Comment #3120 by: gB at about 08:34 on April 18, 2008
re: hybrids
I did some quick, crude math and I figure $7000 will buy me a little under 4 years worth of gas, given my current driving needs.

So Adam, what would you recommend as far as halfway clean, fuel efficient automobiles that won't shatter my pocketbook? I drive about 500 miles / month for work. And that's only because Ness and I carpool and trade off every week. If I drove myself, that would double. So I'd really like to get at least 30 mpg and not eject quite so much poison into the air if it's at all possible.

  Comment #3119 by: gB at about 08:16 on April 18, 2008
Did anybody else feel the earthquake? It was my first and I'm totally excited. I got woked up by my bed shaking around 4:30. I first thought Annah was shaking it or maybe kneeling on it and rocking back and forth or something. But there was nobody there.
Naturally, my next thought was that I had a P-p-p-poltergeist!

Quickly dismissing that as nonsense, I moved on to theorem #3: neighbor sex. The lady next door sometimes has loud sex on or near the weekends. But this was different. That usually just makes my headboard shake a little. This was my whole bed shaking. I sat up and listened for a few seconds, not entirely awake, and I looked outside to see if maybe there was a flying saucer overhead. Preferably one filled with hot babeliens.

Sadly, there was nothing. And then the shaking stopped. I got up, checked on Annah, went potty and then went back to bed, wondering if I'd perhaps experienced a real live earthquake. I got to work and checked the local news websites and found that yes, I totally had!

  Comment #3118 by: Adam at about 07:41 on April 18, 2008

This morning's 5.4 magnitude earthquake centered in down-state Illinois woke me up. At the time, I didn't know it was an earthquake until I heard about it on the news this morning.

At about 4:37, I woke to the sound of my door-knocker lightly tapping at my door. I went to see who was at my door. I went back to bed and didn't think anything else about it. I would have forgotten about it had I not heard the news report.

Anybody else feel it?

  Comment #3117 by: Adam at about 12:47 on April 17, 2008
It turns out that hybrid automobiles, economically speaking, are not your best choice for saving money on your personal transportation. Most hybrids cars have a ~$7,000 cost-premium over their non-hybrid counter parts. $7,000 will buy a lot of $4.00 gasoline. If you keep the car for several years, you might realize a saving.... if you are lucky enough to not have to spend several thousand dollars replacing the battery pack.

Economics aside, hybrids pollute much less -- especially if you count carbon dioxide as a pollutant.

However, if a new car is in your future, and if miles per dollar over the long term is a priority, there are some extremely fuel-efficient, low pollution gasoline vehicles that would be a better value than a hybrid... economically speaking.

Gasoline, even with its shortcomings (carbon dioxide emissions, geopolitical issues around oil, etc), is a marvelous motor-fuel. It is easy to transport, the real tailpipe emissions are easy to clean, it is relatively safe, and you just can't beat the energy content per unit. It'll be around for some time. Battery and alternative fuels research is really starting to step up. (The US Government recently raised the Corporate Average Fuel Economy rating that manufacturers must meet for the first time since the 1970's and companies are clamoring to figure out how they are going to meet the new targets.) Gasoline as a motor vehicle fuel will be replaced someday -- but mainstream motoring will continue to run on gas for a couple of more decades.

  Comment #3116 by: gB at about 08:48 on April 17, 2008
Yeah. Gas in Iowa is $3.29 right now. Which means it's likely $3.40 or so in Moline. I shudder to think of Chicago's prices.
I'd love to get one of those hybrid cars that gets 40-50 mpg.

  Comment #3115 by: Adam at about 14:41 on April 16, 2008
Oil was trading at over $115 early today. A new record. Please consider: There is no doubt in my mind that the price of a gallon of gasoline will be hitting the $4.00 mark very shortly. Further, it'll hover at this $3.70 to $4.10 and we won't be seeing $3.00 gas ever again.

The problem is being exacerbated by oil being priced in dollars. The dollar is sliding against all the major currencies. Since oil has an "intrinsic" value, the price of a barrel of oil has to rise when the dollar falls to be in sync with its intrinsic value.

Go buy a scooter.

  Comment #3114 by: gB at about 11:03 on April 16, 2008
I use's freefile service for Federal. It imports stuff from previous years as well. Takes about a half hour, if that. I use the state's free filer at or some such place.

I did taxes for two of the old coots who live in my apartment complex this year. They live on Social Security and have little to no income but they needed to file for that $300 rebate thing. I used TurboTax for one of them and it was a breeze. Took about three minutes.

