Gone Green

After many different directions, I have decided to take this blog green. In addition to the occasional other news I may pop off on, I will be offering green tips and tricks from myself and the web. I hope you enjoy.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Bowl season

BCS bowl season has released their games. Ohio state???? Ohio state?? Who have they played this year? Nobody, thats who. Didnt they learn their lesson last year at the hand of the Gators? LSU will demolish them even more. LSU, who beat a good UT team, while playing with a back up QB, with a busted finger on his throwing hand.

Oklahoma and LSU should be playing for the national championship. USC should be playing Georgia in the rose bowl. Illinois shouldn't be in the bsc. As it stands now Hawaii will be embarrassed, as will Illinois.

When are we going to get a playoff system for college football? Keep the bowl games as always, but each conference needs a championship game, then the conferences need to get in a playoff structure for the national championship.

Of course the MAC, ACC, Big Ten will never agree. Every year would be the SEC and Big 12. The SEC is hands down the toughest conference in the country, nobody can deny it. No other conference has as many teams in the top 25 consitantly, nor does any conference have the amount of good teams in it as the SEC. If the Ohio states, Hawaii's, and other schools want some respect, schedule tennesse, georgia, bama, floride and other SEC teams in their schedule. Prove they deserve to be there by playing the BEST teams in the nation. Its no coincedence that most of the "plays of the year" have an SEC team taking part in it.

At the end of the year, we will have LSU #1, Georgia #2, and 2 more SEC teams in the top 10.

Its time for a playoff, time to end the pretending, time to end the guessing.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Insurance, we all need it

With the chance of accidents happening any time( hey, that why they are called accidents ) everybody needs some life insurance. Where can you get it? Isn't it expensive?

The answer to that is Advantage, and no, its not expensive. Are you a smoker? Overweight? No problem there is affordable programs for you as well.

A quick glance over the website, at http://www.advantagetermlife.com/ shows an easy to navigate, information filled home for insurance hunters. They have an area to compare prices with other lenders, which shows confidence in their ability to get you the best rates.

Remember although we all wish to live forever, the truth of the matter is accidents can and do happen. Do you wish to leave your loved ones happy and well taken care or? Or do you wish to leave them simply with a lot of debt to pay, in addition to the pain of losing you.

If you chose happy, then definitely give Advantage a look see. You will be glad you did.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Coupons for holidays

Ahh Christmas. That wonderful time of year when we rush and shop here and there. Rising gas cost, rising electric bills, increase in food, it all seems so much this time of year. How can we save money on those Christmas gifts? Or even birthday gifts, anniversaries, graduations, the list goes on and on. And, with the above mentioned added expenses, internet shopping has increased as well.

Well, I found a wonderful website to help alleviate all the stress and trouble associated with shopping cost. Its name is as meaningful as its business, Coupon heaven. In todays world of flash and glamor, this website is easy to navigate, easy on your internet connection, and full of saving goodness. Discounts on shipping, money off on purchases, links to specials on websites, so much savings, so little time.

A simple search feature lets you search for categories that include, but are not limited to automotive, electronics, apparel, sports, outdoors and much more. In just a few minutes I found links to popular sellers such as:

Barnes and noble

Bath and Body Works

JC Penny

and dont forget your furry children at Petsmart!

I hope you have as much fun with this website as I did.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Tennessee, Going Down Hill

Well, once again we find ourselves living under oppression and retarded laws in Tennessee. A sales tax on cigarettes putting Tennessee higher then surrounding states, beer tax that is higher, teachers flamed for having a life, and law enforcement with the power to take your car and throw you in jail for transporting cigarettes and beer from across state boarders. And of course, every bodies favorite, its now illegal to smoke anywhere that is not exclusive 21 and up. No more restaurants, clubs, etc.

As I mentioned earlier, law officials can stop you, seize your cigarettes, even your car, and throw you in jail of fine you if caught purchasing cigarettes across the state line and returning to Tennessee. Now they mentioned the same goes for alcohol. Maybe you should spend some time cracking down on meth labs, or corrupt judges, or making judges accountable for absolute stupid, asinine decisions they make. Such as giving custody of children to a father because the mother practiced her religion. Separation of church and state there judge. The two don't mix. Maybe you neglected to read the fact that the father was of the SAME Religion. Or what of the woman who had orders of protection, because of the father breaking her jaw, pushing her down the stairs, and sneaking back into the house. An order of protection that was filed by the police officers who investigated. And you give this man custody?

Now, what about poor Melissa England. A teacher, who had pictures of herself online that maybe were a little revealing, and you suspend her? Parents in an outrage? Hello, stupid parents, what are your kids doing on a website that would show that? Why should you be such bad parents and expect the state to raise your kids? Its not the entertainment industries fault, or the internet, or anything else's fault your kids are heathens. Its yours. You are the parent, act like one. This country is turning into a bunch of worthless morons with over-inflated sense of self-entitlement. Expect everything to be done for them, and blame everybody else for their problems.

Tennessee, wake up, or we will be living under the thumb of oppression.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Beware cigarette smugglers

Nope, no meth problem, murder problem, immigration problem here in Tennessee. We got it all covered. Now, we just get you for bringing cigarettes from surrounding state. A massive tax on cigarettes has caused Tennesseans to visit surrounding states and buying cigarettes at a cheaper rate. Not anymore. Now, if caught doing this, with 2 to 24 cartons in your car, you get a misdemeanor and chance to lose your car, more then 25 cartons, felony, jail time, car repossessed.

Of all the stupid things to enforce, they choose this. We have illegals entering the state( and getting health care in some areas), meth labs everywhere and they go after smokers.

A direct quote from Knoxnews.com

"

Under state law, bringing more than two cartons of cigarettes into the state without paying Tennessee taxes is a “Class B” misdemeanor, carrying punishment of up to six months in jail and/or a $500 fine. Bringing 25 or more cartons is a “Class E” felony, with minimum penalty of one year in prison and a maximum of six years plus a fine of up to $3,000.

In addition, the specific state statute dealing with untaxed cigarettes provides that vehicles used to transport more than two cartons “are considered contraband and are subject to seizure,” says a Department of Revenue statement."


Time to contact authorities in Tennessee and let them know we do not appreciate this waste of our tax money.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Russia at it again?

Is Russia rearing its head yet again? Recent events seem most alarming from that area of the world. Testing a new bomb, resuming air flights( which caused british pilots to be scrambled), and even dissolving the cabinet.

Some look on Russia and condemn them for this. But look at it for a minute from the worlds point of view. the US has taken a rather aggressive stance recently. Russia may, or probably does feel threatened. They dont want to get caught undefended. They just want to defend whats theirs.

Its time the US started looking at its self from other countries point of view. Maybe then we will realize, its time we need to slow down and take care of home first.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Big brother at it again

A bill passed in 2005 with a premise as emergency military spending and tsunami relief has reared its ugly head in the form of Big Brother in our business. The "Real ID" combines state issued cards and drivers license into one ID card, or as the DHS claims, an essential weapon in the war on terrorism.

A National ID card was buried in the first patriot act as well, but never really took ground. It appears now this card will be required to even visit a national park! What does a national park have to do with terrorism? Are the bears and boars in cahoots with the terrorist? Are they afraid a family may now be able to go enjoy a picnic without being monitored by big brother?

According the the Real Id plan, all citizens must apply for a card no later then 2013. When applying one will be required to bring a birth certificate, photo ID, proof of social security, and proof of residence. I wonder if illegal immigrants will be required to show all this. Why are we, the American people being forced into this? If they want to stop terrorist from entering the country, then start at the borders instead of letting millions of illegals in, then giving them money and housing! Since when did being an American mean oppressed under the government?

This plan is expected to cost states $14 billion over the next decade, and only has funding approved for $40 million. But don't worry if your state doesn't have the bill in place, Chertoff says this is not a mandate; however citizens who live in states without the "Real Id" will not have an ID acceptable for federal purposes.

