Monday, March 31, 2008

NASCAR is dead to me.

I watched the Daytona 500 in hopes that the new "Car of Tomorrow" (which is now called the Car of Today, I think) would miraculously fix the fact that restrictor plate racing has become simply a game of roulette where all you must do is get your car in the top fifteen or so and then get lucky. But no, it seemed to make it worse.

So now I have a new favorite quote about NASCAR: "If I want to watch identically-shaped pretty colors go in circles all day I'll flush Skittles down my toilet." -P71, Grassroots Motorsports Forums. By the way, if you enjoy all things car racing, get a subscription to Grassroots Motorsports. Excellent magazine for race car enthusiasts.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

More from the mountains

We ate at one of our favorite restaurants in Boone, the Daniel Boone Inn. They serve family style, which means you don't really order anything. They just bring out "enough" fried chicken, salisbury steak, mashed potatoes, corn, green beans, coleslaw, apples, biscuits, gravy, and probably a few other items I'm forgetting. Oh, and two country ham biscuits each. And if that wasn't enough, they do refills on everything except the country ham biscuits (dang!). I won't say it's all the best you've ever eaten, but it's all very good and it happens quick. Oh, they start you with vegetable soup, too. And to finish, they have a choice of a dessert for each person. Tonight was chocolate cake, strawberry shortcake, and peach cobbler.

Cost? Just under $40 for two adults, a six year old, and a three year old. I have no idea exactly how that breaks down, though.

Something we found but won't have a chance to do this trip is this awesome looking zip line tour. Kids have to be at least nine to do it, so our kids can't. Several friends I've sent this to want to do it, so hopefully we can get a group together to hit the mountains and try to get'er done!

In the mountains...

So, one of our favorite family places is the North Carolina mountains. In particular, we enjoy our house near Blowing Rock. One of our favorite places is Grandfather Mountain. The top was closed today, however, so we didn't go up. Don't know why it's closed as it is a beautiful day.

So we went on to the Mast General Store to see what goodies we can find. This is one of the world's truly magical places. It really is a blast from the past where you can enjoy a myriad of sodas from a tall glass bottle (Nehi, Cheerwine, and Mt. Dew, just to name a few). They sell candy for the kids by the pound. Other interesting things you can find there include cast iron cookware, Fiestaware, and a great selection of hiking shoes, sandles, and Life is Good stuff. Kids will love the toy selection, too, and adults will appreciate that a lot of it is more than just crappy plastic junk from China. There is a good selection of magic items as well as metal and wood puzzles.

We're mostly just chillin' and letting the kids play and act crazy. I did get a deep tissue massage at the Crestwood Inn yesterday. It's not a crazy high end spa, really, but Jodie is a wonderful masseuse. No significant pain, but she did a lot of really good work. I feel much better today thanks to her. Here is a pic from today...

One day I'll have a webcam at the mountain house. Along with a real time weather station. Ah, projects...

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Carefree Way?

So, some people may wonder where the title of my blog comes from. It actually all started in Carefree, AZ.

Carefree, AZ??? Yeah. My aunt Robbie, myself, and my friend Mike all decided to go to a John Lyons horse training seminar in Carefree, AZ. We flew in and out of Phoenix, and actually spent a few days there visiting with Mike's sister. Mike had this bad habit of any time things weren't going his way he's say "I'm in hell." It was usually accompanied by a very exasperated look on his face. It was also all too common when he was on a road trip with me. Hmm.

Anyway, we made a colossal mistake on that trip and didn't get a hotel reservation for our time in Carefree. We simply drove out there looking for a place to stay only to find that wasn't so easy. We drove all over the town looking for something, which included passing a lot of "Welcome to Carefree" signs. Mike happened upon one of his patented "I'm in hell" moments right as we passed another of those signs, so I responded with "no, you're in Carefree!" We were getting fairly silly from our long search for a hotel room, so it sort of stuck. Later he kept saying "I'm in Carefree" as we drove around, but we knew what he really meant.

We finally found a place and had a really nice weekend, even if I was distracted from the seminar quite often checking UNC basketball scores. This was back when UNC didn't have a great team under Guthridge, but still somehow made the Final Four. We returned from our trip and only a few days later were meeting to try to come up with a name for our new horse business we were forming. The discussions and brainstorming wasn't going well and at one point I exasperatingly threw out "how about Carefree Ranch." I was joking when I said it, because at the time "Carefree" was really a euphemism for "hell", but after thinking about it I re-proposed it seriously. And it stuck. We now have Carefree Ranch.

Several years later, we decided to get a street name for our driveway to help with 911 service (there are several residences on our driveway, so it makes it easier for emergency folks to find you if you give that a street name and each residence a street number). So we needed a street name. I pretty quickly settled on "Carefree Way" as our street name. And not much later my blog. No, none of this is anywhere near "hell"...far from it. But I do find it funny and somewhat ironic that such a big part of our lives was born that way.

Blogging Tip

Use to grab random images to spice up the blog. Okay, I'm probably overusing them lately, but it's still cool. Now if there was an easy-EASY way to make the white background transparent, I'd love that. You can do it, but it involves saving the image and manipulating with an image editing program. I just go to and type in what I want and then right-click (or control-click on a Mac) and "Copy Image Location" and then paste it in the "Add Image" icon in your blog editor. Pick the image location and size and Upload. You can even resize more once it dumps the image in your editor by clicking on it and then dragging a corner around. Very quick and easy. Sure, it could be considered a copyright problem for some images, but for random icon type things, I don't see anyone caring.