  Comment #3113 by: Adam at about 10:28 on April 16, 2008
Last minute filer, Bob?

Are any of you still paper-filers? Turbo Tax is just the bees knees for filing your Federal Taxes. I really like that it saves the information for the next year's taxes. It makes filing a half-hour affair.

  Comment #3112 by: bo8b at about 17:50 on April 15, 2008
Aw, thanks Grahm! And congratulations!

Now... off to do mah taxes. Boo.

  Comment #3111 by: gB at about 08:49 on April 15, 2008
That's fantastic, Adam! I think the cop was impressed with your m4d sk1llz and let you off with a chuckle.

Happy Birthday to Bo8b!

I don't know if the information has disseminated to this side of the interwebs, but I have a new job and it's quite sexy. I somehow stumbled into what may very well be a lucrative career in the field of promotional fulfillment.
I'm making a tremendous amount of money (by my feeble standards, anyway) to do work I (mostly) enjoy. I should be out of debt by summer's end and will probably start looking into buying a new(ish) car. I'm suddenly in a position where I can maybe afford monthly payments and I'm excited about buying a car from a dealership.

  Comment #3110 by: Adam at about 22:08 on April 14, 2008
I'm a very luck fellow.....

Anybody who knew me during our high school years knows what an "Adam V. Pilon turn-a-bout is." For those of you who don't, this is how I used to perform them when I had only six cylinders and 100 horsepower under the hood of "The Diplomat." I would slow down to about 5 MPH, steer about a quarter of the way down into the culvert while keeping parallel to the road, then simultaneously steer fully toward the road and mash the gas. By having the rear wheels on the slippery grass that was sloping down, the car would slide around 180 degrees, and back up on the road, completing the maneuver. I got pretty good at it to where I could reliably do it so long as I had the necessary, slippery culvert. My first handful of cars were not nearly powerful enough to break traction on dry pavement.

Fast forward nearly two decades. I still perform such maneuvers, however now I have cars that have 300 or more horsepower and modifications that provide lots of low-end torque. I can slide the car on demand and I no longer need a "slippery ditch" to perform an AVP Turnabout. I can even do it on city streets.

Warning: Do not attempt! I am luck to have an extremely predictable automobile. It is very easy to get it out of a slide. I don't endorse this activity as you could easily hurt yourself or others. (Although, I don't plan on stopping!)

Okay.. Here is the luck part: On the way to the gym this evening, I saw a parking spot on the other side of the street. I pulled to the right to make sure traffic was clear and that I had plenty of space and time to turn around. Instead of turning around like a normal person, I tromped on the gas and spun the rear end around and pulled up to the open space. I didn't pay attention to the vehicle coming at me. It was a Chicago Police Car! I didn't notice him until he pulled up next to me.

Of course, I got a huge adrenaline rush as I didn't know what to expect. My first words were, "What next?" The officer said, "Excuse me?" I said, "Well, I suppose you saw me make that maneuver?" He simply said, "Yeah -- You gotta slow down, it's just a parking spot."

He smiled, chuckled, and just drove off!

Wow! Chicago police officers are not known for their charity. He easily could have written me a ticket for any number of infractions (reckless driving, improper lane usage, turning around in an intersection), but instead, went on his way without so much as an admonishment.

Luck me!

  Comment #3109 by: Adam at about 11:25 on April 14, 2008
Kristin Wiig made me laugh again! On this weeks instalment on SNL, she played a new character, Judy Grimes, a travel expert who is so nervous, she keeps intermittently spewing off nonsense with “Just kidding” in the mix. This sketch kind of reminds me of George Carlin when he list something off without taking a breath.

  Comment #3108 by: Pilon/AdamV at about 00:48 on April 13, 2008
Um.. I mean character

  Comment #3107 by: Pilon/AdamV at about 00:12 on April 13, 2008
The video below was on Saturday Night Live last weekend. The main charecter is played by Kristin Wiig -- My new favorite SNL player. I've already watched this several times, and it makes me laugh every time!

  Comment #3106 by: gB at about 19:16 on April 8, 2008
Awesome. Thanks! Lots of good stuff there.
I've been visiting daily for months, downloading an album or two a day.

  Comment #3105 by: Adam at about 10:13 on April 7, 2008
A great music blog aggregator, complete with full album-downloads. gB: This site may be of particular interest to you.

  Comment #3104 by: Adam at about 17:39 on April 2, 2008
My Dad sent me that email recently. Being the skeptic that I am, I checked the information myself. (This is easy with Google and Snopes). The information in that particular forward is somewhat true.. Below is the whole story, directly from AT&T's website...

