!

BTW: These awesome episodes will only be available for free viewing until July 20th. So watch them now while you can (because you're probably not going to go to iTunes and pay for them later).

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Axiom


Went to see Wall-E last night...

I'm only going to say two things about it:

1. You're a damn fool if you don't get your ass into a movie theater and see this film,

2. Wall-E is probably one of the most poignant and important films ever made. *Yes, I'm not being over-dramatic. I mean EVER MADE.

Things I Did on Vacation

We went on a brief vacation into the north (Minnesota and Wisconsin to be specific). These are some neat things I did:

1. Swam in frigid Round Lake, Hayward, Wisconsin.
2. Rode in Marcus' rebuilt 1929 Ford Model A.
3. Ate cheese curds. Some of which were fried.
4. Revisited an awesome Cuban restaurant in Minneapolis for breakfast.
5. Learned how to play Stratego.
6. Ate kababs.
7. Got bit by mosquitos (not neat, but it had been a while so the experience was profound).
8. Watched a video of Lynette and I playing catch with a frisbee when we were 20 years old.
9. Saw kick-ass fireworks, downtown Minneapolis.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Ducklings in a Bathtub

I'll be out of town for a few days, so here's some ducklings in a bathtub to sate your senses until I get back...

Tuesday, July 1, 2008