Kitchen Remodel

We are in the process of selling our house.  Part of the process includes fixing up our kitchen to make our house more attractive to buyers.  I’m documenting the process in pictures.  Follow along below with slide shows of each days activities

Before (Kitchen before the remodel)

New Kitchen – You can click here to see a slideshow of the new kitchen (coming soon)

Searching for Granite
Day 1
.  (Complete)
Day 2   (Complete)
Day 3   (Complete)
Day 4   (Complete)
Day 5   (Complete)

Helping with the design elements was Terry Barker, of Terry Barker Interiors.
The work is being performed by Don’s Custom Countertops.

If you need any interior design or staging consultation, Terry will do a wonderful job for you.

Don’s Customer Countertops does more then just counter tops.  Their cabinetry is first class and they are friendly, helpful and knowledgeable.

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Are You Ready For “The Look”

In TV, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.  It’s also the primary method of developing new TV shows.    It all started with (at least for anyone under 40) with American Idol.   If however, you want to argue it all started with The Original Amateur Hour, check your pulse and let me know the last time you talked to Cole Sear.

In the 10 years since American Idol, we’ve seen many variations on that theme.  Who could ever forget the wildly successful Rock Star and Nashville Star.  

I’ve received some secret information about an upcoming spin off  of the hit series, “The Voice“.  As you may know, “The Voice” is a talent show where the judges are positioned such that they can’t see the contestants.  This ensures they concentrate on the “The Voice” rather then be influenced by “The Look”.  Considering the success of “The Voice”, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that a new series, “The Look”, is currently in production by the same studio producing “The Voice”.

The “hook” of “The Look” is the judges will be able to see the contestants, but not hear them.  While this may seem odd for a talent show based on singing, after hearing the executive producer describe the premise, it all makes sense.

“Think about it”, he said, “have you ever actually heard the voice of Justin Bieber?  Not with 10,000 screaming 10 year old girls you haven’t.  How about when you play your favorite song in the shower? Nope, all you hear is your own voice, and possibly your dog howling.  Then there are those ear buds.  People listen so loud they can’t hear the voices, all they hear is the blood pounding through the ear canal after their capillaries burst from the volume.   It’s really all about “The Look”.  Do they ‘Look’ like they’re a star?”

What will actually happen when the contestant walks on stage?  This, our source tells us, is where “The Look” will really stand out from the competition.  ”We want our contestants  to feel inspired yet unencumbered by the circumstances, they will belt out songs like it’s nobody’s business.  The judges, however, will be locked in sound proof, plexiglass booths.  To ensure no sound leaks in, the audio from America’s Got Talent, specifically the feed from Howard Stearn’s microphone, will be pumped into the both at 120 decibels.  This will also give our judges the added sensation felt by those often use ear buds.”  During an early taping of the show, one of the judges was asked what they thought of the concept, the judge, whose name we aren’t at liberty to reveal, responded “WHAT?”.

Another person associated with the “The Look” revealed how the unique premise allows greater flexibility when selecting judges.  Hearing is no longer a limiting factor.  ”When selecting a judge, it doesn’t matter if they can hear, know how to sing or even carry a tune”.  While I couldn’t get confirmation, judges under consideration for “The Look”, currently scheduled to premier in the fall, are Marlee Matlin, Roseanne Barr, William Shatner and almost anyone ever nominated for the MTV Music Awards.

Let me know your thoughts on “The Look”.  Let me know if you think it “Will Work”?  I look forward to your comments.  In the mean time, I’m furiously tracking down a rumored spin off of this seasons new singing talent show “Duets”.  The premise is a human will sing with one of their pets.  No word yet on whether the judges will hear them, see them or just clean up after them.

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Things I Hate – Part XXXVII


First of all , when I say hate, I don’t mean the all consuming, visceral, stomach churning,blood pressure pounding, temples popping, fingers pounding on the keyboard hate.  It’s much worse than that.  I’m kidding, it’s not that at all.  My fingers are in fact dancing gingerly across the keyboard….while my stomach is churning, blood pressure is pounding and my temples are popping.

Second, I don’t know if that’s a correct roman numeral in the title or not and I don’t care.  I wanted to make a point and I hate feeling the need to say that.

