Patrick's Rants


Delivery Man

Filed under: On video,Reviews — site admin @ 8:55 pm

We went to see “Delivery Man” last night. The movie has been out for a little while so the theater was not terribly crowded – just like we like it.
The question is – and how can any man answer this – how and when do you decide to reveal your identity to over 100 questioning youths? Vaughn plays David Wozniak a man who “donated” hundreds of times to a sperm bank using the alias “Starbuck” resulting in 533 children. When the children bring a lawsuit asking for his name, he struggles with the life he used to live and the life he has grown accustomed to. Vaughn brings his usual humor to this role along with something else, his ever more prominent life lessons. In this case, actions have consequences and one has to decide how to deal with them for better or worse.


This Is The End

Filed under: In theaters,Reviews — site admin @ 10:25 pm

Went to see This Is The End in the theater last night. With the completely zany cast of characters, and a review of “crude humor” from my friend’s cousin, I was all for seeing this movie. This week has been a little tragic and slipping into a dark theater with Seth Rogen and Jonah Hill seemed like the right thing to do.

First of all, Harkins was packed. Monday night and all the college kids seemed to be up for the same thing we were. The movie really gets rolling when James Franco opens the his front door for a raging party. Everyone plays themselves in this crude comedy. And by everyone – well – it’s everyone. Without giving it all away, there are many layers of interpretation you could walk away with. The humor, while crude, is also self deprecating and introspective. Imagine every asshole actor coming to grips with their own attitudes and their effect on the rest of the world as well as each other. If the end of the world could be funny, this is the way that it would be.

I do have to admit that even for a comedy, there was enough mixed drama and action that I jumped a time or two in my seat. There were plenty of twists an unexpected occurrences that we stuck to our seats until the credits rolled.


What? A Vacuum Cleaner? Yep!

Filed under: Reviews — site admin @ 7:35 am

We recently had to replace our aging vacuum cleaner with a new one. The model we decided on is the long named “Bissell Lift-Off MultiCyclonic Pet Upright Vacuum with Detachable Canister, Bagless, 89Q9″. This is a great vacuum cleaner, has plenty of suction, the main body detaches so you can take it out to your car or use it on the stairs. The pet brush is operated on suction so I was a little skeptical but it gets a pretty fast spin to clean off the bed covers that all of our cats sleep on when we aren’t looking. The bin detaches easily to empty – I prefer to empty after each run. With pet hair filling the canister you really should empty frequently since it seems to fill the most around the back where it’s harder to see. There are two switches at the top of the removable works that run the vacuum motor and the brush. Of course when the vacuum is in the upright position the brush is disabled so you don’t have to worry about the brush burning your carpet while using the extension and tools.

And. This vacuum is super quiet compared to others we have owned. The cats don’t run from it and even my nephew said he was going to tell his mom to get one.

While this is a great machine, the one minor drawback, as I see it, is the design of the cleaning extension. The different tools are smaller in diameter to the first segment of the extension, but then the second segment before the flexible hose constricts down by about 1/2”. So far, this has not created any issues with stuff getting stuck in the extension tube, but it could. And since the tube is telescoping (which saves space on the back of the machine) I was able to get a hair pin (can you say three sets of girl’s hair?) stuck between the two sleeves which took some work to get worked free.
This is a great vacuum cleaner and it might even inspire me to finally vacuum out my car.


Full Disclosure

Filed under: Reviews — site admin @ 9:06 am

In light of new and/or clarified FTC rules regarding reviews – if I review a book or movie or tv show and that review includes a link, and you click on the link, and you buy a book or movie from oh, say Amazon, then you should know the FTC considers that compensation for the review. Except in five years not one Amazon link has been clicked and so far no review should be considered a “paid” review – except that someday someone might click on a link and buy a book or movie that I have reviewed.

And to date, I have not received any books or movies for free. And Dan Brown still hasn’t called me about his geek characters 😉


The Lost Symbol – Final

Filed under: Books,Reviews — site admin @ 9:01 am

I managed to finish up The Lost Symbol yesterday. Dan Brown keeps his fast paced style that sucks you along like a riptide. My earlier review of the computer characters might have seemed a touch harsh. The fact is Mr. Brown seems to have to have tried to create characters out of Google, search engines in general and lackluster computer nerds. These are all supporting cast members and might as well be part of the voiceless crowd of extras. He could have left out the cheese puff eating computer geek and no one would have noticed. The character is lightly developed and before you realize it the last page has been read and our IP cracking geek has disappeared like smoke wisps from a freshly extinguished candle.

