A Glimpse of the "Cloverfield" Monster

I thought I was over this Cloverfield business, but then the new trailer was released, and guess what? The monster can be partially seen! It goes by so fast that if you blink you'll miss it, not to mention that the shot isn't steady, making things especially difficult to see. So... I've cobbled together an animated GIF of the monster bit from the trailer. I've steadied the shot so you can see the creature moving between the buildings. It appears to walk upright on two legs (something in me kinda hoped this would be a crab-based monster... I don't know why). It appears to have some sort carapace either high on it's back or attached to it's head (my first impression of this 'head-piece' was vaguely reminscent of the head of the 'Alien', seeming to be an extension of the back of the creature's head). Finally, as best as I can tell, this creature has skin, not an exo-skeleton. The only creatures that come to my mind with skin and a shell are turtles. I've adjusted the speed, too. So, here it is. What do you think? I really only did this to see if I was able. It was tedious with the tools at hand, and I'd hoped for a better outcome, but I chose to settle for this:

Side note: Slusho appeared on 'Heroes' the other night. Bob's daughter, Elle, was drinking one while surveilling Claire and her family spreading her father's ashes to the sea. Elle had been shot in the right arm, so she was wearing a sling, and when she noticed that Claire had spotted her there was a slightly comical scene of Elle unable to set the Slusho down because of her sling.

'Heroes' is not a J. J. Abrams project, so why is Slusho appearing in 'Heroes'? It has been rumored that Greg Grunberg ("Matt Parkman" in Heroes) will appear in 'Cloverfield'. 'Heroes' is known to have many 'Star Trek' connections. J. J. Abrams is directing the upcoming 'Star Trek' movie. So, my theory is that Slusho appears in 'Heroes' as a hint that the 'Star Trek XI' teaser will appear in theaters in front of "Cloverfield".


My favoritest pets

[My cat, Junior, and our dog, Baby Girl. While they do always get along, they normally maintain a respectable distance from one another. Not evident in this photo is the fact that Junior's paw is actually touching Baby Girl's snout.]

...cats & dogs living together...

(I had intended to quote the movie "Ghostbusters" as shown below. Thanks IMDb!)

Dr. Peter Venkman: This city is headed for a disaster of biblical proportions.
Mayor: What do you mean, "biblical"?
Dr Ray Stantz: What he means is Old Testament, Mr. Mayor, real wrath-of-God type stuff.
Dr. Peter Venkman: Exactly.
Dr Ray Stantz: Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies. Rivers and seas boiling.
Dr. Egon Spengler: Forty years of darkness. Earthquakes, volcanoes...
Winston Zeddemore: The dead rising from the grave.
Dr. Peter Venkman: Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together - mass hysteria.


Mantids of the Fall

This phonecam image was taken 10/14/07.

Check out my Fuji Finepix S5000 photos of this critter and his compadre here:


Name That Show

Challenge: Name the TV show with which I am settling my pizza. And no, the name of the show does not appear on the TV screen in this picture. I really only wanted to take a picture of the cup, but I thought it would be more interesting to have something in the background, so, what show is it?


BonK! photographs "Arc de Square"

Arc de Square

This is one of the coolest places I've ever been. I'll say it again... If I won the Mega Millions I'd reopen it myself.

I've had a list of Absurd Arcade ideas slowly accumulating in my head, but I'll save that for another time and place. Enjoy.


My Wife and I at Ohio's Montgomery County Fair 2007

Friday night my wife and I made an impromptu trip to the county fair. It was a great night for fun, and fun we had! The air held a slight chill and the steady breeze helped keep us alert even this late at the end of a work day. I didn't take my good camera but I couldn't resist snapping shots with my phonecam. So, here's an illustrated recap of our short trip to the fair.

Our first stop was the ticket booth and we picked up 20 ride tix for $14. As it turned out, most rides took 3 or 4 tickets so we weren't prepared for much in the way of nausea inducing thrills. So, we decided to get our kicks out of the way with a ride on the Scrambler. I was wearing my Swiss Army knife (in a case) next to my phone on the right rear quarter of my belt. So as not to crush my wife I took the outside seat of the The Scrambler, hence I took the brunt of the centrifugal force and nearly became fused, Borg-like, with my knife and phone as they were pressed into my kidney. Otherwise, it was a good ride.

Then we hit the Monkey Maze which was a fun-house mirror experience. After the mirror maze we decided to explore a bit.

When I saw the booth in this first picture my brain jumped instantly into Cloverfield mode. My reaction surprised me because news about 1-18-08 has been slow to nil of late and, on this rare date with my wife, Slusho wasn't in the forefront of my thoughts. I find it interesting that I was able to get this shot (a) with a modest cell phone camera which makes the image seem like it belongs in the Cloverfield mystery, and (b) that there aren't any clearly visible people in the image, just the blurry fellow who looks like he might have been in a hurry to get away from "the monster." It gives me a chuckle. :-)

We made our way to the Ferris Wheel which seems tame enough, but my wife has a fear of heights so she was challenging herself just to get on the thing. I took a picture of her on the ride to prove to her daughter that she had done it, but I'll spare her the embarrassment of posting that closed-eyes photo here. ;-) [I love you, sweetie]

So, here are some shots I took of the grounds from the ferris wheel. This shot is behind us looking toward the area with most of the food booths. Beyond the lights seen here are the barns housing the livestock.

