The Luckiest Kid Ever

Check this out: this 19 year-old kid spends his birthday on the set of The Price is Right. Not only does he make it to contestant’s row, he literally wins everything he can. He didn’t win both showcases, and he didn’t win the $100 for getting with price right on contestant’s row… but that’s about all he didn’t win.

The kid walked away with almost $80,000 worth of prizes on his 19th birthday… pretty sweet!

Santa Monica bans sit-ups!

Back in the 50s and 60s, California had the reputation of being the “wild and crazy state”. People that found the east coast too “uptight” moved to California by the millions. And it was one big party for the next 20 years. But then, sometime in the late 80s (after all the coke wore off), California changed. No longer “wild and crazy”, California instead became “the nanny state”. Smoking was banned, as were trans fats and fast food restaurants.

You can now add stationary exercise to that list of banned items, at least in Santa Monica. It is now illegal to perform any “stationary exercise” (such as sit-ups or jumping jacks) in the city of Santa Monica. Heathen lawbreakers will be fined up to $158 and can spend up to 36 months in the stocks (OK, I made up that last part).

The ban isn’t as ludicrous as it might initially sound. Apparently Santa Monica has many grassy medians in the city streets, and people were gathering there to do pilates and other exercises. They were apparently loud, they tore up the grass, and often left litter behind. The Fourth Street median in particular had essentially turned into an overcrowded, ’round the clock free gym. This didn’t sit well with people that lived there, so they complained. The police then instructed park rangers to start enforcing an existing ban on such activities.

Amusingly, there is no ban against “non-stationary” exercise like jogging or walking.

Read all about it here.

Comment Line Disconnected

A quick update: the comment line has been disconnected.

It was provided by AOL as part of their free “AOL Phoneline” service. I recently received an email saying that the service would be discontinued in early January. Since no one ever called the comment line (ever), I’m removing all references to it on this site and will cease checking messages today.

Sorry for the inconvenience and thanks for understanding!


It’s GWINNETT, dammit!

I spent the first 24 years of my life living in Gwinnett County, Georgia. When I was born, Gwinnett had a population of 72,349. At the time, much of the county resembled Mayberry from The Andy Griffith Show. Everyone knew almost everyone else, and there was a sense of “community” there that I haven’t really felt since.

During the 1980s, however, Gwinnett experienced massive growth. The county frequently placed at or near the top of “America’s fastest growing counties” lists. The county grew so much that the 2010 census estimates its population at 808,167. More people live in Gwinnett County than within the city limits of San Francisco, Memphis, Charlotte, Baltimore, Boston or Seattle. Hell, the Gwinnett school system – the largest in Georgia – has more students (159,258) than Dayton, Ohio (155,461), Springfield, Missouri (154,777) or Salem, Oregon (151,913) have residents. The Gwinnett Arena, originally considered a boondoggle by many area residents, has hosted concerts by Bruce Springsteen, The Who, Depeche Mode, Snow Patrol, Bon Jovi and more. The county has their own East Coast Hockey League team (the Gwinnett Gladiators) and in January of this year, the Atlanta Braves announced that they were moving their AAA club from Richmond (population: 200,123) to Gwinnett.

Gwinnett is big. It’s for real. So why the hell do people still misspell it? To this day, I’ll see “Gwinet”, “Gwinnet”, “Gwinett”, “Gwinnet” or “Gwinnette” on websites and blogs. Just the other day, I was looking at a band’s page on MySpace, only to find that they were playing the “Arena at Gwinnette Center” soon. And it drove me nuts!

Continue reading “It’s GWINNETT, dammit!”

Time Warner Navigator: Still Sucks

Back in April, I wrote this hyperbolic review of the new Time Warner “Navigator” software that the cable giant is rolling out to all their DVRs. The upgrade had only just happened at the time, and it seemed like a giant step backwards from Passport, the previous software. But a few months have passed now. Maybe I’ve calmed down a bit. Maybe Time Warner has rolled out some updates and fixes for it… Or maybe it still sucks.

Here’s a calmer, more reasoned list of my beefs with Navigator. Time Warner needs to address these issues as quickly as possible… especially since AT&T’s U-Verse just rolled into town:

Boot time sucks: It took the old Passport software around four minutes to boot. Navigator takes just over nine minutes to fully boot. Since I have the same problem on my computer with XP vs. Vista, I can only conclude that Time Warner’s programmers are taking a cue from Microsoft on how to make your software worse, not better. Obviously, rebooting your DVR is not something you do every day… but when Navigator was new and crashed a lot, waiting almost ten minutes instead of four for the TV to come back was (and still is) infuriating.   

Search still sucks: As I mentioned in the original review, Navigator took away “keyword search”, so you can no longer search for “Kate Winslet” and find movies or chat show appearances featuring the actress. As much as that sucks, I could deal with that. But something that really does suck is that Navigator, for some unknown reason, allows multiple entries for the same program. For example, if you want to see who’s going to be on David Letterman this week, you could search for “David Letterman”. You might get three hits. If you click on the first result, you’ll get a submenu that lists Monday and Tuesday’s episodes, and you’ll have to navigate to the second entry to see Wednesday’s episode, then navigate to the third entry to see Thursday and Friday’s episodes. Passport would have a single entry for The Late Show With David Letterman, and all episodes would be listed in a submenu off that single category. So Navigator, for no good reason, makes things harder, not easier. And that’s assuming it works: just the other day I searched for Whatever, Martha!. The show never appeared in the results window, even as I typed more and more of the title. By the time I had fully typed out “Whatever”, I just scrolled down to find the show.

Continue reading “Time Warner Navigator: Still Sucks”

My cat loves fruit!

