William Shatner Shares His Memories of Ricardo Montalban

Following the passing of actor Ricardo Montalban a couple of weeks ago, William Shatner shares some of his memories of working with Montalban, on his YouTube channel.

This is Jeopardy!

Last night I finally took the Jeopardy! online contestant test again. They had been giving it Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday night this week. I had meant to take it on Wednesday when they encouraged people in the Central time zone to take the test, but for some reason I was confused about the day. I think it was because when I got an email reminding me of the test on Tuesday, I was thinking it was that night that I was supposed to take it. However, I got to exercising after Emma went to bed and forgot about the test until it was over. So I decided to take it with the Pacific time zone. Thinking that was Wednesday, I stayed up until almost 10:00 to take the test before I reread the schedule and discovered that I should have taken it at 8:00 that night. Last night I did get the test done. I think I did alright, but I do not know if I passed it. I had taken the online test twice before last night, and I felt better about my performance on it this time. Although, the only way I will find out if I passed is if someone from Jeopardy! contacts me to attend an in-person audition.



The overnight towns for this year's RAGBRAI route has just been announced. I still haven't decided if I am going to go on the bike ride this summer or not. Mel will probably not be coming along as she may not be in condition to ride this summer. Also, I am not sure if the team that I have ridden all my previous nine RAGBRAIs with, the Superior Hawgs, will be going this year. The person who owns the bus has not been in the best of health recently. In fact last year he did not come along. Instead the son of his girlfriend drove the bus. Hopefully the Hawgs will be able to make it. If they do not, I will probably want to find another team with which to ride.

This year's route is supposed to be just as hilly as last year's ride. It will have 22,806 feet of climb, which make it rank tenth in the amount of climbing. However, it will be the sixth shortest RAGBRAI, coming in at just 442.3 miles. Now although last year's RAGBRAI was very hilly, and I did not have much training in, I did not find the ride to be too difficult.

Anyway, here are the overnight towns for the thirty-seventh of the bike rides across Iowa:
  • Council Bluffs
  • Red Oak
  • Greenfield
  • Indianola
  • Chariton
  • Ottumwa
  • Mount Pleasant
  • Burlington

My first RAGBRAI, in 2000, started in Council Bluffs. That same year we also stayed overnight in Greenfield and Ottumwa, and ended in Burlington. In 2003, RAGBRAI stopped for the night in Mount Pleasant. I have never been to the other towns on this year's RAGBRAI route as overnight towns.


Thank God It Was a Hoax!

While I haven't played my cello in quite some time, it was a relief to learn today that the condition known as "cello scrotum" does not actually exist. It was just a hoax perpetrated by an English doctor, Elaine Murphy, when she submitted a letter to the British Medical Journal in 1974. It was supposedly a painful condition caused by the cello rubbing against the cellist's body. Now I had never actually heard about this until I read the news today, but even when I read it, I wondered how anyone would actually believe it. If someone is playing the cello correctly, it would be nowhere near coming into contact with the cellist's groin. How anyone could have believed this in the first place is beyond me.


Weight Watchers Week 1

I have just completed my first week of my return to watching what I eat. I did pretty good for most of the week, but I did end up having a McDonald's breakfast Saturday morning. I did not count points this weekend because we went to Mel's parents' house to celebrate her dad's birthday. I think I did pretty good there of not eating too much. I did end up losing weight for the week, so all is good.

Weight: 213.2 lbs.
Change since last week: -2.8
Pounds to goal: 14.2


Movie Night

Yesterday Mel had the day off from work for Chinese New Year (her company is Chinese-owned). The actual day of the holiday is this coming Monday, but not everyone got the same day off. I guess they do not actually want to close for the holiday. Anyway, one of the things that she wanted to do on her day off was to go to a movie, but the show times for the movie she wanted to see were not convenient. So last night, my sister came over to babysit Emma, so the two of us could go to a movie. We went to see My Bloody Valentine 3D. I am not one who really enjoys most horror movies, but I had seen the commercials for this movie, and I did not think it looked too scary. I actually enjoyed the movie. The 3D effects were pretty cool. While there were some points of the movie that I was genuinely startled, it was not all that scary, just a bit gruesome. In fact, there were some downright funny moments! This was the first time I had gone to a movie in the evening since moving to the Twin Cities, and it was a bit pricier than I was used to paying for a full-price movie. In fact, I think it may have even cost a little more than usual because it was in 3D. I am glad that we made it out to the movie. There are so many movies out now that I would like to see, but it is so hard to find the time to see any of them. I think the last time we even made it out to a movie was in October, on my birthday.