About the 809 Area Code Urban Legend

Fraudsters have been distributing bogus e-mails through the Internet that are purported to come from AT&T. The topic: a phone scam involving the 809 area code. The scam itself is real, however, the e-mail and warning contain erroneous information. AT&T would like to set the record straight and separate fact from fiction.

The 809 area code scam first surfaced five years ago and continues to victimize consumers on occasion, although much less frequently than in the past. And there have been far more inquiries about it than consumers actually being victimized.

How the Scam Works:

In most cases a message is left on an answering machine or pager requesting the recipient call a number immediately for one of several reasons. The most common involves calling for information about a relative who has died, been arrested or injured. When consumers fall prey and call the number, the scam artist attempts to keep the caller on the line for as long as possible to increase the caller's long distance calling charges. The bogus e-mail claims the 809 area code sends calls to the British Virgin Islands, when in fact 809 is the country code for the Dominican Republic. The e-mail also warns consumers that dialing the 809 area code will result in charges of $2,400 per minute. That simply isn't true. The basic rate for a call to the Dominican Republic is less than $4 a minute although some 809 numbers terminate with pay-per-call services that permit the levy of additional fees. Since numbers located offshore are not subject to U.S. laws, there are no legal requirements that consumers be informed in advance of the extra charge.

And lastly, the e-mail purports to originate within AT&T's corporate offices and includes the name and partial telephone number of an imaginary employee.

Again, to avoid falling prey to the scam, AT&T recommends consumers know where they're calling before they dial. When consumers receive such a message from someone they don't know they should simply disregard it.

Consumers should also be mindful that it is usually necessary to dial 011 to reach an international location. However, there are some locations outside the United States, such as the Caribbean and Canada, where telephone numbers resemble domestic long-distance calls, but carry a higher international rate.

If a consumer isn't familiar with a certain area code, they can visit to look up any area code or country code in the world.

  Comment #3103 by: Dave at about 12:43 on April 2, 2008
This came through my e-mail at work. Sounds scary.

AT&T Field Service Manager has reported the following important information to us that we should be mindful of. DON'T DIAL = AREA CODE 809, 284 and 876.

Here is the scam:

They get you to call by telling you that it is information about a family
member who has been ill or to tell you someone has-been arrested, died, or to let you know you have won a wonderful prize, etc. In each case, you are told to call the 809, 284, 876 number right away. Since there are so many new area codes these days, people unknowingly return these calls.

If you call from the US, you will apparently be charged $2,425 per-minute.
You will get a long recorded message. The point is, they will try to keep you on the phone as long as possible to increase the charges. Unfortunately, when you get your phone bill, you'll often be charged an extremely large amount. (The example of a bill that AT&T mentioned was $24,100.00.) It works because these area codes are out of the United States.

  Comment #3102 by: Adam at about 10:09 on April 2, 2008
Tomatoes are unhealthy!

Ok, not really.. But it turns out that if I eat too many of them, I get arthritis-like symptoms in my wrists.

My doctor was trying to track down why I was having these pains, and ordered tests that can detect various types of arthritis. They came back negative as have MRI and x-rays. My doctor and I then looked at my diet. I eat a lot of tomatoes. Sometimes I'll eat a flat of them a week -- that's about one whole, fresh tomato a day. The tomato, a member of the nightshade family of plants, is very acidic, and can be rough on joints and tendons to those who are sensitive.

I've reduced my consumption and almost immediately my wrists and shoulders feel better. I'm told I don't have to eliminate high-acid foods, just avoid consuming them every day.

  Comment #3101 by: A Boy Named Sue at about 18:58 on March 28, 2008
Thanks, Bob!

  Comment #3100 by: bo8b at about 09:45 on March 27, 2008
Happy "Quirky Country Music Song Titles" Day!

  Comment #3099 by: Adam at about 23:40 on March 22, 2008
Happy Easter!

  Comment #3098 by: Dr. Oblique Spheroid at about 13:31 on March 20, 2008
Well, when a man and woman love each other very much...

  Comment #3097 by: Adam at about 12:44 on March 20, 2008
It was okay.. Thanks!

Thirty-four. How did that happen?

  Comment #3096 by: bo8b at about 09:15 on March 20, 2008
Oh! Happy belated birfday, Adam, good sir!

  Comment #3095 by: Adam at about 15:03 on March 19, 2008
Damn it, Porkins! Go on a diet!

