Mar 28, 2012

Idol Top 9 - Kickin Butt

American Idol - Top 9 Perform!  Okay, so tonight we have nine folks singing and three sets of trios performing.  The best part? Stevie Nicks is the mentor!  Holy smokes!  I can't wait to see what happens here... As always, Y=Yes! N=No Way! ?=Not sure...


Colton - I hate to say no, since he is singing a song from LifeHouse, but I think this is the wrong song. Too low and rough at the start.  Once the chorus picked up, it was a little better, but something is still off key to me. I just don't think he picked the right LifeHouse song.

Skylar - Well, she already sounds like Miranda, so this should be a no-brainer. She's doing well. This is exactly the song she needed. Not sure if the voting folks will go for it, but it was great!

Colton, Elise, Phillip - Trio - Wow, they sound great together!  Nice job!

Heejun - Okay, wow. What a start! Are we sure this is Heejun!? Man, this is such a great song for him. Who knew? A little rough at the end, but wow!

Hollie - Ouch. Rough start. Hmm, something just isn't connecting here. I can't quite put my finger on it. Not her best. Not by a long shot.

Deandre - Not a fan of the in-and-out falsetto. He has a weird "Prince" sound he seems to be trying for, but he is missing it. Ugh.

Jessica - Shan didn't like the start. I like the pacing. Man, I really like this! Wow!

Deandre, Heejun, Joshua - Oh yeah! Some Michael Jackson! Well, started out fine. Then kinda went karaoke with "Rock with You" and "PYT." Not bad, but not as good as the first group.

Phillip - Gotta love Phillip! Rockin it out! Very distinctive voice that will carry far into the future. Part throwback, part modern. Love it. Best of the night so far!

Joshua - Hmm. It's not bad. I don't think it's great.  I think maybe the wrong song? I dunno. Something is just off here.

Jessica, Hollie, Skylar - Wow, WAY old school Madonna. Wow, Hollie does a great Madonna rendition. I like that tone in her voice. I wish she would sing like that all the time. Wow, very well done!! Great job!!

Elise - Led Zepplin!? Wow! And a duet with Stevie Nicks! Wow!!  Yeah!! Rockin out! Holy cow! This is great! She gets the gold for the night! She is a female Robert Plant made over. Amazing! Great!! What a killer ending!

15 Years Later...

I have a stack of CDs/DVDs that came with various computer magazines.  Some of them are from last year or close enough. Others, however, date back further. In the case of one such disc, MUCH further.

I have a 1997 PC Gamer CD entitled, "The Sports Spectacular" from 1997.  It features such blockbusters as LinksLS Golf, SimGolf, FIFA97, NCAA Final Four, and many other fun programs.

The CD would not launch anything from inside Win7, so I jumped over to DOSBox for some help.  I fired up LinksLS first because I can remember my Dad loading this on his computer back then, and we watched in awe of the incredible graphics.

The game itself actually played well on my almost-modern PC, if not a bit fast given the cycle speeds of today's computers.  I'm sure I could tweak that a bit inside DOSBox if I wanted to.  The game draws the screens in the same fashion as days of yore: The ground, the trees, the buildings, etc, all appear in their "turn" of the screen layout.  It is very bizarre to see it unfold by today's standards.  The graphics, though weirdly a mix of 2d and 3d, aren't the worst even 15 years later.  The game is old-school playable.  Hold the mouse as the power meter fills. Release. Click when the meter gets to the bottom.  As I said, it is more than a tad faster today than back then. Timing was not my greatest suit - then or now.  I did not finish the round. Or even the hole. I wanted some bacon.  Oh, sorry, I've been listening to too much Jim Gaffigan lately.

Next, I fired up FIFA 97.  This game ran horribly - jumps, jitters, weird camera angles.  I had to play with different camera settings just to get the game to show me where the heck the ball was.  And, did I remember the controls after 15 years?  Of course not.

The screen shot, shrunken down the way it is, makes the game look way better than it looked while playing it.  Characters were blocky and the ball was jagged.  Of course, we had not heard of "anti-aliasing" in the days of DOS. At least, I hadn't.  Once play started, it ran okay and the jitters settled a bit.  Since I had no idea which way I was going, I managed to walk the ball into my own goal.  Thus, Germany beat England as shown above.  I did manage to figure out controls (arrow keys move, A,S,D, to pass, punt and kick, er well, you get the idea).

