Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Thunderstorm + Volcano. . . at night!

Strangest thing I've ever seen:  A volcano erupting during a thunderstorm at night.  http://megagalerias.terra.cl/galerias/index.cfm?id_galeria=30734  Surreal.  Otherworldly.  Beautiful, yet creepy looking.

I found a link to the quoted text of the DNS vulnerability explanation which leaked today.  This is actually a pretty good explanation.  http://beezari.livejournal.com/141796.html  At this moment, hackers are working to write software to exploit this.  That means you could be trying to go to your bank website and get a fake site which is capturing your password information.  It's a little scary what's possible with this vulnerability in the wild.  Half of the ISPs are not yet patched.  Is yours?

Monday, July 21, 2008

Chicago pictures

As promised, here are my Chicago pictures.  I only whipped out the camera when I went on a double-decker bus tour, which was worth the money and provided the perfect way to kill an afternoon in Chicago on a clear and beautiful day.

The deep dish pizza at Lou Malnati's was really good, with fresh ingredients.  I liked it as well as I like the pizza at Gino's East, almost.  Then, I tried the deep dish pizza at Giordano's. It was pricey, but holy wow the amount of cheese they put on there is amazing, and they put the sauce on top like the other places.  You'd never know by looking that I got a sausage pizza.  There were whole patties of Italian sausage under the cheese under the sauce.

I also took too many pictures at the Blackhawks Convention, but being a hockey fan, I couldn't really resist.  Nothing special, just some interesting jerseys, outrageous jersey prices, and some really cool skills competitions.

See the whole set here:


Sirius orbit

The manual for my Sirius docking station at home said to aim my antenna toward the sky over Minnesota.  At certain times of the evening, it would start cutting out, so I tried to figure out why.  There was some confusing information in online forums speculating why, then I found this image which illustrated my problem. 


It's not one bird, it's three, and they're in a nifty elliptical orbit with a nice pivot over Canada.  I aimed the antenna a little more directly north, and that fixed the problem.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Chicago Rules (in Summer)

Thanks to a sale on Southwest, I just got home from a little trip to Chicago.  It was cool to chill on a warm clear day in the spray of the Buckingham Fountains and watch the sailboats out on the lake with the skyline over my shoulder.  The last time I was there, I was way out in the suburbs in the worst part of the winter and it snowed at least six inches every other day I was there.  It's great in the summer.  This time I attended the 1st Annual Blackhawks Convention, which was hockey cool.  They had puck handling, passing, and shooting skills games set up, which were fun.  Silent auctions.  Autograph signing sessions.  Also, I attended a separate event, a seminar to help entrepreneurs organize their business, and I learned that I need to put my rental properties in a trust and form an LLC to manage them. . . for tax reasons and liability reasons.  I'll save a bundle!  I learned some fascinating tax strategies.  I learned about self-directed IRAs and how to get an IRA with a checkbook you can control for investing in your own ventures.  I wish I had this information a few years ago.  The legal fees are all on the front end, but the benefits will come at tax time, and when I die.  Death and taxes are the two sure things, so I may as well set it up right.

Chicago photos will be up soon.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Colorado photos

I finally got the vacation pictures uploaded.  The first bunch of pictures is from a cookout/party at Adam and JoLynn's neighbor's house.  His name is Jonathan, a flight attendant, the guy who organized the river rafting trip.  I don't have pictures from the river rafting because I didn't have a waterproof camera.


Jonathan's pictures of the rafting trip are here:


Monday, July 14, 2008

Colorado Vacation recovery

I took a weekend trip to Colorado to go white water rafting with friends.  I saw some majestic views and got a sunburn on my nose.  I met lots of great people and had a ton of fun.  Photos will be posted soon.  Here's a preview from a Friday hiking trip around the south rim of Roxborough State Park.

And a quick shot of the Rockies from Highway 103:

Friday, July 4, 2008

Natural Gas Price Hike

The gas company bumped prices by 20%.  That's unusual in the summer.  Now I'm paying about $50 a month for hot water and dry clothes.  This bill usually runs around $30 in the summer.  Maybe I should get one of those instant-on tankless hot water heaters.  Time to do some math.  This would reduce my gas bill by approximately $45 a month.  It would increase my electric bill by approximately $18 a month.  It costs about $490 shipped, and installation would cost around $250.  I would have to use it for 28 months to break even at those prices.  Maybe I'll just turn down the thermostat on the hot water heater a few degrees.