You’ve probably never heard of the 1994 movie Getting In but it may be one of the most underrated movies of all time. It’s obvious that this low budget flick may not have the best storyline but listen to this cast: Andrew McCarthy, Kristy Swanson, Calista Flockhart, Matthew Perry, Christine Baranski & Dave Chappelle. The movie centers around a character named Gabriel Higgs (Stephen Mailer), a young man that was waitlisted to Johns Hopskins. Because his parents are very content on him getting in, Gabriel goes through extraordinary measures to bribe the five people ahead of him on the wait list to drop out so that he can move up the list and attend the school. Things don’t go according to plan when he finds out someone is killing all the people ahead of him and trying to frame Gabriel. I’m not sure if the movie was a commercial success or not but it wasn’t even released on DVD.
I don’t have a Wii U but one of the more interesting games I’m reading about is Super Mario 3D World. I already have Super Mario 3D Land for my 3DS which is a truly amazing game and really takes advantage of the 3D experience on the 3DS. I’d be curious to see why they call it Super Mario 3D World when the game is on the Wii U which isn’t a true 3D experience like the 3DS is. The reason that I’m so interested in 3D World is because of all od the new elements of gameplay that have been added. First of all you get to play as one of four characters, Princess Peach, Mario, Luigi or Toad. And similar to Super Mario Bros. 2, each character has unique special abilities. Even cooler than that is with the right power-up, your character can now do things like have a clone, transform into a cat, and shoot cannonball at enemies.
I’ve posted some of my favorite screens from the game below. Man, I really want a Wii U just so I can play this game.
While sleeping, I always have these dreams where I have intense arguments with this guy named Daryl. There is another gentleman in the dream that’s about three times taller than us who watches us argue and monitors our conversations. He seems really relaxed and just sits in a lawn chair drinking a beer. I call him the dream god because he’s the closest thing to a higher being that I’ve ever known while dreaming.
In this last dream though, the dream god wasn’t there and our argument began to spiral out of control. I tried to reason with Daryl but it got to the point where he pulled out a knife and stabbed me. Just then I woke up and realized that I controlled my dream because I chose to wake up. In this dream, I was the dream god.
Haim is a rock band from Los Angeles, California. The band comprises sisters Este, Danielle and Alana Haim, along with drummer Dash Hutton.
Corey Haim was a Canadian actor, known for a 1980s Hollywood career as a teen idol. He starred in a number of films, such as Lucas, Silver Bullet, Murphy’s Romance, License to Drive and Dream a Little Dream.
|Born: San Fernando Valley, CA||Born: Toronto, Ontario|
|Peak: 2010′s||Peak: 1980′s|
|Profession: Musicians||Profession: Actor|
|Awards: BBC Sound of 2013||Awards: Young Artist Awards (1987, 1989)|
|Greatest Accomplishment: ”Don’t Save Me”||Greatest Accomplishment: “License To Drive”|
Winner: Corey Haim
With movies like Lucas, The Lost Boys & License to Drive, Corey Haim has the advantage. Haim (Band) is somewhat new to the music industry and I’d be curious to revisit this comparison in about 10 years to see how far along they’ve come.
About a week ago I downloaded the new iOS7 onto my iPhone 5 and iPad 3 and I am pretty happy with what the update has brought. The download too a bit longer on my phone than it did on my iPad. I began the update about a day after it was released so I can understand that there would have been a lot of traffic on Apple’s download servers. Here are my impressions and favorite new features of the new OS so far.
- iTunes Radio: I love how iTunes Radio is built right into my music app on my iPhone. No more separate apps (Pandora, Spotify, Rdio, etc.) needed to listen to great music stations. Pleas they have guest DJs that play some great tunes. If you’re interested in purchasing a song you hear, iTunes Radio will connect to the Apple music store seamlessly. Cool stuff.
- Multi-tasking made easy: Multi-tasking wasn’t too difficult in iOS6 but it’s been made much easier in iOS7. When double clicking on the home button, instead of just seeing an icon of the apps you have open you see the icon and a small screen preview of what that window looks like. Don’t want it open anymore? Swipe it up and it will go away.
- More Camera Options: iPhone cameras have always been great but now the app to control them is less confusing and offers more options including square images and filter effects similar to Instagram.
- App Overhaul: Updated colors, cooler graphics and translucent layers all play a role in the new look of iOS7. It almost seems like a completely different phone.