The DOS-based menu show what other demos, maps, add-ons, etc you could load:

I quit loading games after these two.  The trip down memory lane was not quite the rosy adventure I had hoped for. Though, in a way, it was.  Playing the games reminded me of playing games with my Dad.  My Dad always supported my "computer habit" growing up.  And, as often as he could, he kept up with me - playing the latest games, downloading software I had never heard of, calling me to fix his computer because he downloaded said software and it trashed his system.  I can remember sitting next to him as we juked and jived down the field, battling each other for the ball.  Hockey was our favorite, though.  I was a keyboard guy and he loved playing with his multi-key keypad controller. 

When I found this CD, I knew it would take me for a journey into my past.  It just took me to a place I hadn't expected.

Mar 24, 2012

Hot Dog Day

When I was a child, I attended Skyline Elementary School in Prospect Park.  Now, before you go all Jersey on me, this was a subdivision of Baldwin, PA, if memory serves.  Well, it was near Baldwin, anyway.  The school is now (or was the last time I knew) a nursing home or something or other.

I have a ton of memories from going to school there.  One that recently came up in a side conversation I had: Hot Dog Tuesdays.

See, back in those days (and I'm not even old enough to say "Back in those days!"), I guess hot dogs were a special "treat." They were so special, we had to order them on the previous Thursday.  Then, we would eat our order the following Tuesday.

I was in Kindergarten, First, Second, and Third Grades when I attended that school. How is a 6-8 year old supposed to know how many hot dogs he is going to want the NEXT week!?  Heck, I never knew how may I wanted when my Mom was making them for lunch on Saturday!  So, of course, my friends and I would each order 6 or 8 of them.  Well, we'd TRY to.  "No, no. There's a limit," we were told.   "You can only order three."

Well, if they already knew how many we could order, why bother ASKING us!?  "Well, not everyone (an awkward pause) WANTS three hot dogs.  And, they are twenty-five cents a piece."  I later learned that "wants," when stressed in just the right way, actually meant "can afford."

Like it was yesterday, I can remember ordering two or three to start with, but by then end of the school year, I wasn't ordering any at all.  See, I'd order them without any idea as to how many I actually wanted to EAT the next week.  There many Tuesdays I would go to lunch and not eat any of them.  Why not? Because I didn't WANT hot dogs that day.  Sure, the week before I *thought* I wanted hot dogs the next week.  But, when it came time to actually eat them, I was not in a "hot dog" mood that day.

I'm pretty sure that's what started me on the path of "hating to wait" in line for things, particularly food.  I don't believe I've even made reservations anywhere to eat.  Make your reservations a week ahead of time!? How do I know that I'm going to want that kind of food in a week?  Okay, that's actually a bit much. If I made reservations somewhere, I'd be ready to eat there.  In fact, I'd probably make sure I didn't anything remotely close to whatever they served just I could create the craving for it.

Mar 22, 2012

American Idol 2012 - Top 10 Perform

American Idol Top 10 Perform!


Deandre - I'm not a fan. Maybe it's the whole Milli Vanilli look and sound. No thanks.

Erika - Whoa. No no no.. Man, what a hair disaster! No no no. Short!? UGH. Nope. And for the singing? Blah.

Joshua - Meh. Man, tonight is not off to a great start. I like him, but not this song.

Skylar - LOL, sounds like Miranda Lambert singing this song. Sorry, but the voice just doesn't go with this one. Not bad, but not great either.

Elise - Well, once again... No. Would anyone know these were Billy Joel songs if someone hadn't told us? No. Buh-bye.

Phillip - Not bad. Changed it up, but I don't know if it really worked for the best. I am a fan of his, though. So, hopefully he'll survive.

Hollie - Well, she is the first to keep the song true to its original. I like it.

Heejun - ROFL - Wow! Now, that was an AWESOME start!  Ouch, the accent is a bit thick though.  Man, performer all the way! Sounds a karaoke. Okay, a LOT... But, funny.