I hate that sometimes my cat is so bent on sitting on my lap while I’m at the laptop that he’ll walk across the keyboard.  Actually, that’s not entirely true.  It’s more that I hate that he can’t spell.

I use the mouse pointer like a virtual finger, moving it around a web page to focus my eyes on what I want to read.  I hate that everything the mouse pointer touches comes alive, obstructing and cluttering the screen.  Ad words are among the worst, popping up a window which must be dismissed with a harsh whack of my free hand.  Note, clicking on the ‘x’ in the top right corner also works, but doesn’t feel as good.

Speaking of web sites, I hate those that start talking or singing, playing or making obnoxious noise as soon as you load them.  No, it’s not because it’s embarrassing when it happens on a conference call so boring the only hope of not gnawing through my desk in despair is distract my boiling brain with a friendly and interesting web site.

I hate boring conference calls.  If these would cease to exist, I could knock two things off my list, if you get my drift.

I commented on that particular “hate” a couple years ago.  I hate needing to repeat it.

Remember when you could watch TV and see only the show you were watching?  It began to change when TV channels started putting their logo in the bottom corner.  Then they added small annoying words directing you to an upcoming show.  Well now it’s evolved (I use that term loosely) to animation or actually recorded images of people miming how much they want you watch them later.

I hate that TV news has imitated web pages by putting crap all over the screen.  One channel I watch has a rolling list of what’s coming up down the right side of the screen.  They also have a scrolling (ticker?) on the bottom of the screen telling you news ‘stuff’.  They also have the time and temperature.   Wait, they also have the freaking channel logo.

I hate that the phrases dial the phone and turn the channel make no sense anymore.

I hate that the next time Donald Trump goes on national television and starts complaining that President Obama wasn’t born in the U.S. someone won’t stuff a dirty sock in his pathetic pie hole.

I hate the rule that says despite being on every no call list available, idiot political pollsters get to interrupt my life.  I hate even more that they are mostly not human (I use that term even more loosely) so they can’t really appreciate when I tell them how I really feel about them interrupting my life.

I hate a system where brokers, insiders and the devious can make money regardless if the stock market goes up or down but people like me are stuck with hoping it only goes up.

For anyone thinking, gee, you sure hate a lot of stuff.  That’s an awful amount of negative energy you’re emitting.  There must be good things you like.  Yes, anything which I haven’t written I hate, you can assume, if it makes you feel better, I don’t hate. Of course it could be I just haven’t gotten around to it yet.  And yes, I hate that.

I also hated having to explain that.

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Mike Coffman – Birther, Liar, or Both?

I saw this story on our local news last night.

I don’t know whether Barack Obama was born in the United States of America. I don’t know that

The quote is from Republican House of Representative member Mike Coffman at a fund raiser.  Of course 4 days later, when he’s called on it, he says he “misspoke”. Meanwhile, all the good Republicans who heard him, and applauded his comment, went into the night with his words in their heads.

Coffman isn’t a crazy forum poster, or some nut with a sign on the street.  He’s a member of the House of Representatives. This isn’t 2007-2008, it’s 2012.

Of course I don’t know, but I don’t think he “misspoke”. I just think his brain works the same as almost half the Republicans who actually believe what he said.

This isn’t a complicated, ideological subject like whether trickle down economics is beneficial to society, or whether the environmental and financial benefits of federal support of wind power make sense. This is a simple, verified, fact.  A fact that 45% of Republicans, including this Representative Coffman, refuse to believe.

Yet, pin them down, like Coffman was and he says he misspoke.  Really Mike?  Either he really believes what he says or isn’t cognitive enough to know what he’s saying when he says it.   Either way, how on earth do such people get elected?

He went on to say

But I do know this, that in his heart, he’s not an American. He’s just not an American.

Again, Really Mike?  It’s not good enough to say you disagree with Obama’s solutions to the problems facing our country, you need to double down on stupid and say “He’s just not an American”?  How should a person with a functioning brain react?  Why would anyone listen any further or believe anything else he says.

Actually, there is another option to why people like Mike Coffman say things like he did.  He’s pandering to the moron vote.  He doesn’t believe what he says, but thinks lying will help his cause.