To celebrate Google’s 15th birthday, they released a pretty addictive doodle that involves hitting a piñata that’s swinging on a tree. For every piece of candy that falls on the ground, you will get a point and you get ten swings per game. My high score was somewhere around 170 but I heard about others getting into the 180′s. It’s all about timing and you need to start swinging at the piñata before it’s actually back on the screen which makes it challenging to get a high score. Only thing is, doesn’t this seem like something for little kids birthday parties? At 15 I feel like you’ve moved on from the piñata scene. Oh well, still a fun game. Play it here.
The most recent game that I’ve downloaded on my PS Vita is called Hotline Miami. It is a 2D top-down perspective action shooter video game developed by Dennaton Games and it’s a lot of fun to play. The game follows a character as he makes his way through several chapters of killing gang members and their pets in buildings and homes. There are many weapons including shotguns, handguns, knives, bats and swords. You die a LOT! I usually don’t make it through a chapter without dying at least 50 times. And while that may sound like it may take a lot of time to play through a chapter, it really doesn’t because the gameplay is very fast paced. If you make all the right moves and do not die once, you can make it through a chapter in about two minutes. The graphics in the game were purposely created like the game is from the late 80′s. The soundtrack is fun and also reminds me of that time period. Overall the game is a good time. I can see myself going back to this game in a few months to play for a quick fix.
I recently saw a great deal on a Vita game called Limbo on PlayStation Network. I had seen screenshots of this intriguing game before but I had never actually played it. After I downloaded it and began playing, I instantly became hooked. The game is beautiful and I never thought I would say that about a game set in monochrome. There really isn’t any music to it but there is sound. The game actually reminds me of dreams I’ve had only in my dreams I subconsciously control my actions. You control a little boy through a two-dimensional side-scrolling world while solving puzzles to continue on to the next area. There are no stories, breaks or cut scenes. If you die, you will just return to the beginning of the puzzle you are currently working on. I’m not quite done with the game yet but I’m about 66% there. I’m curious to see how it will end and if it will go into any meaning behind the game.
Throughout my life I’ve been interested in cartography, the study and practice of making maps. When I was younger I would design these pretend cities using paper and pencil. I would detail the cities highways, streets, parks, rivers, lakes and even label them with names I made up in my head. The typical map although very useful can also use some improvements. Now when you’re just looking for a road on a map you probably don’t want a map that looks like something you’d get after entering an amusement park but it could still be livened up with the use of more exciting colors and icons.
I designed a playful map of a small town a few mile away from where I live. The town is called Laytonsville, MD and there’s not much to it beside two main roads and a couple of strip malls but I was able to live in up with fun icons bright colors and cool patterns. Take a look below and click on it for a larger, more detailed version. If the lightbox looks stretched, right click the lightbox and click ‘open in new window’.
Roku, Google TV, Apple TV… many set box devices have tried but none have really penetrated the streaming device market enough to get them past niche status. The future of TV maybe simpler than we thought. I mean why have a separate set top box when you can have just a simple stick that acts as a hybrid between your gadget and your TV?
Earlier this week, Google announced Chromecast, a small USB thumb drive-sized device that plugs into your TV’s HDMI input and lets you control web video on your TV. There is no need for a remote because it lets you control the media right on your smartphone, tablet or computer using its Chrome browser. And it is compatible with just about any device that has the Chrome browser. So far there isn’t much support for the device but it has been selling out immediately upon releases through Amazon and Best Buy. Services such as Netflix, Hulu, HBO Go and YouTube are already up and running on Chromecast and the potential of this device is driving other streaming services to it. I think it’s the $35 price point that has consumers excited. In addition to the cheap price, Netflix is offering free 3-months streaming with purchase of Chromecast (a $25 value).
P.S. This is my 500th blog post. It’s only taken me a little over 5 years to get to that number. For those of you bad at math, that’s roughly 100 blog posts/year. I hope to continue at that pace.
I was browsing Lego Sets on Amazon and being a fan of the 80′s, I came across a set that I had to order; The DeLorean Time Machine. When I first saw this set on Amazon, I thought that it was strange that Lego was releasing a set based on a movie that came out nearly 30 years ago. I then read the description and found out that this was something called a Lego Cuusoo set. Curious about what that meant, I went to the Lego Cuusso website to discover that Lego now releases sets that were created by fans. If the set gets 10,000 supporters on the site and gets approved by Lego, they will turn it into an actual set to be sold at stores. And Lego even gives the creator 1% of the sales money that they make from the set. I think this is a great idea. It gets kids to use their product to develop a set and expand their imagination. If successful they will have some extra pocket cash and some awesome bragging rights. I was looking through the Cuusoo site and found some other sets that I’d be interested in, including a Ghostbusters set and Apple Store set. Keep on building!