This shows one of the main game
areas of the fair.

Similar view showing more of the rides and games along the back side of the grandstand.

This shot impressed me with the amount of color visible. The color wasn't washed out by the luminescence.

The last shot from the Ferris Wheel, just before we exited the ride.

This is the Four Horned Sheep. Pretty impressive. Being an Aries, I can appreciate a good set of horns.

I'm no vegetarian, and I completely understand that someone has to know how to butcher a pig for us to have bacon with our eggs, tasty ham sandwiches for lunch, and pork cracklin's for Sunday games, but seeing this display gave me a bit of a twinge. Like a vaccination needle. It's not pleasant but it's gotta be done. Keep in mind, this photo fails to fully realize the experience I had seeing this colorfully painted, living, breathing animal who knew nothing of the meaning in his fancy new coat.

This particular room was filled with pigs of just about all the colors and sizes a pig might be. They had a pig sort of odor, but it wasn't too bad. You could pet them and hear them and watch them play and otherwise interact. It was easy to enjoy them, which made the sting just that much greater when we finally stumbled across the butcher chart pig.

The ponies were done for the night and enjoyed some food and water outside their trailer. Not to mention the adoration of my wife and many other passersby.

Bonus feature: here's a clip of my wife and I in front of a moving fun-house mirror. Enjoy!


Save the Dayton Arcade

Downtown Dayton's Arcade will be open for FREE tours during Urban Nights on Friday, September 14th. Urban Nights runs from 5pm - 10pm. These tours will be used to promote awareness of the Arcade's current predicament and with the intention of raising money to pay taxes owed through donations and the sale of buttons, bookmarks, and calendars. The tax lien of $318,600.00 must be paid by November 19, 2007, as reported by the Dayton Daily News on July 27th, 2007. Please take advantage of this opportunity to support the Dayton Arcade. It may be you last chance to see what has been one of the most amazing features of Downtown Dayton.

Save the Dayton Arcade

The Dayton Arcade was a vital place in the early 1980's after a long struggle to renovate the facility. I performed there at Christmastime with my high school choir on numerous occasions and frequently enjoyed lunches from the food court and other establishments located in the Arcade. I had my first ever taste of Chinese food from The Mandarin Kitchen, which still does business in downtown Dayton. For a time, there was a wonderful Coca-Cola museum of sorts where you could get genuine cherry and/or vanilla flavored Coke from a fountain... and this was years before Coca-Cola began bottling these flavored versions of Coke. There was a hot dog stand where you could build your own dog with a salad-bar's worth of tasty toppings and interesting ingredients, and there was so much more.

I find it absurd that the Dayton Arcade doesn't have investors knocking down their doors. When 'town center' malls are the biggest thing to happen to shopping since malls were invented, the Dayton Arcade and surrounding area is a perfect, pre-existing location. Local examples of 'town center' malls are the recent expansion at the Dayton Mall, The Greene, and Easton Towne Center. Other plans for similar facilities have been discussed for many nearby locations like Englewood and as a replacement for the space that used to be the Salem Mall.

Downtown Dayton IS a town center and would gain a wonderful boost by working to re-open the Arcade. Town center shopping malls generally have similar features, one of which is an outdoor open space with a fountain. Courthouse Square and it's fountain is immediately across the street from the main entrance to the Arcade. It's a near perfect set-up. The one thing downtown doesn't have that the other locations have is an abundance of free parking, which is a problem. Perhaps Arcade merchants could supply customers with parking vouchers at the point of sale or some other scheme, but many people will already be parked due to their working arrangements, so this discussion is best saved for another time.

The Arcade would be a great supplement to the Shuster Center, the ballpark, the downtown housing boom, Tech Town, and all the other projects currently being discussed for the Dayton area. If I won the lottery I'd buy the place myself.

Help save the Dayton Arcade!


Cloverfield, 1-18-08 monster on DJ DAN WEBSITE?


Hey, is this a red herring? A wild goose? A prehistoric giant three-toed sloth? The Cloverfield monster?

Three claws ripped open Lady Liberty's back.
Many references to prehistory (dinosaurs, Jurassic Park, etc) in the MySpace profiles.
BS or not, you heard it here first.


another thing about 1-18-08.com

OK, this is just me being a little nit-picky...

It seems as if the photos were written upon AT the party, which presumes someone had a printer hooked up and running, which I've seen done. Or maybe the images were found on removable camera memory following the event, ala the tsunami of 12/26/04* and were written on by those who survived.

Should we call this meta-foreshadowing?

Also, on the party photo of Rob, where he's being given a drink... is the time stamp 12:01 or 12:31? I'm pretty sure it's 12:01.

*Regarding digital storage: I'd never thought about it until the aftermath of this earthquake and tsunami, but there were people right down on the beach who were, presumably, killed. But, their last photos were preserved because of the storage medium providing the world with a uniquely rare first-hand look at devastating events... like a giant monster attack.


Regarding the 1-18-08 teaser trailer

While analyzing the teaser trailer, there have been a few things that seem to bear some bit of further discussion.