UPDATE: Don't just "Copy Image Location" above. "Save Image As..." instead and save it locally. Then upload that using the "Browse" button in the picture upload. It's annoying to explain why, so just trust me on this. :-)

Things I Dislike

I started to call this "Things I Hate", but I'm trying to avoid the word hate for some reason. I'm not sure I even know exactly why, other than I think it should be reserved as a very strong word, but it's so overused that it isn't. So that's one thing I dislike right there.

Another thing I dislike? Umbrellas. Read Holly's blog about them and you'll get an intro to my disdain. The much more elegant alternative, in my opinion, is the rain coat. It doesn't take nearly as much space when walking in a crowd. Now, if you have to carry stuff that can't get wet, that's a whole different problem, but they make waterproof stuff carriers, too. In all different shapes and sizes.

Want more? Sun tan lotion. I know, it's a necessary evil. I use it. But I really, really, don't like it. I've tried a good many different types and brands, and it's really hard to find something that works well for true highly active people outdoors. Seems like most of what you find that's good in those situations (ie. won't wash off, sweat off, etc, and actually works) also stinks to high heaven and or feels greasy all over you. Ugh!

Last thing (for today), bug spray. Yeah, bugs are annoying, I admit. But I have zero inclination to cover my skin with some chemical so toxic that bugs can't stand it. I mean its your skin. You do know your skin is the largest organ in/on your body, right? That's right, it's an organ. A vital system in helping keep you alive. Burn enough of it and you DIE, for example. And it doesn't take as much as you think. And it really is all about your skin here, not burning underlying parts of you. So why cover it with some strange chemical just to keep a few pesky little critters off you? It's unfortunate that mosquito borne diseases are getting so prevalent, but I'll still take my chances there.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Movie Review: No Reservations

No Reservations didn't score well on the IMDB charts, but it's another case where I thought it was better than they rate it. I won't give away the plot, but I will say this general storyline has been done many times before, but I still give it very good marks for being witty, well acted, well directed, and moving. I'd give it an 8.0 on the Smokey and the Bandit scale. Definitely a good date movie.

Movie Review: Gone Baby Gone

Gone Baby Gone gets an 8.0 at IMDB on a scale of 0 to Smokey and the Bandit (which is a perfect score of 10.0 in my book, but obviously the IMDB score has a serious computation error), but to me that was a bit low. I'd give it a 9.0. Production quality was excellent, as was the acting, direction, and writing. It was a compelling story that you never could fully anticipate which direction it was going to take. I think it may have gotten lower marks from some due to an ending that wasn't what you really wanted to see happen, but it was well done nonetheless. I'd highly recommend it at least as a rental.

Morgan Freeman fans need not go crazy to see this one, as his role is fairly limited. But the acting quality is still very high, even without a lot of Freeman.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Travel Tip

So, they won't let you take drinks through security at the airport, but they will let you take an empty bottle. Do that and fill it with water from a water fountain when you get through. Bang, instant $3 savings on buying a bottle of water, and you're reusing a bottle instead of buying yet another one. Empty before return leg and use again. And again. And again....

This one courtesy of my friend, Johnny.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Shameless Self Promotion, Round Deux

Yeah, on the heels of posting about my IMDB entry, I can't help but post this newspaper article from the Greensboro News & Record. That's right, they had to double team me! I wonder if the actual newspaper picture was in color and what page we were on. I'm sure it had to be the front page of the sports section. That's what I'm going to keep telling myself until someone proves me wrong with a paper copy, anyway.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

I'm in the IMDB

Bet you didn't know that I'm in the International Movie Database, did you? Some dude did a documentary on Linux and the open source movement called Revolution OS, and I was one of many folks interviewed. The movie has occasionally been run on the Sundance Movie Channel and you can buy it on DVD.

This Blog Template

All these dots make me want to edit the template to include a Pac-Man running around gobbling things up. Unfortunately I can't find a theme I like better, and I'm far too lazy to make my own. At least right now.

Eye-Fi Update

Strangely, just a few minutes after posting earlier today about the Eye-Fi, I got my email response from their tech support. We've gone back and forth via email several times today (and you might note it's SATURDAY, which is kinda cool) only to discover so far that for some reason Firefox interacting with the Eye-Fi Manager application is to blame. Firefox and the old version work for me, but not Firefox and the new version. Safari (the Apple browser) and the new version work fine, however. Still poking at it, and will update as I get it. For now I'm thinking it may actually be more Firefox to blame, but we'll see.

More on the Eye-Fi

I almost forgot to post more about the Eye-Fi, but for those who have been waiting, yes, it is all it is cracked up to be. I plugged the USB adapter and SD card into my MacBook Air and installed the software waiting on the SD card onto my Mac. Within a couple minutes, I had the card configured via the browser based interface that Eye-Fi provides. I removed the SD card and put it in my Canon point-n-shoot digicam and within seconds my first picture was automatically transferred from the camera to my MacBook with no wires and no intervention on my part.

The one thing Eye-Fi can't work around is that you need to turn off your power-saver mode on your camera that automatically turns your digicam off after inactivity so that it has time to transfer the photos. You can check your computer or web service to make sure uploads are done and then turn the camera off. I think it's one of those things you'll just "get used to" and won't be an issue.

Also, it did not transfer video that I shot with the camera. It appears to only grab pictures.

Last, the software update didn't work on the Mac. I had to revert to the software it shipped with as the update was broken. Awaiting a response from tech support on that one.

I can't help but wonder about the long term viability of Eye-Fi as a company, though. It can't be too much longer before camera manufacturers are putting wifi and bluetooth in their devices, can it?!?