Saturday, June 30, 2007

Beer... it does a body good.

Since (all things) beer has started to become a bigger part of my ramblings (and with any luck a bigger part of my life in the future - oooh aaah, so cryptic!)... I decided to create a wholly separate blog just for that delicious passion of mine.

With that said I have taken all the fun beer components from "Ramblings of a Mad Man" and moved them over to the new blog ... Confessions of a Beer Geek.

Go. Now. What are you waiting for!?!

Monday, June 25, 2007

A Bilingual Country?!?!

If you haven't noticed I've added a new feature to the blog - "Poll o' the Day." So, to break it in I have a question for ya'll, and I'd like some feedback... it's about a rather touchy subject.

Do you think that immigrants (legal or illegal) should speak the language of the country they go to in order to live/work? For instance, should the horde of Mexicans that flood across the border on a daily basis learn English if they are going to work and live here?

I say: "Hell yes!"

Now here's a follow up question: Does saying "yes" to the first question make that person a racist? If you think so - I want to know exactly why and how? I want details that prove and justify that stance. Don't come back with anger, emotion or "Just Because." That don't work.

Because here's how I see things... English is the one and only official language of the United States of America. I'm all for multi- culturalism, but this is not the United States of the World. It's the US of A. Last I checked this great country wasn't run by a United Nations styled organization. Yes, immigrants made (and still make) this country what it is - I realize that. Hell, my grandfather was born in Croatia and came over here when he was 2 years old. But here's the big difference between then and now: they had respect. They (had it tougher then anyone today could ever possibly imagine) spoke their native tongues while also learning the language of their new home - English.

Not learning the native tongue of the country you have voluntarily (legally or illegally) decided to move lock, stock and barrel to is outright disrespect for that country and its people. If I were to move to Mexico (Germany, Belgium, France, etc.) where English was not the native tongue - I would expect myself to learn their language. I would not be so arrogant as to make the people of that country learn MY language.

That's not being racist.... that's being patriotic to your country while being respectful of others.

Now, I speak not exclusively of Mexicans either. I know first hand of a company that employees a large number of Cuban born people. This company offered, free of charge AND on company time, to send them to learn English. Let me reiterate that... they were going to be paid to learn English.

Only one (of the few dozen who in fact work there) showed up. Oh, but it gets worse. They actually organized what amounted to a mini-rebellion by saying: "We don't have to learn their language, they have to learn ours."

Oh, hell no! That isn't gonna fly! Not now... not ever! With that kind of attitude they can all get on the next flotation device heading south. Hasta la vista, baby.

This is the United States of America, land of the free and home of the brave. We welcome any all - as this country has done from its inception - as long as they play by the rules which we the people have voted on from day one. Because as we all know, people - ALL people - need rules. Otherwise, there would be anarchy.

Maybe it's just me, but a brazen "fuck you" attitude like the one I described above will lead us all to a very bad place... one that no one wants to get to.

Not now... not ever.

Friday, June 22, 2007

The 10 Commandments of Lawncare

In keeping with the absurdity of the Vatican's 10 Commandments for Driving, my buddy Steven just riffed this list off. It is one funny piece of literature!

The 10 Commandments of Lawncare

  • 1. Thou shalt not let thine lawn grow more than 4 inches before thine runs a mower over it.
  • 2. When thine canine defecates in the lawn of another, be courteous and pick up the offending odoriferous log.
  • 3. If thine leaves from thine tree, or the cuttings from thine mower blow into the yards of thine neighbor, do the righteous thing and sweep them into thine bin.
  • 4. Thine trees will not hang into thine neighbor’s airspace.
  • 5. A weed taller than thou is no longer a weed, but a monument to thine laziness.
  • 6. Waste not the water from thine hose - wash thine horseless carriage in your yard and kill two birds with one stone.
  • 7. Procreate, for every child thine has means less time working the lawns thine self.
  • 8. Start early, finish early, so thine days feel longer, but do not use motorized leaf blowers before 10:30 AM.
  • 9. Plant not more than thine family can consume, thine neighbors really don't want 5 more bags of tomatoes.
  • 10. Do not covet the fruits and vegetables of thine gardens. Carrots and cucumbers are meant to be eaten, not used in a fashion of debauchery.

