Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas

I haven't posted anything in quite a while. Here's a Christmas video I hope you enjoy:

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Twenty six acts have submitted music tracks for round one of this years Live/Wired competition. The top four, as chosen by popular vote at the website, will move on to a live competition with the hope of ultimately winning a recording session and chance to play at the 2010 Isle of Wight Festival.

Prominent among the 26 contestants is Holly Kirby, the singer-songwriter who showcases her talent on her personal website and popular YouTube channel. Holly won the online vote last year but missed the live competition due to an untimely illness. She is poised to win again this year with her "Tea Leaves and Old Magazines" entry, but she has worthy competition, and can use everyone's vote.

This is not one of those "vote every day" contests. It's one vote per person, so every vote counts. Click on the link below to visit the LiveWired website and cast your vote.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Yodel Contest Finals

Tiffany Jo Allen was a late entry into Yahoo's yodeling contest, but quickly zoomed to the top with over a quarter million views. She finished in 3rd place overall and #1 in U.S. entries. Tiffany is a 15 year old singer and musician from Colorado with a popular YouTube channel, and a very nice website of her own.

Having made the top 3 U.S. finalists, Tiffany is now eligible to win Yahoo's platinum level and be the featured yodeler on Yahoo's home page. The winner will be chosen by the votes of Yahoo account holders, and votes are accepted daily until November 15th. If you don't already have a Yahoo account, it's free to sign up here.

You can vote for Tiffany at:

Friday, November 6, 2009

Yodel Contest

Remember the vote for the V Model contest a while back? Well here's a contest that's a little different. This young lady is competing in the Yahoo Yodel Contest, and really wants to win. Every view of her yodeling video counts as a vote, so go have a listen and help her out.

Click here:

The contest ends in 3 days so don't wait!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Beatles Movie

OK, Not really a Beatles movie. Just a movie of me singing a Beatles song. Remember the scene in "Help" where they're all sitting around in a house singing to the lady in pink? That was this song.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

How Far to the Nearest McDonalds?

A colleague emailed this image that illustrates the density of McDonald's restaurants in the U.S. Click here for the blog post that explains the image.

click the image for a larger view

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Just Another Day In Paradise

Saturday started with breakfast at the Tiki Terrace. After breakfast we took the short walk down to Whaler's Village where the 13th annual Youth Ukulele Contest was going on. We stayed and listened to the group competition. After the contest Janet did some shopping at the Whaler's Village Mall, while I returned to the hotel and relaxed with a book by the pool. I took a little too much sun and got a slight burn, but nothing serious. After Janet returned we had a snack and a couple of tropical drinks. Saturday evening we went for a sunset sailing cruise on Trilogy's catamaran. We finished up our day with island fish and chips at the Hula Grill while listening to their nightly live entertainment. Sorry, we didn't bring the camera to the uke contest or on the sunset sail.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Maui Re-Re-Re-Re-Revisited

Thursday evening we arrived for our 6th visit to the valley isle. It was a long day of travel. We left home at 7am CDT and flew 4½ hours to LAX and after a 2 hour airport layover flew another 5½ hours to Kahului where we landed at about 9:30pm Chicago time. But we successfully upgraded our seats to 1st class on both flights, so I don't really have any complaint about the flight.

Our vacation package from United included an economy car rental, but on arrival we splurged for the extra amount to upgrade to a Mustang convertible. Cruisin' the island in style. We made it to the hotel in time to check in, grab a couple of MaiTais from the Tiki Bar, and sip them while enjoying the sunset from the lanai of our oceanfront room. After sunset we took the short walk along Ka'anapali beach to the Barefoot Bar at the Hula Grill where it has become almost a tradition to enjoy our first meal on Maui. We had island fish & chips and bbq pork along with a couple more MaiTais while enjoying the live Hawaiian music. We got back to the hotel in time to catch some of the nightly hula show in the Tiki courtyard, then headed back to the room to turn in at about 3am Chicago time.

Friday we relaxed around the hotel for a while, enjoying the Hawaiian singing and dancing in the lobby, and shopping some of the art and craft vendors set up there. Janet found some more jewelry she liked from Stephanie and from Gigi's. After sipping a couple more MaiTais from the Tiki Bar, we headed out to an early dinner at Mama's Fish House. Janet had 'discovered' this restaurant while reading online about area restaurants and it turned out to be an exceptional find. The restaurant is situated on the beach of a small cove on the north Maui coast, and offers breathtaking views of the huge surf crashing over the rocks. But the view isn't all this restaurant offers. The food was out of this world. Not long ago, I wouldn't eat fish, but I learned a couple of trips back that fish in Hawaii is excellent, and the fish at Mama's is as good as it gets. Not to mention their MaiTais (how many is that now?) and their desserts. The bill was a little pricy, but it was an unforgettable dining experience.

After dinner we headed back to the hotel where I caught 40 winks while Janet caught up on Facebook. Then we headed out to Kimo's in Lahaina where we had found out that Peter deAquino was playing. Peter is a talented singer and uke player that we first heard at the Napili Kai slack key concert a couple of trips back. We listened to Peter and had (you guessed it) some more MaiTais before calling it a night and heading back to the hotel around midnight.

Saturday brings a keiki ukulele contest at the Hula Grill and more tropical treats I'm sure.

(Check back to this post later. I hope to add some pictures if I can.)

