Friday, August 28, 2009

Farewell, Reading Rainbow


Reading Rainbow is going off the air today after 26 years, making it the third longest running show on PBS (after Sesame Street and Mister Rogers' Neighborhood). Nothing about this on Levar Burton's blog or Twitter acct. as of yet.

Wow, that means that Reading Rainbow has been on the air since before I was born. Many good times watching this show even in recent years.

Of course, you don't have to take my word for it.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Inglourious Basterds

So I went to see the movie Inglourious Basterds last night. I had heard some not so glowing reviews about the movie from The New Yorker and The Atlantic via Chris and Tim on our trip. I am always wary of reviews by "experts" though, because while art does have some objectivity to it I believe that a lot of it is subjective. Plus, I do enjoy Quentin Tarantino films, so I did give this movie a chance.

I will start by saying that, like many movies by Tarantino, this flick is not for the faint of heart. It does have quite a bit of violence, which is obvious if you've seen any the trailers or know anything about the movie.

The movie itself is (I'm assuming) just loosely based on World War II and Hitler and his top officials. The story takes bits and pieces from history but is mostly a work of fiction. I enjoyed the way the movie's first half introduced a bunch of different storylines and characters and the way they came together in the second half. The music, especially at the beginning of the movie, reminded me a lot of the soundtrack to the Kill Bill movie(s). Much of the dialogue was in languages other than English, and most of it is subtitled. I think this did add a lot to story itself. I was also quite happy that the storyline/conflict was not exactly what I imagined when I saw the trailers.

Overall I enjoyed the movie, and it was worth the money spent on the ticket.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

East Coast Trip - Day 11

Today we left New Haven in the morning and drove to Providence, RI. In Providence we caught a commuter rail train into Boston. After checking into our hotel, which is right beside Fenway Park, we started exploring Boston.

We walked around and explored a lot walking along the freedom trail. This is a brick and painted trail throughout Boston that takes you to a number of historical sites. We saw things such as old churches, cemeteries where famous revolutionary figures are burried, and old houses and meeting halls. It also took us through Boston's Little Italy, where we stopped at Mike's Pastry which had a huge selection of delicious Italian pastries.

For dinner, and to round out our day, we went to Boston Beer Works right across the street from Fenway where we sampled the local cuisine and brews.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

East Coast Trip - Day 10

Today was a much more relaxing day than most days so far in the trip.

Chris, Tim and myself hung out in New Haven. We made another trip to both Ikea and Target to pick up a few more items for Tim. We also headed over to Yale and got a tour of the campus during the daytime.

We also helped Tim build a bunch of the furniture he had bought. After that we met up with one of Tim's classmates in his program at Yale and headed down to the Yale bookstore and a restaurant nearby. We ate at a place called Thali Too, which is a Vegetarian Indian cuisine place. It was quite delicious.

We ended the night at a coffee shop where we figured out plans for the next couple days in Boston.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

East Coast Trip - Day 9

Today was day 2 in New York City and we had a lot of fun. We started the day of by catching the commuter train into New York City again. Our first order of business was to take the subway uptown from Grand Central Station to Central Park.

After misreading the subway map we ended up taking an express train too far uptown and into Harlem. After taking a train back down to the right station we walked through a small portion of Central Park seeing Strawberry Fields and Tavern on the Green. Our goal was to see a bit of the park but also we needed to head down to Times Square to stand in line at TKTS.

TKTS is a little shop in Times Square that acts as sort of a clearing house for Broadway show tickets. You can buy tickets for shows the day of, at 20% to 50% off the box office price. We waited in line for about an hour and purchased tickets for the Broadway Musical "9 to 5" by Dolly Parton.

After getting our tickets we headed down on the Subway to the Financial District where we saw ground zero, New York Stock Exchange, and an old Federal building where George Washington was sworn in as the first President of the US.

We grabbed lunch and headed uptown on the subway again to do some shopping at H&M since we don't have one in Fresno. We then walked the rest of the way back to Times Square on Broadway where our theater was.

After the musical we headed back out through Times Square and the throngs of people to the subway. We caught a train downtown again to Little Italy where we had planned to eat a late dinner. When we got back up to street level we found it to be pouring rain and lightning and thundering outside. This was shocking because we had left the street no more than 15 - 20 minutes earlier and it was completely different.

We walked a couple blocks in the rain trying to stand under awnings as much as possible to stay a little dry and found a little Italian restaurant that looked good. After dinner we walked through little Italy a bit more as the rain had stopped. We too the subway back up to Grand Central to catch the commuter train back to New Haven.

Monday, August 17, 2009

East Coast Trip - Day 8

Today was spent in New York City. We drove to New Haven Union Station, which is about 5 minutes from Tim's place and caught a commuter train into the city. It took about 1 hour 40 minutes to get there and when we got to New York's Grand Central Station it was about 11am so we decided to stop for lunch at a deli.

After that we walked around a bit and saw St. Patricks Cathedral, New York Public Library, Bryant Park, Rockefeller Center, and a whole bunch of Midtown Manhattan. We decided to go see the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) where we spent a few hours. I really enjoyed the special exhibit by Ron Arad, which was full of very unique and interesting design examples, including a lot of chairs.