The smoke between the buildings does appear to have a distinct 'monster' shape, movement, and even a mouth-like feature. Perhaps it's just in us to see such things. Perhaps the smoke was designed to provide such an illusion. Perhaps a glimpse of the monster was originally intended and this smoke was added to fill the space in which the monster would have appeared. One thing is certain. CGI work has been done to the teaser in the visual area near the smoke.

I can't recall the specific timings, but when we first get a good steady shot of the STOP sign, it is a standalone sign, seeming a bit out of place. Some have even stated that they know the area and there is no stop sign at that location. Later, when we initially see the dot of Lady Liberty's coconut flying toward us the camera has zoomed out a bit, and maybe moved back a bit as well, and the STOP sign has been altered to appear as if it is fixed to a lamp post. The lamp post is the type that has an arm extending over the street with the light attached at the end. The glare from this light, which we already know isn't actually there, just happens to blind us to some of the detail very near what might have been the head of the monster but is seen here as a cloud of smoke. Then, about the time Liberty's head bounces off ABZ-3293 (the parked SUV) the stop sign is visible again (in frame-by-frame) sans light pole.

So, I'll go out on a limb here... I surmise that even though it's a teaser and not meant to be perfect, someone was paid to go to the trouble of creating visual obfuscation in a key portion of those frames in which we might have been able to see something, using clouds of smoke and a bright light source. Something either was originally in that shot or something is intended to be in that shot when it hits theaters.

Regarding the Call Sheet @ NYmag.com

To my untrained eyes the call sheet could easily be real, and for the purposes of this post, I'll assume so.

Something that's been bubbling on the back burner of my mind for weeks is the Lascano, Platt, & Robbie picture at 1-18-08.com.

From the first time I saw the text on the backs of the photos I noticed that 4 specific letters are smudged. They are located in a spot that would easily allow for us to assume it was a finger smudge, which is why I never bothered to bring it up... but as things have unraveled, new ideas came to mind...

It has been mentioned that Cloverfield probably takes place in a single evening. What comes at the end of a night? DAWN! What three letters are smudged? ANDW, which can be made to spell DAWN [it may have been the word WAND as well but I couldn't be sure]. The call sheet clearly states a DAWN setting for four of the scenes to be filmed. Combined with the rumored title of "Overnight" I think the smudged letters were a clue we all missed until it was too late.


groan, fidget, fuss, and grumble

I'm beginning to hate myself. I've developed a handful of theories about Cloverfield, all of which easily fit within things we know for sure. My dilemma is that these are really good ideas. If my ideas turn out to be unrelated to Cloverfield I don't want to give them up for anyone in the world to steal from me. So, I think I'm going to have to go silent on this topic and just wait patiently for the movie to come out.

BTW, I haven't seen this break anywhere else, so here's something I found... Notice that it appears blogs were being posted before the profiles had even been set up! Sneaky.

20060206! Beth's alleged first blog post (sign-up date hidden)
20060311 Beth's alleged second blog post
20060615! LenaDia's alleged first blog post (sign-up date 20070613)
20061029 LenaDia's alleged second blog post
20061106! HUD's alleged first blog post (sign-up date hidden)
20070107 HUD's alleged second blog post
20070117! Rob Hawkins' alleged first blog post (sign-up date 20070613)
20070214 Rob Hawkins' alleged second blog post
20070313 LenaDia's alleged third blog post
20070315 Rob Hawkins' alleged third blog post
20070408 LenaDia's alleged fourth blog post
20070418! Lil's alleged first blog post (sign-up date hidden)
20070505 Lil's alleged second blog post
20070517! Jamie's alleged first blog post (sign-up date 20070723)
20070531! Hawk's alleged first blog post (sign-up date 20070613)
20070602 Hawk's alleged second blog post
20070606 Hawk's alleged third blog post

20070613* Rob Hawkins' MySpace sign-up date (found in his MySpace blog)
Hawk's MySpace sign-up date (found in his MySpace blog)
LenaDia's MySpace sign-up date (found in her MySpace blog)

20070615 LenaDia's alleged fourth blog post (first since sign-up)
20070622 Lil's alleged third blog post
Beth's alleged third blog post
20070710 Hawk's alleged fourth blog post (first since sign-up)
20070718 HUD's alleged third blog post

20070723* Jamie's MySpace sign-up date (found in her MySpace blog)

20070803 HUD's alleged fourth blog post
20070806 LenaDia's alleged fifth blog post (second since sign-up)


1-18-08/Cloverfield - www.platt.jp

ようこそ!株式会社 プラネット のページへ

Welcome! To page of corporation planet

FACTS: I found mention of the site 'platt.jp' on IMDb. Whois information says platt.jp was created on 2007-02-26. Folks on IMDb's boards discounted this site as part of the Cloverfield mystery because of the date, thinking it was created too far in advance to be connected. Beth's first MySpace blog post (the earliest of all the character blogs) is dated February 6, 2006! Either someone's been planning this for a very, very long time, or they were able to work with MySpace to make these posts appear to be that old.

MUSINGS: I think this site was created for possible use with Cloverfield promotions but may not be used at all. Just as scripts in Hollywood are rewritten all the time, I'm sure the planning for this promotion has had it's rewrites.
Who is Hudson Platt? From his MySpace all we know is that he's a comic book fan and that he's probably the person in a group of friends who often keeps things interesting, though he's primarily just annoying. Perhaps he was rewritten from a previously more important role... or perhaps his family owns or imports Slusho and is responsible for Rob going to Japan? Only the production crew knows for sure.

