Saturday, January 21, 2006

Maybe it was a fluke

Scrabble scores for game #2:

Anna - 255
Joe - 241
Mom - 139

The Scrabble Queen Arrives

OK, so Anna and I thought that we were the only Scrabble champions in our family. However, Mom just showed us both up. She whipped us soundly. The final score was 298 (Mom), 268 (Joe.. - at least I beat Anna!!!!), and 264 (Anna). The reason she won was her 7 letter word that traversed two Triple Word Scores for a total of 167 points for a single word. Anna and I fought back bravely laying words like PINITES (Joe - 90 points) and SPEEDOS (Anna - 78 points.)

Ah well. Now I'm showing my Mom how to write a blog entry gloating about our Scrabble prowess.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Would I Buy A Mac?

Would I buy a Mac?

Absolutely! Surprised?

Apple has really made a lot of strides over the last few years.

1) Their new Operating System (well, it's a few years old now) is based on FreeBSD, which is a unix-like operating system. This means that it is incredibly stable and secure. The problem with the unix-like operating systems (Linux, OpenBSD, FreeBSD, etc) is that their user-interfaces leave a lot to be desired. They aren't something that most computer novices would be very comfortable with. Apple has taken their really, really good UI and put it on top of a unix system. This is great because it's easy to use, very robust, secure, and stable. Also, everything is now built pretty much on open standards like TCP/IP instead of old proprietary protocols like appletalk.

2) iPod. What else do I need to say? iPods rock. They are the very best music player on the market. But did you know that you can play video on them? Carry around your digital photo collection? Backup important files from your PC. With the new iLife (see below) I can add pictures to my Mac and have them automatically sent to my friend's iPods. How sweet is that? Add new pics of the kids to the Mac and they magically appear on grandma's mac and her iPod too.

3) iLife is a suite of applications for editing home videos, recording a podcast, creating webpages, sending email, etc. There are lots of options here for the PC as well. However, the Apple apps are really simple to use and are all integrated with one another. Not too mention the iPod integration.

4) The hardware. Apple recently announced a new iMac that uses an Intel processor. This is cool because it's much faster than the old machines, plus the new Macs are essentially running on the same type of hardware that you buy from Dell or HP or whoever. But the iMac is all inclusive. No wires required except for your power cable. Wireless ethernet, bluetooth, speakers, and monitor all built in. The monitor, by the way, is a 17" or 20" High Definition display. It blows most other PC displays out of the water.

Everything I've mentioned above is included in the price of the unit... $1299 for the 17 inch model or $1699 for the 20 inch model. OK, it doesn't include the iPod, but the integration is built in. It's really a good value for what you get.

Of course, then there is Aperture and Final Cut Pro. Aperture is probably the best photo editing software available today. It allows you to edit the raw image as seen by the ccd on yor camera. So, you can adjust lighting, exposure, etc AFTER you physically take the picture. It's spendy at $499, but if you are going to spend $1300 on a nice Nikon D70 (hint hint John and Jenn) why not spend another $500 and be able to really use the thing to it's potential. Final Cut Pro and Shake are Apple's professional video editing suite. If they were good enough to make "King Kong" they are probably good enough to edit your home movies.

Do I think you should throw away your PCs and jump ship for Apple? No. PCs are great. I love them. You can do just about anything you want to with them. However, if I were looking at a new PC today, I'd most likely buy a new iMac.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Grilling Experiments

When we got married, my pastor and his wife gave us a Char Broil grill as a wedding present. It was a thoughtful gift and one that we certainly used a lot! I only wish at the time that I had known more about grilling, because I really didn't have much of a clue about what I was doing. Well, the faithful little Char Broil survived being tossed across my deck in May 2002 during a fearful hail and wind storm. It made it through 3 moves, but alas, in 2004 it finally gave up the ghost. In the end, the burner element rusted out, the grates where shot, and it wobbled really bad.

I lived without a grill for almost two years (terrible, I know). I promised myself that rather than buy another cheap one (which I was certainly grateful to have) I'd save up my money and buy a nice one that would be more durable and produce better results. So, when I moved to Texas, I decided that the time was right and I purchased a Weber Genesis Silver C (With Side Burner). I started using it with OK results, but nothing too fantastic.

Then, my parents bought me a copy of Weber's Real Grilling for Christmas. This is a fantastic book with over 200 recipes and a ton of information about grilling techniques. A new flame started to burn in my grill and I've been turning out some really good food. I'm very pleased.

Here lately I've been trying more and more challenging recipes including various types of Rubs, Marinades, etc. Of course, not everything turns out perfectly. I remember running across one of Mom's old cookbooks as a kid and looking at her notes in the margins:

"Ron likes."

"Ron hates."

"I like, Ron doesn't."

I'm finding myself making similar annotations in my cookbook. Tonight, I tried to make Honey Lime Chicken Salad (With Tomatoes and Avocado). The marinade was awesome and the chicken turned out great. However, when I combined the rest of the ingredients the avocado mushed up (think guacamole) and the finished product didn't really look that great. The flavor of the chicken was great, but I didn't like it all together. My margin notes read, "Marinade is great, Salad is gross."

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Kids and Driving

My friend Trevor recently made a post to his blog about his oldest kid being able to drive in 12 years. In order to fully appreciate this post, you should really take a minute and go and read his post. If you don't, you really won't understand what I'm talking about.

Ok, are you back now? Good. Here goes:


You think that's bad???? My kids are already driving. And to beat all, I had to re-arrange the garage so that we can all park in there:

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

I Have Arrived!

Have you ever had one of those moments where you think to yourself, "Man, as a parent.. I have ARRIVED!" ???? hmmm? I think we all have one of those moments now and again. You know, you're just going along and you see or do something that just strikes you. You stop and think "Wow. Now I understand why Mom or Dad said or did that".

Well, I had one of those moments last night at Wal Mart. My kids like ketchup. (Does anyone have kids that don't?) We go through a lot of the stuff. It goes on chicken nuggets, french fries, they'll even dip carrots in it. I always try to buy the big bottles because it's cheaper. There I was last night pushing my "buggy" down the aisle. Pause. Did you know that a shopping cart is called a "buggy" in Texas? Anyway, so I was pushing my buggy down the aisle and I spied this little gem sitting on the shelf:

I had to have it. I thought, wow, now that's a man-sized bottle of ketchup. The hunter-gatherer in me proclaimed that I had gotten a great prize for my family. HO! HO! HO!

And then it all came rushing back to me. This must be what Mom and Dad felt like when they bought 1 gallon jars of pickles, 50 pound bags of rice, and 10 pound tubes of Braunschweiger. (That stuff should be outlawed.) Anyway, yeah, I know now that it was really the hunter-gatherer pride in my parents that sent me to school with smoked liver sausage sandwiches for all those years.

I have arrived. Long live the hunter-gatherer instinct!