Monday, August 25, 2008

Robot Twitter feeds

Just as your X-Box 360 could secretly be blogging, NASA's robots, probes, and rovers love the internet. Here are some Twitter feeds of unfeeling machines exploring space:

Phoenix Mars Lander: Maybe the first Twitter to make blog headlines with its discovery of water on Mars, the Phoenix Mars Lander is already a staaar on the internwobs.

New Horizons: The Pluto-Kuiper Belt Mission is keeping us updated on when NASA posts mission updates, but it also gives you some interesting and fun facts about its destination. Hopefully there is enough trivia to keep it updated until it reaches Pluto in 2015.

NASA SDO HMI: Here is it's own description -- "I am the HMI instrument on board NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory. I am a product of Lockheed & Stanford University. Look how sleek I am!" I feel like that's all I really need to say.

Cassini-Huygens: The Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn and Titan has been gathering information and photos of Saturn's moons. The feed might be the least romanticized, but it updates with awesome fly-by pictures.

So uh, add all these dudes on Twitter! Space!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Restaurant Week

So this past wee was Restaurant Week here in the Diz. It technically ended today, but there are definitely restaurants that have extended their deals through next, so scope it out.

Against my better judgment, I ended up having two delicious RW meals, one at Ceiba & one at Georgia Brown's.

Cane grilled jumbo shrimp

Ceiba, while delicious, was just not quite worth the money. The savings incurred were about $10, but I had to have that Pisco sour. It was delicious, and the shrimp was spicy and fruity (shown with pineapple salsa, the shrimp was glazed in Chipotle BBQ sauce).

Fried chicken!Georgia Brown's was delicious, as always, but I fell again into the cocktail trap because of their delicious delicious Savannah Dew Drop drink. It's worth it, I promise. Also the fried chicken was perfection, and the portions were generous (an understatement; that is two meals right there). The appetizer I had was the Andouille sausage, which was like a tiny, spicy BBQ dish all on its own. Also, how many appetizers come with mashed potatoes? Probably not enough of them, that's what. The key lime pie dessert was alright, nothing thrilling, but at that point I was so full of delicious it was hard to power through.

Edit from Rob: K is right, a ton are continuing the week's festivities, and they can be found here.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Freaking terrifying

I've always had a strange obsession with mountain climbing, even though I've never done it myself. I suppose it's the fact that I just love the mountains. But the latest incident on K2 is just absolutely terrifying to read about. K2 is a harder mountain to climb than even Everest, and each year, groups attempting to summit are given a window of only a few days. Almost every year someone dies, but this year 11 have perished as of right night, with more possible.

Nick Rice, a climber who was keeping a blog during this year's attempt at the summit, wrote about the tragedy as it was happening. He had turned back and wasn't caught in the ice fall, but he knew some of the climbers. The part that seems most harrowing to me is this:

Cas, who downclimbed the bottleneck, and the Italian, Marco, who was rescued by Pemba after being discovered laying in the snow, with gloves off, harness half off, and unconscious are also heading down. Base camp is quite somber thanks to the enormous loss of life in such a short amount of time. The American Doctor, Eric, and a few others are working on the heli-pad and making a triage tent in preparation for the receival of the severely frostbitten climbers. As their limbs begin to thaw out, they will experience tremendous pain, and will need some very potent pain management.
It's worth reading everything from dispatch 62 until today's note. That said, I think I am going to go ahead and read the whole thing.

Here's hoping that those left are alright, and thoughts go out to the families of those who perished. Certainly, these climbers knew what they were getting themselves into, but it's always sad to see something like this happen.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Terps Football

It is now 25 days, 4 hours, and 50 minutes until the UMD Terps kick off their football season. Sure there is a QB battle, sure the running back might need some work, and sure the coach is restricting media access. But it's football! I get to go see football, I get to be a part of a college football fan base! And you know what, they might not be too bad this year. I really cannot wait, as college football is what really got me into the game (I was born and will die a UW Huskies fan) and I've never had the chance to be a part of a fanbase. Delaware, you'd best prepare to get your Blue Hen ass kicked by the Terrapins. We're more fierce than Turtle No. 72.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Dr. Horrible!

I meant to write about this earlier, but if you haven't watched Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog do it now. Take a break at work, do whatever. The songs are great, the acting is hilarious, and the whole thing is surprisingly good. It's here on Hulu, or right below. Go now, and be happy.

It doesn't suck to be this terp...

This Terp being Turtle No. 72 in Rock Creek Park, who discovered a marijuana field which then led to the arrest of some poor college kid. Way to kick some ass, take some names, and nibble on a berry or two.
You're my hero Turtle No. 72.