After the MoMA we hopped on the subway and went over to Greenwich Village and had a delicious Thai dinner at a restaurant called Isles. We walked around that area saw Washington Square Park, NYU, and a bit of SoHo and NoHo and got some Gellato for dessert.

We hopped back on the Subway and headed back to Midtown to check out Times Square at night. It was very impressive and a lot bigger than I imagined. Almost too many people. We walked around there and walked back to Grand Central Station to catch our train back to New Haven.

New York City (and specifically Manhattan) is very neat. My biggest perception is the huge numbers of tall buildings. I've been to a lot of big cities before but nothing like this.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

East Coast Trip - Day 7

There wasn't a lot of traveling today, I didn't even leave New Haven, CT today.

After sleeping in until 8am, we lounged around Tim's apartment until we headed over to Ikea to pick up a few more items for Tim's place. I love Ikea and was really looking forward to going. We at breakfast at the restaurant there and did our shopping and then put together all the furniture when we got back.

I took a bit of time to do some laundry across the street before dinner. We headed down to the Booster Square area of town and had dinner at Pepe's Pizzeria. Apparently New Haven is known for their brick oven pizza. It was very delicious and the pizzas were extremely large.

Our friend Janna who is currently attending school at the University of Connecticut joined us for the evening and there was lots of memories and reminiscing going on. After we said our good-byes, Tim, Chris and myself planned out our game plan for the next couple days in New York City.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

East Coast Trip - Day 6

I shall call today Ivy League day. After waking up this morning we left Washington DC and headed up towards New England.

A little further north of Philadelphia, PA we stopped in Princeton, NJ. We have friend, Eric Sunderland who is attending seminary at Princeton Theological Seminary. He took us on a tour through that campus and also Princeton University campus. Very beautiful campus surroundings and buildings. After eating lunch, catching up and touring around we headed up to our final destination, New Haven, CT.

When we arrived in New Haven we helped Tim unload his stuff, picked up a few more necessities from Target, and installed his new window a/c. After that we took off walking to downtown for dinner and to see a bit of Yale University. We ate at a small local burger joint and saw a few of the University buildings in the dark.

Friday, August 14, 2009

East Coast Trip - Day 5

It's hard to believe we've only finished the 5th day of the trip. We've seen so much, experienced a lot, and visited so many states.

Today we woke up after sleeping in until 9 (even though we still only got 7 hours of sleep). We had breakfast and walked two blocks to the DC metro stop by Chris's place. We took the metro to Capitol Hill and stopped into the Congressman's office for whom Chris works. We headed over to the Capitol building where Chris gave us a tour. We got lunch at a pub afterwards where I got the fish and chips.

We had some time to kill so we walked over to the Supreme Court building and the Folger Shakespeare Library. We then headed over to the Library of Congress where we had a tour scheduled. DC is a really neat city, and I think I really like the idea of a whole city dedicated to a nation's capital.

My biggest observation of the city is that Washington DC has been, since independence, a city built to show the American people and the rest of the world that even though we're a relatively young nation, we want to be taken seriously. The best example of this is in some of the art in these beautiful buildings. In the Library of Congress there is a mural on the ceiling that portrays a number of nude men in the style of classical olympics/sports, but instead of discus throwing or wrestling they are playing baseball. It shows this contrast of roots with the old world and a sense of modernity and forward thinking.

After the tours we went to dinner at Buca di Beppo near Dupont Circle followed by dessert at Kramerbooks & afterwords cafe & grill. We headed back to Chris's place via the Metro and called it a day.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

East Coast Trip - Day 4

Today was very eventful. We woke up in Indianapolis and drove through the following states: Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Maryland. WV and MD were both first-time visits for me. It was only a 9.5 hour drive today, but the last day always seems to take the longest.

Our initial destination was Annapolis, MD to drop off Harrison and his brother who were our traveling buddies for the trip. Harrison is starting his Masters program at St. John's College there. We helped him unpack the car then we drove downtown to check out the city. We went for dinner at a great little restaurant where I got a delicious crab cake. We walked down the main street afterwards where we got ice cream, I got toasted coconut ice cream in a freshly made waffle cone. I also purchased some fudge. We walked around the city a little more checking out the state capitol building (Annapolis is the capital of Maryland) and walked around St. John's College, as well as the waterfront. Annapolis is a very pretty town and reminded me a lot of Europe.

Tim and I then took the short (half hour) trip to Washington DC where we were meeting Chris. We hung out a bit at his place and then decided to head down to the mall and Capitol Hill to see the monuments. It was already 10pm so there weren't many other people, so we got a lot of the monuments to ourselves, and I got a lot of great night shot pictures. We saw the capitol building where congress meets, the Washington monument, the White House, the Lincoln memorial, and the mall as well as a number of buildings, museums, statues, and monuments along the mall. We walked at least 4 miles to see all of that. Everything was really pretty at night and I can't wait to see them again in the daytime.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

East Coast Trip - Day 3

Today we woke up in Tulsa, OK. The family we stayed with owns 4 Subway franchises, so he took us to one of his restaurants to make lunch for our trip.