APOLOGY: I'm not a fan of all the random speculation and I don't mean to add to it. It just troubled me that the IMDb forum was so quick to dismiss the site. To me, the page has the right 'feel' for this project. Any thoughts?


Cloverfield, or whatever... factsheet

OK, I've gotten a bit wrapped up in this Cloverfield business. Cloverfield seems to be the primary codename for the untitled JJ Abrams monster movie due out on 1-18-08.

Catch-up: The teaser trailer for this movie was shown before the Transformers movie and showed us a going away party for 'Rob', who is leaving for Japan, being interrupted by a monstrous howl, an earthquake, and a power disruption. The partygoers head for the roof to try and see what's up. A monstrous explosion shakes the land once again, raining debris for miles around. The panicked partyers head indoors presumably for shelter, but then rush out into the street where another howl is heard followed by a strange throaty whistling noise. At this point an object can be seen hurtling toward the partyers. The object crashes into a building and continues down into the street, smashing parked cars and coming to rest in the middle of the road. At this point we see that the object is the head of the Statue of Liberty. The teaser ends with the date "1-18-08" and some production credits.

As it happens, that date turned up as a website, 1-18-08.com. This site featured a photograph of two women, side by side, framed in such a way as to show only half of each woman's face. They are looking upward and appear to be stunned by whatever it is they are seeing. Eventually, and as I write this, a total of 5 photos have gone up on this site. These photos are not static images. They are displayed using Flash so that the viewer may rearrange the photos and even flip them over. All of the photos are time and date stamped. Two of the photos are from the party and the other three photos appear to have been taken during the monster attack. There are messages written on the back of the two party photos including which gave up some names of the other characters. Someone was wise enough to look for those names on MySpace and turned up 7 characters, all linking to one another and no-one else.

So, I've been trying to monitor their MySpace blogs, comments, pics, and video pages and noticed that some of the profiles were either placed some time ago or they were made to appear as if they were placed some time ago. Here's a quick link list to their profiles:
MySpace.com - www.myspace.com/jamielascano - Jamie Lascano's name found on back of pic.
MySpace.com - www.myspace.com/robbyhawkins - Rob Hawkins was going to Japan.
MySpace.com - www.myspace.com/beth_mcintyre - Beth McIntyre seems to be Rob's girl.
MySpace.com - www.myspace.com/lily_ford - Lily Ford seems to be JJ Hawkins' girl.
MySpace.com - www.myspace.com/hudsonplatt - Hudson "Hud" Platt is a friend.
MySpace.com - www.myspace.com/jj_hawkins - Jason "JJ" "Hawk" is Rob's half-brother?
MySpace.com - www.myspace.com/marlenadiamond - Marlena Diamond is a friend.
In the last couple of days there have been new friends added to some of these profiles along with new comments and a blog entry by Hud (a fan of comic books) about the X-Men.

To backtrack a little bit, there was another clue in the teaser trailer, and possibly some yet to be discovered clues, mainly, "Slusho!" Slusho is a drink that has appeared in Abrams' show "Alias" and possibly in "Lost" as well. The site slusho.jp seems to hold a lot of 'Cloverfield' related information that has yet to be properly interpreted.

Speaking of interpretation... a lot of really silly ideas have been mentioned by people who have misinterpreted available information.

  • Talk of lions lead to the idea this was a Voltron movie, which it is not.
  • Some believe this is a movie about 3 biblical monsters (Behemoth on land, Leviathan in the sea, & Ziz in the air) based on Slusho information about sea creatures and whales (Leviathan) along with a duck (Ziz) and a horse (Behemoth) and Slusho page backgrounds to go along with each. While there isn't enough available information to completely discredit this rumor there is an equal lack of information to confirm it.
  • Based on the '3 monsters' rumor others have guessed at a "Rampage" movie, from the old video arcade game. Again, I'm really certain this is not a Rampage movie.
  • Finally, Chthulhu fans seemed to think there was some possibility this was a movie based on the works of H. P. Lovecraft, but anyone really familiar with his work would see that what we know of this movie bears no real resemblance to Lovecraft's stories.
A lot of other sites have cropped up pretending to be connected to the untitled JJ Abrams project, but most have been quickly and easily exposed as fakes. I won't bother mentioning questionable items here because such posers simply don't deserve any sort of recognition.

Abrams stated at Comic-Con that 'we' should have a monster icon like Godzilla. Therefore, my guess is that this is a completely original monster, as original as giant monsters can be nowadays, and may have roots in anything and/or everything mentioned above, but this will be a new look at whatever it turns out to be.



Low Budget Airshow

We couldn't make it to the airshow this year so we watched from the shade of our patio for a few hours, reading, chatting, and playing with the dog between acts. For those hours of diligence I was only able to catch the following 39 seconds of shaky and out of focus video. Enjoy, if you can.


Three cheezburgers iz too many...

Three cheezburgers iz too many.
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You can tell it's a slow night when...

I have one final idea for a Nintendo DS browser screenshot but I think I'll put it off for another time... stay tuned.