Friday, September 25, 2009

NTL3 - Street View

click image for a larger view

Here you see the best known landmark of one of my favorite cities, in another of my favorite cities. The Paris Las Vegas 5/8ths scale replica of Paris France's Tour D'Eiffel was originally intended to be full size but had to be scaled back because of the proximity of the airport. We've experienced the view from the top of Las Vegas' Eiffel Tower as well as the original in France.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

NTL3 - Birdseye View

In an attempt to make it a little trickier, I rotated the satellite and airplane views with south to the top. (because there is no north and south in space, right Jen?) If yesterday's airplane view left any ambiguity, this picture should clear it up.

click image for a larger view

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

NTL3 - Airplane View

It's probably apparent where we are now, but which landmark?

click image for a larger view

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Name That Landmark III - Satellite View

I thought I'd do one more guess the landmark puzzle. Here's your satellite view. If you need to zoom out a little farther to get your bearings, then click here.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Name That Landmark II - Street View

Located on the Côte d'Azur in the tiny country of Monaco, the Monte Carlo Casino is probably the best known casino outside of Las Vegas. (There is a Monte Carlo Casino in Las Vegas, but it doesn't look anything like the original.) Like other cities along the Riviera, Monte Carlo is known for glamour, luxurious yachts, and sightings of famous people. It is also known for the annual Monaco Grand Prix, whose course runs right by the casino.

We visited the casino in May of 2006 on a day trip from Sanary that also included stops in St. Tropez, Cannes, and Nice. I lost a "few" Euro playing blackjack, but the experience was worth the price. One of my best memories of our Monte Carlo visit is the profiteroles we enjoyed at the outdoor cafe across from the casino.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Name That Landmark II - Birdseye View

If you've figured out the city, then you probably guessed this landmark building.

Click image for a larger view

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Name That Landmark II - Airplane View

Here's the airplane view. There's probably lots of similar harbors on this coast. Can you tell where we are yet?

Click image for a larger view

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Name That Landmark II

I was out of town on a cruise to Cabo San Lucas over the holiday weekend. It was a great trip with plenty of good weather, good food, good drinks, and good times with our friends the Binghams.
Consequently, I'm a little behind posting a new guess the landmark puzzle, but here it is. If you need help orienting yourself on the globe, click here for a higher view from space. We'll drop down to airplane height tomorrow.

Click the image for a larger view

Friday, September 4, 2009

Name That Landmark - Street View

The target landmark is the London Eye located on the south bank of the River Thames in London, England. We were there in October of 2005 on our way back from Anna Szot's wedding in Warsaw. We didn't have much time in London, but we took in quite a few major landmarks. Can you name the following pair of landmarks we photographed from our nighttime ride on the London Eye?

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Name That Landmark - Birdseye View

It should be pretty obvious now.

click image for a larger view

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Name That Landmark - Airplane View

Here's a closer look at our destination. Have you got it yet?

click image for a larger view

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Satellite View Help

I think I cropped the satellite view too tightly to allow a reasonable chance at guessing the country and city. Click on the image below for an expanded satellite view.

Name That Landmark

It's amazing what views of the world are visible to us through satellite imaging technology available on Google maps and other such sites. You can start at a satellite view, and zoom down to an airplane view, then zoom even closer to a bird's eye view, and finally all the way down to a street level view, without ever leaving your computer chair.
So with that capability at our fingertips, I decided to take you on a tour of some well known landmarks I've visited. See if you can guess where we're going as we descend closer and closer from high above.

Here's your first satellite view. Obviously too high to choose the landmark yet, but see if you can identify the country or even city. Tomorrow we'll take a look from an airplane level, and bird's eye level on Thursday. If you haven't guessed it by then, the answer will be up with the street view on Friday. Have fun.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Geography Quiz

I'm pretty sure that most everyone recognizes the outline below, and can name the country.

But how good are you at recognizing the outline of other countries? Try the quiz below to find out. After you've made your choices, you can check your results by clicking on the "Check Answers" button. Note: the outlines of the different countries below are not of the same scale.

United Kingdom
Baja California
South Carolina
New Jersey
Society Islands
Key West
Society Islands
Hawaiian Islands

(requires javascript)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Carmen Sandiego Cornered in the Belltower at Chartres

Notre Dame Chartres

Perched on a hill high above the surrounding town, the Cathedral at Chartres, France appears to be floating over the fields of grain when viewed from a distance.
Along with the clue about flying buttresses, the first clue picture might have been mistaken for the spire over the crossing at Notre Dame de Paris, but the second clue picture clearly revealed the contrasting spires above the western facade of the Cathedral Notre Dame de Chartres. Paris' Notre Dame does not in fact, have any spires above the western facade towers. Both cathedrals are considered examples of the finest Gothic architecture in France.
Notre Dame Paris
Notre Dame ChartresNotre Dame Paris
flickr © Peter Rivera

Having climbed to the top just 2 years ago, Janet recognized the tower and guessed it right.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Carmen goes to church

Clue: She was intrigued by the mismatched spires that were built hundreds of years apart.


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Carmen Sandiego IV

Another Carmen Sandiego puzzle:

Clue:She wanted to see the flying buttresses.


Friday, August 14, 2009

A New Music Video

A short while back, Jennifer showed me a funny video of a weatherman who was wearing a green tie while working in front of a green screen, and his weather map was showing through his tie. She said I should try something like that, and I was inspired to record this cover of the Beatles' "You Wont See Me" with some clever video editing. Special thanks to Christian for his help making the video and recording the music.

Making the video reminded me of this funny Monty Python skit.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Carmen Sandiego nearly caught in Kyoto, Japan

The picture is of the Deva Gate at the entrance to the Kiyomizu (clear water) Buddhist temple in Kyoto, Japan. The temple is built high on the side of a mountain and offers breathtaking views of the city below. Drinking from the streams of the Otawa waterfall at the temple is said to bring wisdom, health, and longevity.

Kyoto is known for it's Gion district where Geisha and Maiko can be seen travelling to their appointments. The literal English translation of Geisha is "art doer" or "art person".