TGIF - Mad Man Style!

I'm going to start a new "feature" entitled "Rants from the Asylum." It'll be a Thank God Its Friday style collection that appears on Fridays about things that I've stock piled during the week that I can't (or don't want to) devout an entire column to, but still have something to say about. Like...

By now you know I have a mini-obsession with the massive multiplayer online video game, City of Heroes (and its bad brother City of Villains). Well, it turns out that the producer for the upcoming movie Transformers (which I think will be the summer blockbuster) - Tom DeSanto - has apparently secured the rights to NCsoft and Cryptic Studio's popular superhero/villain game. The plan is to adapt it into a live-action feature and then transition it to television in some form. Sweet mutha! WOOOHOOOO!

Fran and I drove (a mere 4-hours) up to Snowmass a few weekends ago for the 4th annual Chili Pepper & Beer Festival. We had a helluva great time. In fact, we had so much fun we're going back next year. We've done the Beaver Creek Blues and Brews Fest three years in a row, and we've been up to the Telluride Blues & Brews, but this was off the hook fun. We had some great new beers (cheers to the light amber lager from Trinidad Brewing Company, and it was a shock to see Stone Brewing all the way from San Diego there!), and listened to some phenomenal tunes. Spencer Durham and his group were fantastic, but listening to Ziggy Marley singin' his dad's tunes... almost a religious experience.

If you're a big fan of the NBC show Heroes, and are suffering from withdraws - like many of us are, maybe it's time to give City of Heroes a whirl! Check out this article for more ideas on how to quell the addiction.

Speaking of video games, this just in: PricewaterhouseCoopers issued a report yesterday predicting significant growth for the video game industry over the next several years (global gaming market to approach $50 BILLION by 2011 - how's that for vid games being for kids?!?!). Click here to read the entire article over at GameDaily Biz - THE industry source for video game professionals.

I want to give a shout out to my graveyard shift working amigo down at Ft. Huachuca, Arizona (where I was born) - congrats on the 50" DLP Mikey! Between that and the new grill... "life is good!" Sorry that it's 110 friggin-hot-as-hell degrees down there though. Well, you like it... and Fran would too, but not me. Hey, at least it's a "dry" heat, right?! Oh, and call me at a normal hour ya illegal alien vampire stalker! ;)

Lastly... my friend Larry sent me the following little ditty. Hilarious stuff!

"Wrong Bitch" - The train was quite crowded, so a U. S. Marine walked the entire length looking for a seat, but the only seat left was taken by a well dressed, middle-aged Frenchwoman's poodle. The war-weary Marine asked, "Ma'am, may I have this seat?" The Frenchwoman sniffed and said "Americans are so rude. My little Fifi is using that seat." The Marine walked the entire train again, but the only seat left was under that dog. "Please, ma'am. May I sit down? I'm very tired."She snorted, "Not only are you Americans rude, you are also arrogant!" This time the Marine didn't say a word; he just picked up the dog, tossed it out the window and sat down.The woman shrieked, "Someone must defend my honour! Put this American in his place!" An Englishman nearby spoke up, " Sir, you Americans have a penchant for doing the wrong thing. You hold the fork in the wrong hand. You drive your autos on the wrong side of the road. And now, sir, you seem to have thrown the wrong bitch out the window!"

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The 10 Commandments of Driving

So you've heard that the Cardinals and Bishops and such over in the Vatican actually sat down and banged out a "10 Commandments For Driving" list right? (seriously)

If not, here they are:
  • 1. You shall not kill.
  • 2. The road shall be for you a means of communion between people and not of mortal harm.
  • 3. Courtesy, uprightness and prudence will help you deal with unforeseen events.
  • 4. Be charitable and help your neighbor in need, especially victims of accidents.
  • 5. Cars shall not be for you an expression of power and domination, and an occasion of sin.
  • 6. Charitably convince the young and not-so-young not to drive when they are not in a fit condition to do so.
  • 7. Support the families of accident victims.
  • 8. Bring guilty motorists and their victims together, at the appropriate time, so that they can undergo the liberating experience of forgiveness.
  • 9. On the road, protect the more vulnerable party.
  • 10. Feel responsible towards others.
So let me get this straight... all is right in the world at the moment, huh? There's no war, famine, pestilence, global warming, crime, murder, overpopulation, so on and so forth.

