Archive for July, 2009

John Makes The News Again
 

Here is a news story on the Tomato Late Blight which John was featured a bit in.


Oh yes, notice the wide screen :) That is courtesy of my HAVA which records in HD :P

The Big Bad Wolf To Close
 

The Big Bad Wolf Sad news for coaster fans came out this week. Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, VA is closing the Big Bad Wolf down on September 7th. The 25 year old coaster has “run its life” according to the park.

It really is a shame. The coaster was one of the first suspended coasters in the US, and I believe is still the oldest one still standing. Compared to today’s coasters it isn’t the fastest or the tallest, but the ride is still a great one. It remains and probably always will remain my favorite ride to do in the dark. This is mostly because of the setting, it’s back in the woods and you ride through a simulated Bavarian village (video below). In the dark, it’s just pitch black for most of the ride, except for lights in the house windows.

Why it’s being taken down I don’t know and they won’t really say. It can’t be for space issues, as the park has never put anything in the area another coaster “Drakenfire” was at. This ride was taken down as it was just a neck killer. They tried taking out loops and other stuff, but the coaster just left you hurting (though it was a fun ride).

One probable reason for the ending of the Wolf is mechanical. Anyone who grew up going to the park knows on any given day the coaster could be broken for a few hours or a whole day. I remember once it got stuck way out in the middle of the ride at night just when then park was about to close. I wouldn’t be happy if that was me!

I can’t help but think this is a ploy to get people into the park in the bad economy. However it’s my hope though if they do close the coaster that they will in its place put a Wolf II, bigger, badder and better :)

Press Release On Closing Of The Wolf

The Orphan Movie Review
 

Orphan So on Monday I finally went to see “Orphan,” a new thriller out in theaters now. I’ve been waiting for this movie since I saw the trailer months ago, and it didn’t disappoint!

The movie is about a couple who set out to adopt an older child. The couple are John and Kate (no joke!) and already have two biological children, Max (who is almost completely deaf) and Daniel. Jessica, who was to be their third child, died in the womb. They decided to adopt rather than have another child. As we learn as the movie progresses, the couple has marital problems stemming from alcoholism to affairs.

John and Kate end up deciding to adopt Esther, a tween orphan they meet at a local Catholic girls’ orphanage. She is from Russia and very different from the others. She’s well spoken and very artistic, and has an unusual style of dress. They take her home, and basically the nightmare begins when as the adoption starts to be finalized. It seems a lot of Esther’s records of where she came from are missing, and the last family she was with all mysteriously died in a house fire.

The movie has many scenes that are supposed to make you jump, and I believe I did once or twice. However there are many cringe worthy scenes in the film. You’ll sit there muttering to yourself “Oh no she didn’t!” and “Oh no no no no!” It’s definitely one of the best evil little kid movies I’ve ever seen.

Of course if you’ve seen the trailer, you know there is a twist. The tag line to the movie is “You’ll never guess Esther’s secret.” I think they did a great job with this because I didn’t figure it out at all until the reveal. They do a good job of leading you down several possible paths as to what’s going on with her before the reveal. Of course when you go back, you realize the clues were always there. It’s a far fetched twist, one that of course only works in movies.

Two thumbs up! See it if you can, otherwise rent it when it comes out.

Mini-Break, That
 

So Heidi is headed back home today. We had a blast and a busy few days. Thursday we just bummed around here, went to dinner and stuff, then watched TV.

Friday we were originally hoping to go to Hershey Park, but the weather didn’t seem to want to permit. It said it was supposed to storm all afternoon and through the night. We ended up going down to Atlantic City for the day to check it out as the weather there was supposed to be really nice.

I had never been to “AC” and Heidi obviously hadn’t either, as it was her first trip to the area. I think it’s definitely probably more of a night town. It seemed a little dead, but it was mid-day on a Friday. Most people head down Friday afternoon, and we saw the traffic as we were leaving!

We mostly walked on the boardwalk. I stuck my feet in the ocean and it was DAMN cold. I couldn’t imagine swimming in it honestly. We had lunch, got some yummy ice cream and then were pretty worn out from the sun. Neither of us really liked to gamble, and I think Vegas had spoiled us both when it comes to casinos :) We decided to head back home so we could do Hershey on Saturday.

Friday night we headed to Philly so she could see the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, other sights. We also went down to Jim’s for a Cheesesteak. The rain finally hit though as we were standing in downtown Philly. Till then it had apparently been nice all day.

Saturday we drove out to Hershey, which was a blast. I hadn’t been since I was probably around 10, when they only had two coasters. Now they are up to 11! I think we ended up doing 8 of them (3 of which we had no interest in for a variety of reasons). One of the coasters we did really didn’t count as it was a kiddie coaster, which I guess I should have figured out by the fact that there was no drop I could find anywhere with my naked eye (the coaster was in the woods). It just went around in circles. After it ended I said “wow that really sucked.” Three little kids however exclaimed it was in fact “the best ride ever.”