Republicans like Coffman are poisoning the political process with their bullshit and many Americans are either complicit or too stupid know any better.  The election should be about who has the best ideas to lead this country.  When people like Coffman prey on the ignorance of voters, and/or pander to the crazies, one can’t help but wonder if it’s because they know they can’t win an intellectual battle of ideas.

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CenturyLink – Good Riddence

 Looking to save some money, late last year I switched from Comcast (aka XFINITY) to CenturyLink.  I ended up with the 12Mb option, which actually gave me a consistent 11.4Mb, (download speeds).  I won’t go into the details, but when bundling my Verizon cell package, I was saving about $15/mo.  I also received a $100 prepaid Visa card which I used to purchase a combination DSL and wireless modem.

The price was good.

The service….not so much.

The speed was consistent and acceptable, the problem, the minor nit, were the drops.  I would go through days where the service would drop for short periods.  Many times only 10-15 seconds.  Others slightly longer.  This was an annoyance, but that’s it.

Then in March, there was an approximate 20 hour outage.  Turns out there was a hardware failure and equipment needed to be shipped over night.  Seriously?  Not a spare in the Denver area?

Having been in computer related support for most of my career, I understand stuff happens.  What you must plan for is how to react.  Having spares is a normal way of doing business. But not CenturyLink, at least in Colorado.

While not thrilled, I accepted that sometimes it’s a perfect storm of crap and the consumer is left without the service for which they pay.

Then on Tuesday afternoon (May 8), my service goes down again.  Once again, I find out it’s a hardware problem and once again, I’m waiting until the next morning for the service to return.  This time, the outage was 17 hours.

At this point, Curmudgeon Dave’s two strike rule was invoked and I set in motion the move back to Comcast.  I will talk about that process along with my recommendation regarding how to piss of a customer who’s already pissed off because of poor service in a later post.

Okay…Now it’s Thursday and I’m anxiously awaiting my package from Comcast (probably Monday or Tuesday), and my service goes down again.  This time, service is returned in record (HA) time.  I’m only down for 5.5 hours.   I’m posting this in the hour since service returned.

So let’s recap.  So far in 2012, my service has been down for 20 hours, 17 hours and 5.5 hours or a total of 42.5 hours or 2550 minutes.   Since January 1, there have been 188,500 minutes.

Here’s a hint of my next post.  While I waited on hold the many times I called for status during the 2550 minutes of outage, one number kept being repeated into my ear.

99.99% Network Availability.

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Watch This Space…

It’s been months, many months, since I’ve last shared my thoughts, hopes, inspirations, dreams, drivel (often all in the same post and often indistinguishable from one another).

It’s time to fire up the random thought generation furnace, stoke it with the fires of logic and reason and feed the creativity engine with the hot coals of hyperbolic rhetoric.

It’s time to get back to work.  Watch This Space for updates on the following:

  • Pandigital Planet Tablet
  • Cutting the Cord – Cheap TV
  • Colorado Rapids 2012 Season
  • The 2012 Election
  • The Economy
  • Surprise Topics to be Announced…


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Justice Comes to the Women’s World Cup

Anyone who follows soccer knows what a cruel sport it can be.  We’ve seen too many games where a team will dominate only to fall short due to an opportunistic or lucky goal, or perhaps a poor or bad no call.

I’m thrilled to have watched two games the past two days where justice truly was served.  Yesterday, France dominated England but it was England scoring, against the run of play and looked to come up winners,  A late goal and then a win in penalty kicks allowed France to prevail.

Now today, the U.S., who admittedly were a bit lucky to benefit from an own goal, found themselves down 2-1 after a controversial penalty call in the box, which included a red card.  In addition the U.S. keeper (Hope Solo) saved the PK but incredibly the ref demanded a rekick for what appeared to be no legitimate reason.  Brazil converted for a 1-1 tie.  Then Brazil scored the go ahead goal after a clear offside call was missed.

Abby Wambach tied the game in extra time added on to the second OT period and the U.S. prevailed in PK’s.  At that point the U.S. had been playing with just 10 players for almost an hour.

To a lessor extent, Japan’s win over host Germany was also deserved but also seemed unlikely.

It’s nice to see a tournament where good things are happening to good teams.

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SportyPal Goes Pro

It’s been a while since I wrote about SportyPal.  However, March has come in like a lamb so I pumped up the tires, strapped on my helmet and started riding.