For more information on this see CNN or wiki.

The Wiki has lots of information, plus other links to pages with more information.

Whittle Springs Middle-Knoxville TN

Had some complaints from my daughter and some of her friends about the cafeteria in whittle springs middle school. Yeah, what kid doesnt complain about school food, but this seemed a little different. They were saying there is not enough room in the cafeteria and a lot of the kids have to stand up during lunch break, and that the food is just leftovers and never warm or fresh.

In my opinion, neither one of these conditions are acceptable. They can easily stagger the lunch times to accommodate the crowding, and a hot meal should be standard. Kids need that meal during the day to recharge and get some energy back to prepare them for the afternoon.

I called the school and talked to the receptionist. I was informed that children are not standing to eat, but standing around waiting to go through the line. Will verify with daughter if she sees kids standing and eating. Thank goodness for camera phones. I was also informed that the food is actually not cooked there, but brought in from another school and reheated. This of course could give the impression of leftovers.

After talking with my daughter some more, I will repost some more information soon.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Making money in WoW: The AH

Now its time for part two of how to make gold in World of Warcraft. Part one an be found here. This requires some initial investment, a lot of patience, and a personality that enjoys watching the flux of markets. Playing the AH now is a cutthroat business. Just remember one basic rule, no matter what the price you put on it, it won’t sell if somebody doesn’t need it. If it does sell, somebody needed it, and the price was good. Ignore the naysayer’s who in their superiority claim that it is overpriced( but use common sense, 2g for a stack of linen is rather stupid) and play the AH the way you feel you can do it.

First and foremost, download the mod, Auctioneer. This will save you a lot of time, and when you are out grinding you can get an idea of how much the stuff you have is worth, what does and doesn’t sell, etc etc. Spend some time learning to use it, and what it can do; it’s a really amazing mod. A note to be wary of, it’s not all knowing. Some people have learned to fool the mod by putting a few things up with extremely high buyouts to confuse auctioneer, and drop the average price so you sell lower then you should. Always do a visual search to make sure you are putting a competitive price up.

Playing the AH can be done either a little, or dedicating entire play sessions to it. The main part of playing the AH is knowing what sales, what doesn’t, what’s in high demand, and what isn’t. It’s similar to when looking for a grinding spot, except now, you are using what they farmed to make you money. I generally start off with ore/bars. Browse through the copper bars/ore first, look for what the highest price per stack is. Say 1g50s per stack of 20. Look for combinations of singles or other stacks that are lower. Buy these up; re-list for 15s lower then the highest price. Make sure it will make you enough profit to cover the AH fees. Double check the price before you buyout anything. Continue this all the way to Khorium bars. Check and see at each stage which is selling for a better overall price. Are stacks of bars/ores selling higher then singles? Can you buy out some eternium and fel iron bars, make felsteel and resell it for higher? Ore is one of the easiest to make money on, because 3 professions (blacksmithing, jewelcrafting, and engineering) rely on them to make items. Plus some alchemy recipes do as well. Since ore is so heavily needed, you can make a tidy profit doing this; even more if you have your epic flying mount and mine yourself.

Next are the primals and motes. I have several times turned 100g+ profit with these just by paying attention. For example, primal fires were selling for 32g a stack. I looked over in the mote of fire section, and found stacks of 5 selling for 10g a piece. It takes 10 motes to make a primal. I bought up all these, and some odd and end motes, made my primals, listed them for 30g, sold them all in about 2 hours. 10g profit per mote. Browse all the primals, look for the two or three that are always listed 5g below average, buy them up, relist them. If you find a lot of deals that are cheap, you can buy them all up and hold them till demand goes back up, just be careful of flooding the market. I bought up 2 stacks of primal shadows back when they dropped a lot. Saved them for a couple months till the demand was higher and the price was higher, made a nice tidy profit off them as well.

Look for epics/rares that are marked lower then average. This is a risky business, because sometimes they just won’t sell. Good ways to tell is look at the weapon, the stats, and think what class can use it, and what level. Remember that anything level 17-19, 27-29, etc is in high demand for twinks. Especially blues and epics. They will literally pay more then is even reasonable to get these items. I don’t dabble much in the weapon/armor trade, but do browse it once every day to see if anything jumps out.

You can apply this to any aspect of the AH. Cloth, herbs, rare recipes, or whatever you feel you know the most about. Keep an eye on the test server. When new recipes are released, get a character over there and list the materials for the recipes, buy them up, resell after the patch and you will make a good profit, if you are fast and the first. Some people hate to farm their own materials, and would rather just buy it off the AH. This is where we make our money.

Gay bears?


Yeah...okay, this was an interesting adsense ad that popped up this AM. Meet Gay bears. I am afraid to click the link, but almost afraid not too. What would one of these meetings be like? Do bears even care? Just had to share this interesting ad before it went away.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Same Sex unions

Gay marriage is a touchy subject in today’s world. With the upcoming elections, it seems to be a topic of discussion. Some of the candidates support, others support civil unions, others don’t support either. Of course, choosing a candidate on one topic alone is a mistake.

Why should gay marriage not be legally recognized? What part of the constitution disallows it? Currently individual states are the final decisions on marriage. Only one state supports it, Massachusetts. The federal courts have overturned other marriage bans (such as one banning interracial marriage) and a few civil union cases as well.

In my opinion, this is a form of oppression, similar to what the founding fathers encountered when they decided to leave England and travel to the New World. It is the government interfering in the happiness of people. Who cares if you don’t believe in it, believe in homosexuality, or believe in same sex unions? The fact is an increasing large part of the population practices or is in a same sex relationship. This is a large part of the country that is having their very freedoms restricted from them. The very basis of this country was built on freedom. What is being done to same sex couples is stripping this freedom from them.

The main push to hinder and restrict gay marriage comes from religion. Rather ironic, that religious freedom doesn’t extend to recognizing other people’s happiness. Does gay marriage affect people in any way, at all? No, it doesn’t. I don’t want to know what goes on in anybodies bedroom, straight or gay. That’s private between partners. I have never met a homosexual who tried to influence me to change my way (which wouldn’t happen anyway). All they want is happiness, to be with the one they love. Who is the government, or the church, or anybody think they are to restrict this happiness, from a portion of this counties free people?

When all is said and done, the only argument that should be presented is how will this affect people’s freedom? That’s what it is, the freedom to be happy with the person they love. Religion and politics never have, and never will mix. There should be no law stating marriage is only between a man and a woman. Equality, freedom and happiness are at stake for a portion of our country. Nothing will change unless a voice changes it, makes the stubborn masses see that they are restricting freedom. Not the freedom to harm others, influence others, kill others, or steal from others, but the freedom to be happy.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Review: Black Bears of East Tennessee


Black bears are becoming more abundant in East Tennessee. This year with the drought, they also have a more visible presence as the desire for food and water bring them closer and closer to the biggest threat they have, mankind.

Based on current data, there are over 1800 black bears living in the Great Smoky Mountains national park. That is equal to 2 bears per square mile. They can be found in most all areas and elevations of the park. Black bear attacks on people are rare, and most of those come from people interfering with the bear.

When out this fall enjoying the colors in the mountains, whether hiking, camping, or just on a short drive, there is some important information to remember.

  • If you see a bear, do not attempt to approach it, pet it, or antagonize it in any way, shape or form.
  • When camping, keep all food away from the tent, and suspended from the ground.
  • Immediately dispose of any and all food scraps, containers, wrappers, napkins, or anything that may have the smell of food on it.
  • When hiking, do not leave backpacks, food, small animals or children unattended. Bears sense of smell is many times greater then ours.
  • Never, ever toss or feed the bears, or any wildlife, at any time. A human food dependant bear becomes a nuisance bear.

Food management is one of the easiest ways to prevent hostile bear encounters. Keep your food away from your sleeping area, and out of reach. Very, very rarely do black bears just attack people; although, there has been stories of them actively stalking and killing people. This is in the minority though.