Ahh.. the shade of a tall tree. The sound it makes as the leaves blow in the air on a cool fall afternoon. Is there anything in nature more beautiful than trees? The other day I was curious as to what type of tree I had in my front yard because I was wondering how big it would get. I was hoping it would grow to be a large tree so that it would take up more of our front yard and give us privacy and summer shade. The tree was there when we bought the house so I had no idea what type it was. I wondered if there was any way to figure it out other than to just ask an expert.
I did a Google search for “What type of tree?” and found an awesome website called “What Tree Is That?” located on the Arbor Day Foundation website. It basically asks you a series of questions based on the leaves of the tree and narrows down what tree it is based on your answers. The questions have to do with the trees region, leaf shape, leaf color and other things. Once I was done narrowing down the tree, the website told me that I had a “Flowering Dogwood”. I then Googled that and saw a picture to confirm that that was in fact the tree in my front yard. From there I was able to see that this particular tree can grow up to 30 feet tall.
Founded in 1983 and based in Atlanta, GA, Ritz-Carlton operates 81 luxury hotels and resorts in major cities and resorts in 26 countries worldwide.
Ritz Crackers are a brand of snack cracker introduced by Nabisco in 1934. They are circular in shape, salted lightly on one side, and have a small scalloped edge.
|Price: Anywhere from $300 – $1000+ per night depending on date, location and room size.||Price: Roughly $4 for a 12-ounce box|
|Views: Beautiful views of major cities across the continent||Views: A rounded cracker that’s orangeish in color|
|Location: Usually in larger cities||Location: Grocery stores everywhere|
|Taste: You have really good taste in hotels if you stay here||Taste: Salty, crunchy and buttery|
|Enjoyment Time: At least a few hours||Enjoyment Time: About 12 seconds per cracker|
Sure you can find cheaper hotels out there but it’s important to pamper yourself. Ritz crackers are just wasted calories with not a lot of protein.
Imagine if Facebook suddenly had ads all over your profile and announced that if you pay an $85/year fee, those ads would simply go away. Many users would be very angry and threaten to leave the site forever. This is why big websites like Facebook slowly introduce ads to their users. I read that Facebook will be adding video ads to the site later this year. Facebook is already getting overrun with ads. On top of all of them, imagine now having to sit through a 30 second trailer of some movie you’re never going to watch even though Facebook thinks it fits your demographic based on the things you like. That sounds painful. But if Facebook slowly adds these ads to users over a number of years, it won’t be nearly as painful as them adding them all at once. And what happens if in five years Facebook is overrun with ads and then they introduce a new model for users. They’d be able to continue using the site with the all the ads and nothing would change or they could pay the $95/year (I added $10 for inflation) and have an add-free experience. People wouldn’t be angry because they’re already used to all the ads. And if the ads were really bothering some they could always pay up and have them removed.
Also, people would rather have a mediocre product and pay to upgrade than they would have a premium product and suddenly get privileges taken away unless they pay. I see it happen all the time in websites. People don’t like change. They like to use the same laundry detergent, eat the same food, shop at the same stores and go to the same websites.
This past June 26 – July 7, 2013, my wife, daughter and I took a trip to Israel to visit family and sight see. After a 7 hour flight to Paris and 4 hour flight to Tel Aviv, we finally arrived but unfortunately our luggage didn’t make it. We decided to wait in the airport for our luggage to arrive on the next flight from Paris and it did. We finally we able to leave the airport around 5PM and we went to pick up the rental car and began the 45-minute trip to Jerusalem where we were staying.
Now I’d say that I’m a pretty good driver but driving in Israel is definitely a different experience than it is driving in the U.S. The drivers in Israel seem a little bit more reckless but I quickly adjusted to their style while also driving defensively. One of the things I liked about driving in Israel is that all of the traffic lights turn yellow before they turn green. Apparently it dates back to when a lot of cars were manual and the yellow light gave drivers warning that the light was about to change.
We finally arrived in Jerusalem, a city without any type of road grid system. Seriously, it’s like road planners threw a plate of cooked spagetti on the ground and said, this will a map of our city. After zig-zagging our way to where we were staying, we rested up for the night and tried to adjust to Israel time. We woke up fresh the next morning and met up with family in the Old City. I’m not much of a history buff but this area is one of the most interesting and significant areas in world.
There are many walls that date back thousands of years. We explored the many marketplaces where you can bargain for souvenirs and goods. Spending most of my life in the U.S. and not traveling much, I’d never experienced anything like this before. We went on a tour of the City of David, where we traveled through tunnels that were traveled by others in ancient times. There were very narrow passage ways to go though and it was interesting to see. After that we went back home to relax.
The next day, we began a road trip up north with family. We drove east out of Jerusalem on Highway 1. It was a very steep, down hill grade leaving Jerusalem with windy turns. You then begin to hit the desert and it flattens out a bit. We then traveled north up route 90, passing Jericho towards the west.