Monday, July 28, 2008

I hear chef Spike's cooking down the street (Bah humbug)

Well, since we seem to enjoy the ground beef patties on a delicious bun so much here at the blog, I figured this needed a post. Spike from the latest season of Top Chef has opened his own burger joint in Washington, DC. Good Stuff Eatery, on Pennsylvania Avenue SE (take the Capitol South metro stop), is a wonderful experience that ought to be had by anyone looking for a good, quick dinner or lunch. After reading about the joint in a few different places, I went there last Friday and came away suitably impressed.

We were greeted by an older gentleman at the door (who we later learned was Spike's dad) who had a big smile and made us feel quite welcome (which is key in a new restaurant... it's hard to break out of habits, so it's easier when they make it so inviting). On walking in, I noticed a fedora-adorned head standing at the front of the line delivering milkshakes and orders. It was Spike! Our very own quasi-celebrity! We got in the long, but quick-moving line, and and went past the cooking line, where everything looked and smelled delicious. The staff was friendly, though the loud music made it hard to hear (though really, I can't complain since it was Jet Airliner by The Steve Miller Band). After placing our order, we were given those little buzzer thingies to let us know when it was ready. We went to the dipping bar to grab some sauces for our fries, and didn't get what we expected. Sure there was ketchup and mustard, but we also had 4 different types of mayos. I don't remember one of them, but the other three were mango mayo, chipotle mayo, and Old Bay mayo. The mango mayo was overpowered by the fries (more on that in a second) but the Old Bay and chipotle mayos made great compliments to our side dish.

While waiting for our number (V had gotten a table outside) Spike had a milkshake either accidentally made or done for this purpose as a marketing ploy, but held it up and said "Toasted Marshmallow milkshake, free." I was a ways back, so I decided to let others clambor for it, but when no one did, I thought "hell, why not?" and grabbed the shake. It was what I had planned on getting before I opted for the root beer float. It came garnished with two toasted marshmallows and was delicious. My float was alright, though nothing spectacular, and V got a Milky Way milkshake that she raved about.

The main delight, however, was the hamburger. I had the Colletti's Smokehouse which came with a patty of beef, bacon, bbq sauce, and onion rings. It was probably the best non-homemade burger I've had in ages, and handily beats Five Guys, my previous DC fave. The bacon was tasty and the BBQ sauce didn't overwhelm the other flavors. V had the Uncle D's Chili 'N Cheddar, which from my one bite was also delicious. As to our fries, we didn't opt for normal fries, instead going for the Village Fries which come seasoned with thyme, rosemary, and cracked pepper. They were amazing, though as mentioned earlier, overwhelmed some of the dipping sauces. That said, they were so good plain that no sauce was needed.

With a large order of fries split between us and a burger apiece, V and I were far more stuffed than I had anticipated. The prices are hardly cheap ($31 for two burgers, a large fry, and two ice cream drinks) but they aren't prohibitively expensive either. I can't forget to mention that the joint has beer on tap as well, Blue Moon and Sam Adams I believe. I may have found a new favorite quick eat spot in DC, and already have plans to go back next Friday when V has a friend in town.

Tiny Vikings

I laughed at this for quite a while. Good way to start the week:

Thursday, July 24, 2008


This just seems excessive...

It reminds me of one of my all-time favorite commercials, the exploding mosquito.

Pulled Chicken

So, struggling to come up with new and creative dinner ideas for the GF and me, I turned to the Seattle PI for some tasty recipes. The first one I tried was an absolute winner and about the easiest meal I have made in ages. This pulled chicken sandwich was tasty as they gave the recipe, but I modified a few things and it came out even better. If you add about 2 more tablespoons of vinegar and 2/3 to 1 Tablespoons (remember, 3 teaspoons to the tablespoon!) of Tabasco, the recipe really shines. I am not a big vinegar fan, even in a normal barbeque sauce, but for some reason I think it really adds to a pulled meat sandwich.

For BBQ sauce, you could make your own but that defeats the laziness factor of this (took me only 10 minutes to make). Instead, I used my favorite from-the-bottle sauce, Sweet Baby Rays. I used the original, but their spicy recipe is good too (if you use that, you can cut out most of the Tabasco). And for chicken, I did as they said (lazy!) and used a rotisserie chicken bought at Safeway.

Overall, this was a great dinner, and one big sandwich filled me up. There was enough for probably 4 generous sandwiches. Next on my list to try, this and this.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Top Nerd Movies of the Summer (Caution, spoilers?)