We drove through 4 states today: Oklahoma, Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana. One of the highlights was driving through St. Louis and seeing the large arch.

After arriving in Indianapolis to end our traveling for the day we stopped at Qdoba for some burritos. We are staying at another La Quinta tonight, and just from seeing the setup in the lobby, its looking like the continental breakfast should be a little better than the last one.

Tim and I are up to 39 different license plates in our game. We did get a plate from Mexico today, and we saw a bunch more semi-trucks from Ontario (although we saw Ontario the first day, and we haven't seen any other Canadian provinces yet).

Tim and I took a swim in the hotel pool before settling in for the night. No fireflies tonight though...

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

East Coast Trip - Day 2

With only about 9 hours on the road today, we had a much more relaxing day compared to 13 hours on the road yesterday.

We started the day with the continental breakfast at La Quinta. It was ok, a little disappointing because a lot of the food (muffins, bagels, waffles) were pre-packaged and not fresh.

We left New Mexico, where I didn't have a lot of cell coverage, and headed into the Texas panhandle. We ate lunch in Amarillo and headed out and got to Oklahoma and stopped for dinner in Oklahoma City. We met up with our traveling buddy's Dad who happened to be in Oklahoma City on business. We ate at a nice "Italian Urban Cafe" called Trattoria Il Centro, where I had a smoked chicken pizza that had wild mushrooms and carmelized onions. We finished off the meal with some Vanilla Gellato.

We made the relatively short drive to Tulsa where we headed to the house of a family friend of our traveling buddies. We jumped into the pool and hot tub where we relaxed, chatted and watched the fireflies light up the backyard.

Monday, August 10, 2009

East Coast Trip - Day 1

Well its the end of a long and slightly exhausting day. We left Fresno at about 7:15am and were in a total of 3 states, California, Arizona, and New Mexico.

Other than driving for 13 hours there wasn't a whole lot that happened today. Tim and I started playing the license plate game, we have 19 different states and provinces. In Flagstaff, AZ we had a bit of trouble with our GPS units while trying to get back to the Interstate. (We ended up at a quarry at one point!)

Tonight we are staying at a La Quinta in Albuquerque, NM. They have a pretty good continental breakfast apparently so we will be partaking in that tomorrow.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

East Coast Trip

Tomorrow I leave on an East Coast trip with my friend Tim. We will be caravaning with another friend (Harrison) and his brother. Tim will be starting his doctoral program at Yale, which is why he is going and I thought it would be fun to tag along.

We are driving through Albuquerqe, NM, Oklahoma City, OK, Indianapolis, IN. We'll be visiting New York, Washington DC, and Boston, as well as New Haven, CT while over there.

I will be twittering, blogging, and using Google Latitude throughout the trip to keep you up to date. Feel free to follow along!

Saturday, August 08, 2009


I was just watching some new Movie Trailers at Hulu and I saw that they are offering demographically based ratings out of 5 stars for their trailers. They have four different categories Under 25: Men and Women, and Over 25: Men and Women. I am 25 years old, and not quite sure where I fit in.

Friday, August 07, 2009

What is 230?

If you've watched TV recently, you may have seen this commercial.

It's one of the simplest commercials, or rather teaser commercials I've seen. It just has a winking power outlet that makes the zero in the number 230, and 8-11 below it. The background of the commercial is green, which emotes an environmentally friendly theme.

This article from Advertising Age has some insights, but mostly just guesses. However, the Internet community is fairly certain that this commercial is being run by GM, which narrows the guesses down quite substantially.

One idea that the entire US electrical grid is going to be converted from 120 volts to 230 is probably the least likely of them all. This kind of change would require an act of congress (I'm quite sure) and the government wouldn't spend money on teaser commercials for a switch like that. Did you see any teaser commercials for the switch to Digital TV broadcast? So a big change like this would be in the news while still in the bill stages in congress.

As far as marketing strategy I think it's a good technique to use on GMs behalf. It's creating mystery, and people are spending time trying to find out what it is. One aspect that is different in this case is that the commercial does not even include a website to go to. With a search on Google of "230 8 11" the top sponsored link is the Official Website, which has only slightly more information than the commercial. The website includes a flickr photostream and a twitter link that will allow you to twitter "I spotted 230. #whatis230". This strategy of not including a website address makes people a little more interested in what it is and forces these people to go out and search for it, rather than just type in an address in their browser.

When people take more initiative and time researching your marketing, then it's going to stay with them that much longer.

The biggest thing you have to watch out for is that people don't get too frustrated and just forget about it completely.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Being Bald

I recently shaved my hair completely off. I've had very short hair before, but I've never shaved it down to the scalp.

Since shaving off all my hair I've been told I look like the following people (in no particular order):
  • Howie Mandel
  • Vin Diesel
  • Dr. Evil
  • Mr. Clean
  • Bruce Willis
  • Captain Picard
  • Lex Luthor
  • Remy (from Higher Learning)
That's most of the names I can think of.