What should you do if you encounter a bear? Keep the bear in your field of view and back away slowly. If the bear has interest in you, and you have food, lay it down and walk away slowly, never turning your back on the bear. If the bear begins making noise, slapping the ground, acting aggressive, it is a sign it is feeling threatened and cornered. Never approach a cub, its momma will be near by. The saying, “mad as a momma bear” comes from this very instance. Cubs are cute and all, but one cry from the cub brings momma running, and at this point your very life is in danger.

If a black bear notices you, and comes towards you, begin making noises, make yourself as tall as you can, look for a branch or rock to defend yourself with. Most experts now agree playing dead is a bad thing to do.

Black bears are wonderful animals, but like all wild animals they need to be respected. Respecting them, their space, and nature will ensure many generations are able to experience the thrill of a mountain drive, and seeing that elusive bear.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Mens Advice: Enduring the heat

Its hot. Hot and humid. Temperatures are in the upper 90's, heat index near 110. The heat takes your breathe away just by stepping outside, you begin to sweat in seconds. That good looking woman in the office next to yours looks good, cool, and very non-sweaty. What should you do next? Well, unbuttoning the top button on your shirt and flexing your fleshy man boobs wont get you noticed, except snickered at. How do you beat the heat and still manage to flash that winning smile?

Dress cool for hot weather. If you aren't required to wear a tie, don't wear one. Wear short sleeves if possible, and if wearing a dress shirt, wear an undershirt. You may think the extra shirt will be hotter, but by wearing an undershirt ( and no, not your old rotted motley crue shirt) you will avoid the unkempt look of having your shirt plastered to your chest, and reduce the amount of armpit sweat you show the world.

Keep that mop on your head trimmed short, keep all facial hair ( if you have any ) trimmed short and close to the face. The hair style may be loose and floppy, but a close trimmed haircut will cut down on the sweat, and keep your hair looking professional for the better part of the day.

If you are going to exercise, get up early before the heat of the day and get in your workout before work. Take a shower before getting re-dressed for work, and make sure you drink plenty of water to cool yourself down. Throughout the day be sure and stay hydrated, snack lightly, and keep heavy meals to a bare minimum. Be sure and wear loose fitting pants and shirts, and light colored clothes as well. Use deodorant! That should be common knowledge, but it is amazing how many do not do this. Keep drinking the night before to a bare minimum, or avoid alcohol all together. If you do sweat, the alcohol smell will be all around you.

If you have a flashy convertible, it is best to keep the top up and the AC on. Sure, it may use a bit more gas, but in hot humid weather you will overheat quickly, and still sweat.

Not much you can do about the heat, but following these simple steps will help ensure if she looks your way, she probably won't wrinkle her nose and look away.

Boomsday Labor Day Celebration


Labor Day is fast approaching, and with it the end of summer, the beginning of college football. Here in Knoxville Tennessee; however, Labor Day is so much more. One of, if not the largest fireworks displays will occur on Labor Day. Boomsday has been going on in Knoxville for over 10 years. Over 325,000 people view this display, over the riverfront in downtown Knoxville. The fireworks display last for 30 minutes, is perfectly choreographed to music, and is absolutely amazing. The Henley Street Bridge is closed down the morning before Boomsday to allow for the fireworks to be put in place on the bridge. Under the bridge, near volunteer landing will be food, drink, games, activities, live music, and lots of people enjoying the show.

This attraction draws people from all over the country. Sure it’s great for Knoxville’s economy, but its better for the people. Getting to meet and interact with everybody is one of the big draws, in addition to the fireworks. People watch the show from the road, Volunteer landing, downtown Knoxville, even their own boats. If boating in, be sure and leave early enough, the Vol Navy is usually out in full force, and the water ways can be a bit crowded.

There is no fee to enter the festivities, and they begin at noon on September 3rd. Parking has been known to be a problem, but recent changes should alleviate that headache this year. For visitors coming in to Knoxville be warned road construction is affecting I-40 east and west bound, coming from the east into Knoxville. If coming for 40 east or 81, be sure and take the 640 bypass to 275. This will let you bypass the bulk of the road construction. Lodging can be found all over Knoxville, but anything in the merchant road exit area will be most convenient.

Some other things to do in Knoxville while visiting for Boomsday include clubs, fine dining, the Smoky Mountains, Cades Cove, Cherokee NC Harrahs Casino (1.5 hours away), Pigeon forge, Dollywood, and Gatlinburg.

Boomsday is always an exciting event, lots of fun, and best of all, fireworks! Come see and enjoy all the fun.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Men welcome to the 30's

So, you have hit 30, you feel your life is over when in reality it is just beginning. As long as we men are in our 20’s we still can maintain that 20 something mentality. Once we hit 30, our perspective changes. We look in the mirror and notice that our stomach no longer shows that 6 pack, but appears to be the result of many 6 packs. Our guns are without ammo, we have some wrinkles, our hairline may be receding, our butt is disappearing, and our pecs are soon becoming fleshy man boobs. We are hit with the realization that we are getting older.

Some men handle this well, start back to the gym, eat better, cut out the late night beer drinking, quit smoking, and have a complete lifestyle change. Others shrug, figure there is nothing to do about it, go buy a fast car to compensate, and try to live with it.

Life doesn’t end in the 30’s guys, it just begins. At this age we should have a good idea what we are doing with our lives, most of us married or divorced, have kids, have a career. We have work commitments, family commitments, children’s sports, wife/girlfriends, and hopefully good credit by this time. We feel pulled apart in many directions and feel at times that we never have enough time for everything. Obviously we put our kids and significant others first, and our jobs, then ourselves.

There are some things we can do to ease the stress of the 30’s and get some of that energy back.

  • Get plenty of sleep: We aren’t spring chickens anymore. We can’t go all the time on just 5 hours a night. Make sure you have a comfortable sleeping environment, no TV in the bedroom, no computers, nothing that gives off any ambient light.
  • Eat healthy: It’s hard to eat healthy in a world of constant being on the go, but make it a priority to try and eat the healthiest you can when you can.
  • Couple time: Schedule some time for just you and your wife/girlfriend. You all are both going in opposite directions all day long; you need to re-connect frequently to keep that bond intact and growing. Relationships aren’t a whim, they are a commitment.
  • Exercise time: Make sure to get at least 30 minutes of exercise in a day. This relieves stress, keeps the blood flowing and actually gives you energy.

These are just a few tips to help us men cope with the fact that we aren’t getting any younger. Getting older is a fact of life, and in reality, it sure beats the alternative.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Blog writers union

Some bloggers blog as a means to express themselves, helping others, actual reporting and investigations, or a means to supplemental income. The internet allows anybody with an opinion to express it to the world. A group of bloggers recently met to discuss the possibility and feasibility of forming a Union. They wish to qualify for insurance, set standards and regulation, and turn blogging into more of a profession. It is to be expected, with the presidential election upcoming, that bloggers feel they have a hand in the decision making of America. I believe this is what is driving this movement at this time. Most any message board contains links to blogs, people swear by their favorite bloggers, their work is considered law by many.

Anybody can post a blog, make it look real, and get famous for it. These are the type that need to be avoided. Anything written on-line needs to be verified as much as possible. Benefits of belonging to a coalition of bloggers would be more credibility, more exposure, press passes and the above mentioned insurance and possible more income.

A big downside, and one voiced by others as well is the fact that blogging currently allows people to express their view and opinion as well. Under union or coalition rules, they feel that they will become controlled, or not even allowed to voice certain viewpoints. Even though news reports claim that they are unbiased, most everybody has some bias to their writing. Even Fox news, claiming to be fair and unbiased, has a visible slant to most of their stories. For every blogger that thinks Bush is the greatest and reports his victories, there is a blogger that points out his weakness. Freedom of speech allows these viewpoints, in addition to the fact that there is no governing body forcing them to write with a specific slant. All viewpoints are considered and expressed through the blog empire now.