And the Pope, along with the rest of his clergy, had nothing better to do so they decided to kill some free time by sitting around and hammering out some holy driving guidelines? Alrighty then...

Will these be included on the next DMV test?

ADDITION: This last week or two driving north on I-25 has been pure hell. Someone at Cosmix needs to redo the North Nevada on ramp getting on to I-25 (around Rockrimmon and Woodmen), and whoever originally designed it needs to be fired. Pronto. That bottle neck causes stop-n-go traffic - each and evry day - all the way past Fillmore. It's insane! Oh, and another thing... people in this state have NO clue how to merge onto a freeway. GET A CLUE PEOPLE!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Personal Computing

PC gaming... just one of my many passions - like living the beer life; working out fervently so I can live the beer life without carrying around a keg for a belly; writing about the beer life; coming up with ways to make money living the beer life (bars, beer tours, etc.); PC gaming, and writing the never-ending novel. And of course - loving my wife!

Over the last several months I've been testing out a few items that have since become "official" PC gaming peripherals of the Mad Man. These are items that I believe all PC gamers should get their grubby mitts on ASAP in order to improve their overall gaming experience.

First up we have Bigfoot Networks Killer NIC (network interface card). This beast really does help eliminate the lag and latency associated with online gaming. Check out my review of this networking maestro here for all the details as to why you need one of these sooner rather then later. Especially if you're brave (or is that stupid?) enough to be running Vista. It comes in two versions ( The M1 has an MSRP of $279.99, the K1 has an MSRP of $199.99), and both do a bang up job.

Next up... Logitech's G15 gaming keyboard. My editor Steven said it's the best keyboard he's come across (and that's saying something since he's tested so many lately). Although this bad boy is retailing for $99, you can pick it up off eBay for half that (I did). With a plethora of gaming features - 64 programmable macro keys, a little LCD to tell you all sorts of interesting things, MP3 compatible, backlit with a sweet blueish color to game at night without the lights on (S.T.A.L.K.E.R. takes on a whole new creepy meaning my friends)... you can't go wrong. With a few weeks of test driving this thing, it is oh so sweet.

Moving on... if you don't wanna go to all the hassle of setting up a 5.1 surround sound system for your PC, do I have a great alternative for you! Turtle Beach has one serious set of gaming headphones - the Ear Force HPA2 - are the best I've heard (and I've tested plenty in the last 6 months). In my recent review I gave it a perfect 10/10. It's the only set of headphones we've given a perfect mark to. For a limited time you can snag a pair of these insanely comfy cans for a mere $99 (normally $129.00). The biggest bonus is its ability to thump out true ear drum rattling bass! Something no other headphones have been able to impress me with. These do!

Lastly... if you've never used a specialized gaming surface for your mouse - like me - do yourself a favor and try one out. The Razer eXactMat friggin rocks! This large, anodized aluminum mat has two surfaces (one for speedy action/adventure and FPS games that require high-sensitivity, and one for controlling RPG and RTS and other low-sensitivity games). I didn't think such a thing would make so much of a difference... but it does!

It's been a good long while since I did my "What I'm BLANK-ing List," so...

S.T.A.L.K.E.R. (kick ass fun, and kick as HARD), City of Heroes (& Villains), Overlord demo (this is gonna be a great, fun game folks!), Dungeon Runners (a hysterical new freetail MMO from NCsoft)

Watching (TV): Rescue Me (GREAT show!), Hell's Kitchen (guilty pleasure), Meadowlands (Showtime's new, very bizarre, series), Pirate Master (Jack Sparrow would kick all their asses), Deadwood

Watching (Movies): Breach (really good "slow burn" thriller), Spider-Man 3 (somewhat disappointing)

Listening To: Army of Anyone (lead singer of Filter + guitarist and bassist from Stone Temple Pilots = ROCKIN'!), the Spencer Durham Group, Pillar (outstanding Christian rock band), my buddy Terry Terrones (aka ColoradoJoe) Podcast, Skillet (another great Christian rock band)

Reading: Dan Brown's Angels & Demons (super good, better than The Da Vinci Code!) and From the Ashes of Angels by Andrew Collins (a very intriguing pseudo-religious viewpoint)

Writing: Been on a 2-month "break" from working on my never ending novel, but I'm almost at page 100; writing a preview for the upcoming game Loki

Waiting For: Big Brother 8 (another guilty pleasure - LOVE this show!); Bioshock; Hellgate London; and September 1 - we're going to see the KING! (BB King's Blues Festival @ Red Rocks, with BB King, Etta James and Al Green - WOOOHOOOOO!)