Cadbury Ad

Check out this video for Cadbury. I found it to be a bit creepy, but yet entertaining nonetheless.

Star Trek Cribs

Having nothing of any importance to blog about at the moment, I am bringing to you this video of Mr. Spock's crib. It apparently was an advertisement for Star Trek on G4.


Star Wars (by someone who hasn't seen it)

I found a video on YouTube today in which someone who has not seen the original Star Wars trilogy, except for bits and pieces of it, explain what happens in the three movies. It is pretty funny, at least I thought it was.

Resuming Weight Watchers

Since making the change to working from home full time from working in an office, I have watched my weight increase from about 207 pounds to 216 pounds. This is something that I am not happy about. This is still better than the 243 pounds I weighed at the end of May 2004. It was then I first got serious about watching what I ate. By the end of that October, I managed to lose 43 pounds, bringing my weight down to 210 pounds. After that I kind of let things go, and my weight went back up to between 220 and 230 pounds.

Then, in April of last year, I refocused on watching what I ate and joined the Weight Watchers online program. I was able to bring my weight down from 231.4 pounds on April 25, 2007, down to 199.0 pounds on October 3. I was able to keep my weight within a few pounds of that until June 2008.

I have tried to keep up with following the Weight Watchers program, but I have found it to be challenging since I am just a short walk from a kitchen stocked with food. I need to regain control and stop going to the kitchen whenever I feel the slightest bit of hunger. So starting today, I am going to once again track my weight loss progress on my blog. Perhaps by making my weight loss progress publicly available, I will be more inclined to follow through with the program. My goal is to get my weight down 199.0 pounds.

Weight: 216.0 lbs.
Change since last week: N/A
Pounds to goal: 17.0

The 44th President of the United States

I was watching coverage of Barack Obama's inauguration while working this morning. It was hard to get much work done while doing so however. Thankfully I haven't had much to work on today. I did find it interesting that George W. Bush did not get much applause when he entered the seating area. In fact, I think he got less applause than any of the ex-presidents who were there. At least I didn't hear anyone boo him. While I was definitely a George W. Bush fan, that would have been disgraceful.

With the oath of office, perhaps Chief Justice Roberts should have had some cue cards available so he wouldn't mess up the oath of office. Yes, Obama did start repeating him before he paused, but the misplaced "faithfully" in the second phrase kind of threw of the whole rhythm of the oath even more. Then, when Roberts corrected himself and got the oath right, Obama ended up misplacing the word anyway.

I did like Obama's speech. And I wonder if his and Bush's car ride together to the capitol would have been a bit different if Bush had read Obama's speech ahead of time. In his speech though, Obama did seem to attack the principles of the Bush administration One instance of this is when he said:

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake.
I took this to be in reference to the warant-less wiretapping that the Bush administration approved.

There was one error in his speech though. Toward the beginning, Obama said that "forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath." This is not correct. Only forty-three Americans have taken the presidential oath. While Barack Obama is indeed the forty-fourth President of the United States, Grover Cleveland was both the twenty-second and twenty-fourth President of the United States. So while he did take the oath of office twice, once for each term, he was still the same person.

Correction: In the first paragraph, I indicated that I didn't hear anyone boo Bush as he entered, however today (1/21) I found a video of that happening. Shame on those people.