Some bloggers are very professional in their writings, others not as much, and still more that just write because they enjoy writing. Thousands of people daily log on and read their favorite blogs. A blog union will create a rift in the blogging community, and a sense of elitism could develop among those who are union, and those who are not.

Power Demand in the Tennessee Valley

The Tennessee valley is currently facing the highest temperatures of the year so far. Highs in the 90's, heat index expected to reach over 105, its not a comfortable place to be. Granted other places are hotter, but in Tennessee as in much of the southeast, the humidity is the deal breaker. Air so humid, so unmoving it takes your breath away at times.

The first part of the year was the driest in over 118 years. Due to this heat, hydro generation is down over 54% of normal, and the rivers, reservoirs and lakes are well below average. Hydro is TVA's cheapest form of generation, and having this cut in half may make them buy more expensive power from elsewhere.

It is expected that the current heat wave ( which is expected to last the next week or longer ) could possible task TVA's system. It is projected to exceed the record setting of 31,703 megawatts, set in July 2005. During that record setting, they provided power without a single interruption to clients. Will this year be any different? Will they be able to meet the demand with hydro down?

Currently to supply power, TVA uses Fossil Fuel plants ( 15,000 megawatts of capacity ), Nuclear ( 6,900 megawatts ), Hydro ( which varies based on water ) and Green power ( solar and wind). With water levels down, hardly any air moving for wind generation, TVA will have to rely on their other plants, and possibly buy more expensive power from other generation groups.

TVA has a good solid record, and there is no reason to believe they cannot handle this upcoming demand. However, everybody needs to do their part to conserve while they can. Don't water your yard, wash your car, or fill your pools during the heat of the day. Keep your thermostat above 71 degrees, keep your windows and doors shut, invest in a programmable thermostat, use energy efficient appliances and light bulbs, take showers not baths, and many other little things we can do to conserve energy.

Preview 2007 HOG Rally

Knoxville TN is going to be hosting the 2007 Club HOG downhome rally this year on August 24th and 25th at Chilhowee Park. This event will bring riders from all over the country to Knoxville, and includes many activities. Montgomery Gentry is scheduled to be there on their bikes as will many other bands. There will be stunt shows, demonstrations, and a preview of the 2008 HD. One of the big draws will be Saturday August the 25th in the Maryville shop. They are preparing to do a world record burnout. 100's of motorcycles lined up, smoking the tires at the same time. Registration is required and can be completed every Saturday from 1-4. The Kentucky Headhunters will be performing live after the burnout.

While in town, if bored of the activities, be sure and check out a few other local attractions. If night life and country music is your cup of tea, be sure and check out Cotton Eyed Joes in West Knoxville, conveniently located behind the West Knoxville Harley Davidson store. A ride through the mountains is a must do as well. All though it would be better later in the fall, it is still beautiful and majestic this time of year.

Also, if so inclined one should make the trip to the Dragon, a harrowing series of switchback curves that draws riders from all over the world. Not for the weak at heart. It used to be much better; however, Tennessee Highway patrol is attempting to make an effort to slow down the riders.

East Tennessee plays host to many motorcycle groups through out the year, most notably the Honda Hoot. The hospitality, easy access to mountains and lakes, and good food make East Tennessee a prime spot for such gatherings.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Warcraft Expansion Wrath of the Lich king

A snapshot has been leaked from Blizzcon showing that the next expansion will be called Wrath of the Lich king, Level cap to 80, Deathknight as the new class, character customization, new weapons and armor, new PvP battlegrounds, siege weapons, and more. Will be updated as more information is released.

Edit 1: The official website is now up and open! Click here to check it out.

Identity Theft

Identity theft

Identity theft is always on the rise by people who think nothing of stealing your identity and hard earned money to better themselves. Why would a person do this, and what can be done to protect yourself?

There are some people who are just lazy and have no morals. They spend more time and energy getting out of work, and trying to find ways to avoid work then the normal person does working. They dumpster dive, intercept mail, setup online scam sites, phish, and even hack networks.

One of the more popular ways to steal your identity or scam you is with a phish attempt. An email arrives supposedly from your bank or credit card, asking you to login in and update your personal information. The link looks legit, even the email is formatted in the correct format. You follow the link and see what appears to be your banks website. After your login, you come to a page that still looks somewhat official, but notice there is some questions being asked that make you feel uneasy. Questions such as your check/credit card number, your pin number, and your social security number. Unless you are aware of this a lot of people simply enter the information, click submit and go on their merry way, completely unaware that somebody now has their information. How to spot these? What protection can you use? Firefox will inform you if the website you are on appears to be a phish attempt; I believe IE does as well. But some things to remember, if your bank/financial institution are asking you for your card number, pin number, password, or social, never, ever give it online. Odds are it is a scam.

When you click the link, examine the address in the bar very closely, unless it matches your financial institute of question, do not continue. Contact them by the phone number listed on your card, inform them of what is going on, and ask if you can forward them the email. They take this very seriously.

Dumpster diving and trash sniffing is another popular way to get your information, but it is so easy to protect against this. The sad thing is most people do not do it. Buy a shredder that cross-cut shred. A quick Google search will turn up makers of these products. Cross shredding is more efficient then normal shredding. And when you shred a document, put your hand in the trash and stir it around to further disorient the scraps. What should be shredded? You should shred everything that comes in your mail box, old credit cards, statements, credit card offers, and basically anything with your name or address on it. It takes minutes to do this, and offers lots of protection to you and your identity. When mailing bills, or anything with personal information, don’t use your roadside mailbox. Take it either to the post office, or a big blue postal drop off. This reduces the risk of somebody intercepting your outgoing mail with checks or personal information as well.

As technology improves so will the need for vigilance and increased identity security. Thieves and scammers always look for new ways to steal your money, but by being wary of everything, following these tips for protection, and learning more about identity theft, you can reduce the risk of falling victim to these financial predators.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Deathknights and the Lich King

Some serious sleuthing is going on in anticipation of the World of Warcraft Expansion. The EU website has been theoretically mined to find the FaQ for the new expansion, and clever sleuths uncovered the patent for the title "Wrath of the Lich King"

So far it is suspected that the level cap will be raised to 80, players will get to invade Northrend, as reported here, Deathknight will be a hero class( which will more then likely cater to hard core raiders), a new profession, and of course new rep grinds, new mount money grinds, and new dungeons. On the PvP side of things, siege engines and destroyable objectives.

In my opinion, we will also see new talents, possible reworks of the current talent tree to avoid overpowerness, new mounts, new dungeons, etc etc.

The introduction of the hero class does imply some serious implications. First and foremost, will there be a limit? If it is anything like previous blizzard titles, anybody with enough time can make it. Sure it will be prestigious in the beginning, but after that, it will be common place. Of course if it is too hard, people will complain, too easy people will complain.

Balancing the talent trees will be difficult, as blizzard found out last patch. They promised the 41 point talents would be so strong, nobody would go for a 31/30 build. They were wrong. several classes have lackluster 41 point talents.

This will also bring about lots of PvP balance issues. It is only hoped that serious players get Beta invite and can iron out a lot of the balance issues before live.

Beginning a Relationship


Technically this relationship advice should have been written before my other one, but sometimes the words just have to flow when they do. Starting a relationship is difficult for many men, and for women as well. Worries about is she the one, will this work, what will my friends/parents think, will we get married? Many questions go through a mans head, and sometimes it shows in how we treat that new Ms. Right. As hard as it is, don't focus or dwell on this stuff.

Sometimes when you meet someone, you get that feeling that maybe she isn't our type. If that is the case, be honest with her. Women don't mind being told there is no spark, they may be hurt but in the long run they will respect you for being honest and upfront with them, instead of dragging on something, or worse, seeing somebody else at the same time. On the flip side, sometimes you will feel something, they won't and they let you know. Take it like a man, say thank you for your honesty and move on. Don't stalk them or call them all the time and try and change their mind.

