Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Lactobacillus Acidophilus

This might seem like a crazy post, but it really isn't.

This is about feeling better through regular consumption of acidophilus. It's the essential bacteria that your intestines need to stay healthy. My person experience with it includes a trip to Mexico where I drank the water while taking it twice a day and had no problem.

Montezuma was vanquished before he could even attack.

If my wife's skin breaks out what does she take? Acidophilus and it clears up in a day.

Try it out. You can get it in active culture yogurt or get some pills at GNC.

Only at a public library

Just when things couldn’t get any worse for my wife or Honda Element, it did. On loan to my wife (her car was in the shop), it was keyed at her library.

They keyed “Bitch” on two sides along with the normal keying.

At what kind of library does this thing happen? Good question.

It’s a place where on a regular basis she kicks out kids for surfing porn (some can get past the filter), cursing, destroying furniture, fighting, or general mischief. It’s a teen hangout and their behavior is driving away the regular patrons. She’s been called all sorts of names as she tries to restore order.

This latest incident really has me questioning her safety and the ability of the library to ensure it.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

TiVo's Most Recorded Shows

After reading Andy's blog posting about media consumption I noticed a newsletter from TiVo with an interesting link. The TiVo site lists the most recorded shows from the past week along with their previous ranking. Seeing American Idol at number 5, which I thought was one of the top rated shows sent me on a search for the Nielsen ratings. I found the latest Nielsen's Top 20 on Yahoo and sure enough right behind football, there is American Idol taking 2 and 3. Checking on a personal favorite 24, it was #20 on Nielsen, #4 on TiVo.

What was interesting was the lack of any sports from the TiVo list. I guess the promise of skipping commercials doesn't outweigh watching the live action. Since the data is from season passes on TiVo, people are probably still using TiVo functionality during the live game.

Check both of the links out. It's interesting to speculate as to why they are so different.
1. Demographics of TiVo owners vs. the general US
2. Time shifting due to inconvenient showtimes
3. Certain shows are watched live (football)

If you really want to blow your mind check out the Director Wishlist rankings. Hitchcock,
Spielberg, Scorsese, Kubrick, Tarantino. Some names I wouldn't expect in the top five, assuming the general publics preferences.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

TerraPass has arrived

I finally received my TerraPasses for our two cars. Great to know I might slow down the unusually warm January we're experiencing in Baltimore.

I did receive a coupon for friends to sign-up and get 10% off. If you're reading this I'll consider you a friend. If you want to help reduce your car's impact use the coupon code: Friends clicking here.

Great New Canton Bar - Bartender's Bar

Experienced a great new Canton bar last night for a MBA happy hour. Run by a fellow classmate's brother, this place has excellent food. While I couldn't eat the pizza, only the cheese and crust, my wife and everyone raved about it. The seafood pizza was especially good.

Definitely worth checking it out -
2218 Boston Street, Baltimore, MD

Friday, January 27, 2006

1000tags.com Update

Since I purchased a shared celiac tag on 1000tags.com, I've definitely seen an uptick in traffic to my wife's celiacfoodreviews.com website.

I purchased the tag on the 14th, and since then the average number of visitors has risen. While still not amazing, it's something. Since celiac shows up in 1 out of 133 people in the US, I'd be interested if that same % visited from the 1000tags.com site.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Another reason I love Southwest

I was checking out the SWA site tonight and noticed they just launched wireless check-in. Now I can check-in via my Blackberry the second it's allowed. All I'll have to do is print the boarding pass at the airport.

Are you in the "A" line?

I fly Southwest Airlines almost everywhere I go, business or pleasure. Their frequent flyer program is great (translation: I earn lots of free flights) and the prices are great especially for flying up to Islip from Baltimore. With my frequent travel I’ve come up with a few strategies for making the most out of their lack of seat assignments.

1. Control your own destiny – If the flight is full and you are in the A group you’ll have your choice of seats. Choose wisely, otherwise if you have my luck, you’ll end up attracting the odd people who make me feel like I’m in the movie Airplane sitting next to Striker. If I’m traveling alone I will actually sit next to someone who seems normal instead of looking for an open row. My theory is that if there are two people in a row already most people in the B and C groups will look for a row with one person to inhabit.

