The Blind Side

The Blind Side

We went and watched The Blind Side last week in what we like to call the ghetto theater (but that is another story). The Blind Side is the story of Michael Oher, currently an NFL player with the Baltimore Ravens where he starts as Right Tackle. You may wonder why his life in particular deserves a movie treatment, and the answer is simple — his story is pretty incredible. Oher (played by Quinton Aaron), a large, laconic teenager, was effectively homeless when a wealthy couple, Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy (played by Tim McGraw and Sandra Bullock respectively), allowed him to stay in their home after taking him in for one night, eventually applying for his legal guardianship. Because of this, Oher was able to complete his education and work his way to becoming a high school football star. The story is incessantly positive because it’s about good deeds and its ripple effects, and even if you view it with one raised brow and are looking for signs of embellishments, it’s hard to argue the main point, which is that this family did a major altruistic act, which achieved much more as an act of humanity than sitting around and talking about it ever would. As for the movie itself, it doesn’t strive to go against predictability; instead, it offers itself up as a sturdy feel-good tale, anchored mainly by the spectacle of watching Bullock in blonde hair wielding a Southern accent. To her credit, she acquits herself fine as a lead dramatic actress, working up enough charisma so that the audience will naturally want to get behind her. The Blind Side does stumble in a few false moments (mostly towards the end), but otherwise passes respectably as a crowd-pleasing mainstream drama.

What I enjoyed most from this movie wasn’t ao much the uplifting story but that the story did not make feel guilty for being either a white, a christian, or a male. That is really an impressive feat for Hollywood these days. Although there were two slights against Republicans, one by Kathy Bates and one from a DMV worker but none against conservatives outright. Far too often these days there are indictments against these unprotected privileged classes in our modern progressive society where such affiliations are considered anathema. It was refreshing to watch a movie and not feel like I’ve been indicted by Hollywood. Overall it is a good movie well worth the price of admission.

Post Turkey Day Recap


We had a great Thanksgiving meal. The turkey brining really made a difference and I’ll definitely do it next year. One thing we changed at the last minute was to put the ham in the oven and the turkey in a roaster. This reduced the cooking time by about ninety minutes which we had not planned on. So we had to keep the turkey from drying out while we had did the side dish mad dash. All the potatoes turned out very well especially the mashed potatoes, and sweet potatoes. And for the record true yams are botanically distinct from the sweet potato, though in the U.S. the names are commonly interchanged. Apologies for not getting around to eating the sugar free apple pie. Both gravies from the turkey and the ham turned out very tasty as well. Good times.

I found some interesting facts from the National Turkey Federation.

  • This year the average American will consume 17 pounds of turkey most of it around Thanksgiving time.
  • Turkey production has increased nearly 300 percent since 1970 – the total value of turkey processors’ production in 2007 reached $14 billion and U.S. growers raised 273 million turkeys in 2008.

Top 10 Turkey Producing States in 2008 (in order)

  • Minnesota
  • North Carolina
  • Arkansas
  • Missouri
  • Virginia
  • California
  • Indiana
  • South Carolina
  • Pennsylvania
  • Iowa
  1. Turkeys can fly
    Wild turkeys feed on the ground, which might explain the myth of their flightlessness. They can in fact soar for short bursts at up to 55 mph. But their tendency to stay on or near the ground contributed to successful hunting that brought the wild population of turkeys down to about 30,000 in the 1930s. There are now 7 million of them.
  2. Dark meat is rare because …
    Meat is muscle. And muscle is fed by blood. In the blood is myoglobin, which binds with oxygen and stores it in muscles for when it’s needed. Myoglobin also makes meat dark. Muscles that are used most, like those in drumsticks (legs), have more myoglobin. Domestic turkeys are too fat to fly, so they don’t use their breast muscles much, which is why breast meat is white. The breast of a wild turkey is entirely different, darker (and far tastier for those who are game).
  3. Turkey eggs wouldn’t sell
    Few humans would disagree that a good chuckle every now and again feels good. Well, monkeys, dogs, fish and other animials get a kick out of life as well. Chickens are champion egg-producers. Turkeys, not so good. Turkey eggs are bigger, so their nests tie up coop space. And farmers have learned that they make more raising turkeys for meat rather than eggs. Oh, and some turkeys are protective of their eggs, making the gathering more challenging.
  4. It’s not the turkey that makes you sleepy
    Turkey contains a natural chemical called tryptophan, which we need to build proteins for our bodies. Indeed, tryptophan is also related to the production of serotonin, which helps us sleep. But all meat has about the same amount of tryptophan. Cheddar cheese has a lot more. What really makes you sleepier after a Thanksgiving meal compared to other meals is eating too many carbohydrates, from potatoes to pies. Alcohol can contribute, too.
  5. Dinosaurs had wishbones, too
    The wishbone, called a furcula, is the fusion of two collarbones at the sternum. It’s where a bird’s flying muscles hook up. It’s elastic and great for flapping. Turns out T. Rex and the Velociraptor had wishbones, too. While they didn’t fly, this fairly recent discovery is one of the many bits of evidence that shows birds evolved from dinosaurs.


