Sunday, April 21, 2013

Internet Fun

 This past week has been traumatic and dramatic on the internet. Stories of kids that were bullied online and the committing suicide to the horror of the Boston bombers. We have all been buried in far too much information, drowning us with pictures, videos and presumptions.

When the real world gets to be too much, there are a few websites that you can click on to put life on the shelf for a couple of moments.

Des Hommes et des Chatons is a tumblr that very simply pictures handsome men with their cat counterparts.  Well worth a look, but a word of warning, there are a few naked male hineys. Not that there is anything wrong with that.

Before VFX contains photos of blockbuster movie scenes with out the visual effects. It is hard to imagine a time that movies weren't full of stunning visuals. This site points out what is involved, which explains why movies take so friggin long to get to the screen.

Selfless Portraits is probably the most creative and collaborative random site that I know of.  Strangers from all over the world volunteer to recreate someone else's facebook profile pic. Some are hilariously funny and some are hilariously awful. All interesting and creative.

National Geographic Found features random pictures from all varieties and time periods from the National Geographic archives. I love the photographs from the 40s and 50s in particular.

Pictures of Hipsters Taking Pictures Of Food is just that. Hipsters trying to get the perfect shot of their noodle bowl.  Bonus points for a knit hat and fancy filter.

Texts From Dog has been around for awhile and there is even a book out. I thought about starting a Text From Cat, but my cats could really care less.

What are some of your favorite websites to hang out on?

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Microsoft Store Sneak Peek

The banner covering the store front in Beachwood
I get invited to some pretty cool stuff, sometimes because I am a social media nerd, sometimes sheer luck. One of the lucky invites was Thursday night's sneak peak at the Microsoft store in Beachwood. Trust me when I say that the irony is not lost on me as I click away on my MacBook.

The first dig into computers I had was a Radio Shack TRS-80. If you used one you know that it didn't even have a floppy disk yet. No my friends, it had a cassette deck.

My first home computer was an Apple IIe, which had a teeny fraction of the power of my cell phone. THAT had a dual giant floppy disk drive. I then went to a Macintosh Classic - those are the ones that were all one piece that hipsters now turn into fish tanks. I have been a Mac kid ever since. I have a pile of shuffles (damn things are tiny), several different models of iPod.


I own a Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 tablet and I love it. I don't have an iPhone.

As much as I love my Apple products, it irritates me that they know it. If you go into an Apple store and, discounting the Genius Bar (those folks are great), the sales kids remind me of the Abercrombie staff. They look pretty, but don't ask them a question.

Ouch. I know, I know. But the last laptop I bought I only purchased from Apple because of my own research. I remember asking the sales kid to sell it to me and she lifted her waif hand and pointed and said, "it is a Mac, and you know it is really awesome and you can listen to iTunes and stuff."

It made my head hurt typing that.

Lots of people looking at lots of flashy stuff
That takes us to the Microsoft store. When I walked in it reminded me of some hybrid of an Apple store and a TGIFridays. Like an Apple store, it was crisp and clean. The lighting was bright and everything was neatly in its place. The difference was in the people. They were excited, maybe a little too excited for my taste, but still, they were happy to be there.

It was obvious that the staff had undergone some sort of customer service program. Everyone greeted me by name (yes, I had a name tag on, but somehow people forget that) and was amazingly helpful and most importantly - knowledgeable.
Cavs coach Byron Scott chatted with us
Cavaliers' coach Byron Scott was in attendance, chatting with the fans, taking a little Q and A. On a side note, I really liked Scott and I hope he stays.  Ahem...

All in all, it was a great event. The staff was fired up beginning to end, and I have to believe they were chugging a five hour-energy laced red bull concoction in the back room to keep the energy up.

I know the Surface is their big push for a tablet, and I'm sorry to say it isn't for me. Windows 8 made my head hurt with all the flipping tiles. Same reason I chucked flip board, I want to be connected when I want to. I don't want the constant reminder of my cousin and her star trek cronies waving from my facebook feed. Yuck.

The laptops however, might actually be a consideration for me. Except for that darn Windows 8. I really, really disliked the tiles.

Give the store a visit, if only to see the employees. They are what impressed me the most that night.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Book Club - The Whore of Akron

I have had several offers over the years to join book clubs with friends and I always turn them down. I politely declined the invitations because I'm protective of my free time and after spending my formative years being told what to read, I want to read what interests me. I have sat through too many happy hours or brunches with friends griping about the crummy book that they are reading for their club.

In the immortal words of one Ms. Sweet Brown, "Ain't nobody got time for that."

With my new Samsung tablet in hand, I'm starting my own book club. Oprah need not worry, since my club has only one member - me. As I finish a book, I'll share my thoughts about it and maybe encourage you to read something different.

It seemed appropriate to start with a book that no book club would touch - Scott Raab's The Whore Of Akron: One Man's Search For The Soul of LeBron James.  I downloaded the book for my trip to Goodyear for Tribe spring training. It was the only Cleveland story available at my local library for download, and I felt it was time that I read it.

If you have read my blog for any period of time or follow me on twitter, it will become quite clear to you that I am less than fond of the one that I refer to as LeFoolio. Let me say, I ain't got nuthin on Scot Raab.

Raab is a native Clevelander that wears Cleveland sports misery on his very soul. He is proud of his Chief Wahoo tattoo and carries his 1964 Browns championship ticket stub like a badge of honor. To outsiders, he is trapped in the downward of spiral of sports fanaticism. To Clevelanders, he sounds about right.

The Whore of Akron reads somewhere between a painfully stark look into Raab's life of addiction and family drama and an Enquirer styled biography of James.  His anger towards James, the man that ripped a championship out of the grasp of Clevelanders, is difficult to read. Through Raab's alternating thoughts of a career-ending injury to James and his desire that his son never inherits his fanaticism, he reflects back to the reader what sports means to Cleveland. Especially for those that remember what a winning team is. There is an entire generation of fans that only know the Kardiac Kids as an ironic hipster t-shirt.

I just threw up a little typing that last sentence.

If another Cleveland team won a championship, I don't think this book would have mattered. But, we haven't and it may or may not have been James' fault. Maybe if we were a city of winners, it wouldn't matter so much that James never loved us like we loved him.

The one thing for certain I can tell you, if you ever wonder whether or not sports matter, I would say that it a responding yes.

Recommendation: Required reading for Cleveland sports fans or those that want to understand them.