This isn't a ranked list, because I don't have the patience to sit and mete out the pros and cons of each film, but here are the first nerd movies I have seen this summer. So, in chronological order of when I saw them:

01. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (05/22/2008)
The first movie I saw for the summer, and it fit perfectly into the summer blockbuster, popcorn movie mold. Which is what I was expecting out of it. Maybe it's because in an attempt to bring some of my roommates up to speed we watched Temple of Doom right before we went out to see this one, but the camp and ridiculousness felt right at home in the Indiana Jones universe. I know they were these super butch action movies or whatever in every dude's mind, but c'mon. Evil monkeys? Hilarious seduction scenes? Explicit racism? Spielberg through and through.

02. Iron Man (06/12/2008)
SO much better than I anticipated it being. Robert Downey Jr. was clearly a perfect choice to embody the boozin', hard livin', reckless millionaire Tony Stark. The origin tweaks transitioned smoothly into the new universe Marvel Studios are building for their heroes.

03. The Incredible Hulk (06/13/2008)
Seeing this in a double feature with Iron Man made more sense in theory, especially because Marvel Studios is clearly gearing up for some sort of ridiculous Nick Fury movie, but the contrast between the films was, well, stark (hurr hurr). While Iron Man was both fun and retained just enough gravitas to make itself meaningful, The Incredible Hulk had a lot of dudes breaking shit. I enjoyed the parts of the Hulk that were sans Hulk, but after a while the violence grew both tedious and Michael Bay-style incomprehensible.

04. WALL-E (06/27/2008)
Pixar has had some relative misses for me (I wasn't crazy about Monsters Inc., Cars was a letdown as well), but they still produce movies that are all solidly a B- or higher in quality. Wall-E is a solid A+, if only because it is a cartoon that doesn't talk down to its audience, and in fact has no target audience. Aaah I might do a separate post on this.

05. The Dark Knight (07/18/2008)
Believe all the hype. If you could win an Oscar for casting then this movie would be a shoe in -- now that Katie Holmes is out of the picture every single character is played perfectly. Gary Oldman is Commissioner Gordan, Heath Ledger is the Joker. Not the funny campy Joker of the television show, or the demented murderous Joker of Batman: The Animated Series (Mark Hamill!!), but the Joker from The Killing Joke and Arkham Asylum. Demented, the perfect foil. Many of the critics say that this is a Batman movie without enough Batman, but it really felt like Batman to me, through and through. The likelihood of their being a better movie, or a movie I connect with better, this year is slim to none.

Nerd movies I have yet to see, or have yet to come out:
Wanted -- This is on my list of things to see, and it is based on a comic book that I know I should pick up, but it came out the same night as WALL-E, and I do hate seeing movies based on books I haven't read. James McAvoy could get me to break that rule, since he did it Atonement and it was totally worth it.

Hellboy II: The Golden Army
God this looks pretty. The first movie actually gets worse with every repeat viewing, but Guillermo del Toro has like, money and stuff now.

X-Files: I Want to Believe
Besides being belaboured with unfortunate subtitles (X-Files: Fight the Future? C'mon Chris Carter), I'm not sure what could tie these films together. Considering the series ran for four more seasons after the first movie, I am hoping that somehow the movie can be both accessible to casual fans of the series while still tying up loose ends. Also, there'd better be a sex scene.

Also, I'm watching X-Files right now.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Sucks to be a Terp

So I guess that now means it sucks to be me. As I get ready to head up to UMD in the fall, I had planned on using my new school as an excuse to become an ACC basketball fan, but it may not be such a great idea now, as apparently Gary Williams is having trouble forming a squad.

With Gilchrist leaving and several recruits potentially not coming, the Terp's program looks to be in shambles. It's incredible to think that 6 years ago they won the national title. I'm not sure how much I want to pay for tickets now, maybe nothing...

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Not a snowball's chance...

So the playoffs in baseball are four months away, but it's never too soon to start talking about October, right? Well, that's the theory the good folks over at Cool Standings ascribe to. The site gives a teams odds of making the playoffs in terms of percentages, broken down by Divisional Winner, Wild Card, and Overall.

The results right now are hardly surprising. The best team in baseball (in a fairly weak division) has the best chance of making it. The Cubbies, according to Cool Standings, have an 88.9% chance of making the tournament. And, also not surprising, my Seattle Mariners currently have the least chance of making the playoffs of any team in baseball, coming in at less than .1% But hey, we could always repeat '95! Or not...

But the fun part of Cool Standings is the individual team pages. Here you can track the day by day change in the odds of any team making the playoffs. And want that magic number? They have that too. The White Sox only have to win 108 games to guarantee themselves a spot! C'mon, cheer up Ozzie.