Thanksgiving Day

Not forgotten yet.

The First Thanksgiving

Ever since the Christian forefathers set sail for the new world from Delftshaven and Leyden in 1620 and landed in what was then a desolate wilderness, they found a way to survive and eventually thrive in this big rich land. These Dutch Christian pilgrims in the midst of a terrible winter with very little shelter found a way to give thanks to each other, to their freedom, and to their god. This allows us to remind ourselves that the richness of this country is not born out of in the resources of the earth, though they be plentiful, but in the men that took its measure. For that reminder is everywhere – in the cities, towns, roads, farms, factories, homes, hospitals, schools, that spread everywhere over that wilderness. We can remind ourselves that for all our social discord we yet remain the longest enduring society of freemen governing themselves without benefit of kings or dictators. Being so we are the marvel and the mystery of the world, for that enduring liberty is no less a blessing than the abundance of the earth.

Today we celebrate a holiday that progressives have been unsuccessful in destroying but continue to try in ever increasing gusto. FDR tried twice starting in 1939 to alter Thanksgiving making its date a political issue designed to create disharmony among the citizenry only to have them unite two years later and undo his experimental mischievous tinkering. The electorate has always overcome the machinations of the political establishment. Just like earlier in the previous century, today the people will see that the politicians are ultimately tinkering with establishments that have served us well for hundreds of years. Self-determination, thriftiness, entrepreneurial spirit have served to make our economy strong despite the interference of our government. Today Thanksgiving is one the last remaining holidays that is not politically correct yet has withstood the test of flailing economies, unpopular wars, social upheaval, anti-religious sentiment to survive 390 years of celebration and remembrance.

Keep the traditions alive especially the turkey. Happy Thanksgiving and don’t dry out the turkey.

The Ambient Life

“Freeband Communication and IIPIC share a vision of the future: a world in which information and communication technology render one’s surroundings into a thinking and caring environment.

The results of the Freeband Communication research program should be visualized in a compelling film. I approached the material using infographics to explain the vast quantities of data. To create a relationship with the continuing technology the film starts with a minimalist introduction in a narrow color spectrum and gradually transitioned to an abundant, multicolored world.”

Freeband – The Ambient Life from The QBF.

Corrupt Politicans

I stumbled across this site Most Corrupt Politicians published by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. This site is truly non-partisan and takes an unbiased view of these crooks who are running our country. If you live in one of their districts you should read the full report on each elected official linked at the bottom of each page. The full report is also available.

My Enemies List


I decided to update my enemies list. So here are my current enemies.

  • Bread
  • Oh delicious bread, how I both love and hate you at the same time. I love you because you reward my mouth with delectable morsels of joy which never cease to satisfy. Fluffy bites of goodness that can be covered in almost anything making you that much more tasty. I hate you because you stop by my waistline and won’t ever go away.

  • Windows Mobile
  • Port Windows 95 to a phone and you expected it to work? Not brilliant in ever increasing and less amusing ways. So bad it will destroy your hardware by overheating and meting it. So slow that it will make your 600 MHz ARM CPU feel like a 80286 processor rip-off from China. Only silly monolithic corporations will buy you any more and the average tech-neophyte consumer knows you are worse then Windows ME ever dreamed of. A stylus? Seriously? How 2002 is that? Stop pretending you’re a phone and please die a horrible death now that you have almost no market share remaining. The little OS that couldn’t and never should have been. Oh how I love my iPhone.