One giant leap for space fashion: MIT team designs sleek, skintight spacesuit - MIT News Office

Photo of Dava Newman by Donna Coveney for MIT News

One giant leap for space fashion: MIT team designs sleek, skintight spacesuit - MIT News Office

Skin-tight-suit-wearing, bubble-helmeted space-babes have been of fixture of science-fiction geek fantasies nearly as long as there has been science-fiction. Thank you MIT!

Joe's Movie Corner on a Nintendo DS

Sorry Joe, your banner layout doesn't show up so well. Most images will resize to fit. I'm not sure why yours didn't. The DS browser can be used in two different viewing modes. This view is SSR mode which I believe stands for Single Screen Reading, or something of that sort. The other view is Overview mode which tries to make a miniature of the page load in the bottom screen with a "magnifier" that you can move around to get a close-up in the top screen. Overview mode seems to work much better for your page. BTW, anything Flash will not show up on the DS, which means most all video clips. I'm not sure but I think Java is a no-no as well. And music and games... fuggedaboudit.


Nintendo DS Browser

OK, I've been a gamer since Space Invaders and Donkey Kong replaced my favorite pinball machines at the local 7-11. I can't tell you how much that pissed me off. Over time I learned to love video games. I've recently purchased the web browser cartridge for my white Nintendo DS Lite. Naturally, the first thing I did was look at all my web pages. The browser cartridge is a bit slow and comes with a memory cartridge that could easily have had far more capacity than it does (but for what price?) and I quickly found that one of my most used sites (Picasa) is barely workable on the DS. Anyway, I thought I'd stop by some sites that I didn't create... so, to cut a long story short, this is what No Smoking in the Skull Cave looks like on the Nintendo DS browser.


I love drive-in movies

My wife and I went to see "Harry Potter & The Order of the Phoenix" and "Ratatouille" at the Melody 49 Drive-In. Sadly, we didn't manage to stay for the second feature, which I've been looking forward to seeing. The Order of the Phoenix was another amazing installment in the Harry Potter series of movies. The images below were shot with my phone during the credits for Potter.

When we arrived the place was nearly full. I work until 8:30-9:00p and getting to the show on time can be troublesome. By some miracle (Lucky Friday the 13th?) we found a spot just one or two cars off-center and directly in front of the concession stand. There simply isn't a better location if you're there to actually watch the movie. This shot is behind my van. Taillights and credit roll line up almost perfectly. It was sweet.

The smell of popcorn and hot dogs all night long was a nice touch. My only complaint was the service door to the concession/projection building kept opening and closing behind with employees taking smoke breaks and the light from inside the building would illuminate the interior of my van, creating a distraction. If we had been two spaces to the right it probably wouldn't have been an issue, and we'd actually have had a slightly more centered space.

With this photo I tried to catch the beam from the projector shining over the roof of my van. Obviously, it didn't work out so well. Next time I'll try it with my digital.

Support your local Drive-In!

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My photos of the "City Life" statues by J. Seward Johnson

Insignia Video (NS-DV4G)

Here's a review of my new MP3 player. By my experience, this review is nearly spot-on, though he seems to consider it a bulky device and I can't imagine why. I have yet to experiment with the FM recording option or the line-in feature, which I look forward to trying as a memo-recorder and/or for importing from unusual sources.

For it's size it has a large bright screen. I occasionally seem to get distorted audio but I haven't determined if my files might be to blame because most of the time it's crystal clear. [Now listening to "Because" from "LOVE", the remixed Beatles music for the Cirque du Soleil show of the same name, and the sound is perfect.] My primary need for this device is for in-car listening via cassette adapter. It works like a dream.

Originally I'd been using an old Rio MP3 CD player ($55 when I bought it new at Best Buy) and my own custom discs for this purpose. It was awesome but finally the player croaked and my first thought was to replace it with a like device. To my great distress such things seem to have gone the way of Laser Disc movies and the few MP3 CD players I finally found specs for were either completely unsatisfactory or completely out of production. Dead End.

Once I accepted the fact that my custom MP3 CD collection (quite impressive, I must say) was now nothing more than a set of future drink coasters I began exploring the far more expensive world of disc-less players. I have a huge collection of (legal) music and needed a player that could accommodate it. 4GB was my initial target but I couldn't afford things in that range at the time.

I settled on a 2GB Samsung YP-U2J. Even at half my desired capacity I found this little gem a pleasure. It was easy to use and worked very well but it was barely larger than a thumb drive and the display could not be read at a glance while driving. No big deal, though, because the controls on the thing were great, so if something came on that I wasn't in the mood for I just hit [>>] and that was that.

I'm not at all sure why the YP-U2J died. It didn't actually die, but it did stop playing music. It's possible that I hit some sort of capacity sore spot because I kept it loaded to the point of trying to find song X that would "just fit" in the space available. One morning after a fresh sync I turned it on and it began it's loading sequence, "Building MLDB", the screen would read after a sync. This time it took longer than usual, noticeably so. When the message disappeared, the player shut down. I have another theory that static may have played a role in it's death. I used to wear the thing on a lanyard between my regular shirt and an undershirt. I never noticed a shock, but it could have happened. Pleh...


