Saturday, September 30, 2006

I wonder why I never tried these dating services
I'm very happily married now, but after seeing what my competition was on these dating services, I can't help but wonder how well I would have done. For instance, take a look at this guy:

I can imagine what my conversation would be on the first date:
Me: "So what did you find most interesting about my self-introduction video?"
My Date: "The part where you said you didn't live with your parents."
Why Butter should only be used for Cooking!
I decided to rent the movie Last Tango in Paris after hearing such great reviews by Penn Jillette (of Penn & Teller) on his podcast. His review was something on the order of "watch it at different points of your life and you'll gain a new appreciation of it each time you see it". Or at least you'll get an appreciation of Marlon Brando and see a hot chick in the process. Sounds good right.... Wrong!!!
No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't get over how pretentious this movie was. The plot is too simplistic, yet drawn out and revealed in multiple disjointed scenes to make the viewer feel like they figured it out. The film tries to make you ignore the crummy plot by throwing in a lot of sex scenes, but these too appear under quite dubious circumstances.
Marlon Brando is pretty much speaking gibberish the whole time. Do I get what he was trying to say? Yes! Do I feel any more enlightened now? NO! The first problem is that his character is somewhat of an American jerk who bullies the female character throughout the film so between the times when he's telling the girl to take off her clothes he's supposed to be sharing with you some gems of truth. Somehow I just can't take those messages seriously. Perhaps Ash from the movie Army of Darkness put it best when he says "That's just what we call pillow talk, baby, that's all." The second problem is that his comments seem all too staged, like an artsy film made by a college kid in film school. Lastly, Brando appears to be over-acting the whole time. I'm not sure if that's just how Brando is (I've only seen him in Apocalypse Now and the Godfather).
Films that I consider to be great have to engage the viewer. They must have believable situations and believable characters. Their messages are not delivered as monologues from a single character, but through the interactions between the characters. This film fails on all fronts.

Okay, enough of my negativity. Let me introduce to you a movie that is similar in concept but inherently better. Its called Amant, L' aka The Lover. I won't spoil it by giving you a one line synopsis of the plot, which would invariably color your impression of the film. If you break down the plot, you may think, its one of those movies, but you'd be mistaken. This is truly a movie where the journey is more important than the destination. I think the imdb comment "Deeply evocative and so real that we nearly felt the rain and hot humidity, we were swept along on this unique journey." hits the mark. I'll be frank, this movie has sex scenes, but they are all warranted, unlike in Last Tango. The scenes tie in perfectly with the imagery and symbolism of the movie and most of all occur naturally as a progression of the plot. It doesn't appear to be thrown in to keep the viewer from falling asleep like in A History of Violence.

If you haven't seen either movie i'd encourage you to do so and leave me a comment. I think you'll see the similarities between the two movies (especially in what apartments represent), yet become appreciative of they can turn out so differently.

If you're wondering what my title means and don't want to watch the movie, lets just say that yes, butter makes things slippery, but there are just some places where it shouldn't be used!

Friday, September 29, 2006

Change your own engine oil!
I've racked up a little over 4000 miles on my Honda S2000. The Honda dealer says I should wait till I hit 7500 miles before the first oil change so that the "break-in oil" has a chance to do its magic. Somehow I don't think I should wait that long, but we'll see. You definitely shouldn't switch to synthetic oils too early or else your piston rings won't seat and you will just lengthen the break-in process, but that's another story.