A lot of time people meet online first. Be it through matchmaker, e-harmony, yahoo, or myspace, a lot of first impressions come from your online presence. When you meet, depending on how you portray yourself online, they will either be pleased, or disappointed. Be honest in your online presence. Its easy to pretend you are something or somebody you are not, but no relationship should be built from the ground up based on a lie.

Regardless of how or where you meet, when you experience that first magic date, and you both have a good night together, be sure and call her, text her, email her, IM her, or however you decide to communicate next. One of the nicer things you can do, is as soon as you drop her off, go home, log on, find a online card service( I use 123greetings.com) and send her a cute funny e-card. When she logs into her email, she will have something from you there waiting on her. Be sure and call her if you say you will. Don't make her wait for your call. Don't play hard to get or indifferent. If the date goes very well, nail down a second date within 5 days time, to show her you are interested. If she won't commit to a second date, she may need to think about it and discuss with her friends.

Above all else, be honest with her, and yourself. You may hurt her by being honest and telling her that you don't think it will work, but not as much as you will by leading her on, letting her become more attached, then breaking up when you find somebody else. We don't like to be lead on, neither do women. Always ask yourself how you would feel if somebody did it to you.

Relationships are tricky, and getting started in one is hard, especially with two different personalities that don't know or understand the other yet. Always be honest, always follow through on your commitments, and always be upfront.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Relationship tips for men

Okay guys, we all have wondered at one time or another, what’s it take to have a good relationship? Hopefully I can help some of you struggling fellows out a bit.

Woman are mysterious, strong, soft, weak, compassionate, caring, thoughtful, delicate and many other emotions, usually all at the same time. Men, well, we just are what we are. We get confused when they cry, laugh, get mad, scream and sleep. It’s a basic difference between men and women. Some things you can do to help your woman and make her think she is the best and only person in your life. This is of course directed to men in a relationship.

Pay attention to her. This is the number one thing you can do. If she is talking, don’t be text messaging a friend, watching sports, playing games, or reading. Give her your undivided attention. And keep that thought running through your head out of there, it will show up in your eyes. Make eye contact with her. Gently lay your hand on her arm or leg to let her know you are focused completely on her. It makes her feel that she is worth your time and attention.

Do thing with her that she wants to do. She goes with you to sporting events, the latest action flicks, your sports bars, your greasy restaurants. Go with her where she wants. See a movie she wants to see. Maybe *gasp* get dressed up and go to a nice restaurant. Go for a quite walk in a park, by the lake, in a flower garden. During this time, turn your cell phone off, or on silent, hold her hand, look at her. Listen to what she says, and reply in full sentences instead of monosyllable words.

Compliment her, but don’t over do it. Don’t use the standard, “you are hot” or other cheesy lines. Pick out something specific. If you watch her get ready, see what she spends the most time working on, and compliment that. Compliment her hair, shoes, clothes. Tell her she is beautiful. Look in her eyes when you say this and maintain eye contact. Never complain about how long it takes her to get ready. She is doing it for you.

Having other female friends is not necessarily a no-no, but if you do have any make sure your woman knows about them. If they want to meet for dinner/lunch, always, always, always make sure your woman is invited. This is a touchy subject, some women want no other woman talking to her man, others don’t mind as long as they are included in every aspect of your friendship as well.

If anything is remembered from reading this, remember this. When you have a woman, and she is everything to you, make sure she knows it. Don’t take her for granted, cause somebody else out there will show her what you can’t, and you will be without your everything.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Tennessee Tax Free Weekend

Its here, the big weekend. Tennessee is one of few states that has a tax free shopping weekend. From Friday, August 3rd till Sunday August 5th at midnight, sales tax is waved on the following items.

Clothing under $100, school supplies under $100, and computers under $1500. Thats per piece, not a total. There are of course exceptions, and anybody interested should make sure they are aware of them before shopping. This weekend is primarily to help ease the burden of back to school shopping for parents. Kids going off to college, new kids in school, or even returning students.

I am not aware of any store that does not honor this, except maybe those who do not sale anything that meets the requirements. Most places even have decent sales on top of the tax free, so get out and boost the economy.

State of MMORPG

MMORPG’s are a staple of online gaming. Extremely popular, extremely addictive, these games captivate us, enthrall us, and allow us to create an online identity, in a virtual world. We can be wizards and warriors, priest and druids. We can become gnomes or elves or trolls or hobbits. Where does the genre go now? From having roots as far back as ultima, to the immensely popular World of Warcraft, gamers are always on the move for something new, something better. Everquest held the title for many years as the MMORPG to play. Now, it is unquestionably World of Warcaft. Who can dethrone this giant? Or will it self destruct from the inside out?

Ever since the internets inception, online gaming has been right beside it. People come home from school and work, log in and are no longer Joe Schmoe the 9-5’er, but Krazzack Tombhammer the mighty orc warrior. Troubles and worries left behind, they immerse themselves in another world. By fighting other players, fighting monsters, exploring worlds and dungeons, farming for rafting materials, they try to earn a gold or two, much like the real world.

Currently World of Warcraft has over 8 million subscribers, has so much publicity that even non gamers have heard of it from gamer friends, or from watching TV shows (notably South Park). It released its first expansion “The Burning Crusade” earlier in 2007. This expansion raised the level cap to 70, introduced a new world, new dungeons, new mounts, and new PvP arenas. In doing this though, it has become harder to level a character from scratch, because there is nobody in the old zones, except people leveling an alt. Also, it is old content, boring, and has its problems with an inconsistent leveling curve. The burning crusade also introduced a new type of dungeon, to help causal players achieve epic weapons. But, it is getting stale. Rep grinds, insane amounts of materials needed for crafts, and unbalanced classes in PvP are causing unrest in the blizzard camp. Many people are waiting for the next best thing to come, as is the nature of the business.

This brings us to two games on the horizon, which may hurt blizzards business, Age of Conan, and Warhammer on line. Conan features stunning graphics, real time battle, and a rich lore based storyline. Warhammer features massive amounts of PvP, conquest, and destruction. Both of these games are currently in beta, which means they are not finished, and any discussion of them could be on information that will change before release. In anticipation of this, blizzard will more then likely release a new expansion before or to coincide with the release of one of more of these games.

MMORPG’s have been around a long time and do not look to be going away any time soon. The head dog will change; a new leader will emerge, hold the attention of millions for a few years, and then be replaced by the next best thing.

Monday, July 30, 2007

You Tube Copyright Filtering

Google owned YouTube, a popular online video site, is rolling out copyright protection to protect against uploading copyrighted material. However, it wont block the upload, it will make it easier to report and remove offenders.

Its understandable they don't want to host pirated movies, but how will it affect AMV's or trailers. What will constitute a violation? Somebody who video blogs word for word another persons work? Or somebody who creates a music video using clips from popular movies?

Is this the end of self expression on the web? Or will this be the beginning of other video sharing website opening up.

YouTube has long been a great source of entertainment for America. Millions of people enjoy linking and posting popular and funny videos for their friends. Hopefully this wont be as drastic a change as it seems.

Wonder if this has to do with the Republicans trying to back out of the YouTube debate.

Wow Goes to Northrend


Is it true? Is the secret to World of Warcraft's next expansion hidden in a song?

The orchestra scheduled to play in the final day of Blizzcon received their music, and lo and behold there is a piece titled Northrend. This musical track doesn't appear in any of the current game files, and may very well be the sneak peak WoW fans have been waiting for.

Of course by the end of Blizzcon, we expect to completely know what is the expansion.

Northrend is the northen part of Azeroth, and home to the Lich King, or as he was known Arthas. Speculated to be one of the most powerful beings in Azeroth, he stays in the icy realm of Northrend, a piece of Kalimdor that was broken apart during the Sundering. Not much has been heard from this place of the world, just rumors of evil.

If Northrend is the expansion, and Arthas is in it, there may be seen an increase in subsriptions.