The algorithm that Cool Standings uses is fairly simple, but it's best just to read it over there. So enjoy tracking your team over the summer, it's pretty fun.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Stanley Cup

Good lord, that game lasted about four and a half hours. Congrats, Penguins, on staying in good fight!

The Counter, Palo Alto, Califonia

Well, sup blag. This is contributor K, actually making a post. Since I have spent the past couple months traveling and eating, I have a backlog of posts about food I could be making, so I'll start with a delicious burger place because nothing says summer like a delicious burger.

Restaurant name: The Counter
Wobsite: The Counter Burger dot Com

The Counter appears to be a franchise that is located mostly in California, though there are locations in Plano, TX and Charlotte, NC. It's goal is to serve you a gigantic burger of your own making -- the menu is attached to a clipboard and you get to denote what toppings, size, rareness, sides, etc. you want out of lists of the possibilities. The usual choices are all present, but this is the burger that I came up with:

2/3rd pound of medium rare beef,
honey-cured bacon,
Tillamook cheddar,
hardboiled eggs,
peanut sauce,
honeywheat bun.
& sweet potato fries.

I know the hardboiled eggs are a little weird, but it was Easter weekend when I was there, so I was feelin' it. Anyway, it was decadent, and they have a ton of really fun and intriguing sauces and toppings and things to try, and outdoor seating nestled into Santana Row. So uh, it was delicious.

Speaking of burgers, for Memorial Day my roommates and I made some delicious burgers, about 3/4 of a pound of beef each loving fileld with green apples and bacon, with a slice of Tillamook cheddar on top. It was pretty phenom.

Music of the Spring

So if you check out Kat's LiveJournal, you'll see that she was tagged, and then left an open-invite tag for everyone. I'm accepting that challenge. Here is the description: List seven songs you are into right now. No matter what the genre, whether they have words, or even if they're not any good, but they must be songs you're really enjoying now, shaping your spring.

So here they are, my seven songs and some explanation. In no particular order

  1. The Astronaut - Something Corporate: Victoria got me into these guys, and yes, I know I am behind the curve. That's just how I roll when it comes to "new" music. Regardless, this is my favorite song of theirs, and I've been listening to it obsessively.
  2. Violet Hill - Coldplay: Their first single from the new album "Viva la Vida, or, Death and all His Friends." Pretty catchy, not their best song, but I've been listening to it a lot.
  3. Symphony No. 2 - Sergei Rachmaninoff: So I heard this in concert once, and listened to it a ton right afterward and then promptly forgot it. I rediscovered it the other day at work. It's not the best symphony ever (really overly, hammer-to-the-head romantic) but it's really catchy and just altogether good to listen to.
  4. Peter Grimes - Benjamin Britten: I'd be remiss if I didn't put this here, as it was the basis for my senior capstone project and pretty much defined my spring.
  5. Heaven - Bitter:Sweet : Another recommendation from Victoria, the group (?) is kind of electronic, smooth, lounge-music. Very enjoyable, and this is one of my favorite songs of theirs. Props for featuring some bass clarinet on the album.
  6. Nantes - Beirut: This is a band that Kat introduced me to. Zach Conlon has an amazing warble of a voice and is backed by some melange of a Gypsy band. Hard to categorize, but they rock. The first album was great, but the new album ("Flying Club Cup") kicks all sorts of ass. This is my "Rob says go buy it" album of the year thus far.
  7. See you Again - Miley Cyrus: Alright, I just died inside typing that, but I cannot get this damn song out of my head. It's terrible, it's bad, but it's so freaking catchy. There, I admitted to it. I tried figuring out a song I could justify over this, and I couldn't. I am so ashamed...
Alright, there are my seven. Go ahead, put yours in the comments.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Whale Killer!

So I just found this video of Pops in Spain on Colonial Hoops. I wasn't sure if you had seen it yet, but it was worth posting anyways. It's chock-full of the Pops Mensah-Bonsu that we knew and loved. Yeah, remember those days, back when GW didn't suck? And when we had class-act players on the team? Yeah, those were fun times...

More Mambo Sauce

One last "Welcome to DC" update. We're on Mambo Sauce's myspace page now! Badass!

Here is the link, I hope you all enjoy.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Welcome to DC

For you bandys who want a video of it, here is the CBrass playing Welcome to DC. It's not great, but it'll do.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Bowie Baysox

Alright, work is beginning for the summer, so I ought to be updating this at least a few times a week. I promise.

I'll be back in the WRGW booth tomorrow helping out in another season of Bowie Baysox baseball. I'll be doing production duties for the first half of the game and your play-by-play will be provided by the ever-glib Steven Smith.