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Jamaica Me Even More Crazy!

Fran and I have been trying to figure out what causes the magical feeling that washes over you when you arrive in Jamaica. What makes it so special, so... "ire"? The Jamaican people are definitely a huge part of it. Everyone is so laid back and happy that you'd swear they were born in a recliner. I guess when you mix sun, Rum, Reggae, Red Stripe and Ganja... who WOULDN'T be "ire", right?!

After getting through customs we found the Couples Welcome Office easily enough. Before we made it to the wide, cherry wood doors a friendly Couples staffer walked up and grabbed our bags out of our hands. "Your vacation starts now, these are my responsibility now."

Now that's what I'm talkin' about!

As we trudged up to the welcome desk to get checked in I spied a small bar off to my left. Like a deer drawn to headlights I drifted closer and found that it came with two taps sporting the Red Stripe logo. The handful of empty bar stools looked lonely. Letting Fran do the dirty work (she was at that time still not a beer fan) I mozied closer and "shook hands" with one of the seats. It was as happy to see me as I was to be sitting in it. But no one was behind the counter and I couldn't get anyone's attention. The Red Stripe was calling me.

About this time a fellow traveler (also a Professional Drinker) saddled up to the bar to meet one of the seats - it was Travis. I vaguely remember us cracking a joke or two as we waited for someone - ANYONE! - to start pouring. After a few polite coughs, another friendly Couples staffer appeared and the suds started flowing. Hallelujah! "Vacation" had officially commenced!

I took two Red Stripes and headed off to find Fran, as happy as a child with a shinny new present on Christmas morn. She was just finishing up the check in process when I greeted her with a huge smile and a cup 'o Red Stripe. She took. She drank. She liked!

We took a seat in the comfy waiting area, but no sooner had my posterior touched down then I noticed that my cup was empty. I mozied back over to the bar and informed the young lady serving beers to other thirsty travelers that my cup had "sprung a leak" and I needed a new one - along with a refill of course. Like a Rasta man with Ganja, my cup (several of them I think) was instantly filled.

"Ire" had gotten hold of us...

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Traffic 411

Got a question for all you Colorado Springs Gazette folks (Andy, Terry, Warren, etc.)...

What's up with the traffic flux on Thursdays here?

I've been keeping track of this odd phenomena for the last 2 years now, so I know this isn't just a bizarre coincidence. It starts in the mornings when I'm walking our dog Osa around the block. The number of cars that leave on Thursday mornings (and ONLY on Thursday mornings) is double what it is the other four days of the week. When we hit I-25 on the north end of down, the traffic is atrocious. What's up with that?! Does everyone go to church on Thursday morning, are there more schools in session? Is there something that Fran and I are missing... like a beer tasting or something?!?!

Speaking of schools... I can NOT believe the number of cars that are added to I-25 during the school year. It's absolutely insane! Every day this week (since school let out) we are CRUISING to work. There's NO traffic! This will last right up until school starts back up. Again, this is something I've noticed over the last 3 years or so (we live on the far north side of town and work way down on the south side and traverse the whole of Cosmix every day), so I know it's not just me. What's up with that? Are there that many kids that have to be driven to school here?!


Friends in Low Places

So this is what Osa does while we're gone during the day, huh?

* Thanks for the pic Steven!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Vista Through a Cracked Looking Glass

So lately I've been having several interesting discussions with a myriad of folks about Vista, Games For Windows Live, the actual two games for Vista (Halo 2 and Shadowrun - which I'm writing a review for at this very moment and will be posted on GameDaily on Friday) and the assortment of botches each one demonstrates. We're having one over on Terry Terrones' (the Colorado Springs Gazette's video game guru) blog, As the Gaming World Turns - if you care to participate.