Parenting through a divorce

Being a parent is not easy, but can easily be one of the most fulfilling things one does. In an ideal world, there are two parents, living together, with the child. In the real world, it is rarely like that. Due to whatever reasons, divorces, separations can and do occur. It is during this that sometimes one or both the parents become a selfish entity caring only for themselves, and for revenge on the other. They lose the focus on what is important, and instead become fixated on demeaning the other parent, insulting, withholding visitation, and treating them as less then a person, and definitely not the other parent.

As a divorced parent myself, I understand all too well the feelings one goes through. Not getting to be there for every step and word the child makes, all the spare time with them, feelings of resentment towards the mother, feelings of betrayal, and even failure. One thing that we were able to do, was work through our differences, and put our daughter first. And a lot of times, this is the case. But not all parents are able to be adults. Sure there are the cases where the divorce is due to abuse (physical, emotional, or mental) reckless behavior (drinking and driving, drug use) and in these cases the child should be kept away for their own safety. Allow supervised visitation if they wish it, but these are usually the cases where they are so self-centered that they think of nobody but themselves anyway. I am discussing cases where it is due to two people unable to be together for other reasons.

Tip1: Act your age. The time for petty grudges and revenge is way past. Put the child first. You do not have to like the other person for whatever differences you have, but it is not a reason to deny them to see their child if they wish it. At a young age especially, the child doesn’t care what happened, all they want to know is why daddy/mommy does not want to see them. And parents, if your ex wants to see the child, never ever let the child think different. Children need that love from their parents. Remember, the child is more important then your hurt feelings.

Tip 2: The child is your child, not a bargaining tool, not an object to lord over the other parent. Do not use visitation as a means to get your way. It sickens me to see this happen. Put the child first.

Tip 3: Get a mediator. If you are unable to come to terms on your own, get a mediator to help work out something that is fair for both sides. Sometimes when emotions are high, things are said and done that make it harder and worse. Mediators come in and look at both sides and help compromise.

Above all else, please, remember the child is first. Their safety, their happiness, their well being depends on our ability to be adults and provide for them, and put them first.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Plug in hybrids

Plug-in Hybrids are making news. What is a plug-in hybrid? Why should we care? Are our cars not sufficient?

Hybrids have long been around, using a variety of schemes to try and stretch gas, break dependency from gas, and to be more efficient. Reasons for this include environmental protection, independence from foreign oil, and cheaper transportation. The combustion engine has been around for over 100 years, and during that time, the principal still remains the same. Gas has long been the most efficient of these means, but the affects on the environment, price of oil, long term forecast that we are running out of oil have brought about a change in the way the automotive industry thinks.

Hybrid electric vehicles or HEV’s achieve their high gas mileage through an electric engine, smart electronics, and gas. Some achieve over 60mpg, compared to their counterpart non HEV’s of 25mpg. There are tax incentives to purchase these as well, making them an attractive option. They are never required to plug into the wall and for all intents and purpose behave the same as non-HEV’s. They incorporate new technology to save fuel, use battery when applicable.

Now the push is on for Plug in hybrids (PHEV). These differ from HEV’s in the fact that they are required to plug into a wall for re-charging. Currently they can get around 8 miles before requiring a charge, which takes around 2 hours. Not very efficient, not even practical, but it is a step in the right direction.

Currently battery technology is holding this back. Toyota is once again leading the charge for this by introducing a new version of the Prius. The Prius has extra nickel-metal hydride battery packs, to increase the distance it can travel on a charge. Nickel-metal hydride batteries are large, heavy, yet reliable. They are rather antiquated, compared to lithium ion batteries. Lithium Ion batteries are the next generation of batteries to be tested and used in these new vehicles. The problem with Li batteries is during testing, several have caught fire.

With Ford, GM and Chrysler jumping on the HEV/PHEV technology, it shouldn’t be too much longer until they start making their ways into more homes, reducing our dependency on oil, and helping the environment as much as possible.

Aquafina

Aquafina, one of the leading bottled water brands, is coming clean on their less then savory practices. It appears, as was reported today, that PepsiCo will begin printing on the label of the popular bottle, what it really is. Tap water. Yep. Tap water. I have a bottle in front of me right now, and it clearly states on the bottle, "Pure Water, Perfect taste, Purified drinking water". It appears, it is not pure, nor purified. Also appears that when enough bottles are emptied together, a stench begins to appear that rivals that of any compost pile.

And by no means is Coke and its popular Dasani let off the hook. They gather their water from public reservoirs as well. they report that they will post the quality process online in a month or so.

I see several lawsuits coming from this. It will be amazing if they survive this. I know I for one will not buy their water again. Nor am I likely to purchase any Pepsi products as my means of protest.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

World of Warcraft: Warriors


The warrior class brings to mind plate armor, big weapons, fierce fighters, and damaging blows. In the World of Warcraft, this holds true. The warrior class is designed to soak up damage, or to deal incredible amounts of damage.

As it stands, the warrior class has many things going for it, and many things against it. Currently, the biggest concerns are Mortal strike warriors, fury warrior agro/gear, and protection warrior solo/PvP play.

  1. Speced in protection, they are the best single target tank in the game, and the type of tank raids want as their main tank.
  2. They get to wear plate armor, and have a large amount of health.
  3. They work off the rage system. Meaning the more they get hit, or the more they hit, the more they can hit, and use more damaging abilities.

Some down sides to the warrior

  1. Easily Kited and crowd controlled. Warriors have means to break crowd control, or sap, or fear, but they are on cool downs. It can be overcome with skill, and some masterful use of trinkets and talents
  2. Can be kited easy. A warrior can close the gap on an enemy with 3 means. Charge( 15 second cool down, must be out of combat, requires battle stance), intercept 30 second, 20 second with talents, must be in berserker stance) and intervene ( 30 second cool down, requires defensive stance). Intervene is more of a PvE skill, and invaluable at that. A frost mage or hunter, or warlock, or shaman can usually quite effectively kite a warrior to death.
  3. Magic damage: Without a shield, or resist gear, has no defense against casters, except to get in their face and pummel, shield bash, and fear them.

So, what is the deal with warriors? Three things, PvP, PvE, and solo as protection.

PVP

Warriors excel in group PvP, are rough in solo PvP. However, the biggest complaint about them is Mortal Strike. This devastating attack (which is a 31 point talent, not every warrior has it) not only deals a large amount of damage, but applies a 50% healing debuff on the target. This appears to be the sticking point for PvP. But really let’s look at it. Healing gear allows some healers to heal large amounts for a long time. Mortal strike helps turn a fight that could drag on forever due to heals, shorten by a bit. People complain it makes a warrior needed, or it shouldn’t deal damage, or the debuff shouldn’t be as hard. If there was no debuff, then it would just be a gimped attack. If there was no damage, it would eliminate the arms warrior instant attack. It does make warriors needed, gives them a reason to be there.

PVE

Warriors who go the route of dps, with gear can put up some impressive numbers. However they have nothing to bring another pure dps class brings, nor do they have an agro reduction. This limits the space for dps warriors in a group. All other dps classes bring something to the table in forms of crowd control, major buffs, and agro reduction.

Protection

Protection warrior is the best raid tank, and single target tank. They have plate, 2nd highest health pool, and the most damage mitigation/stay alive abilities of any class. Where they could use some help is threat scaling, and solo play. It takes a long time to farm/level as a protection warrior, and in PvP they are a novelty. Some moves need to have the threat looked at, including ways to generate more threat, and possibly give a buff to Devastate, the warrior 41 point talent.

All in all the warrior class is fairly balanced, in need of some minor tweaks, but overall pretty good.

Dave Landeo Band

Got the opportunity to see the Dave Landeo band live at Rookies sports bar the other night. They are an amazing band, great vocals, entertaining to watch, and just all around great music.

Dave has been performing for several years, and has won many local awards. They perform for bars, restraunts, and are available for weddings and other gathering functions. He has appeared nationally on several shows, and is a pretty well known artist in the knoxville area.