So… as you might know, Lisa and I have four cats. Lisa already had Haley when I met her, and a couple of years ago, we got Mimi (Bittle) from the Humane Society. I thought two cats was plenty, but when a friend of Lisa’s family sent out an email about a bunch of kittens they were trying to find homes for… well, I knew we were gotta get at least one more. That one turned out to be two, and now we also have Simon and Chloe.

Here’s the funny thing about those two “country kitties”: they love fruit! Seriously! When Lisa comes home from the store, she has to make sure to put the plums and bananas (and especially tomatoes) somewhere where the country kitties can’t get to them. And little Chloe apparently loves honeydew melon, too:

More Steelers Ownership News

Details are leaking out about the changes to the Steelers’ ownership.

It seems that Tim and Pat Rooney – the two Rooneys most involved with racetracks and casinos – will sell their entire stakes of the Steelers to Dan. This will give Dan a minimum of a 48% share of the team. But it will probably end up being more than that, as John Rooney and Art Rooney Jr. plan to sell around half of their 16% stakes in the team. So it’s likely that Dan (and, eventually, Art II) will end up owning around 64% of God’s Favorite Team. Or shall I say at least 64%: word is that the McGinley family – hitherto reported to be not selling their shares – will also sell a small part of their 20% stake to Dan. So, in the end, it seems that Dan will end up owning somewhere around 70% of the team. Details are (obviously) still sketchy at this point. Read more about it here.

In other news, remember Mean Joe Greene’s famous Super Bowl commercial for Coke? Troy Polamalu is set to do a remake. It will air during this year’s Super Bowl.

Daisies Canceled?

Is ABC going to break my heart? Is it true? Is Pushing Daisies really canceled?

It is, according to certain reports. In fact, Daisies, Dirty Sexy Money and Eli Stone have apparently been given the ax by the Alphabet Net. While ABC has not officially commented on the shows’ statuses, word is that they will not give them full season orders.

Which is a crying shame. Pushing Daises was (is?) a quirky, unique show that deserves a place on TV. I could wax philosophically about how another network might pick it up, or how it might move to cable… but the fact is, I’m resigned to Daisies fate. I’m still bent out of shape that the networks killed off Arrested Development and Veronica Mars, so I don’t see why I should shed any tears for Daisies. Oh, and word initially was that ABC was going to kill off Life On Mars too, but they’ve finally listened to the thousands of TV blogs that helpfully suggested that they move it to the post-Lost timeslot. I think Lost and Mars back-to-back is a winning combo. But what the hell do I know? My seconid favorite show just got canceled!

RIP, Pushing Daisies! I’ll miss you so much!

The Mystery That Wasn’t

As I’ve stated several times on this site, I write the History Blog mainly because I’m fascinated with interesting little stories that have escaped most people’s attention. At first, I wrote about tiny details of large and familiar events – like the Trent affair of the US Civil War. I then switched to smaller mysteries, like the Waldseemüller map – a map with an accurate depiction of South America, created by a man in Germany several years before Europeans had even seen the western side of the continent. Sometimes, however, “history’s mysteries” don’t quite live up to their hype. Take, for example, the case of the “Dyatlov Pass Incident”.

On January 25, 1959, a group of experienced hikers arrived at a hotel in Ivdel, a city in the northern Ural mountains of Russia. The eight men and two women were either students or alumni of Ural Polytechnical Institute, and were led by a man named Igor Dyatlov. The next morning, Dyatlov took the group by truck to Vizhai, the last inhabited place near their destination – a mountain called Otorten. At that time of year, the route the group planned to take to Otorten’s summit was considered “Category III” – the most difficult. Dyatlov and his group weren’t worried though: they all had plenty of experience with winter hiking. Although it would be difficult, the group was certain that everything would be OK.

Dyatlov had made plans to send a telegram to their hiking club at the university when the group returned to Vizhai, and it was expected that that would happen no later than February 12th. When the day came and went, folks weren’t overly worried. After all, it was a treacherous undertaking, and it wasn’t unreasonable to assume that the group might be delayed a day or two. However, when no one had heard from the group by February 20th, concerned relatives finally convinced the university to send out a volunteer search party. After a few days of fruitless searching, the police and army got involved, and within a day or two of that, Russian authorities ordered that planes and helicopters be brought in to assist the search.

On February 26th, searchers finally found the remains of the group’s campsite… and this is where things got weird. The group’s tent was found damaged beyond repair. Two of the group were found close to the camp, dressed only in their underwear. Three more bodies were found near the camp, but in a different location than the first two. These three bodies had more clothes on than the first two, but were still woefully underdressed for the -22F (-30C) weather. They also appeared to be wearing bits of clothes ripped from others that were already dead. The remaining four hikers (one of the men turned back early in the trip for health reasons) weren’t found until May 4th.

Continue reading “The Mystery That Wasn’t”

FREE Dr Pepper!

Earlier this year, Dr Pepper promised a free Dr Pepper to “everyone in America” if Guns N’ Roses released their album Chinese Democracy any time during the calendar year 2008. At the time, it must have seemed like a good bet to the folks at Dr Pepper: the album’s been in production for almost 15 years (at a cost of $13 million!) and has been “close to release” for at least 5 years now.

Well now it’s November, and sure enough Chinese Democracy will be released this Sunday at Best Buy stores here in the US. Dr Pepper has not forgotten its promise, and on November 23 you can go to their site ( and enter your name and address and they’ll send you a coupon for a free Dr Pepper!

Read more about it here!

Oh, and by the way… Just to put this whole thing in perspective: the last time Guns N’ Roses released an album, Miley Cyrus hadn’t been born, Beyoncé was only 10 and Britney, Christina and Justin weren’t even members of the New Mickey Mouse Club yet! I’m not a GNR fan, but that album had better be good!