Brown does spend time developing his main characters, a bizarre mix that does not easily lend itself to knowing who to trust. He maintains his fast paced romp through Washington DC, history, noetic science and a little religion – you might forget that this all occurs in only a twelve hour time frame. With each turn of the page there is the chance that the reader will think, “I didn’t see that coming,” and Brown does his absolute best to continue to surprise page after page.

He also seems to be making amends for the religious backlash to his prior works. I’m not sure if it was purposeful or if the Masons truly believe the concept of a “universal god”, but Brown lays it on thick through the character dialog.

In the end, the writing is fast-paced and engaging with more than a jolt or two on the psyche. Don’t read this book in bed, you won’t want to get to sleep.


The Lost Symbol

Filed under: Books,Reviews — site admin @ 10:21 am

My wife pre-ordered The Lost Symbol and it showed up last week. I was slow to get started reading it, but have made it nearly halfway through now. It seems not quite as fast paced as The Da Vinci Code or Angels & Demons but it’s been a pretty good read so far. The only thing that has tripped me personally has been his description of computer tracing and searching techniques. For this reason, I’m not waiting until I finish the book to write about his insight into the minds of otherwise brilliant minded computer geeks… actually these guys will have to turn in their geek cards. On page 107, our intrepid meta/mega-search guru runs a traceroute command to find the location of a server showing only its IP address.

Trish typed the sequence of commands to ping all the “hops” between her control room’s machine…

Series of commands? Oh Dan. traceroute For those impaired with a Windows computer: tracert.exe
The next paragraph is rather computerly (is that even a word?) mundane, and then turn to 108 for this “gem”

Her ping, for some reason, had hit a network device that swallowed it rather than bouncing it back. “It looks like my traceroute got blocked,” Trish said. Is that even possible?

Possible? Yes. Trivial even. Turn off ICMP replies at the firewall, or router, or… you get my drift. They go on to discuss running whois, except it’s written ‘who is’, and our computer programmer, Trish, pops over to the web interface for the whois query. Really? The web interface? Turn in your pocket protector too. Right now. You are not a geek. Just skimming chapter one of Hacking Exposed: Network Security Secrets and Solutions, Sixth Edition will show that what they are doing is pretty simple stuff. And although Trish thinks of whois as “lowbrow” it does what the character Kathrine wants, tells you who this IP* number belongs to.

Except not in this case.

In this case, they have to place a phone call to a higher form of computer geek. One who sits home alone on a Sunday watching football while tapping away on his laptop. $2000.00 they offer to pay him to figure out who owns a particular server. Enter the next geek failing,

“Trish, this IP has a funky format. It’s written in a protocol that isn’t even publicly available yet.”

Which means that there is no way they accessed this server across the internet. Period, end of story. I know it’s supposed to add to the mystique of the story. In this case it threw me like a mechanical bull. A protocol that is not publicly released is like a blind person walking an incomplete bridge, there is no way to get across the big gap in the Golden Gate Bridge and there is no way to see across the other side to know where it ends.

Dan Brown, you could have called me to ask about this trivial computer networking stuff. I would have helped you for $1000.00, heck maybe even just lunch.

Despite this partial review, I’m picking the book up again today. I may finish this weekend unless I get a call from Dan. It’s probably too late on this since the book has already been printed and I have been swept much further along than this detour might let you believe.

*I’m sorry non-geeks, this is Internet Protocol.


Diablo Burger

Filed under: Reviews — site admin @ 9:07 am

Diablo Burger gets four stars
As I stood in line at the Diablo Burger in just off Heritage Square in downtown Flagstaff, I listened to a woman order her burger well done. The clerk tried to talk her out of a burger zapped of all the delicious juices that drip from a just right piece of lean meat, but she wouldn’t even let him talk. I didn’t get any burgers that day. Instead it was a giant bag of fries, delectably and delightfully seasoned, served in a paper bag like a sack lunch. I’m not sure all of the spices and herbs so liberally applied to the tubers, but they were fantastic. I had them with their Hatch chili mayo. The mayo could have been a bit spicier, it didn’t have as much tang as I thought it would but I wouldn’t throw it out.