The show started out with a little conversation, then right into the music. Deep clear voice, strong instruments make this a rewarding experience. His schedule is on his website, be sure and catch them if you can, it will be a rewarding experience.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

The Deathly Hallows: Review

Wow, thats all I can say, just...wow. JKR far surpassed herself with this book. Unlike previous books, there was very little down time in this one. From the moment the book starts, it is hard to find a stopping place. The book speeds along at a rapid pace, heroes fall, heroes rise, unexpected twist, deaths, and defeats. I did not like the ending too much, it seemed to rushed. I would have liked to have know a bit more after the fall of Voldemort, errrr He-who-must-not-be-named, but can understand why. At over 700 pages, it is a fairly long book, very well wrote, and did tie up most of the outstanding lines. Best line of the book goes to Mrs Weasley near the end, when she fights LeStrange.

I am hesitant to write too much, would hate to ruin it for somebody. Maybe in a few weeks, I will flesh it out a bit more.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Blog editing Websites, 3 column

Broke the mold today, went and fixed my blog up to the 3 column format. I am familiar with HTML coding, but not much else, XML throws me for a loop. But, I did find some websites that broke it down for me. Personally, I found that the basic template i am using now is one of the easier ones to manipulate, it just takes some getting used to and understanding some stuff.

  1. http://beautifulbeta.blogspot.com: This is the one that ended up helping me the most. The basic numbering in the initial setup was a great help in understanding where exactly the new code goes. This is the one that finished off my learning, and is highly recommended for anybody wishing to just add a 3rd column.
  2. http://blogger-tricks.blogspot.com: This is the other website that helped me. Lots and lots of good information in here, has many more tutorials, and links to other sites, some with premade templates. Of course, I am stubborn and have to do everything myself.
If you decide to go to a 3 column format, and are a complete novice at web authoring, be sure and check these two sites out, the information is great.

Propel Fitness Water

Just recently started drinking this stuff. Can read all about it here. Primarily I drink water, decaf green teat, the healthy stuff. Every now and then, I need something more. I am rather addicted to the Grape flavored one at this time. The flavor is not overpowering, but refreshing. I don't much care for Gatorade or Powerade, and I despise Dasani with a passion, this bridges the gap quite nicely for me. Give it a try, you should enjoy it.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Harry Potter: The Deathly Hollows

Nope, dont have, havent read any of the spoiler sites. I just really want to say, those that try to spoil the fun and wonder of the last book, please grow up. How horrible of a person do you have to be to ruin something like this? Its gotten so bad, the World of Warcraft forums are suspending anybody who post anything about the books. Kudos to them.

Photobucket has taken down the pictures that were uploaded. eBay needs to step up to the plate and close any auctions of people claiming to have the book. Myself and thousands of other fans have waited a long time for this.

Some tips, don't Google Harry potter at all. Be ware of any message board, blog, IM, or even email. If like me, you are picking up the book at midnight, when you get home( if morons don't do drive by shouting in the parking lot again) turn off the phone, tv and pc. Wake up Saturday, read it with everything turned off.

Good luck, enjoy the new book!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Harry Potter: The order of the Phoenix

Hmm, how to describe this movie. As a stand alone movie, it was okay. A lot of dialog, no action till the end of the movie. Comparing it to the book, it fails miserably. Goblet of fire was a much better movie, and compared to the book better. It is impossible to put the whole book in a single movie, but, at times it felt that they didn't even try.

Noticeable deviations.

No quidditch! No watching Ron learn to be keeper, Harry and the twins getting banned for life. There was not a single mention of quidditch.

Levicorpus. The student were using this spell while training in the Room of Requirements. It wasnt mentioned until book 6.

The whole Cho/Harry thing was poorly handled, they made Cho into the person who spilled the beans on the DA group. Also no indication or mention of the coins they used for the meeting purposes. Parts where Ginny glared at Cho was fairly humorous though.

OotP. The whole thing was rushed, no plot development, no nothing. Just basically a group of people fighting death eaters. Not much else was developed.

Harry's nightmares. They showed brief glimpses of it, but at the point when Ron's dad was attacked, they showed nothing of the hospital, Neville's folks. In fact, while they were all in Dumbledore's office, after the dream, Dumbledore sent Harry away with Snape at that moment, claiming we are all in danger.

The attack on McGonagall was not shown, or hinted at. The owl test were only seen in one small moment, and was presided over by Umbridge.

There was a few more I thought maybe should have been included. The acting was superb from Ralph Fiennes ( Voldemort), Alan Rickman ( Snape), and Jason Isaacs ( Lucius Malfoy). The rest of the cast was about par for themselves, nothing outstanding, corny and forced at times. Michael Gambon (Dumbeldore) actually improved a bit in this movie. Previous movies he seems to make the most powerful wizard afraid of the tiniest things.

When seeing this movie, try to forget there is a book about it. It will be a little bit more enjoyable.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Transformers: The Movie

Went to see this, all I can say is wow. Unlike many movies that are remakes or spin offs of cartoons/books, etc, this one avoids the campy lines, the throwbacks and the stupidity that surrounds them. There is of course a few notable lines, "Roll out" "Starscream, you have failed me for the last time", but nothing over the top.

The movie doesn't have a lot of slow spots, and is a real good action flick even if you think a transformer is what plugs into the wall and gives you power. The robots are very smooth in movement, the CGI is wonderful. My one gripe is is appears to be one big Chevy commercial at times. It is really the first time the new camaro has gotten a lot of attention. While looking nice, it did get old seeing all the cars Chevy emblems. I may be biased being a ford/dodge type of guy though. And, they really shouldn't have made a decepticon a mustang.

The acting by the humans was pretty good, considering there wasnt a lot of star power present. Mostly new actors, or child actors trying to distance themselves from their image. The voice actors for the robots are pretty much ones whose voice you will recognize, mostly from cartoons in the 80's. And, a BIG plus for fans of the original transformers cartoon series, Peter Cullen, the voice of the original Optimus Prime, is also his voice in the movie.

All in all, a wonderful movie, and one I would strongly suggest seeing in the theater.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Edgewater Hotel in Gatlinburg, Tn

Located in beautiful downtown Gatlinburg, the Edgewater is a very nice and relaxing place to stay. Stayed here for the first time over the 4th of July holidays, and will definitely be back.

Located on River Road, it is behind the main strip in Gatlinburg. About 3/4 a mile from Ripley's Aquarium, it is removed enough from the noise of the strip, but close enough to everything. They offer very spacious rooms, private balconies, either a creekside or mountain side view, pool, continental breakfast, on site parking, and friendly staff. They accept AAA discounts as well.

The room we had was a spacious 2 queen room, and even with two queen beds, there was still room left over. We had a microwave, mini fridge, tv, coffee maker, and the other normal amenities, including wi-fi for laptops.

The staff was friendly and helpful, and acted like they actually cared about us as customers, instead of the normal blah attitude so prevalent in hotels today.

All in all, a nice hotel, reasonable priced, and a great location.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Dollywood: The Experience

I covered the coasters of Dollywood in my previous post, found here. Dollywood is more then thrill rides, although it has its fair share. Dollywood is also home to talented crafters, cooks, and even some bald eagles.

A normal day at Dollywood can take anywhere from 4 to 8 hours, depending on your groups desires and wishes. To ride all the rides, will pretty much take all day, even if you use their new Q2Q device. This is a new addition at the park and pretty much allows you to go to the head of the line by scheduling your ride times.

There are three water rides in the park, Daredevil Falls, Mountain Slidewinder, and Smoky Mountain River Rampage. Lines for these are typically over a 45 minute wait, based on the outside temperature, and of course amount of people in the park.

The carnival section of Dollywood features carnival rides, games, and carnival food. This is the main location if you want to try your luck at winning a large stuffed animal. It has a swing, scrambler, ferris wheel, and some smaller rides for the little tykes as well.

