AndyO Blog

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Robosapian and his friends

Cameron got a Robosapian from Santa and a Roboraptor from his Uncle Erik. I probably spent more time playing with these two robots than Cameron did!

Robosapian is a robot that can speak, detect objects with his vision and other sensors, and can hear things. If he falls over, he can get up. We even figured out how to make him burp and fart (you can imagine how many times we did that). Supposedly he can bowl, but we haven't been able to get him to do this yet.

Roboraptor is Robosapian's evil counterpart. While you can control Roboraptor, he seems to do his best work when he's prowling around by himself. He likes to sniff at objects, and he'll even try to take a bite if he's in the wrong mood.

All I have to say is Robots for kids (and adults who act like kids) have come a long way. I remember when one of my friends got a robot for Christmas that you could program to drive around a room (one step forward, one step to the right, etc.), kind of like Roomba with less abilities. I can't imagine what we're going to see in the next 10 or 20 years. For all we know, we'll see dolls that can follow you around, dogs that don't need to be fed, and birds that don't peck at you.
posted by AndyO @ 12:47 PM   0 comments links to this post

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Gifts you should have given

I meant to get this list posted before Christmas, but I just got too busy. It may help you if you received cash or if you see one of these products on sale in the next week.

  • Mater Replicas Force FX Lightsaber -- This is the real deal. If you've ever known someone who wanted their own Lightsaber, just like Darth, this is the present for him or her. I bought one of these this year, and it's one of the coolest things I've ever seen. ($99-$115.00)
  • Napoleon Dynamite talking action figure -- My brother has one of these in his kitchen. When he needs to make a decision, he just looks up at Napoleon (on top of the fridge) and says, "What would Napoleon say?" ($14.95)
  • Moon real estate -- You can actually buy real estate on the moon (since 1980, actually)! I'm buying some of this for my kids because, you know, they'll be living up there in 20 years. (Starting at just $29.99)
  • Monogrammed toilet paper -- I think having something like this in your bathroom shows that you're important. At the very least it's a good conversation piece. "I noticed the monogrammed TP in your bathroom. Did you get a raise?" ($17.95)
  • Twinkie-flavored lip balm -- The person who invented this one is really going after a niche mark. But that's how it all starts, baby. ($3.50)
  • Pooping reindeer -- I figured I needed to have just one of these gross-out gifts. (On sale now for only $2.49!)
  • 27 Piece Patriot Package -- Get this one for your Republican friends. They have the patriotic market cornered these days. (On sale for only $29.00!)

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posted by AndyO @ 5:15 PM   0 comments links to this post

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Wrapping presents

It doesn't matter what I do, I can NEVER wrap presents. I suppose that's why I always wait until Christmas Eve to do any sort of wrapping.

My wrapping always has the same problem: I cut the piece of wrapping paper too small for what I'm wrapping. Not wanting to waste paper, I end up taping a new section to the "hole." Last year, I paid high school students at the mall to wrap my gifts. I should have done the same thing this year.
posted by AndyO @ 11:33 PM   0 comments links to this post

Christmas Eve - Cain Lake, WA

Tonight we're at my mother-in-law's house on Cain Lake. It's always peaceful here, although the weather is a balmy 62-degrees F. Not very Christmas-like.

Last night, we went to my uncle's annual party at Fort Warden near Port Townsend, Washington. He rented out a few Officer's houses and brought all his family and closest friends together. They had great food, activities for the kids, and even a guitar player. At one point, everyone was standing up next to the Christmas tree, singing carols. I was in the next room, holding Drew, and talking with Terry, the drummer in my uncle's band.

As the night wore on, guests scattered, leaving a smaller group of family. Drew, my 9-month old, woke up around midnight, and he stayed up with everyone until about 1:00 a.m. or so. I didn't get to bed until 2:30 a.m. But it was good to catch up with people I hadn't seen in a long time.
posted by AndyO @ 11:19 PM   0 comments links to this post

Friday, December 16, 2005

Tired of spam?

Here's a funny e-mail from someone about how spam (junk mail) has affected her life. Enjoy!