Jessica - Ah, very nice! This is how you do it, folks. Excellent!

Colton - Finally, Piano Man. A bit off at first, but picked up. Not a fan of the squeaky voice. But, he can sign. I hate that since he screwed his sister out of a spot. Not bad at all.

Mar 20, 2012

American Idol, er last week...

Somehow, I forgot to post last week's Idol results. Oh sure, I know you could easily find them online, but it is the principle of the thing.

So how did America vote for the top singers this week?

Phillip - TOP TEN!
Skylar - TOP TEN!
Joshua - TOP TEN!

Colton - TOP TEN
Deandre - TOP TEN
Jessica - TOP TEN!

Heejun - TOP TEN
Hollie - TOP TEN



And so, will the judges use their save on Shannon?

Uh, no.  Shannon finds the end of the road on Idol.

Weather prediction - glorified fortune-telling

Has anyone done a study to see if weather prediction is any more or less reliable that than fortune-telling? And, really, isn't it one in the same? Here's what we have seen just in the past 24 hours:

Major rain and flooding predicted for Prescott by early Monday afternoon.
Major rains etc predicted for Prescott by late Monday afternoon.
Major rains etc predicted for Prescott by Monday night.
...Monday overnight.
...Early Tuesday morning.
...Tuesday, mid-morning.
We'll see.

I am curious just what kind of education is required to be a weather person. Oh, I know, I'm going to get nasty emails and comments about science courses, and weather patterns, and blah blah blah. Seriously, though. Is it possible that all that studying is just a means to try to give credit to an industry that could just as easily flip a coin?  I mean, heck, even most of their predictions are no more than "50% chance of..."

Doesn't EVERYTHING have a 50% chance of happening?  It either will it or it won't.  What's the chances that a suitcase will fall from the sky, filled with a million dollars, and land on my deck?  50/50. It either will or it won't.  What are the chances I will roll a 5 on any give die? 50/50 - I either will or I won't.

Oh, wait, weather prediction isn't about chances of something happening in that regard.  It is the probability that something will happen.  That involves math, odds, calculating risks, etc.  So, really, it's more like sports betting or gambling than fortune-telling.  Well, sorta. I mean, you still have to have someone spouting jibberish about this, that, or the other while waving their magic wand in front of a green screen that displays an image on the viewers can see. How "Emerald City..."

Smoke and mirrors.

For the record, I am fully aware that a "50% chance of rain" does *NOT* mean it either will or won't happen.  A percent chance of any weather means that in the "viewing or listening area," 50% of that area will see whatever is being predicted.

Thus, by 10am today (Tuesday, March 20, 2012), 80% of the Prescott area should see torrential downpours and nasty thunderstorms.  It so happens, I guess, our house generally remains in the percentage of the area that DOESN'T get the predicted weather, no matter what it is.

And, so, I shall start my own weather predictions based on flipping a coin and rolling a die.  It will go as follows:

Roll the die:
1 - Rain
2 - Sunshine
3 - Snow
4 - Thunderstorms
5 - Tornados
6 - Sleet

Flip a coin:
Heads - It will happen
Tails - It won't happen

Give it a try yourself.  See if you can outpredict your local weather person using only a die and a coin (or a random number generator).

Here is my week's forecast:

3/20 - Today's prediction: Rain will happen. (1, heads)
3/21 - Wednesday: Tornadoes will happen (5, heads)
3/22 - Thursday: Tornadoes won't happen (5, tails)
3/23- Friday: Thunderstorms won't happen (4, tails)
3/24 - Saturday: Rain will happen (1, heads)
3/25 - Sunday: Sleet will happen (6, heads)

I'll do this for a month. Now, if I really wanted to be like the weather people, I would need to roll/flip every hour.  Because, that's at least how often they change their mind.

Mar 14, 2012

American Idol Top 12, er 11...

American Idol kicks off with some goofy "Law Enforcement" lead-in.  My guess is some kind of proposal or something. Guess we'll see.  In the meantime, here is the rundown of our likes and dislikes of tonight's American Idol.


Phillip - Definitely! I could listen to him all the time! We all agree here at the Henderson household. Emily says, "I don't say YES, I say AWESOME!"