Of course the next time I ordered from Diablo Burger it included burgers. There are a number of different styles – including the surprise special that includes whatever was in the box of locally grown and harvested vegetables. All burgers come served on an English muffin branded with the db logo and this time I ordered the Blake. While I was waiting for the burger to cook – the counter attendant in true bartender style – asks,

“Patrick, would you like something to drink while you’re waiting?”

I mentioned that I had been thinking about trying an, “Old Rasputen” (the cases of available beers is on display in the small dining area) and I notice him make a face. Not sure what triggered his response I asked him what the look was for. His reply, “stop thinking about it, you won’t regret it.” I took the plunge and ordered one. I was not completely ready, although a beer named for a notoriously nasty Russian should not really surprise anyone with its stoutness and 9% alcohol content. If stout isn’t your style, there are a number of other flavors available all from the same small brewery in California.

The burgers were great, the fries still to die for and the beer, I’m working my way through the varieties.

If you go to Diablo Burger take your cash – part of their mission is to keep as much money in Flagstaff as possible and credit card fees to processors in Delaware don’t make the cut.


Evidence of Recession

Filed under: General,Money,Politics,Reviews — site admin @ 10:08 am

We’ve had to spend a decent amount of time at the malls lately. My brother-in-law is getting married in a couple of weeks so there is the need to purchase a little bit of clothing. At the Flagstaff Mall people were everywhere. I don’t know how many were actually making purchases, but the mall was pretty full.

Saturday was the bridal shower which I and J definitely were not going to attend. We went to the Arizona Mills Mall and shopped for wedding attire for him while we waited out the shower. We found pants and shoes, both of which would be usable for school next year.

After making our purchases and walking through the busy stores and the busy mall thorough fair we stopped in at the Rain Forest Cafe for dinner. Meals average about $20.00 per plate and the place was busy. The food took a little while to get to the table and I started to wonder if the kitchen was short staffed. Once it arrived it was delicious. I had the three item plate, steak, ribs and shrimp, J had the appetizer buffalo wings. The steak was tender and tasty. The ribs fell off the bone and were perfectly seasoned. My shrimp were on skewers, breaded with a little bit of coconut and were just barely on the dry side. Next time I may give in and order the paella.

I find it interesting that a restaurant that attempts to promote ecology and preservation would have regular flushing urinals and handled faucets on the bathroom sinks. The Rain Forest Cafe’s web site (and that of the parent company) rely almost exclusively on Flash technology. I was attempting to find information on their conservation positions but the site, crippled by forcing Flash on its users, did not appear to have conservation information in my brief tour.


September Dawn

Filed under: On video,Religion,Reviews — site admin @ 10:57 pm

September Dawn gets four starsOn September 11, religious zealots set out to murder innocent men, women and children. Of course I’m not writing about September 11, 2001 now. This was September 11, 1857 and the religious zealots were members of the Mormon church, finishing a siege on a wagon train that started days earlier. September Dawn, a portrayal of the Mountain Meadow Massacre is a factual event that shows another unpleasant facet of religion and fanaticism. The Meadow Mountain Massacre is a stain on the Mormon church. This portrayal places the blame at the top, with Brigham Young. Naturally, Young, and the entire LDS church deny that the church had any prior knowledge of the impending death of the wagon train members.

For a more in depth history of the Mormon Church’s murderous spree in Utah, read The Mountain Meadows Massacre


Just Click On The Link

Filed under: Reviews,TV — site admin @ 7:33 am

I noticed last night that instead offering news, the local Fox affiliate seemed to be driving page views on their web site.

…cops are looking for the suspects to get a description check out our web site

The very next story did something similar. In other words instead of using the web site to provide complementary information, they neglected to broadcast it altogether. Now Fox runs their news for an hour and a half so it’s not like they miss out when compared to the half hour news of the other channels.

Not everyone has internet access and if what they are reporting is that important they should at least give the information with follow up or additional information online. Instead they are attempting to herd people onto their web page.

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