Hello Everyone...
My heartfelt appreciation goes out to all of you who have taken the time and trouble to send me "forwards" over the past 12 months. Thank you for making me feel safe, secure, blessed, and wealthy.
Extra thanks for the ones that I have to open 15 times to get to the message.
Special thanks to whoever sent me the one about rat crap in the glue on envelopes 'cause I now have to go get a wet towel every time I need to seal an envelope.
Also, I scrub the top of every can I open for the same reason. Because of your concern I no longer drink Coca Cola because it can remove toilet stains.
I no longer drink Pepsi or Dr Pepper since the people who make these products are atheists who won't put "Under God" on their cans.
I no longer use Saran wrap in the microwave because it causes cancer.
I no longer check the coin return on pay phones because I could be pricked with a needle infected with AIDS.
I no longer use cancer-causing deodorants even though I smell like a water buffalo on a hot day.
I no longer go to shopping mall! s because someone might drug me with a perfume sample and rob me.
I no longer receive packages from nor send packages by UPS or FedEx since they are actually Al Qaeda in disguise.
I no longer answer the phone because someone will ask me to dial a number for which I will get a phone bill with calls to Jamaica, Uganda, Singapore, and Uzbekistan.
I no longer eat KFC because their "chickens" are actually horrible mutant freaks with no eyes or feathers.
I no longer have any sneakers -- but that will change once I receive my free replacement pair from Nike.
I no longer have to buy expensive cookies from Neiman Marcus since I now have their recipe.
I no longer worry about my soul because at last count I have 363,214 angels looking out for me.
Thanks to you, I have learned that God only answers my prayers if I forward an e-mail to seven of my friends and make a wish within five minutes.
I no longer have any savings because I gave it to a sick girl who is about to die in the hospital (for the 1,387,258th time)
I no longer have any money at all - but that will change once I receive the $15,000 that Microsoft and AOL are sending me for participating in their special email program.
Yes, I want to thank you so much for looking out for me that I will now return the favor!
If you don't send this e-mail to at least 144,000 people in the next 7 minutes, a large pigeon with a wicked case of diarrhea will land on your head at 5:00 PM (EDT) this afternoon. I know this will occur because it actually happened to a friend of my next door neighbor's ex-mother-in-law's second husband's cousin's beautician.
By the way, have a Merry Christmas.
Regards
,
posted by AndyO @ 10:29 AM   2 comments links to this post

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Channel Tunnel (Chunnel)

On the way into school today, Cameron and I started talking about the Channel Tunnel and the trains that go through it. I told him that I went on it back in 1998. He couldn't believe that a train could actually go underwater, but I explained that it was actually under the seabed. (I still don't think he fully understands.)

The other thing he liked was how fast the channel trains go. I thought it was 150 mph, but it's actually 186 mph!

When I got home tonight, Cam wanted to see pictures of the train. So we got on my computer at bedtime and I showed him a bunch of pictures of the sleek Eurostar trains. Some interesting facts that I learned tonight:
  • The Channel Tunnel is second-longest railway tunnel, next to the Seikan Tunnel in Japan.
  • They used huge tunnel boring machines (TBMs) to dig the tunnels. These machines are "mobile excavation factories that combined drilling, material removal, and the process of shoring up the soft and permeable tunnel walls with a concrete liner."
  • On the English side, they dumped the 4 million cubic meters of chalk they excavated from the tunnel in the sea and made 90-acre Samphire Hoe park.
  • When the French and British crews met in the middle, underneath the English Channel, they were only 5 feet off of dead center (amazing, considering they didn't have GPS to guide them).
  • The Channel Tunnel is one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World.
posted by AndyO @ 9:47 PM   0 comments links to this post

Saturday, December 10, 2005

X ray fun with Cameron

Brenda and I took in the two boys yesterday for medical checkups. Cameron had to get a few tests, including a chest X ray. Before this test, Cameron had some blood drawn, which hadn't gone very well, so I wanted to make the X ray as much fun as possible.

It turns out, Cam and I both had to wear, uh, protection on the lower half of our body. We both couldn't get over how funny these little aprons looked, so I had the tech take our picture with my camera phone. There's nothing like having fun in an X-ray room.
posted by AndyO @ 10:52 PM   0 comments links to this post

Senator Ed Kennedy

I saw Senator Ed Kennedy at a work event yesterday. He gave a speech and then took a bunch of questions. My dad, who goes to Toastmasters on a regular basis, said that the hardest kind of speech to give is Q & A. And Kennedy did some amazing Q & A. It didn't seem like there was a subject he didn't know a lot about, but I know it's a Senator's job to know about a wide range of subjects.