Since my last use of SportyPal, they have released a “pro” version which, unlike the non-pro version, costs money for some added features.  I downloaded the “pro” version and went for a ride.  Like the other version, it worked as designed.

I honestly don’t see a lot of differences, other then cosmetic ones.  I do like the integration with the audio player.  I’m not so sure of the value of the work outs using automobiles, planes, and paragliding????  but then again, I’m just a simple guy.

On the nit picky side, I find the method to select an On or Off setting a bit unusual. On and Off appear on what, to me, look 3D buttons.  But they don’t behave like tradition buttons i.e. the button “pushed” in, is in fact, off.   What makes it confusing is you don’t actually push “in” On or Off, as pushing either simply toggles the selection, so, for me, it wasn’t intuitive when an option was On or Off.I also don’t like that it doesn’t remember the type of workout I used previously.

The version I downloaded, 1.3, is supposed to implement automatic pausing.  I nice feature when you come to a stop sign or traffic light.   The blog states:

Added automatic pausing. If you enable the Autopause option in settings, your workouts will pause automatically if you drop below a certain speed, and then resume when you start moving faster.

“Certain speed”?  I suppose that makes sense to someone, but huh?  I didn’t see an option to designate the speed at which it pauses.  For me, who uses the cycling and walking options, the speed at which to pause would be ZERO, like when I’m stopped.  I suppose that option wouldn’t make much sense if you’re paragliding.

An additional option that might come in handy is the ability to keep the screen on.

It does integrate now with a bluetooth heart monitor, but doesn’t allow me to track calorie usage when riding my stationary bike.  There is a button labeled “Indoor” (which ironically uses a dumbell as an icon) which might apply, but it requires the paid version.

Since there is a free trial, I gave it a go.  What a mess.  First, it needs to connect to their server.  After a bit you see 4 options, (no graphic)  I pressed New Workout (no indication I pressed it).  I’m asked to enter a Name.  I press the field and normally an app will display the soft keyboard, nope.  So I open to type in the hard keyboard…it tries to connect to a servers again???…wait…wait…wait…bored…close keyboard and go back.

This time I press the dumb bell (the irony is getting personal) and then press Custom exercises.  I see a left arrow, a trash can and plus sign.  I press the plus sign and see a list of Reps, Weights, Distance and Time with teenie tiny check boxes. I check (I think) Distance and press an icon which looks like a piece of paper with a an arrow across it. Nothing.

I decide to press the menu hard button.  It has an option to “Reload” so I “Reload” and viola, the screen formats (sorta) better, there a buttons with text now instead of just text.  So I select Distance…nothing.  Maybe I need to enter a workout name…no soft keyboard, opening hard keyboard and I’m waiting….waiting….

Start over.

Never mind – I tried other things all without success.

This was indeed a trial, of my patience….

Anyway.  SportyPal Pro, the free, non trial, version works great.  It does what I want, but then again so did the previous version.  Perhaps they will make the dumb bell option such that this dumb bell can figure out why I need to pay for it.

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Colorado Rapids Preview – Part 2

Returning Players

As I mentioned in my last blog, the Rapids will return the starting 11 that won the 2010 MLS Cup.  The Rapids use the traditional 4-4-2 formation. The defense is Matt Pickens in goal, Kosuke Kimura, Marvell Wynne, Drew Moor and Anthony Wallace across the back.  The mid fielders are  Brian Mullan, Jeff Larentowitcz, Pablo Mastroeoni, and Jamie Smith and the forwards are Conor Casey and Omar Cummings.

The teams strength is up the middle as JL and Pablo work well together defending, and getting the loose ball and starting the offense, which more often then not means either a mid range ball to Casey or Omar or sending the wide to the mids down the touch line.  The Rapids don’t employ lengthy buildups, preferring to strike quick.

Defensively, what the may players lack in faultless play, they make for in their remarkable ability to recover.  Marvell Wynne especially has prevented many easy chances with his quickness and speed.