Jessica - Great start. Super performance. Oh, awesome! That was incredible. Great!

Heejun - One of my all-time favorite songs. I was a huge Richard Marx fan. I like his changes to the song. Very well done!

Elise - Slow start, and the whole Obama thing was kinda dumb for me. Not liking this arrangement at all.  Meh.

Deandre - Um, he is singing a duet by himself? No thanks. I do not like this at all.  In fact, no one at our house does.

Shannon - Very nice - crisp, clean voice at start. Wow. I like this a lot, which surprises me, really. But, I think she did well. Tyler says, "I say YES. Her Dad WAS a Major League pitcher. That's my reason."

Colton - Not a fan. And, he looks more like an 80's band than 90's. No. Shan thought he did a good job.

Erika - Weird way to start "Heaven." Okay, check that. Weird phrasing. Not a fan of the stop-start in the middle of a phrase. She sounds like she is singing with her tongue on the top of her mouth to me.

Jermaine - Oh my. Outstanding warrants. Man, that is a bummer. I hope he gets everything taken care of and can make a wonderful singing career in his future. So much for the "proposal" theory.

Skylar - I'm liking this! Nice take on the song. Love the country rock.

Joshua - I am liking his sound more and more.  Wonderful old school R&B in his voice, his moves, everything. Wow!

Hollie - Weak start, but she came into pretty quickly. Not quite "Celine" level, but well done all the same. Nicely done.

Mar 10, 2012

The old new iPad..

We've seen the release of the iPad.  Then, we saw the iPad 2.  As of the date of this post, we have the new iPad.  What do we call the new iPad when the next iPad comes out? I imagine walking into an Apple store one day, hearing something like this:

Customer: "I'd like the new iPad."
Apple Genius: "The brand-new iPad? Sure, we're taking pre-orders today!"
C: "No. Not the brand-new iPad. The old new iPad."
AG: "An old new iPad? Am I being punk'd?"
C: "No. I want the old new iPad."
AG: "Oh, the iPad 2..."
C: "No. Not the iPad 2. The one they should have called iPad 3, but didn't."
AG: "Ah, you want the 3rd generation iPad, then."
C: "I didn't think you were allowed to call it that."
AG: "Well, not officially. No."
C: "Well, I'll take one of those."
AG: "We don't sell them here."
C: "What?"
AG: "You have to buy them at big box retailers or online."
C: "Fine. Put me online and I'll order it, then."
AG: "You can't get online here unless you are trying out our products."
C: "So, I can't order the old new iPad from within the STORE!?"
AG: "No, but there is a Wal-Mart down the road."
C: "What if I 'test' a MacBook Air 2 by ordering my old new iPad?"
AG: "Sorry, you can't buy the 3rd Generation iPad from within the store."
C: "Actually, I'll just go buy a Fire."

*Yes, I realize no one who actually visits an Apple Store would receive such pleasant conversation without obligatory eyerolls, sighs of despair, and condescending attitude. But, those are hard to convey in text only to any degree of accuracy. On second thought, here's another take on this:

Customer (Donning sunglasses to keep from going blind in the bright, white lights of the store's interior): "I'd like the new iPad."

Apple Genius (Wearing a smile so obviously manufactured, Apple itself probably created it and made its employees wear it as part of the store uniform. He looks up from his chocolate caramel shake, er I mean Starbucks cup): "The brand-new iPad? Sure, we're taking pre-orders today!" (He jumps up and down three times while clapping his hands madly. He looks like a seal waiting for a fish treat. Or maybe a penguin.)

Customer (Looking at the Genius as though he just landed from Venus. Probably, he did. She smiles politely, shakes her head a few times): "No. Not the brand-new iPad. The old new iPad."

AG (Stops jumping up and down, places hand on hips): "An old new iPad? Am I being punk'd?" (He looks around for hidden cameras and a crew.)

Customer (Gritting her teeth): "No. I want the old iPad."

AG (Rolls his eyes, looks toward the ceiling, shakes his head in disbelief): "Oh, the iPad 2..."

Customer (Stares through the Genius, ready to slap the crap out of him): "No. Not the two. The one they should have called iPad 3, but didn't."