As he talked, a lot of thoughts went through my mind. First, I thought a lot about his brother JFK. JFK has always been an abstraction to me, especially with all the mystery surrounding his assassination. But JFK was a real guy, and his brother was now speaking right in front of me. I also thought about his other brother, RFK, and how he was killed, too. It must be hard to have two brothers killed.

Of course, there's always that thing that happened to Ted called Chappaquiddick, the event that would prevent Ted Kennedy from ever seeking the White House. But you can see in his eyes that he's past that event. Something like that would destroy most people, but he's continued to serve his country.

Afterward, I waited in line with others and shook the Senator's warm hand. He definitely had the Kennedy charm and charisma that you hear about. I also had him sign my Tablet PC (a digital signature). He thought that was pretty neat.

posted by AndyO @ 10:34 PM   0 comments links to this post

Friday, December 09, 2005

Neil Peart DVD

I just read about how Neil Peart's new DVD "Anatomy of a Drum Solo" has supposedly been delayed due to a technical defect. Evidently, it's only a three-second dropout of audio. I hope they shipped mine out (yes, I pre-ordered), as I want to watch it!

There was a time when it was so hard to find anything besides CDs of Rush to buy. Now they seem to have figured out that people like to buy Rush stuff. I'm glad, actually, but it makes a lot of fans jaded about the band actually wanting to make money. This is, after all, their job.

posted by AndyO @ 12:12 AM   links to this post

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

White Castle burgers

I tried my first White Castle Slyder tonight. It was OK. I remember seeing a White Castle restaurant in Indianapolis, and someone told me not to eat them. So I didn't. But I always kind of wished I had.

If you're wondering how I tried one of these burgers in Seattle, I actually bought them frozen. At QFC. I was surprised at how well the burger bun came out of the microwave. Almost fresh.

And I've got to ask: what's with the tiny size? I had four of these Slyders and I probably could have had four more. Why not make them bigger? I guess I'm asking questions that have already been asked, and maybe this is the key to Castle's success.
posted by AndyO @ 11:22 PM   links to this post

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

I fell for the Walken for Prez hoax

I guess everyone needs to fall for a hoax every once in a while. I pride myself in usually seeing through the Internet B.S. (syringes in McDonald's playlands, etc.), but I fell for this one. It had that "truth is stranger than fiction" vibe to it.

So, according to Snopes, Walken running for president is a hoax:

http://www.snopes.com/inboxer/hoaxes/walken.asp

Thanks Chris Mess for pointing this out to me.
posted by AndyO @ 11:30 PM   links to this post

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Christopher Walken for President?

While doing some link finding for my previous blog, I came across this link: http://www.walken2008.com/index.html. It's no joke; Christopher Walken is running for President.

I'm not sure why, except maybe he's as sick of all the problems in this country and is in a position as a public person to do something about it. He wouldn't be the first actor to do this, and I have to admit I'm pretty dubious about any actor running for office.

But it should make for an interesting 2008 campaign!
posted by AndyO @ 10:57 PM   links to this post

Christmas tree fever

As Christopher Walken said in the now-famous "more cowbell" skit on SNL, "I got a fever, and the only prescription is... getting a Christmas Tree!"

Yes, Cameron and I went down and picked up our tree from Rosie's Trees in the Albertson's parking lot. We've gone to Rosie's every year now since about 1990. It only took us 5 minutes to get the perfect tree. Keep in mind this is about the earliest we've ever picked up a tree. One year, when Brenda and I both had pneumonia, I didn't pick one up until about Christmas eve.

Cam and I got a beautiful Noble Fir that stands about 5-1/2 feet. Drew already tried to eat the tree. But it's his first Christmas tree, so he hasn't been properly trained yet.
posted by AndyO @ 10:33 PM   links to this post

New blog software

Well, Tiny Dog showed me how to use Blogger in a cool, new way. It took me most of the weekend, but I finally got it working. For those who have tried to blog in an HTML editor like FrontPage, you know how difficult it can be. Blogger is able to integrate an HTML editor with a blogging web system pretty well.

So, let's hope this works out, 'cause it seems way easier.
posted by AndyO @ 10:16 PM   links to this post