Grocery Shopping

I just got done putting groceries away, in time to blog a little and then get down to work at 8:00. Grocery shopping as an activity that I enjoy. I do not know why I like to do it. Typically I go grocery shopping either Monday or Tuesday morning around 6:30 with Emma. Afterwards, I drop her off at daycare before returning home to put the groceries away before working. Shopping early in the morning on a weekday has the advantage over shopping on the weekend or during the late afternoon or evening in that the grocery store usually is not very busy. So while there may just be one checkout lane open, the wait to check out usually is not too bad. There are some disadvantages with shopping so early in the morning though. Sometimes the shelves are not completely stocked, making it harder to find things I am looking for. For instance, I was unable to buy the Pillsbury pizza crust that I had on my list this morning. Also, I wanted to buy a new variety of Cheerios that I saw advertised in the grocery store ad, Banana Nut Cheerios. I may have to go back later in the week to find them. Aside from that, I had a great shopping trip. Emma was very well behaved despite the fact that she woke up a little early. I also ended up saving a lot of money buying sale items and using coupons. My bill was $86.32, but I saved a total of $43.17! That's a savings of over 33%! It did help that one of the sales that Rainbow Foods had a sale that if I bought six General Mills cereals, I would get $10 off my total bill, as well as a coupon for a free gallon of milk on a future shopping trip. Besides that, I had coupons for $1.50 off and $1.00 off on the cereals. Gotta love those coupons!


Changing the Blog Layout

I have begun working on redesigning the layout for my blog this evening. It may take a day or so until I finish with all of the edits, so please be patient with me.

Reorganizing the Office

Today's Martin Luther King, Jr. Day holiday gave me the opportunity to get some things done in the the home office that I have been meaning to do for some time now. One of the tasks I got done was rearranging some of the office equipment. In particular, I moved the two printers to be out of Emma's reach. She has really loved pressing the buttons on my work printer, and she keeps messing with the tray the paper comes out onto on the other printer.

I also got some of my Yodas unpacked, enabling me to remove the last box that has been sitting on the office floor since we moved in from the office. I did not have room to unpack my entire Yoda collection though. Some day, hopefully there is room for the rest of it to be displayed.


Reese's Peanut Butter Cups

I just ate a couple of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, thinking that I was risking possible death from salmonella. However, I decided to ignore the advice of the FDA to avoid all products which contain peanut butter. After eating the candy though, I learned from Hershey's website that they make all their own peanut butter, not using any from the Peanut Corporation of America, where the infected peanut butter came from. Therefore I have nothing to worry about.

The Weekend

Saturday morning, Mel and I decided that we really did not want to stay in the house all day. And from Emma's behavior, she grabbed her boots from the closet, had us put them on her, and brought us our shoes as well, we gathered that she wanted to go "bye bye" as well. So after Emma's post-lunch nap, we decided to go out. Picking a destination though took us a little time. We thought about going to the Underwater Adventures Aquarium at the Mall of America, but we decided against it since it is a but pricey. We also considered just going to the Mall of America, or going to the Science Museum of Minnesota or the Minnesota Zoo. Thinking that Emma would enjoy looking at animals, we went to the zoo.

Since it was still rather cold outside, although it was above zero degrees, we only looked at the indoor exhibits, visiting Discovery Bay and the Tropics Trail. As it was, we got to the zoo a little less than two hours before it closed for the day, and that was just enough time to make it through these exhibits. Emma did enjoy looking at the fish and the tropical animals.

After returning home, I went back out to rent a movie from the Redbox at Cub Foods. I had to go there to buy a few things anyway. I rented The Dark Knight which Mel and I began watching last night. We did not start the movie early enough though as we were too tired to see the whole film last night. We finished the movie while Emma took her nap today. I really enjoyed the movie. It did take me a little time to get into it though. I have to say that this has got to be the darkest and most disturbing movies I have seen in the Batman franchise.

After Emma's nap today we did another fun activity. Mel baked some sugar cookies this morning after making the cookie dough last night (it was ingredients for the cookies that took me to the grocery store last night). So this afternoon, the three of us decorated the cookies. We did not let Emma put icing on the cookies, but she did like pouring on the red and green sugar crystals and the nonpareils. And when I say she liked pouring them on, I really mean it. There were green sugar crystals all over the table as well as the floor and her clothes. For some reason, those sugar crystals sure poured out of their container very easily.

All of the excitement must have worn Emma out, because at 6:45 this evening, she was ready for bed. Well, it could be that she is not feeling well. We think her stomach may be hurting for some reason, so hopefully she sleeps through the night well.