Their new coaster “Fahrenheit” was of course the longest wait. It was featured on one of those Discovery Channel top 10 thrill ride shows. It has a lot of inversions and three vertical drops. It was fun, but I think I liked “Storm Runner” way better. It was one of those coasters that shoots you off really fast, straight up a hill, flips you, then you go straight down. Tons of inversions, an awesome corkscrew too. “The Great Bear” was a hanging coaster which I think I might have liked best, but am not sure. We were in the front and half way through the ride it started to poor! So I had to close my eyes as we were assaulted by little water bullets lol. I’ll have to go back one day to compare both and decide.

Yeah, our perfectly sunny day turned stormy for a good hour or so. We stuck it out though, and it did go away. It also seemed to clear the park some :) Oh BTW, if you want to go to Hershey for their new water park . . . DON’T! Go to one of the other water parks in the area instead (and there are tons). It isn’t as big as the commercials make it sound and it’s clear they don’t have running it down pat yet. I think we waited in line for water slides longer than we did for some coasters! It was chaotic for sure.

We finished off the day with a trip to “Hershey World,” where you can shop and buy the world’s biggest Hershey bar. There is also a little ride that takes you through a fake chocolate plant to see how the chocolate is made. I swear when I was little and we came here that you took the monorail from the park to the real factory to see the real stuff being made, but maybe that is what my kiddie mind thought of the faux-factory :) I bought some yummy cookies, which I just finally ate one of. YUMMY!

Anyway, I am worn out. Two days of walking in the sun. I’m whooped! I also think perhaps next week I’m going to finally take a trip to Dorney Park, which I’ve never been to. It has some killer looking coasters, but is a huge huge huge water park. I need to recover from this week first though.

Happy Happy Halloween!
 

Okay, I know, it’s no where near Halloween :) However I just got an email from the Halloween Spirit store. No it wasn’t a catalog or a coupon, it was a job announcement. They are looking for people to work this fall in their stores. Awesome! I was just thinking I needed to start looking for a job for the fall. I originally wanted something part time that would be flexible when I start teaching in the spring. Clearly this job won’t be around in spring, but this is too good to pass up. I think I’d rock at this job, and it would get me retail experience for my resume. I’m gunna fill out an online application and send it in.

Moving on, my Hava (the Slingbox replacement) arrived and it’s awesome! I already love it way more than my Slingbox. Better image, the ability to record to my PC or to a USB stick. Best of all, it records in MPG, which is easy to port into iTunes and onto my iPhone, or burn to a DVD and play. Excellent :P

Tomorrow my friend Heidi arrives. She’s a friend I met on a cruise a few years back. I’ve been cleaning the house like a madman getting ready for her. I dusted in places I don’t think have ever been dusted before. I even did windows, and I never do windows. I just hate having people come over and my house is a disaster. If only it would stay this clean with no work from me. Hey I can dream.

We aren’t sure what we are going to do yet, as the weather doesn’t seem to know what it wants to do. We really wanted to do Hershey Park, but it’s gunna depend on Mother Nature. If we can’t, I think we are going to just go down to Atlantic City and bum around the casinos and clubs.

That’s about all I have right now.

John On CBS 3 News
 

John was on the local news, that was doing a story on the Tomato Blight hitting many states. It’s a fungus killing tomato plants.

The farm’s tomatoes are fine though :)


BTW John said the reporter was HUGE. John is about 6 feet, and he looks like a dwarf compared to this guy.

My Slingbox Died, And It Wasn
 

Warning! I’m getting my “geek” on in this post! This is mainly to vent, as well as for search engines to index so that people who ended up in the same boat as I did know what is going on. Yeah, I’m that pissed!

A few years ago (maybe circa 2007?) John got me a Slingbox for Christmas. Now this isn’t something dirty! You connect it to your cable or tivo and then to your internet and it lets you watch TV on any computer/laptop wherever you are. Neat I know.

Well I went to use it yesterday to watch “Big Brother After Dark” on my Mac, which I tivo’d the night before. I had been ignoring a message to update my player software for awhile and finally did it. Then I was told I needed to update the firmware for the player for this software to run. That basically killed my Slingbox. My remote control in the software was useless, all I could do was watch whatever was on TV, not control it (making it pointless if you are away from home obviously). Well upon trying to reset the whole thing up, it told me “This Slingbox was not manufactured for use in the USA” or some nonesense like that.

It only took a quick google to find posts on forums all over that I was not alone in this. Tons of people had their Slingboxes killed by the required software/firmware upgrade. Worse yet, many of us are over our one year warranty. I was told by support that I could pay 30 dollars to talk to a technician about this issue. Again from googling I found out I would most likely be offered a 99$ refurbishment to my Slingbox to fix this issue.

Now $99+$30 is $129 bucks. A brand new Slingplayer is about $179, though $299 for the Pro-HD version they’ve released since mine was introduced. (Post Note: I had the old Slingbox Pro, which you had to add an HD attachment too, so I’d have to shell out 299 to replace what I lost) Hmmm, pay all this money to get mine fixed . . . buy a new one . . . buy a Hava Titanium HD which you can get right now at Buy.com for 87 dollars with free shipping?