New Players

As mentioned last week, the teams biggest weakness was it’s lack of quality depth.  Coach Smith has done, on paper, a great job addressing that concern.  In the midfield, Jamie Smith and Mullan are good possession mid fielders, but lack speed.  Coach Smith has brought in Sanna Nyassi from Seattle.  Sanna has excellent speed and quickness and is very explosive towards the goal.   Joseph Nane, recent of Toronto, will provide a tough backup for JL and Pablo.  Replacing Julian Baudet is Tyrone Marshall who, while not the imposing physical presence Julian was, is good in the air and tough on the ball.   As I write this, the Rapids are negotiating with Hull City for Caleb Folan. Caleb accompanied the Rapids on their pre-season trip to Arizona recently, scoring a goal and playing games with both Conor Casey and Omar Cummings.

The addition of Nyassi and Nane represent a big step forward in quality depth.  Adding Folan would be another huge plus.


I saw an interesting analysis the other day regarding midfield tactics.  The article mentions the Rapids technique of “funnel-and-press” and how they’ve used it to success.  One positive thing mentioned was the Rapids completed an MLS best 83% of their passes.   According to Matthew Doyle:

That’s at least partially because they attempted fewer passes than most other teams, but also because they have Jeff Larentowicz sweeping and distributing in front of his defense.

Some (like me) might argue the high percentage might also be due to the fact the defenders do an awful lot of passing among themselves before moving the ball forward ;) .

It’s no secret, I prefer a different style of play.  But given the choice, I’ll take the results we saw last year.  But due to money constraints, MLS teams simply will not be able to  build a team with 11 highly skilled possession oriented,  players, at least any time soon.

Ever since the Designated Player rule, I have argued, against the wind,  having such a player (or recently, players) doesn’t guarantee success.   First, the additional money, while huge by MLS standards, still isn’t enough to get quality players in their prime.  Second, but more importantly, it’s a team game and adding one,  two, or even three as the New York Red Bulls did last year, doesn’t a championship make.  Unless I’m mistaken, as of now no team with a designated player has won the MLS Cup.  That will change, if for no reason than the odds.

The secret to wining is getting players who fit into and believe and can execute the coaches system (assuming, of course, the system is a good enough one to win).   That’s what Gary Smith and his Rapids did in 2010. Oh yeah, in addition to that, you need the ball to roll the right way and a bit of good fortune to boot.  The Rapids finished 2010 with all three.

What fortunes will 2011 hold?

At first glance, despite the constant hype about the L.A. Galaxy, it doesn’t look to me like the Western Conference is any stronger then last year.  FC Dallas doesn’t appear to be stronger, nor Real Salt Lake or San Jose.   In fact, I don’t see anything to suggest the Rapids couldn’t compete for the top spot.

Returning the starting team that won the 2010 MLS Cup is a good start, but is it enough?  Just a few things which could go wrong and send the team backwards include:

  • Playing like they are the returning champions instead of with a passion to defend.  That means working hard and playing smart instead of expecting results.
  • Key injuries. They are a bit deeper this year, but at this point, losing one or more of Omar, Casey, JL, Pablo, Marvell or Drew would be very painful.
  • More about depth.  The addition of the champions league games means more chance for fatigue and injuries.  Plus the Gold Cup will mean Omar will miss games playing for the Jamaican National Team and maybe some other Rapids players may earn spots on the U.S. National Team.  The new players need to play close to the level of those they replace.

According to the count down widget on the right, the first home game is less then 20 days out.  The legendary and MLS best tailgate 3 hours sooner.  We’ll learn a bit more about the team over the next few week as they take a trip to Southern California and play some more pre-season games.  We also should here if the Rapids are able to sign Folan.

MLS soccer is almost here, it’s time to break out the jerseys, scarves and hats, but leave the vuvuzelas at home because word is they’ve been banned from Dicks Sporting Goods Park.  

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Colorado Rapids – 2011 Preview

The 2011 Colorado Rapids season is about a month away.  The season opener is Saturday March 19th at Dicks Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colorado.  I will be there.

My last post on the Rapids was over two months ago on December 17th.   My last post on the Rapids forum on was on December 18th.  The Rapids 2010 MLS Cup championship was less then a month old and already there was a lot of negative emotions being displayed on the forum.  A new tagline was selected which, rather then celebrate the accomplishment,  provided a back handed compliment wrapped in sarcasm.  Now…Normally, I would applaud such a thing but here we were, the moment all Rapids fans have been waiting still fresh in our memories, but instead of celebration, choose to forget the good and focus on the bad.