My lovely and wonderful wife reminded me that we'd only had the thing about 9 months and we headed to Best Buy to look around. As with the loss of my Rio Volt MP3 CD player, I began looking for an exact replacement. No Samsung YP-U2J MP3 players in racks... has it been discontinued? {shudder} So I pulled myself together to find something similar, ignoring anything that didn't look like a thumb drive in the mistaken belief that they would all be too expensive. I was soon corrected by the $129 price tag on a 4GB device. I didn't expect it to play video, but it does. Bonus! And it was only $20 more than I had in credit for the Samsung. SWEET!

So, with 4 days of use under my belt I can honestly recommend this device to anyone looking for a good value. I know... 4 days is hardly a marathon test drive, but there's not the slightest hint of trouble yet. I didn't even have to install any software to use this puppy with Windows Media Player.

Oh, yeah, that reminds me... I'll have to post later about the sad death of MusicMatch at the hands of the evil Yahoo! empire. You do know that Yahoo! is partner with AT&T broadband services, don't you? AT&T's logo has been called the Death Star more than once. See the connection? Or as Buckaroo Banzai would say, "There! Evil PURE AND SIMPLE by way of the Eighth Dimension!"

In summary, if you need a decent little MP3 & video player get yourself one of these [see the official product page here]:
Insignia :: All about affordable and well designed technology - Insignia 4GB* MP3 Player - Black

This Ramble, Rant, and Rave is officially kaput.


Words fail...

Add two more beef and another shrimp and I'm stuffed.


"Wanna B Ur Lovr" - Weird Al in Concert

Weird Al gets intimate with the crowd during "Wanna B Ur Lovr", a song with lyrics comprised almost entirely of the worst pick-up lines ever.

This was a great show, as was the one I saw in 2000. I recommend that everyone see Weird Al in concert at the earliest opportunity.

Weird Al

You'll have to take my word for it. This is the one and only Weird Al Yankovic as he entered the crowd for some quality time.


The Biggest Dragons Fan

My souvenir Dippin' Dots cup/hat let's our King of the Monsters show his true colors as he sports a lovely green chapeau with the cartoon image of Dragon's mascot, "Heater."


Take me out to the ballgame

A visit to Fifth Third Field to watch the Dayton Dragons is always a good time. I've seen Adam Dunn, Wily Mo Pena, Austin Kearns, and Sean Casey playing for the Dragons and there will certainly be many more future big names added to that list in time. On this particular occasion the Dragons lost to the West Michigan Whitecaps but these were the best seats I've ever had at a baseball game. We were in the back row of section right behind the home dugout and for the first time ever I was able to care about the game from start to finish. Seats this close allow you to see variations in a pitcher's delivery from pitch to pitch and to get a good look at the strike zone to see where those pitches actually went. Plus, there's a decent chance to get a foul ball, though none came near us this particular evening. What I'm getting at is that baseball is an entirely different and far more interesting game when seen up close. Spend a little extra cash for the good seats.


Riverscape - The Great Miami River at Twilight

This image could use some editing but I think I'll leave it alone. I'm actually surprised at it's quality considering that it was taken with my phone. The actual view contained the color variations seen in the sky but also showed them reflected in the [invisible] river flowing in the lower half of the picture. I took a second similar shot of a slightly different view. I'll edit both of them with, and post them to, Picasa.


recent blog updates

In case anyone is reading this, I've taken a cue from Becca's "No Smoking in the Skull Cave" and customized my banner. The new banner is not mind-boggling or even very impressive, but it's mine. I used one of my recent photos of the Moon and Venus and a Trek font to give the image a subtle pizazz. Also, I've begun linkifying my sidebar lists and am considering using some images in those lists.

Thanks for the inspiration, Becca. You are doing all the things I would be doing if I had more time, and then some. And you're doing it well. I don't impress easily. Congrats!


A Pervert Looks At 40

I'm at work doing some research on Penthouse Variations* magazines. While Googling away, I happened to find a fascinating blog that I wish I could have written myself.
Check out "A Pervert Looks At 40".

*Penthouse Variations is a digest-sized magazine containing professional erotic short stories, reader submitted erotic stories, and moderate photo illustration.


Lightning Bugs 2007-05-28, 21:35 ET

I've been keeping watch for a few weeks now and I'm happy to finally report my first Lightning Bug sightings of 2007. There is certainly no way for me to document lightning bugs with my phone since the phone's CCD just isn't sensitive enough to pick up such subtlety in still or video mode. I think I'll do video and image searches to see if anyone has been able to capture lightning bugs. Honestly, I can't recall having ever seen them secondhand, even on science and nature shows. The the producers of the show "Planet Earth," you're so good at capturing incredible footage, let's see you pull off the lightning bugs. ;-)

UPDATE (2007-05-29, 02:45 ET): OK, maybe it's not so tough to shoot lightning bugs. I just found this on YouTube...

Technical note: I sent an SMS post from my phone but it has yet to be confirmed by Blogger. So, of course, it also hasn't arrived in my Blogger post manager. I had intended the post to be a placeholder for the actual post I would compose later (that is, now).

Perhaps, because it was a text message (with no subject line), rather than a picture message, for which Blogger mobile was intended, the system couldn't or wouldn't process it. C'est la vie.

Wegerzyn Gardens

My wife and I spent part of our Memorial Day/Wedding Anniversary weekend walking through Wegerzyn Gardens (before taking in the annual "Art In The Park" festivities). I took this LG 8300 phonecam shot, in a section of the garden no one else was exploring, as we sat for a few quiet minutes enjoying the company.