  • Old drivers who should have their license revoked
  • Swerving in and out of the lane ahead of you, going way too slow in the fast lane, not knowing there is such a thing as the fast lane, signaling for a lane change three intersections too soon. These are the people whose license should be torn up and forced to ride on public transportation. Please take your Buick and retire it in the old folks’ retirement castle parking lot.

  • Pippi Longstocking
  • The only person, place, or thing more annoying than Barney the purple dinosaur. Pippi was fine when she only existed in the form of children’s books. Once she morphed and crossed over into films and television it was all over but the screaming from the padded cell. The Swedes should be thoroughly beaten with a dead cat for this torture they have inflicted upon humanity. Even the Soviets figured it out after they made a rip-off version and people rioted. Pippi in any language is crap.

  • NBC
  • The only thing keeping this once proud peacock in business is football. You have one show in the top 25, The Office. You only have two good shows left, 30 Rock, and The Office. You killed off your only other good show, Chuck. SNL is anything but good or original, it is everything including irrelevant. Thank goodness you didn’t move BSG from the SciFi SyFy Channel to NBC. No one wonders why you are going out of business. Everyone know but you. Jeff and Jeff should have been fires a long time ago (Jeff Zucker and Jeffrey Immelt). You suck. You are not too big to fail. P.S. Tartikoff and Welch are in fact embarrassed.

  • Stupid People
  • The interminable, impossible to eradicate enemy. Enough said.

  • Impossible to open plastic shell anti-theft packaging
  • How many people have you injured? We have to resort to “Frustration-Free Packaging” to escape you? We have dedicated tools for opening this crap which come in an impossible to open package? You have destroyed modern civilization. Attention product packaging designers, I am not a thief, I am not going to steal your crappy product that you tried to make look better than it was by sticking it in a hard shell plastic case that cannot be opened before the apocalypse. So knock it off. All I want for Christmas is a package that opens easily.

  • Doctor Waiting Rooms
  • First, I am very impatient. Second, I am very impatient patient. Third, I am very impatient in lines. Making me wait, and wait, in a room full of sick people all equally irritable and feverishly worked up to contaminate me with who knows what foul ailment, infirmity, or disease is the worst kind of torture imaginable. Then to put me in a queue of people is like contracting Ebola virus while already having the Hantavirus. To be defiled by some hitherto unimaginable infectious contagion while simultaneously forcing me to choose between reading the current issue of Highlights magazine or the ten year old issue of National Geographic about some island now completely underwater is enemy who is almost impossible to defeat.

  • Grocery store check out lines that make me interact with a human
  • I only want to buy this one little item. That’s all I want, really. I don’t want to deal with a human and be asked if I found everything okay, invited to purchase the extreme buy of the day, nor buy the crappy DVD on sale that came out last Tuesday. I would like to silently scan the bar code on my item, place it in the bag, swipe my credit card and walk away. Does anyone actually go inside of a gas station when they only want gas? No. Please join the 21st century and install fully automated checkout kiosks.

Pigeon: Impossible

by Lucas Martell

“A rookie secret agent is faced with a problem seldom covered in basic training: what to do when a curious pigeon gets trapped inside your multi-million dollar, government-issued nuclear briefcase”

Bacon Popcorn

Bacon Popcorn

Undoubtedly, I do love all things bacon. Now there is yet another wonderful addition to world of food. Bacon flavored microwave popcorn. As soon as the waiting list is cleared I will dutifully make a purchase and will report on how it tastes. Of course we all know it will be completely awesome. What kind of movie goes best with bacon flavored popcorn? Yes, the world did just got a little better.

Here is the website.

Diabetic-Friendly Thanksgiving Tips


From Livestrong …

If poorly managed, diabetes increases the risk of developing heart disease and kidney damage. Those with type 2 diabetes can control blood sugar, and ultimately reduce the risk of developing serious complications by following a healthful diet, exercising regularly and keeping body weight in check. This may be particularly difficult over the holidays, especially a food-focused holiday such as Thanksgiving.