  Comment #3094 by: Adam at about 14:37 on March 17, 2008
No Easter visit. I'm driving bus (again) to Orlando, leaving on Easter Sunday. P'raps I can make a trip to the QCA sometime shortly thereafter.

  Comment #3093 by: mitchell at about 12:49 on March 17, 2008
happy b/day, adam.


  Comment #3092 by: Dave at about 12:08 on March 17, 2008
I am afraid that Mr Lucas has been horrendously off target for some time now.

As for Adam, happy birthday you son of bitch. I miss you. Are you making an Easter appearance in the QC?

  Comment #3091 by: WadeMS at about 11:51 on March 17, 2008
Harpy Birthday good sir, may your Cordoba fly straight and true.

  Comment #3090 by: Adam at about 08:16 on March 17, 2008
Stay on target! Stay on target!

  Comment #3089 by: George Lucas at about 05:49 on March 17, 2008
Happy Birthday, Adam!

  Comment #3088 by: gB at about 19:48 on March 13, 2008
Like zombies.

  Comment #3087 by: Yakov Smirnov at about 11:56 on March 13, 2008
In Soviet Russia, food likes how YOU taste!

  Comment #3086 by: WadeMS at about 11:10 on March 13, 2008
I like how food tastes.

  Comment #3085 by: Dave at about 08:48 on March 13, 2008
Now why don't you go play with your Boba Fett menagerie while the adults finish their conversation about cooking.

  Comment #3084 by: Dave at about 08:46 on March 13, 2008
Yes, Grahm, exactly like zombies.
[Spoken as if to avoid crushing the whimsical imaginings of a child]

  Comment #3083 by: gB at about 18:14 on March 12, 2008
Like zombies.

  Comment #3082 by: Dave at about 11:32 on March 12, 2008
I made a real roux once. Its kind of like making tamales or tom-yum soup, just not worth the effort. I'll happily pay the professionals to produce these yummy things for me.

  Comment #3081 by: bo8b at about 10:58 on March 12, 2008
I completely agree about Zaterins. Everythinf of theirs I've had has been good -- well, a good base for experimentin'. Them's good eatin'.

  Comment #3080 by: Wadels Oathoff at about 14:22 on March 11, 2008
I recall the base of this particular brand of delicious being Cream of Mushroom soup, perhaps an early variant of your Earth gravy.

  Comment #3079 by: Adam at about 12:47 on March 11, 2008
Well, um, ummmmm.. Yeah, that "gumbo." Well, it wasn't. And I am embarrassed to tell you what it really was: Brown gravy packets with a bunch of crap put into it.. Shrimp, chicken, rice, *maybe* some sort of vegetable -- and all the red and black pepper I could add before Dave would cut me off. Gumbo it wasn't. Tasty it was - but I would never go that route again. (Brown gravy? What was I thinking?)

I'm sure the "Internet" could provide a much better preparation.

If you don't care to make your own roux, I would totally like to recommend "Zaterins." Zaterins makes box-mixes of Jambalaya, Gumbo, Dirty Rice, and other tasty, Cajun treats. It's good right out of the box (add your own meat), and an excellent starting point for experimenting and doctoring.

  Comment #3078 by: Cajun Dave at about 14:35 on March 7, 2008
While that was certainly good soup, I think Adam would agree that said food did not resemble traditional Gumbo either in technique or ingredients. It was in fact a jambalaya, which, is only vaguely defined as "stew."

  Comment #3077 by: bo8b at about 09:55 on March 7, 2008
Mmmm.... gumbo...

  Comment #3076 by: WadeMS at about 08:59 on March 7, 2008
I still remember that Jumbo. Gosh how I remember that, eating from the stew pot in Dave's parents' kitchen, sweating out all the sins of my generation. Legendarily delicious.

  Comment #3075 by: gB at about 21:33 on March 6, 2008
Hey Adam

Do you have a recipe for that chicken/shrimp gumbo you used to cook all the time? Russ Anderson is asking for gumbo recipes.

  Comment #3074 by: gB at about 21:15 on March 5, 2008
Yeah, Sprite was my first choice but the Toon guy was a way funnier choice. We need to play Earthdawn again. Forever.

  Comment #3073 by: Dave at about 16:43 on March 5, 2008
How bout Sprite?

  Comment #3072 by: Dave at about 16:43 on March 5, 2008
I don't think anyone knows or cares who that is.

  Comment #3071 by: gB at about 16:24 on March 5, 2008
I nominate the guy who made Toon.


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