Another TV Show to Watch

I have said this numerous times before in my blog, but I am going to say it again, truTV is probably my favorite non-network TV channel. If I had to pick just one cable/satellite TV station to watch, it would definitely be truTV. I would even select truTV over GSN. I find many of its shows to be quite enjoyable, such as Forensic Files, The Smoking Gun Presents, Speeders, and Ocean Force. But now there is another show on truTV that I think I may need to begin watching, The Principal's Office, which chronicles the life of a high school principal. Here is a segment from an episode of The Principal's Office for your enjoyment. In it, the principal talks with two students who he says were dancing inappropriately at the school dance the previous weekend. It gets really funny when the students attempt to get the principal to help them understand how close is too close.


The Amazing Barack Obama

I need to get elected to president so I can appear in a comic book like Barack Obama does in an issue of The Amazing Spider-Man. Click on the picture for a larger view.

Durex: Get It On!

I found this advertisement for Durex condoms. Even though it only features balloon animals, it is a bit racy, so you may not want to watch this at work.



Well, my good friend Homercles beat me too it, but I am going to write this blog entry anyway. Ricardo Montalbán has passed away at the age of 88. Montalbán is perhaps best known for his role of Khan Noonien Singh in the Star Trek episode "Space Seed" and again in the movie Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Ok, so he is probably better known as Mr. Roarke on Fantasy Island, but it is his role on Star Trek for which I will remember him. That, and for playing the villain Vincent Ludwig in The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! Goodbye Ricardo Montálban, may you enjoy the all that soft Corinthian leather in the afterlife.

Sea Kittens

I found out today that in addition to our cat Ike, we have some sea kittens as pets. What are sea kittens, you ask? Well, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has decided that if they can get people to call fish "sea kittens," then maybe they will treat them more humanely. Their focus seems to be on stopping the hunting of the defenseless sea kitten, which I assure you, my sea kittens are in no danger from.

Now I am wondering if all fish are sea kittens, or just marine fish. Since a sea is commonly defined as a large body of salt water, it occurs to me that freshwater fish, such as mine, would not be sea kittens, as they do not live in a sea, nor in a sea-like environment. Maybe they will have to call non marine fish "freshwater kittens."

Lunch with Emma

I had lunch with Emma today at her daycare. I got to sit on an extremely small chair and sit at the tiny table with her and another child and parent. The lunch was pretty good. We had stir fry chicken, rice, pears, and broccoli. Emma did a good job eating her food, she even asked for more pears. That didn't actually surprise me since she does love her fruit. After she was finished eating she said that she was done and one of the teachers had her wash her hands. After washing her hands, she proceeded to her cot to take her nap. Before I arrived, I was worried about how she would handle my coming to daycare in the middle of the day. I figured she'd run for her coat when I got there, but she did not. I also thought that she wouldn't want me to leave, but that did not seem to be the case.

At least it didn't seem to be the case for the moment. She teachers had forgotten to give us dessert, individually wrapped Rice Krispie bars. Emma came back to the table for dessert. Then when the was done with that, and had washed her hands again, she came back over to me and did not want to lie down for her nap. I took her to her cot and set her on it. She was crying, but after a moment she did lie down. Since she was looking away from me, I left. I am sure she did fine the rest of the day.

Incidentally, Emma was not the only one who did not want his or her parent to leave. The two other children whose parents were at daycare for lunch also started crying when their mothers tried to leave. I wonder if they will try this again.

Less Than a Week to Go

With less than a week remaining of the George W. Bush presidency, here are David Letterman's Top 10 George Bush Moments. Things will surely change when the Anointed One ascends to his righteous place as the leader of this great country.


A Hell of a Commute

I have been working from home since this past July when Emma and I moved to Minnesota to join Mel who had been here since just before Memorial Day. Today though, I had to drive to my work location. One of my colleagues in Iowa City was supposed to drive up here yesterday afternoon for a committee meeting today. However a blizzard in eastern Iowa prevented him from making the drive, so since I live in the area, I was asked if I could run the meeting for him.