Sorry Slingmedia, but you screwed up and are screwing your customers. Had I broken my Slingbox, or had it just gone kaput on its own is one thing. To have it rendered useless by your software and firmware upgrade which I was nagged and then forced to do is another thing (firmware was not optional once you downloaded their new software). To make matters worse, they do not provide anyway to download older firmware and software to replace it to working order. You killed my box, you should have to pay for it. If you don’t want to fix it free of charge, I’m moving on. I ordered the Hava player and it should be here shortly. The only downside is they have yet to implement Mac support, though they claim it is coming, along with iPhone app. The pros are that it’s not only HD, but a PVR! I can record video not only to my PC, but there are USB attachments you can attach a portable hard drive to and record right to it! SWEET! I am hoping I can stick a memory stick in it and use it instead.

If you got here from googling the problem I had . . . hate to tell you that you are SOL. Maybe one day Sling will offer a fix to the many customers they screwed, but not right now it seems.

How Not To Market Your Cleaning Service
 

Photo 52 So while walking the dogs I found this in our driveway/front lawn. I was puzzled by it. The image is reversed, sorry about that. I would have flipped it right, but the card is upside down anyways. Basically it’s a ziplock bag with a card in it for a cleaning service, the best you’ll ever have, blah blah blah. It also says “God loves you” on it. Inside the bag was also a nice polished stone.

So I am thinking to myself, is this connected to some biblical passage I am not getting? Jesus is my rock or something like that? I’m trying to figure out why she is including a rock. Then it finally hit me, it’s to weigh the bag and the card down . . . . Yeah basically someone drove by and threw it out the window.

Okay I’m sorry, but if you can’t take the time to even put it on my porch, in my mailbox or in the screen door . . . I am not hiring your lazy ass to clean my house! I know what kind of job you’d do already, miss vacuuming and dusting around things instead of picking them up. FAIL!

Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince Thoughts
 

Harry-Potter-and-the-Half-Blood-Prince So last night I went to the 12:01am showing of “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.” It’s been a long time since I read the book, and I did not re-read it prior to the film. Therefore I can’t really make too many comparisons. I know I’ll be seeing it again with John, so I might re-read before that (but I doubt it, I’ll probably just watch “Order” again).

First up, a very good movie of course. I don’t think I haven’t liked any of the Potter movies. Of course with these longer books, the problem comes with what they have to cut out to fit everything in. In comparison to “Order,” I think this one was much truer to the book (again from what I remember). Not that “Order” wasn’t, but a lot had to be cut, and a lot of what was cut was actually important. There are, from what I recall, some major omissions in this book to movie as well. For example the importance of Voldermort’s mother’s ring and Dumbledore’s hand/health is only just mentioned. Again I can’t remember how much this book went into what the ring did, I think that was a memory in the final book. Snape and Dumbledore’s “conversations” were severely cut short as well. Probably the major omission, which is kinda stupid given the title, is the importance of the potions book and the Half-Blood Prince. There is no build up or mystery as to who he is as there was in the book. In fact watching the movie you basically forget it’s important until the crummy reveal at the end. Speaking of the end, Dumbledore doesn’t get a funeral in the movie. What what what! Though come to think of it, they’ve screwed up the ends for a lot of the films lately.

After seeing this film though, it’s clear WHY they had to split the final book into 2 movies. One clearly will deal with finding the Horcruxes, the 2nd with the major and final battle. For example the pendant at the end of the movie that Dumbledore and Harry fought for, that RAB already got . . . well the clues to where it is and who has it was not even in “Order,” so when they have to find it in the next movie . . . well if you didn’t read the books . . . The same goes for the back story between Snape and Potter’s parents, which was cut out of “Order” and is very important in the final installment.

The one thing that the movie unfortunately did horrendously was the love story between Harry and Ginnie. Oh lord, I’m not going to give anything away, but what seemed sweet and innocent in the book seems to be made dirty by little sexual innuendos in the film. We were groaning because of them, and we weren’t alone. Don’t be shocked either if you see various conservative and family groups panning this film because of that (instead of the usual witchcraft crapola).

Back in Joisey
 

Drove back to my Jersey home today. Just some random ramblings here :)

  • The house shockingly isn’t a total disaster.
  • The bunny had no water and almost no food left (John claims he had both last night).
  • Percy had no wet food, so I had to go buy him some.
  • I also had to get dry food and litter, which they were out of.
  • Scrubbed cat puke out of the bedroom carpet.
  • Picked up cat puke from the dungeon basement (this was old cat puke that John just ignores).
  • Cleaned cat pans (so gross!).
  • Washed silverware in the sink (I left it with no dirty dishes).
  • Filled the feng shui fountain which was bone dry.
  • Dumped the pet food water and refilled it (the cats knocked a food dish into it, it was gross).

Anyways, I am getting ready for the “Harper’s Island” finale now :)