After about two hours of total driving, we reached Belvoir Fortress. We got out of the car and looked around the ruins of this ancient fortress built about 900 years ago. It was a lot of fun to travel through what remained of the different rooms of the fortress. Some rooms of the fortress were still intact with roofs while others just had walls that had been destroyed over the years. We then walked down along some of the moat before leaving.
We continued to head up north towards, stopping in Beit She’an for lunch. Not many people spoke english in this area. When I tried to order lunch, the person behind the counter had to go to the back of the store to get someone that spoke english. I ended up just getting pizza. We got back in the car and headed north towards Sea of Galilee. This is where Jesus supposedly walked on water in the biblical days. We drove through a nice resort looking town called Tiberius before arriving at our resort on the north side of the Sea of Galilee in a town called Ginosar.
After resting for about an hour and going for a dip in the lake, we decided to drive up north to a town called Safed (pronounced Zvat) for dinner. Safed is a beautiful town located on a mountain. It has a lot of history. In the 16th century it was the center of Jewish mysticism. There are mostly stone roads and stairs and the doors to homes are painted in vibrant colors. The streets are very narrow and mostly one-way for vehicles.
After dinner we headed back to Ginosar and went to bed. The next day we went on another road trip up north even further to go on a 3 mile hike that ended with a beautiful view of a waterfall. After the hike, we stopped at a winery and tasted a few samples. We then drove back down south and went into Tiberius for dinner. We had dinner at a restaurant that was right on the Sea of Galilee. We saw a few party boats with screaming passengers pass by as we ate. Tiberius is a very pretty town. There seemed to be a lot of night life for the younger crowd. Right before dinner I snapped this shot of the lake with the mountains in the background. Not much further past those mountains in the distance is the country of Jordan.
After a good nights rest, we left the resot in Ginosar and headed East towards a large city called Haifa. We were in search of this cities famous gardens. Once we entered Haifa we traveled trough a downtown area and then up some steep hills before reaching the gardens. The terraces in the gardens represent the first eighteen disciples of the Báb, a religious movement.
We left Haifa and traveled south down Highway 2 which travels along the Mediterranean Sea. We then stopped at a beach in Caesarea with an ancient Roman double aqueduct that brought water from springs at the foot of Mount Carmel; a boundary wall; and a 200 ft wide moat protecting the harbour to the south and west. The Mediterranean water was warm and clean. We didn’t stay too long at the because because it was getting late and we wanted to head back to Jerusalem. We continued to travel south down Highway 2 towards Tel Aviv and then West on Highway 1 towards Jerusalem. We hit quite a bit of rush hour traffic.
The next day we again traveled East from Jerusalem but this time headed south on Rt 90 towards Masada. As we traveled south, we traveled along he dead sea to the left. I went through a check point which kinda startled me. I think it’s because I grew up not seeing many guns because when I see people holding large guns I get a little freaked out.
It took about an hour and a half of total driving to get from Jerusalem to Masada. When we arrived, it was very hot. It was hotter than it was in Jerusalem because we were now in the desert. Masada is an ancient fortification on top of an isolated rock plateau hat overlooks the Dead Sea. Herod the Great built palaces for himself on the mountain and fortified Masada between 37 and 31 BCE. The Siege of Masada in 73 or 74 CE by troops of the Roman Empire towards the end of the First Jewish–Roman War ended in the mass suicide of the 960 Jewish rebels and their families holed up there. The story is quite fascinating and if you are interested, there is a TV mini-series from 1981 that tells the story along with countless books articles of course. We couldn’t visit all of Masada because it was too hot to stay and we had to leave but we did get a good tour of most of it. I’d recommend visiting Masada early or late in the day but not between noon and 5PM.
The next day we met cousins at the Biblical Zoo in Jerusalem. Below is a picture of my daughter playing in the petting zoo area. She had a blast. We then visited the Jerusalem Mall. Parking in the mall was very difficult but once we finally found a spot, we went inside and looked around.
We also visited Tel Aviv, a very large city on the coast. There were many beaches and hotels along the water. We stopped for lunch and shopped a bit.
The day we had to leave, we woke up around 3AM and left for the airport. I returned my rental car and we went into the airport. The security in the airport is taken very seriously in Israel. We boarded the plane and relaxed. The trip home seemed to go by a little faster than it did going there. Luckily there were no flight delays and we made it home by a reasonable time. Israel was a great country to visit. All of the history really hit me because it is very meaningful. We would like to go back and visit again a few years because we would like to see family again and there are many things that we missed visiting on this trip.