So this morning, instead of driving the one mile to drop Emma off at daycare and then back to the house, I had a twenty-four mile drive to Roseville, Minnesota, this morning. Because of the large amount of snow we received yesterday afternoon, and the damn cold temperatures (it was as cold as -15°F during my commute), there were numerous motor vehicle accidents along my route. It took me 75 minutes to make it to my destination. Fortunately I made it there in time. In fact, since many of the committee members arrived late because of the traffic, we got started late.

The meeting went well. Even though I was not completely familiar with the content we were working with, there were no major issues.

My drive back was much better than the drive there. I did make a detour to the airport on my way back so I could drop off another colleague so he could avoid taking a taxi. Now tomorrow I will be back to my normal routine of working from home all day.


Doogie Howser

I am not sure why I found this funny, but I did. And I have to say that this past weekend's Saturday Night Live was one of the best I have seen lately. Neil Patrick Harris did a very good job hosting.

Weekend in Iowa

This weekend we went to Iowa to finish up our Christmas celebrations for the season. Mel, Emma, and I, as well as my sister, left early Saturday morning for Waterloo, Iowa, where we stopped at my mother's house for a short while before heading to my grandmother's house in Keystone. We had a good time visiting with her, as well as with my aunt and uncle who came as well. We opened some presents and had dinner of oyster stew and chili. We did have a bit of excitement when my sister ended up going to the emergency room after returning to Waterloo around 8:00. Hopefully she gets better soon.

Speaking of being sick, Emma is staying home from daycare today. She slept most of the way back home from Iowa yesterday afternoon, and she didn't seem like herself after getting out of the truck. We took her temperature last night and found it to be a bit high, 99.6°F. This morning we took her temperature again and discovered that she had a 101.3°F fever. So I will be taking her to the doctor in a little bit this morning to have her checked out. Hopefully I can get a little work done later today if I can get her to take a nap.


It's Comcastic

Over the past month, we have been experiencing sporadic problems with our Internet connection from home. Since the beginning of December, we have probably once or twice a week we have been unable to connect to the Internet early in the morning, usually between 6:00 and 8:00. I called Comcast's customer support number to get help with this a few time, although the last couple of times, I did not call because I figured the issue would resolve itself shortly. Except for this morning, it has.

This morning I called and the phone system said it would try to reset my modem remotely. It then disconnected my phone call, and I still did not have Internet service, so I called back. This time I got to speak with a customer service technician. He ran me through all the things I had already tried, although he added a new thing to try to my repertoire -- unplugging the modem, removing its battery, and shutting down the computer. When that still did not work, he told me that since I have had reoccurring issues with the Internet service over the past month, there could be something wrong with my modem. He then gave me the option of making an appointment for a technician to come out to the house or to go to a Comcast service center and have them diagnose the issue with the modem, possibly replacing it.

Not wanting to wait for an appointment, I said that I would prefer to go to the service center to get immediate service. He gave me an address for a couple of locations in my area. The first one was in Brooklyn Park and the second was in Minneapolis. The Minneapolis location would have been closer to my home, but through his accent I could not understand what he said for the street name, and when I asked him to spell the street name, he continued on to another location that was almost as far away as the first.

So off I set for Comcast's office in Brooklyn Park, over thirty miles away. It took about forty-five minutes to get there. Thankfully the traffic was not too bad. When I got there and explained my issue to the person at the desk, she told me that since we get our phone service through Comcast, as well as the Internet service, they could not do anything there, but I would have to have a technician come to the house. Gee, if the guy on the phone would have told me that, I could have saved over sixty miles of driving and an hour and a half of my time. So, I made an appointment for someone to come out tomorrow morning. She then added that her computer was showing that there was a service outage in my area. Ok, I realize the technician I was speaking to was located halfway around the world, but you would think that before spending all that time trying to fix my Internet connection, he would have checked for something as simple as a service outage!

Anyway, I drove home and hooked the modem back up, and violà, my Internet connection was once again working! I did not bother cancelling my service appointment for tomorrow between 8:00 AM and 1:00 PM. I figure that whoever shows up can look at the modem and decide if there is an issue with it. Besides, after they wasted an hour and a half of my time today, I do not really care if I waste a little of their time!