Initially, I got caught up in discussions but decided instead  step back and spend more time with other interests.  Soccer and the Rapids still entered my mind, but the thoughts were of Conor Casey, stretching his right leg and foot far enough to poke the tying goal into the net.  Or of Mac Kandji nutmegging his defender and ricocheting the ball off George Johns into the net for the winning goal before falling down clutching his torn ACL.  I was picturing the Rapids players, led by Pablo Mastroeni hoisting the cup high over their heads.  Later it was watching the 2010 Denver Parade of Light and seeing Kosuke Kimura riding in one of the lead cars with the cup at his side.

Those were good thoughts, great thoughts and memories.  This was no time to get back into the mud.  There would be plenty of time for that in 2011. ;)

2011 – Defending Champions

Before the 2010 season I reflected on 2009 and tried to identify the areas the Rapids needed to improve to become a contender.  The Rapids failed to make the play-offs for the 3rd consecutive year, there were a lot of opportunities to improve.  The 2010 Rapids won the MLS Cup.  What’s to improve, what’s to talk about?

Coach Gary Smith must have felt the same way because he managed to keep his entire starting lineup as well as a few regular substitutes.   Clearly, Smith felt the starting 11, good enough to win in 2010, were good enough to win in 2011.  It’s tough to argue with that.  The team that went through the play-offs to the Cup, was a different team then started the year.  Jamie Smith and Brian Mullan were playing the wings and Anthony Wallace was playing left mid.  Further, it took Omar Cummings half the year to settle in and boy did he ever, becoming one of the most dangerous forwards in MLS.  It also took half the season for Jeff Larentowicz and Pablo to become real comfortable together, allowing them to alternate defending and attacking.

The team that ended the 2010 season was a pretty solid team.  Not every player was an all star, but there are no clear weak links either.  Having the same core of players, settling in and being comfortable playing together and within the system designed by the coach goes a long way towards making a team successful.  Without any obvious weak links, making changes to improve the team is risky.

An area the Rapids did need improvement was with their depth, quality depth.  Winning the Cup means the Rapids are playing in the CONCACAF Champions League.  That prestigious tournament demands a lot from the players.  The tournament brings long distance travel and mid week games, tough games.  Being successful requires quality depth, depth the 2010 Rapids did not possess. One only needs to look at the home D.C. United game to see what happened when the Rapids tried to rely on their depth.

The Rapids actually began to address their depth issue in the latter half of 2010 by acquiring Kandji.  Since the championship, they’ve further added depth with Joseph Nane, a tough defensive midfielder and Sanna Nyassi, a speedy outside mid and forward.   Both are very capable players who will improve the depth.  Coach Smith has also been looking at a few other players.  Two who made an impact during pre-season games in Arizona are Steven Emory, a local product out of Metro State and Ireland international Caleb Folan.

Preseason Rankings

I was amused to read the MLS Preseason Power Rankings a few weeks back.  The Colorado Rapids, 2010 MLS Cup Champions were ranked 5th.  Behind the team they beat for the Cup and  behind two teams beaten by teams the Rapids beat on in the play-offs.  Neither FC Dallas (FCD) nor Real Salt Lake have added any notably players.  FCD, in fact, lost Dax McCarty, Jeff Cunningham and Atiba Harris.  Two starters and a dangerous scorer. Yet they are ranked ahead of the Rapids.  Also ahead of the Rapids are the L.A. Galaxy and New York Red Bulls.  Both teams are darlings of the media as they have multiple marque Designated Players.  Never mind they were both upstaged by FCD and the Rapids last year.

Next week I’ll talk about the changes made for this years team and how they might impact the Rapids as they defend their title.

About the picture – I like having a picture at the top of these posts.  Sometimes it’s obvious, to me, what picture to use.  Often, however, I look for something “different”.  I Google (Google Image) a phrase which describes, to some extent, the theme of the post and then pick the most interesting or maybe the wackiest one I find.  To date, my favorite is the one for this post, a preview of the Rapids first play-off game against the Crew.  Not only was it heavy on wacky, but when we left the stadium after the game we received discount coupons to some kind Ozzy Osbourne event.  The picture above is one of those obvious ones.

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