2. Check-in and get an A boarding pass – While this seems like a no-brainer, the A pass allows you to relax in a chair at the airport vs. waiting in line like the B’s and C’s. Personally I don’t feel like lying down or sitting on the floor in any airport. Take a moment to think about where people’s shoes may have been previously. Maybe an airplane bathroom that’s hit turbulence or an airplane on which a child may have thrown up on the floor. With Southwest’s latest change to allow a 24 hour window for checking versus the day of, it’s much easier to get an A, vs. staying up until midnight for a 5 am flight the next day.

3. Double check the fit of your carry-on – While SWA uses the same planes for their fleet, some overhead bins vary in size. I made the unfortunate mistake the other day of trying to maximize the overhead space by turning my bag lengthwise. What I failed to recognize was that this bin was smaller than other Southwest planes. What happened? My bag was pulled and checked – now I’m headed to the baggage area. Always do a quick fit check by closing the bin. Making all that effort to get an “A” so you can bring a carry on shouldn’t go to waste.

If you have any other strategies for Southwest please let me know.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Eliminating Junk Mail

A couple years ago I read an article that listed a phone number you could call and after providing your name and address you’d be opted-out of all those pre-approved credit card offers. I called and sure enough my junk mail dropped to almost zero. (In case you’re interested the numbers is 1-888-5-OPTOUT)

I never realized how much junk mail this stopped but now that I’m married, my wife, who hasn’t opted-out, gets 2-3 pieces of credit card offers a day. Now I’m about to embark on a little test of this system to see how quickly I can eliminate all of my wife’s junk credit card offers.
I’ll keep you posted.

Friday, January 20, 2006

TV Show Product Placement - Las Vegas

I'm a TiVo fanatic. I purchased my Series 1 over five years ago and I almost never watch live television, I skip almost every commercial. I even tried to pitch them marketing ideas years ago to help educate the consumer, when I supported our West Coast sales office.

There has been much talk about product placements coming back to help circumvent ad-skipping. I hadn't experienced it yet, until the most recent episode of Las Vegas. The episode which centered around a suspected ghost haunting the Montecito casino.

In the same episode the US Snowboard team was also visiting. There are these three crazy guys running around with USA written on their bare chests. They first show up in the beginning, then reappear at the end and say they are heading to Vail. At this point the show turns into a commercial for Chevrolet SUVs.

Very clever, I was well into the commercial before I realized what was going on.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Honda 2004 Element Windshield Cracks A Second Time

I finally broke down and called SafeLite Autoglass to replace the windshield on my 2004 Honda Element. It's a low mileage vehicle, with only about 18,000 miles on it. What burns me is that this is the second windshield I've replaced. They seem to crack very easily from the far edges. The first time it happened I went to the Honda dealer to see about a free replacement since I couldn't see any reason why it would crack. The technician was able to point out this tiny nick on the edge that was cause.

Now on my having to replace a second windshield, I was able to spot another one of these little dings that end up costing me ~$200. Luckily I previously had SafeLite out to repair a small bulls-eye another time so I'm able to apply the cost of that repair to the replacement saving me ~$60.

Doing a little research on the Internet I was able to find a site setup just for this issue, HondaElementsCrack.com.

While replacing the windshield is bothersome, what really gets me is random vandalism. This past Thursday night someone proceeded to walk down my block and key every car along the way. Both of our cars and about six others of our neighbors were hit. Since I live in Baltimore I still haven't called the police to report the incident, my last police experience was regarding my colleague Jason's car being stolen. This occurred outside of my house, when they finally caught the thief our court system let him free while waiting for trial.

Apparently while he was out he killed someone. That must make the family of the deceased really happy, yes your son could still be alive if we kept this menace to society locked up awaiting trial for stealing a car. Since I'm on vacation this week I'll give the cops a call to report the vandalism, maybe they'll catch the person, LOL.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Giving Blood and CRM

This past Friday I gave blood at the regular Red Cross stop off at our office complex. If you've ever given blood you've experienced the normal process of reading about fifty questions about your past experiences and then answering the same questions in person. I have a Red Cross donor card which I thought would help speed up the donating process, not so. I'm sure there are all kinds of legal issues with the need to constantly re-ask these questions, but I'd personally love to see the knowledgebase get smarter.