Family Pack

We have been using Luvs diapers for most of Emma's life. We did try some others first before settling on Luvs though. We like the diapers, but there is one thing about them which I find a bit odd. We buy the case that has two packages of diapers in them. They call this the "family pack." I find that term a bit odd for a box of diapers. It's not like the whole family is using the diapers. At least I would hope that would not be the case. In the event that a family had more than one child in diapers, they likely would not be wearing the same size, unless they are twins, or children of some other multiple birth.

Another thing that bothers me about the packaging is the claim that the Family Pack has "2 times more diapers . . . than Jumbo Pack." The Jumbo Pack of Luvs size 5 diapers has 30 diapers, and the Family Pack has 70. If the Family Pack had 2 times more diapers than the Jumbo Pack, it would have 90 diapers. Two times 30 is 60, and since the box says "2 times more," not "2 times as many," it should have 60 plus 30, or 90, diapers. Perhaps I should write a letter to the makers of Luvs to bring this mistake to their attention


Franken Wins! (At Least for the Moment)

The recount of votes in Minnesota's Senate election has now ended, and Al Franken has the lead by 225 votes. So barring the inevitible challenge that the Norm Coleman campaign will file, it looks like Al Franken will be the next senator from the state of Minnesota. It looks like Norm Coleman, who initially said that Franken should concede the election, wants more of the rejected absentee ballots to be counted. And he is still concerned about some ballots which he, or rather his lawyers, content were counted twice. As for the twice-counted ballots. If no additional absentee ballots are allowed, these ballots shouldn't matter, as the number of ballots in question is fewer than the vote margin. I'm sure Coleman will drag this out as long as he can though to keep Franken from being seated in the Senate when it reconvenes this month.


Toddler Bed

Yesterday, before we brought Emma home from daycare, I removed the front side of Emma's crib and put on the toddler bed rail. Only a couple of times has she made any attempt to climb out of her crib, but we decided that it was time for her to move up to the toddler bed. Maybe it will help her sleep in other beds when we are out of town. When she got home from daycare, we showed her the bed. She seemed fine with it, climbing into it. She even sat down to "read" one of her books shortly before it was time for bed. However, when it was finally time to go to bed, she put up a huge fight! It took about an hour before we could get her to even sit in bed, and I had to be in her room with her, with my head lying at the bottom of the bed. Eventually, after much loud screaming, she settled down and went to sleep.

She ended up sleeping through the entire night and managed to get herself out of bed when she was done sleeping. We opened her door around 6:30 this morning, after we had heard some noise coming from her room through the baby monitor. At that time, she must have been standing near the door, because she came right out and greeted us.

After all of the difficulties we had getting her to go to bed last night, and the fact that she often screams and puts up a protest when it is time for a nap, I thought that nap time today might not go so well. However, I had no reason to worry. She went down for her nap just fine on her own today.


A New Year, A New Calendar

While my daily calendar still has 19 days remaining on it (the Bad President Countdown Page-a-Day 2008 Calendar goes to January 20 of this year for some strange reason), it was time to get a 2009 calendar. So wanting to get out of the house yesterday, Mel, Emma, and I headed over to the Mall of America yesterday afternoon where we could then walk around quite a bit, and do some window shopping. We ended up in the calendar store, where everything was half off. Looking through the remaining stock of 2009 calendars, I settled on the Life Is Crap 2009 Daily Boxed Calendar. The calendar is a parody of the Life is Good products that have become popular recently, except instead of illustrating good things about life, it has pictures of crappy things that happen. The picture on the calendar yesterday showed a guy driving an SUV into a tunnel with low clearance with the bikes attached to the top of the vehicle being sheared off. And today's illustration is of a snowboarder flying off a snowy cliff. This should be an entertaining calendar.

A New Video from the Loney Island

The Lonely Island, a group made up of Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone, is now on YouTube. The song is "We Like Sportz" and is on their upcoming album Incredibad, which is due to be released on February 10. The album will also have the song Jizz In My Pants, the video of which is also on YouTube.


Happy New Year

Now that the new year has begun, here are my dead pool picks for 2009:

Scoring is based on 100 points minus the age of the person who dies, with a minimum of 1 point being awarded per person. I will be sure to keep you, my readers, updated as to my score during the year.