Anyways, lets get down to business. To change your own oil properly you'll need a couple things:
  1. A couple quarts of motor oil (make sure you get the correct weight like 10w-30)
  2. An oil filter that fits your car
  3. Crush washers for the drain bolt
  4. An oil pan, preferablely one that can hold all the oil in your engine.
  5. An oil filter wrench, I prefer one that looks like a hoop with a handle
  6. Something to lift the car up, ramps, jacks & jackstands, lifts, whatever you can afford. I recommend that you spend a little more on safety and get something that wont let the car fall on your head!
  7. Chocks to stick around the wheels so your car doesn't move anywhere.
  8. A Torque wrench (optional)
  9. A wrench or adjustable wrench for the drain plug/bolt.
The basic steps are:
  1. Chock your wheels and jack up your car or drive your car up your ramps and chock your wheels.
  2. If you jacked up your car, position some jack stands under your car, and lower the car onto the jackstands. This is much safer. Jacks are not designed to carry a continuous load. Also be careful where you position the heads of your jacks and jackstands. The underbody only has a few jacking points that are reinforced enough to support the weight of the car.
  3. Open your hood and remove the oil fill cap. This will let the oil come out easier.
  4. Position the oil pan under the drain plug.
  5. Get under the car and remove the oil drain plug/bolt. Extending the length of your wrench with a small pipe can really help remove stubborn bolts.
  6. Using the oil filter wrench, remove the oil filter. Use foil to cover the areas where oil might drip when removing the oil filter. Be sure to drain the oil filter into the oil pan.
  7. Take some new oil and lube up the rubber seal on the new oil filter.
  8. Install the new oil filter as tight as you can using hand pressure. No wrenches.
  9. Wait till the oil stops dripping out. Your patience means less crude in your engine.
  10. Use a new crush washer and replace the drain plug/bolt.
  11. Tighten the bolt with the torque wrench to the recommended torque.
  12. Add your oil.
  13. Measure with the dipstick and top off the engine.
  14. Replace your oil fill cap.
  15. Start engine, run briefly.
  16. Wait a few minutes for the oil to settle.
  17. Check dipstick again, it should be a little lower.
  18. Top off the oil to the "Hi" or full mark on your dipstick.
Be careful not to overfill the engine with oil. If you do, the crankcase will be whipping air into the oil like an egg beater. The bubbles will prevent the oil from creating a protective film around your engine parts... BAD!!!
Remember that since the oil filter is empty, your oil level will go down when you first start your engine. The goal here is to add as much oil as you can without ever going over the full mark on your dipstick.
Photo Gallery
I've setup my photo gallery. Actually, I've transferred the old gallery from my slow P3 450Mhz server to a 1.4 Ghz Athlon box. The upgrade was necessary since my friends kept complaining about how slow it was. The software that I'm using to host the gallery is creatively called Gallery. I'm very impressed with how well this software works. The gallery requires several other pieces of software which you have to configure individually, but Gallery (with a capitol 'G') is the glue that connects all those pieces together. Sure, its nearly impossible to get all the pieces of software, make sure you get the right version of each one, configure each one so that its compatible with Gallery, but hey, look at the results! Gallery has all sorts of help and screens and even TESTS to make sure you have all the pieces configured correctly. For something that seems so complicated, I'm really impressed by how much attention to detail is given to making the whole process easier. Plus, when you factor in the price... Free!... you can see how impressive this really is.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

I've Hacked my Router!
I have a Linksys WRT54GS Wireless-G Broadband Router with SpeedBooster. I bought this baby at BestBuy after convincing my wife that we needed it for our HTPC to work in the living room without draping network cables all over the place. Apparently this router used to run Linux. Since its introduction, there have been 5 different revisions of this same router. The first 4 had linux. The last one has half to a fourth of the memory and a proprietary OS called VxWorks which makes it nearly impossible to hack. Guess which one I got. Fortunately, I stumbled upon DD-WRT. It's a linux firmware of the router with all sorts of bells and whistles. It turns out that they make a micro-edition which is just small enough to fit in the 2MB of flash memory on my router! Plus, their site has all this support for ridding this device of VxWorks so that I can get a proper OS on this baby. Don't you just love the open source community?

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Got back from Peru last monday. It was quite a trip.
Peru is one of the few countries where you can experience almost every climate: jungle, mountian, beach, desert.
Our first leg was going to Machu Picchu. Our first stop was in Cuzco (10,000 feet), where we got some mate de coca or coca tea, a local remedy for high altitude sickness. The active ingredient in these leaves is the same stuff found in cocaine. When we got to Machu Picchu I no longer felt the effects of the high altitude. Not sure if its because is at a lower elevation, it wasn't so bad. Next to Machu Picchu is a mountain overlooking it called Wyna Picchu. We climbed the steep mountain for an hour to get this view:
Next we went to Cuzco, Puno, Lake Titikaka, and then to Arequipa, which I liked the most. Arequipa is home to the Santa Catalina Monastery. Its one of the most photogenic places I've seen. The colors are bold and vibrant. Indigo blue, terra cotta orange, and Spanish red are the only colors used on the walls.
After that we flew back to Lima, did the city tour. The next day we had a day trip to see the Nazca Lines before flying back home. I do have to say that the AeroCondor tour that we took was incredibly disorganized, and for $700 bucks (for 2) is not really worth it.