My idea for this photo was to try and capture, in a single shot, a number of representative objects that might illustrate the grace and beauty of the setting.

Left to right: a decorative urn next to the bench on which we sat; a garden archway destined to be covered with growth by summer's end; a sample of the trimmed hedges scattered throughout the gardens; behind the arch is a 'portal' from that section of the gardens to another; a stylized lamp-post; finally, the curving walkway winds around to complete a circle that passes other decorations, both flowering and man-made, around the star-shaped stone planter, two points of which are visible, that is the centerpiece of this section of the gardens.

A few years ago I visited Wegerzyn and nearby areas with my first digital camera (Casio QV-11). I'll post those images shortly. The low resolution made for some disappointing photos, but they adequately illustrate some other features of this park, including an elevated walkway that runs through the woods in the background of this photo.

I've been wanting to return here with my Fuji S5000 to re-shoot the Casio photo and today's visit cemented that thought when I discovered a fascinating new complex of children's attractions including explorable caves and streams. I just hope the 'fun' area doesn't obscure angles I shot during the Casio photo set.
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Grounded tree frog

I was taking the dog out and she found this right away...

I was fortunate enough to stop the dog just short of biting and eating the terrified little thing.

Holding the dog at bay in one hand, I grabbed my phone with the other hand, quickly activated the camera and fumbled to set the flash to ON. I snapped the shot then ducked my head inside to call for my son to bring my real camera outside.

He snapped off a number of shots, then I traded him the dog for the camera and took a couple of pictures of my own. He caught the frog and, while trying to hold the dog's leash, I tried to get some shots of it in his hands. Soon it progressed, a hop at a time, up to his shoulder, then, back into the grass. My son caught it again and took it to a nearby tree, then came back for the camera to get some natural shots of it. Alas, between terrible lighting and trying to get close-ups (forgetting to use the macro setting), and trying to hold the dog, we only managed to capture 5 decent images with my Fuji.

See the good shots of the grounded tree frog here.



ARCADE SQUARE, Require Shoes & Shirt, No Pets, No Bikes or Skates, Noise Ordinance Enforced

[Apologies for the sideways image. Posting directly from my phone, I turned it sideways to better fit the logo. I'll see about adjusting it. Until then...]


25 years ago this place was a bustling hub of commerce.

I remember performing Christmas music here with my high school choir.

I remember many lunches in the food court under the glass-domed roof.

I remember taking weeks carefully deciding what kind of shoulder bag would best suit my needs from the luggage store.

I remember a Coca-Cola "museum" on the second floor, where you could have vanilla or cherry flavored syrup added to your Coke just like they did at the soda fountains of old. In the early 80's such flavors hadn't been made available in bottles yet. The place was filled with nearly every bit of Coca-Cola decor and memorabilia you could hope to see.

I remember my first ever Chinese food (simple but delicious chicken fried rice & an egg roll), purchased from Mandarin Kitchen, enjoyed with a friend who worked security for McCrory's.

It was like having a mall in a downtown setting... funny thing, with Courthouse Square right across the way and major retail anchors in place, it was exactly like a Town Center and it was in an ACTUAL Town Center!

I'm sure I'll touch on this again in the future...


Go see "Grindhouse"

If you expect you'll enjoy "Grindhouse", you will.
If you have doubts, stay home with your wooby*.

Pee first. Don't chug your favorite beverage. Ration your popcorn and Raisinettes. For the majority of 3 hours and 11 minutes you will be entertained.

"Grindhouse" isn't two short movies and a collection of fake previews crammed into a feature length presentation. "Grindhouse" is two full-length movies with fake previews as the special sauce. There are actual flaws in these films, besides the intentional ones, but delving into them would be an artistic debate of epic proportions and there's little to no point in that. "Grindhouse" is fun and well worth the admission price.

I won't post any spoilers here, but I do have a handy viewers tip to share...

Provided that you haven't been grossed-out into running to the john during "Planet Terror" or the intermediate coming attractions, the "Death Proof" segment contains some (perhaps intentional) needlessly drawn out segments in which the viewer can safely take time to visit the loo.

The first opportunity to relax your straining bodily functions follows the introduction of the four gals at the beginning of "Death Proof". You don't need to rush but don't take too long because you don't want miss a second of Kurt Russell.

If your constitution is up to it, you can wait until after the hospital scene and the introduction of four more characters. Again, there's no rush, but don't waste time counting the bathroom tiles or waiting in line for more nachos and a soft pretzel.

Finally, unless you're a complete fanatic, there is no need to sit through the credits. There is no surprise at the end. If you've sat through the whole thing and really have to go, by all means get thee to the echo chamber make all the noise you need! It won't be any worse than anything you've just seen on the silver screen.

I waited through the credits, but I didn't pay close attention to anything but the music listings, so there might be some 'crazy credits' that I didn't catch.

Enjoy "Grindhouse"!!!

Disclaimer: I'm not obsessed with bodily functions but we've all been there and this is an exceptionally long film. I hope my tips will help you and yours get the most enjoyment possible from your viewing experience. G'day.

*wooby - synonym for security blanket, as used in the film "Mr. Mom" starring the best Batman ever, Michael Keaton.