AG (Looks at her, smirking as if he just unraveled the great mystery of life): "Ah, you want the 3rd generation iPad, then."

Customer (running one index finger over the other in the universal 'shame-shame' gesture): "I didn't think you were allowed to call it that."

AG (looking around to see if anyone else heard him): "Well, not officially. No."

C (sighs heavily): "Well, I'll take one of those."

AG (rolls his eyes, straightens his back to stand taller, and suddenly speaks with something of an almost-British accent -that is, one of putting on airs): "We don't sell those here."

C: "What?"

AG (still 'on airs' and waving his hand in a non-specific direction, as if to indicate somewhere out in the world beyond the glass palace in which he stands): "You have to buy them at big box retailers or online."

C (gritting teeth once again): "Fine. Put me online and I'll order it, then."

AG (folds hands in front of himself): "You can't get online here unless you are trying out our products."

C: "So, I can't order the old new iPad from within the STORE!?"

AG (pointing in the direction of the large glass panes at the front of the store): "No, but there is a Wal-Mart down the road."

C (again grits her teeth): "What if I 'test' a MacBook Air 2 by ordering my old new iPad?"

AG (raises eyebrows in a manufactured sympathetic manner): "Sorry, you can't buy the 3rd Generation iPad from within the store."

Customer (Looking at oversized black and white image of Steve Jobs hanging from the ceiling, rolls her eyes, and heads for the door): "Actually, I'll just go buy a Fire."

*In case you missed it, this is a FICTIONAL scenario. Any likeness to any actual Apple Genius is purely coincidental. Except for that one guy I met in the Apple store during our trip to NYC. Or the one in Chicago. Or the one in Little Rock. Wait, is there even an Apple Store in Chi? Or the ones I've read about online. Or heard about from other friends. Or... Besides, I'm sure you'll be able to order the old new iPad from within the store.... Surely... I would think.

*I have nothing against Apple (well, okay, some things, but that has nothing to do with why we're here today) per se. I just don't think they should call their "associates" by the "Genius" name when some of them can't even keep their shoes tied. Just sayin.  I mean, I'm no genius, but I don't go around calling myself one, either.

*As a side note: how many postscripts can one add to a post before removing them and just making new paragraphs integrated as part of the actual post itself?  And, how many posts have you read where the afterthoughts are actually longer and provide deeper thought than the actual post itself?  Why is Little Boy Blue wearing blue, anyway?  Why didn't Little Miss Muffett just kill the stupid spider?  And, just what is "E-I-E-I-O" supposed to mean, anyway?

*They say Eve tempted Adam with an Apple. I think it was an iPad. Or, rather, the Pre-iPad iPad. Or maybe the new old iPad. Or the old old iPad.

Mar 9, 2012

Random Thoughts: Brands as verbs

I had several examples of brands that we use as verbs pop in my head, and I thought I would share them. Feel free to add your own:

"Xerox something for me."
"Hey, Google that."
"Did you Facebook that?"
"Would you FedEx this for me?"
"Man, I forgot to TiVO the show!"
"Hey, you wanna Sonic tonight?"
"I Skyped with two authors today."
"Man, I need to Velcro my pants together." (well, you get the idea, anyway)
"The kids went Rollerblading in the park."
"I need you to White that Out" (as in White-Out)
"Hey, PhotoShop this telephone pole out of the picture, would ya."
"Geez, does EVERYONE AutoTune themselves now?"

Well, that's enough to get you started.  Remember, I'm looking at VERBS here. :-)

So, if you can't think of any, just Google some and then post it here or Facebook me.

Mar 8, 2012

American Idol 2012 - Down to 12

Okay, folks, we are getting ready to run down the singers who make Top 12.  Tonight, the votes are tallied and we learn who the Top 11 are, then the judges vote to keep one to round out the Top 12 for next week.

As I did last week, I am trying to make sure I write enough here that any sites I copy this to will not spoil it for folks.  If it does, though, well, then, that's the way the ball bounces...

Jessica - SAFE, Wahoo!
Hollie - SAFE, Nice!

Heejun - SAFE
Colton - SAFE, bummer.

Lauren Alaina did GREAT! That was awesome!

Skylar - SAFE, Great!