Prepare Ahead of Time

Don’t save calories and carbohydrates for one large meal (such as an afternoon or evening Thanksgiving meal). Your blood sugar will go crazy. A diabetic body cannot handle and properly utilize a large amount of carbohydrates at one sitting. Eat regular-sized, sensible meals on Thanksgiving day. Be sure to exercise. Go for a brisk walk and check your blood sugar. Think of it as a regular day, with an enjoyable party planned for later in the day. Focus on family and the reason for the season instead of just the food. Be a good host or guest and visit with others; do not linger in the kitchen or near the buffet table. Also, never sit down to a Thanksgiving meal ravenous. You will set yourself up for a disaster. Try to plan what you will eat in advance, if possible.

Watch Your Portions

Eat only what you really want to eat and pass up the rest. If you do not absolutely love a certain dish, do not eat it just to please the host. Fill up your plate with healthier foods, such as white-meat turkey with a small amount of gravy, herbed green beans and a scoop of whipped potatoes. Bring your own healthful dish to pass, such as assorted raw veggies with low-calorie dip or homemade cranberry sauce (make it with a low-calorie sweetener versus sugar). Avoid carbohydrate-loaded bombs as they will have the most effect on the body. Let your host know ahead of time that you are on a special diet. If you are familiar with the menu, it will be easier to maneuver around obstacles.

Make Trade-offs and Compromises

When it comes to a holiday like Thanksgiving, there are usually plenty of options in terms of what to eat. You do not have to deny yourself but you should attempt to make better choices. Your body and your blood sugar will thank you. For example, alcohol provides lots of empty calories. Instead of having two glasses of hard liquor, enjoy a cup or two of champagne made with low-calorie punch. Enjoy crudités with low-calorie dip, grilled veggies, and other low-carbohydrate hors d’oeuvres. Trade in candied yams for a baked one, and decrease or eliminate the amount of stuffing you consume. Fill your plate with veggies and whole grains (if available). Enjoy one glass of wine with your meal and choose dessert wisely. Trade in pecan pie with vanilla ice cream for a sliver of pumpkin or sweet potato pie with a dollop of low-calorie whipped topping.

Original Article

Shopping Carts

Recently one of the grocery stores in the area has started using a new shopping cart design. Harmon’s is a local, more upscale kind grocery chain in the area with around 15 locations. I prefer to shop at these grocery stores because they have much better delis, butchers, and other niceties, instead of just racks of cans and boxes. I would link to their website but it is horrible and embarrassing. Better to have good food than a good web site? I guess I am kind of a grocery store snob and don’t mind paying a little more for better service and a nicer facility.

These new shopping carts are much smaller over all. I wish all the other nice grocery store chains would add this as an option.

Grocery Cart

They take up much less floor space and so they stack up in rows more easily. The wheelbase is almost a square which means they are more maneuverable and turn almost within its own floor space. They take up much less space in the shopping aisles so it is easier to get around people. Being a geek I like new and exciting things like this. 99% of the time I don’t need the full size traditional shopping cart. Neither does anyone else.

Another nice benefit is the smaller cargo space means I am able to carry less so I tend to buy less, which means more saved money. Also during the spring and summer months I usually use a scooter or a motorcycle which obviously cannot carry much if anything. Occasionally I will buy something too large and be unable to carry it on my scooter. The makes it a little easier to remember not to do that.

When I visit a place like Costco, the full-size cart becomes mandatory and sometimes I even need to use the the flat-bed shopping carts which are very large and excellent for ramming people in the shins. “Oops, sorry.” Costco shopping usually results in large and bulky items, thus the full-size cart. I think cart needs are based on shopping needs more than anything else.

When I visit Ikea I really feel like the yellow bag holder carts are a bit emasculating and I rarely use them. I would rather carry the blue bag around instead. But what I like at Ikea are the flat carts. They are smaller than the the Costco version and have four wheel steering. Great fun for giving people a ride until you get caught by security.

Ikea Flatbed Cart

Of course sometimes shopping carts can be used to start a fight.

And only crazy people would do this.