Instead of have you been outside of the country in the past three years, how about have you traveled outside the country since March 2005 the last donation you made?

Could you answer the survey online the day before you donate, then have the nurse review the answers at the time of donation?

I assume that the Red Cross runs different types of tests on your blood, why not make the results available on their website? Maybe graphing them in a times series?

Can they track how your blood is used? Wouldn't it be great to know how your blood was used? How many adults and kids were saved? Maybe that would encourage people to donate on a more frequent basis.

Please note I still encourage everyone to give blood.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Replacing my rowhouse staircase (3 of X)

I started the staircase today. Went on two Home Depot runs yesterday with my wife to pick up the materials.

I'll detail the steps below as I put everything together.

Once I moved all the materials into the basement I set up my various tools and got started with tearing out a few steps which allowed me to get exact measurements.

As you can see on the left, the treads and risers sit on top of the stringers.

Once I had the right measurements, I set up to cut in my basement. I used my DeWALT 10 inch miter saw to cut all the oak treads to the right length. After the treads were done, the pine risers were next.

Once the boards were cut I started replacing the first tread and riser. Using plenty of Liquid Nails along with finishing nails (counter sunk with a nail punch) the first step was done.

In keeping with the original construction fastening, I also pre-drilled and screwed the riser into the tread underneath the stairs. Three screws per riser.

Now with the first step done, I worked on finishing all of the steps except for the four at the bottom which were more complicated and required me to glue together treads together. I'll tackle those in a few days.

Below are the finished steps, I'm going to enjoy sitting down and relaxing.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Tagging 1000tags.com

John Demayo tipped me off to the 1000tags tag cloud site with his recent post. Purchased a non-exclusive tag for $25, we'll see how much traffic appears.

Assuming there is one celiac per 133 people in the United States, once they get some real-time traffic information on the site I'll get some idea of how many people might be interested in reading food reviews of gluten free items.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Impaling Terrorists

Apparently there is a pagan running for governor in Minnesota. His platform includes, "the impaling of terrorists, rapists, drug dealers and other criminals.."

I performed a few searches on impaling, just to make sure I understood what exactly is being proposed. This site seems to explain it well.

Monday, January 09, 2006

New Year's Resolutions (Part 2 of X) - Improve my health

The last three months of the year were tough on my health and fitness level. Finishing up my last semester of business school (9 credits) along with my day job led to me adding on about 15 pounds of excess weight.

My plan is to workout at least 5 days a week through January to remove as much excess weight as possible.

Right now I'm taking advantage of free classes at the gym.
Sunday: Yoga
Monday: Pilates
Tuesday: Power Yoga
Thursday: Power Yoga

The rest of the days are spent either stationary biking, stairmastering, or running on a treadmill.

I'm also sitting in the sauna three times a week for at least 20 minutes. Besides being relaxing, it also apparently helps detox the body and remove heavy metals. For more information on the benefits of profuse sweating.

I've also cut out regular and diet soda. HFCS is getting more press as being bad for your health. Aspartame apparently isn't good for you as well, so they are both gone. I'll be drinking water, tea (green and regular), and water with Emer'gen-C or TrueLime or TrueLemon added.


Sunday, January 08, 2006

Replacing my rowhouse staircase (2 of X)

I finally uploaded the before photos from my camera.

The first photo on the left is looking at the underbelly of the staircase. Next is looking up from the landing and finally the landing.

Sex in the City on Saturday

My wife and I visited NYC for the day on Saturday. At one point I met up with an old work colleague for a drink, and we stopped by a bar in Little Italy that was relatively empty. There were dozens of martini glass on the bar top but we thought nothing of it.

Thirty minutes into the drinks, in comes about thirty to forty people who look like tourists. John and I overhear various accents and people are taking pictures of each other. They then start in on the cosmopolitans and continue to fill up the bar. Next three girls ask us to take their picture, and at this point John asks them what tour group they are with.