Phillip - SAFE, Wahoo!!!
Deandre - SAFE

Oh, yeah! Smooth groovin with some Mary J!  Lovin it!

The Top 11 Are:
Jessica - Awesome singer and performer!
Hollie - Very good!
Heejun - Send him home
Colton - Send him home. He screwed over his sister.
Skylar - Pretty good
Phillip - Incredible!
Deandre - Send him home
Joshua - Good, but I am not a fan.
Erika - Keep on going
Jermaine - Awesome!
Shannon - Meh. Could go, could stay

Jeremy and Elise

Elise stays, Jeremy goes home.  Neither one was worth saving.

Mar 7, 2012

American Idol 2012 - Top 13 Perform


Tonight, we've got the Top 13 performers.  Tyler decided to join us this week, too! So, what did we think? How would we vote?  Well, here are our results:


Joshua - Wow. He can do some singin now! Nice! Oh, man, this is the best I've heard him. Awesome!

Elsie - Ouch. Sounds a bit flat to me, but them what do I know? Not a fan.

Jermaine - The soft, low, smooth sounds of Jermaine. This is classic R&B. Great stuff!

Erika - Not bad. Slow start but nice build up throughout. I enjoyed it.

Colton - Not a good start. blah. I have no idea what words he is singing. Well, it picked up during the song, but nothing stands out for me.

Shannon - Not a big fan of this version. Not liking it too much. Whoa, what was that in the middle!? Holy smokes. UGH.

Deandre - "I'd like to have a big, curly ponytail. Thanks." I have no idea what's going on here. Uh, no. I keep expecting him to start singing, "So, just leave me alone..."

Skylar - She sounds like Reba. I really like this. I mean, for a country-fied Whitney that is.

Heejun - I guess it's okay. Kind of a snoozefest, though.

Hollie - She sings much "older" than she is. Man, she has a great voice. Let's see if it lasts the whole song. She is kickin butt. Wow!

Jeremy - Not really feeling this one. It's okay, but that's about all it is. Nothing stage-stealing here, folks. Move along.

Jessica - Wow. What control at the start! Wow. Wow. Wow. This girl is phenomenal. Period. Man, just awesome!

Phillip - He has Joe Cocker written all over him. I love it. Where has this guy been hiding!?  Awesome!

Mar 1, 2012

American Idol 2012: America picks top 10, judges add 3

American Idol Top 13 Picked!  Okay, if you don't like spoilers and you haven't seen the Idol vote yet, then you are going to need to STOP READING right here!  I am hoping to write enough filler here to make sure any intro text does not show up in the various feeds to which this blog gets posted. 

Who were your favorites from both days?  Anyone jump out in your likes list?  If you have watched the Top 13 show, who did *YOU* want in the there? Anyone that you wished had made it but didn't? 

Okay, here we go.  We'll have the Top 10, then three more added. Should be interesting...

Jeremy - NOT top 10
Phillip - TOP 10!! Wahoo!
Chase - NOT top 10

Hollie - TOP 10!!
Brielle - NOT top 10
Hallie - NOT top 10
Jessica - TOP 10!! I think Jessica could take the whole thing.

Adam - NOT top 10 - THAT is a shocker to me. Bummer.
Heejun - TOP 10!!
Joshua - TOP 10!!

Baylie - NOT top 10
Shannon - TOP 10!!
Skylar - TOP 10!!
Chelsea - NOT top 10

Aaron - NOT top 10
Creighton - NOT top 10
Reed - NOT top 10

Elise - TOP 10!!
Erika - NOT top 10
Haley - NOT top 10
Jen - NOT top 10

Deandre - NOT top 10
Eben - NOT top 10
Colton - TOP 10!!
Jermaine - TOP 10!! WAHOO!!

American Idol Top 10:

Now, three wildcard spots will be filled from one of these singers:
Jen, Jeremy, Brielle, Deandre, Erika, and Reed.

Judges picks: Erika, Jeremy, Deandre... Wow, really? Oh well. Shan likes Jeremy. I think Erika was a good choice.  Deandre needs to be gone.

So, who I think has the power to make it all the way?  I'd like to see Phillip and Jessica be the final two.