Motion Picture Fact Checking 1

In Kill Bill: Vol. 2 Budd offers Elle Driver "The Bride's" Hattori Hanzo katana for $1,000,000.00. "California Mountain Snake" shows up at Budd's with a suitcase full of bundled $100.00 bills. This caused me to wonder if $1,000,000.00 in $100.00 bills would actually fit into such a case. The $100.00 bundles appeared to be about the size of a bundle of 50 $1.00 bills, so under the assumption that there were 50 $100.00 bills/bundle ($5,000.00/bundle) it would take 200 such bundles to total $1,000,000.00. This volume would appear to fairly easily fit into such a package. Case closed.

Math for upgrading 4:3 to 16:9 TV

Thanks to Software Steeplechase, I now know how to figure out what size 16:9 widescreen TV I would need to preserve the viewing size of non-widescreen formatted shows on my 4:3 standard TV. Simply multiply the the size of your 4:3 TV, in my case a 32" diagonal, by 1.22, which equals
39.04". So, in upgrading to a widescreen TV, I would be looking for a 40" diagonal 16:9 screen.

4:3 diagonal TV screen size
x 1.22 or 122% larger screen size
= 16:9 required diagonal TV screen size to lose nothing during 4:3 viewing


Tropical Dayton OH

Pineapple to go with chili & key lime pie


First nice day...

Dandelions already?


Captured Lightning - 1998, 1999

One fine day in 1998 quickly turned ugly.

I don't believe I've ever seen another storm front quite like this one. It literally rolled across the sky, turning everything dark in about 10 minutes. 'The Nothing' from "The Neverending Story" had become a reality. I must have been awestruck, because now, nearly 10 years later, I can't comprehend my motivation for remaining outside with such an ominous cloud hanging overhead. I suppose it was impossible for me to resist trying to document this unusual occurrence.

Let us step aside from this illustory for just a moment. All the photos in this post were taken with a Casio QV-11 digital camera. This was the first age of consumer digital cameras. It was widely believed that including a flash with a digital camera was unnecessary because all the details might be brought out with photo editing software. Isn't technology wonderful? Anyway, besides being flashless, this things max resolution was 320x240, and it's image processor was about as fast as drawing maple syrup straight from the tree. At least there were no confusing settings to fuss with. But wait... it has a sloooooowwwww image processor? Perhaps that's not such a bad thing?

At some point in time now washed from my memory, like sand castles eroded by waves at the beach, I discovered that I could capture lightning with this camera. If the camera was pointed in the right direction I could simply watch the sky for lightning. When the lightning fired I had time to click the shutter and catch the bolt. Of course, lightning is very bright and I was fortunate that the camera wasn't completely blinded. I had to severely darken the pictures to make the bolts visible amid the flash. And now, back to the pictures...

As I review these images I am more and more concerned for my sanity at the time I took them.

This may be the day I learned I could capture lightning. I really don't remember, but I can't recall ever trying to shoot lightning before this.

As you can see, a distant lightning bolt stands out nicely against this dark sky without overwhelming the camera.

The spot of light near the bolt is a street lamp.

A similar image. This time I was a little off my speed and this bolt's light had already begun to fade by the time I clicked.

I'm finally inside, relatively safe. I don't know if I wised-up and got out of the storm or if it began to rain and I was worried about damaging my camera... I suspect the latter because I DO remember frustration at losing a good angle from which to shoot, having no windows on the side of the building where all the action was.

Anyway, I really like this shot because it's got some of that iconic lightning bolt zig-zag in it's upper half.

This was the last photo I took during this storm. The camera had internal memory only and could hold a mere 16 pictures before it had to be emptied to a hard drive via com port connection. By this point in my computing history (a much larger story of which this is a minor, but somewhat interesting part) I had already lost 2 modems to electrical storms and had adopted the habit of physically disconnecting the computer's phone line and power during outbreaks. Phone lines, therefore modems in dial-up connected computers, will get zapped before it is compromised through the power line, almost every time.

So, now I knew what I could do with my camera during storms. This was terribly exciting and excitement makes people stupid. So here are some images from another storm the following summer...

This storm was in another part of town. A busier part of town. A bustling part of town. We were parked at a busy gas station, surrounded by metal utility poles and business signs and telephone lines and traffic signals and crosswalks, any of which would make great conductors for lightning. I was outside in the rain. I was a moron.

These shots were taken almost a year after the first set and we were directly beneath the storm. Also, it wasn't raining hard, and, by this time, I had managed to spill a beer on the camera and was somewhat aware of how much 'wet' it could stand.

My aim was off for most of these shots because the event was much closer and it wasn't possible to determine where the lightning might flash next. Lucky shots, all.

This image reminds me of something in between a Hubble image of a nebular cluster in another part of the galaxy and an ultrasound scan of a baby's head (eye, nose, & mouth facing right and down, with a little fist curled up near the chin). Do you see it too, or have I watched "2001: A Space Odyssey" too many times?

These last two images are examples of a 'blinded' camera. I have found the picture on the left to me unalterable. Tweaking it seems only to highlight the poor resolution of the camera. The picture on the right is my favorite of them all. It seems to bring out the true and devastating nature of lightning. Perhaps it was this final image that scared me back into the van and out of harm's way.

I hope you've enjoyed this romp through my ancient digital photo collection. I've only posted them because I still find them fascinating after all these years. I hope you will, too.