Craftmans Valley is home to blacksmiths, glass blowers, a variety of shops, and food. This is pretty much the largest section of the park, and is almost in the middle. Here you can also find the endangered Bald Eagle reserve. The Eagles are almost always visible, and there is a couple of shows as well.

During the Fall, Dollywood host a fall festival. During this time, the rides take second fiddle to the music, shows and crafts.

Dollywood is a wonderful park, fun for all ages. If in the area, plan a day around it, maybe even take in a dinner show afterwards, of which there is an abundance of in the area.

Dollywood: The coasters

Located in scenic Pigeon Forge, Tennessee Dollywood has a unique flair, theme, and appearance. When walking through the gate, the sights and sounds assail your senses. The park is beautiful landscaped, the buildings take you back to a time long ago, and the sounds relax you.

Dollywood has something for people for all ages and desires, 4 roller coasters, 3 water rides, a kids area, a craftsmans valley, shows, home cooked food, and a carnival ride area. Admission is reasonable, and there are some discounts and perks as well. If visiting the park more then once, a season pass is highly recommended.

Dollywood is home to 3 coasters of unique design, and 1 that is classified a coaster I think mainly because it is on tracks.

Thunderhead
Thunderhead was added to the park in 2004, a long wooden coaster reaching speads of 55 mph, a 100ft drop, and approaching 3.5g's. Being wooden, there is no inversions. As far as wooden coasters go, it is relatively smooth, the line moves reasonably fast, and it is about 1 minute of thrills. It was rated best new coaster of 2004 by Theme park magazines reader choice awards, and was named “the number one wooden coaster on the planet” in 2004 by www.thrillride.com. Thunderhead was named Coaster of The Year and Best New Wood Coaster at the 2005 Coasters’ Choice Awards, the first wooden coaster to take the top honor in the awards’ five-year history.

I have ridden most coasters on the east coast, and this comes in right behind The Beast at kings island for me in terms of fun, thrills, and excitement. A must ride at the park.

Tennessee Tornado
The Tennessee Tornado is a metal coaster with 128 ft drop, and 3 inversions, with places pushing 4g's. A very short ride, but very intense. As far as steel coasters go, this one is okay and you should ride it if in the park, but don't make the trip just for it. It is a very smooth coaster, hardly any rider discomfort. If you are sensitive to g's, you may want to skip this one though. Coming into the third inversion, we have on occasion had our eyesight narrow and go dark, it does push the limits at that point. Top speed on this coaster is only around 64 mph, which is kinda slow for a steel coaster, but all in all, it is a fun ride. The line is normally very short.

Mystery Mine
Dollywood's newest attraction and roller coaster is the Mystery Mine. This is a very uniqe coaster, one I totally enjoyed, doing somethings I haven't experienced before in a coaster. It reaches 74 mph, 4g's and has 3 inversions. What makes this unique, is the cart. It has two rows, 4 person to a row. This design allows for some unique parts to the ride. The most interesting is 2 climbs, at 95degrees. Almost completely perpendicular, you climb up on your back. The first climb takes you outside the "mine" and through a few twist and turns, the second takes you up, as you are "escaping the mine" and then just, drops you. You literally go from on your back to on your stomach. A absolutely wonderful ride, and a must ride attraction.

The Blazing Fury
Yes, I count this as a coaster. No thrills, no big drops, no high speed, but it is nostalgic. The Blazing Fury is an underground coaster, that takes you through a community on fire, an almost collision with a trains, and a bit of water at the end. I remember this ride from when Dollywood was still known as Silver Dollar City, many years ago. I recommend it once, pretty fun and safe introduction to roller coasters for kids, and nice sit down and cool ride for adults.

In my next Dollywood entry, I will cover the other parts of the park, including the crafts festival, and of course the water rides.

World of Warcraft: The Game play

World of Warcraft has been previously explained in this post located here. I gave a quick overview of the game and the genre. Now, a little about the game. Most of this discussion will revolve around game play since the Burning Crusaded Expansion.

Leveling
Leveling means increasing your characters level, which allows you access to more powerful skills, abilities, and sometimes forms. Your character begins at level 1, in what is known as a starting zone. Each race has their own, sometimes shared with others( trolls and orcs, and gnomes and dwarfs share one, while the other races have their own). Your first quest giver is standing right in front of you, with a big yellow exclamation mark over their head. Quest in warcraft can usually be completed solo, and once a quest is completer, the quest giver has a yellow question mark over their head, and will reward you with experience, money, and sometimes items.

The max level in Warcraft is currently set at 70, and it can take anywhere from 5 days playing time and up to reach that level. Those that have leveled to 70 before, usually can do it faster by knowing where to go, which quest to take when, and where and when to just grind to gain experience.

You gain experience from killing mobs around your level, completing quest, and discovering new zones. The experience you gain increases as your level increases, but also the amount of experience needed to level increases. At level 1 I believe it is 1000xp to level, compared to level 70, which requires you to gain over 700,000 exp at level 69 to reach.

Talents and Specs
All classes, have three "talent trees" that further defines their class. Beginning at level 10, you receive 1 talent point per level gained. You then spend these talent points in your specific trees. For example, a warrior has an Arms, Fury, and Protection Tree. Arms has useful talents to augment the other two trees, but also is commonly recognized as the warrior PVP( player vs player) tree. Fury is for Pve DPS, and Protection is where warrior tanking skills are. It is not recommended to level as a protection spec, because there is little to no dps talents in this tree.

Based on your talent choices( and there are plently of options listed on the official WoW class forums) you can specialize in other skills. A mage can focus on frost, fire, or arcane magic, or a combination. A druid can become caster dps, a healer, or a tank/dps class. Even priest, who are usually just known as pure healers, have a dps tree, which at end game is very, very formidable.

End Game
This is where Warcraft, in my opinion, flounders a bit. A player can level all the way to 70, doing quest alone, never entering an instance. At level 70, you have two choices, raid or PvP. Blizzard recently added some repeatable daily quest, which you can do 10 of a day, which nets you about 120g for around 1.5 hours worth of time. Raiding requires time and dedication, money for repairs, consumables, etc. PvP requires time, dedication, but not the money sinks that PvE has. Blizzard has made PvP reward gear very comparable to Raiding gear, which allows those that love PvP the ability to have gear equal, or in some cases, greater then current raid gear.


In conclusion, warcraft is a solid game, highly addictive, but also a huge time sink. You will spend your time farming for money, materials, reputation items, and gear. Just so you can get more gear from harder instances. Currently, the best MMORPG on the market, and the one with the largest fan base. It will be interesting to see how it holds up against the upcoming Conan and World of Warhammer games.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

World of Warcraft Over View

Warcraft, the history, the lore, arguably the best MMORPG in the market right now. What is it? What is the theme? The lore?

World of warcraft is what is known as a MMORPG( Massive multiplayer online role playing game). For those not familiar, it is as follows:
  1. Massive: Well, self explanatory. It means large, many.
  2. Multi player: This isn't a console game, you interact with many other players, sometimes referred to as PC's( Players Characters). You can chat, trade, group with, and even "kill" them.
  3. Online: The main software is installed on your pc, but you connect to Blizzards servers and play online.
  4. RPG: Role playing game. You take on the character you are playing, be it gnome, dwarf, tauren, etc. You attempt to become that character. Some take it further and create backstories for their characters.
Background

Warcraft started out as aRTS game, and lived through three versions, and a couple of expansion packs. The warcraft universe is rich in lore. A few years ago, blizzard decided to turn their popular loved RTS into a MMORPG. The success was more then they could hope for. It was released in november of 2004. I remember launch day very well, server crashes, massive lag, the demand was far higher then what they expected, and it took a few days to be able to play. Nobody predicted the popularity of this game. Blizzard added new servers as fast as they could.

The game recently went through an expansion at the end of 2006, opening the dark portal and allowing players to enter outland, the original home of the orcs. More lore, history and in depth explanations can be found at the offical WoW sight, or Wow wiki.