My buddy Steven, knowing full well how I've turned from being a proponent of Bill Gates & Croonies - er, I mean Company, found this flow chart (created by Brian Briggs over at which I HAD to put up for you all to see. And laugh at. Enjoy!

(Click on the image to enlarge)

UPDATE: Just found an interesting article over on a site called DailyGame, which is awfully close (too close perhaps?) to our own AOL GameDaily. Sounds like a job for lawyers. Bleh. Anywho... the author of this rant sounds as pissed off as I am about Microsoft!

Hey Billy G... the natives are getting restless! Could be that "The Pow Wow Starts Now!" Boooya!

Monday, June 04, 2007

Who da Big Cheese?!

This is so funny I had to pass it along. It's a from the Bigger Than Cheeses website.

(Click on the image to enlarge)

* Thanks for sending this along Steven!

Friday, June 01, 2007

Microsoft's Meltdown?

I recently wrote an article about the troubles with Vista, Microsoft's newest operating system. It was not flattering. While Vista might be laden with lots of "wow" that will appeal to Average Joe Computer User, the reason many of us in the gaming industry are crucifying it is based solely on the massive marketing hype that this new OS would bring a renaissance to PC gaming. Oh how I wish we were looking at a different Vista.

If this is a renaissance, I'd hate to see an inquisition.

My fellow GameDaily editors and I have been discussing the copious amounts of bad press Microsoft has garnered of late. Vista continues to disappoint; fully baked component driver's remain unavailable 6 months after release (which begs the question - why is NVIDIA, ATI and Creative having so much trouble stabilizing their drivers in the first place); games (both new and old) need to be individually tweaked in order to operate correctly, or in same cases - at all... all this from an operating system that was supposed to revolutionize and revitalize PC gaming.

If this is a revolution, I'd prefer the status quo... which in this case is Windows XP.

But the trials and tribulations of Vista are just the proverbial tip of the problematic iceberg for Microsoft. In conjunction with what can only be classified as a miserable launch failure, two other key components of the whole "The WOW Starts Now" campaign can't even get off the launch pad. Two games, Halo 2 and Shadowrun (the development companies for both of these games are owned and operated by Microsoft), were to christen the arrival of Games for Windows - Live. This application allows users of the Xbox Live service to finally play against PC users in the titular showdown of which gamer is better - but only for games that support it. Halo 2 was supposed to release way back on May 8. It has been delayed twice and STILL isn't out. Early final beta reviews are not flattering by the way, but Microsoft hasn't said a peep about when we can expect to see Master Chief unveiled. Maybe he's busy covering up. Shadowrun dropped yesterday, and I'm due to receive my review copy tomorrow... so stay tuned.

Vista, Live and both of these games have been in development for years... and this is the best they can do? If Microsoft can't get their own games to work with their own operating system using their own communication application... why the @!#% bother?

Maybe the folks up in Redmond, WA, are drinking too much brew (Pyramid, Widmer Brothers and a slew of other fantastic microbreweries are located in the Great Northwest) or smoking too much doob. Or maybe Microsoft is banking on their next great invention... a surface table top PC, which, I must admit looks insanely cool. But then, Vista looked insanely cool too. Take a look for yourself...

So... what do you think? Is Microsoft sliding down the backside of Monopoly Mountain careening towards an immovable pine tree, or do they have a smokin' ace up their sleeve? Let me hear your thoughts.

Illegal Friday

Rush Limbaugh is a pompous wind bag, but this diatribe on illegal immigration is dead on.

And while we're talking about illegals... this is interesting:

From the HAYS (KS) DAILY NEWS by R. W. Yeager Norton, Ks., (Fri, 18 May 2007)

We need to show more sympathy for these people. They travel miles in the heat, they risk their lives crossing a border, they don't get paid enough wages, they do jobs that others won't do or are afraid to do, they live in crowded conditions among a people who speak a different language, they rarely see their families, and they face adversity all day every day.

I'm not talking about illegal Mexicans; I'm talking about our troops. Doesn't it seem strange that the Democrats are willing to lavish all kinds of social benefits on illegal's, but don't support our troops and are now threatening to defund them?

* (thanks for passing this along Larry)