For those who don't know, the Baysox are the AA affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles, and really a lot of fun to follow. I did production/announcing all of last summer for them, and had a blast. Right now the Baysox sit atop the Eastern League standings (Southern Division). Be sure to tune in and hear some winning baseball, since the Nats, O's, and my Mariners don't seem to be doing much of that lately. Oh, and it's Pat Sajak day, so if you want to trek up to Bowie, you can meet the man and get a bobblehead of him. Awesome.

Game Facts

Bowie Baysox (31-18) vs. New Hampshire Fisher Cats (15-31)
Prince George's Stadium
First Pitch: 2:05

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Baseball Season

So we're supposed to be all about sports, food, and travel. You'll be getting some of the food and travel this weekend as both K and I head off to Winston-Salem, NC for the Davis Cup (more on that later). But right now, it's time to talk a little baseball. By way of introduction, I am a die-hard Seattle Mariners fan. They hooked me when I was 8 years old in the strike-shortened '94 season, and I've never looked back. But, as I was telling a friend today, if you couldn't get hooked on baseball when you were cheering for in-their-prime Griffey (best swing ever), Johnson, and Rodriguez (before he became a d-bag), then you probably could never get hooked on baseball.

So with the college hoops season winding down, I couldn't wait for baseball to start again, not only because the Mariners look to have some hope this year (though the 3-5 start makes me a bit uneasy) but just to have baseball back. It's really the background noise to my springs and summers for as long as I can remember. So, a few notes/observations from the first week of play (plus a little).

  • Living in DC, it was nice to see the new Nationals stadium get the kind of opening a stadium deserves. Zimmerman's walk-off was pretty awesome, and I don't have anything but a passing interest in the Nats (they serve more as a "Oh, I want to go see some baseball and they're here" thing than a team I really follow)
  • The Tigers, as everyone has said, look awful. I thought coming into the year that their rotation was weak (why so much for D-Train? He's overrated! He wasn't even cutting it in the NL, how do they think he can transition to the better bats of the AL?!) but they had a lineup which could make opposing pitchers wet themselves. That said, where are the runs? This has to be a fluke, there is no way that lineup continues to be 37 different kinds of suck like they are now.
  • The AL Central in general, come to think of it, is just full of surprises. The Royals and White Sox tied at the top of the standings at 5-2? I certainly didn't see that coming, though the White Sox are a really underrated team this year. They've got some great pop in the lineup (Thome, Konerko, Pierzynski, Swisher), some solid starting pitching, and a vastly improved bullpen from last year's model. I wouldn't be surprised to see them still in contention in late September. (Full disclosure: the White Sox are the only other team, aside from the Mariners, that I tend to root for regularly. Definitely my second favorite team...)
  • The Orioles?! Best record in baseball? Weird...
  • And part of that best record came at my expense. I got to travel up to Baltimore to see my first ever game in Camden as the Mariners made their one pilgrimage there this year. They lost (they actually got swept in the 4-game series), but the park was really a cool place. I enjoy the open effect behind center and right fields. I sat way up in the nosebleeds in left, and the view was great. One thing of note: most teams tend to show a highlight video before the game so fans can get pumped up. I'm thinking it's not a good sign for the O's that they opted out of that option and instead went with... a video of their videoboard being installed. How meta. And boring...
  • Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN is one of the best traditions in sports. I know there are a lot of people out there who don't like Jon Miller and Joe Morgan, but I always enjoy their Sunday night broadcasts. It always seems to be a game worth watching and they always make it better. Bonus points for getting to see the Sox stomp the Tigers.
Alright, that was possibly an excess of bulletpoints, but I hope to update with more regularity as the season goes on. Go ahead and put your opening week+ snippets in the comments below.

Friday, March 28, 2008

North Carolina - Basketball and BBQ

So we're headed off to Greensboro, NC tomorrow for the Women's NCAA Sweet 16 (Go GW!), and I have to admit to having no clue what there is to do in Greensboro. From what I've been told by band members who have been there before, the answer is nothing. That said, I know I am on quest. A quest for BBQ. There is nothing quite like a delicious plate of North Carolina BBQ. It's not always the best in the world, but it's always greasy, and almost always served from some little Mom and Pop joint. This place looks intriguing, though I'm sure that there are tons more like it.

In other news, the 6th seeded GW Womens Team is going to whup up on the 2nd seeded Rutgers Scarlet Knights. Game time is 2:30 on ESPN2, and it should be fantastic. I really honestly think GW can pull this one out. At least I hope they can... more later, I'm sure.