Answer - The Sex in the City Tour

Sounds eerily similar to the J Peterman reality tour that Kramer ran in one episode. I asked how much this tour cost, $35. How long did it last? About three hours. John then said well its not a bad deal if you get free drinks, to which they replied, " the drinks are extra".

Thinking about Kramer reminds me of Kenny Kramer who is the inspiration for the episode. I then did a little searching and the tour is real and you can go on it for $37.50 + $2 service charge. Check it out if you don't believe me. There is no mention on the site about a mini-bagel pizza or a bite-size snickers bar.

Low Income DRM Work Arounds

I heard an interesting anecdote regarding public library DVDs and CDs. While this is one data point, I've believe it's not an isolated incident.

Apparently the kids clearly state that they are taking out movies and music with the intention of copying them. With the national trend of less people visiting public libraries, they (the libraries) have been forced to try new ideas to win back their patrons. One way they've been doing this is by stocking new music and movies, as well as providing more computers and Internet access. If you're a person who doesn't have a broadband connection to pirate in the comfort of your home, you can still visit your local library check out a disc bring it home and rip it. The availability of cheap computers equipped with CD-RW drives makes it easy for the less well connected to partake in what the high-speed crowd has been doing for years.

The problem is bigger than college and high school kids with broadband connections using P2P software.

Digital distribution eliminates inventory carrying costs, pass the savings on to the consumers.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Replacing My Rowhouse Staircase (Step 1 of ??)

When I rehabbed my Baltimore rowhouse over three years ago, one item I did not replace was the staircase. I kept the original painted pine set, with a few replacement treads at the bottom where there was serious termite damage.

My plan is to replace the treads (where you step) with oak similar to my floors, while the risers (in between the treads) and stringers (boards along the side) both clear pine, painted a glossy white.

Right now I'm in the process of gathering quotes for the materials. I have two choices - visit a home center ala Home Depot or contact a company that builds staircases and buy the materials directly. The pros and cons of each are as follows:

Home Depot -
Pros - buying power of Home Depot
Cons - one size tread (lots of waste when I cut them to size), no clear pine (no knots)

Staircase manufacturer -
Pros - cut to size, lack of waste
Cons - pricing could be on the high side

More to come - pictures as well

New Year's Resolutions (Part 1 of X)

Starting off 06 as I did in 05 I drew up my resolutions for the new year.

One resolution was to reduce our environmental impact. A few different events got me thinking about cleaning up my act. First, I had gotten interested after checking out a link to Terrapass on JohnDemayo's website. Second, I received the Baltimore DPW's 2006 recycling calendar. Last but not least, while sitting in the sauna reading I read an ad for bp's carbon footprint calculator.

Putting my resolution into action, I purchased two terrapasses today, hybrid for my car (6,00o lbs CO2 offset), and utility/performance (20,000 lbs CO2 offset) for my wife. While I walk to work, my wife commutes.

Next step was calculating the carbon footprint of our life. Visiting bp's website and filling out our information I received a forward to a friend email with the following:

I discovered that my household carbon footprint is 26 tonnes CO2, which is enough to fill 5.8 Olympic swimming pools. I calculated my household carbon footprint using the Carbon Calculator at bp.com. The calculator shows how your lifestyle choices, household energy features, energy sources and technologies affect your household carbon emissions. Copy and paste this link in your browser to discover your household Carbon Footprint: http://www.bp.com/carbonreduction

What was interesting about this was that my house is very efficient (well insulated, energy efficient windows, and filled with energy saving bulbs), it was my wife's commuting and my business airtravel that put us over the average US household. This gave me an interesting idea for another product Terrapass could offer, a Flight Terrapass. Every time a person travels they would have the option to buy a pass to offset the CO2. The airlines could offer an affiliate link from every ticket purchase. The affiliate commission might even help the airline's profitability. Looks like Terrapass is looking to release a similar product - read here. Well so much for that idea, although another could be a Utilites Terrapass, which you could buy from your utility company. While having the choice to buy clean energy would be nice, it's not an option for me.

The next step was to start recycling plastic, which I hadn't been doing. Unfortunately Maryland doesn't have bottle deposits so I picked up the bad habit of just throwing them out.

Maybe next year I'll reduce my carbon footprint to zero.