Archive for July, 2009

WordPress Emoticons

 | July 28, 2009 3:00 AM

Building a WordPress Blog People Want to ReadI have been using emoticons for awhile in my posts but I did not about the breadth of them until I read about them in Scott McNulty’s book, Building a WordPress Blog People Want to Read.

Scott points to WordPress Codex’s helpful document, Using Smilies.  Now I know how to LOL. :lol:

You can also replace the emoticons with your own set by replacing the files in wp-includes/images/smilies. You just have to use the same file names.

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TweetDeck's posterous - All things TweetDeck and Twitter When it comes to Twitter desktop clients everyone I know uses TweetDeck.  But being the questioning type that I am I decided to do some research and that is when I discovered Mashable!  They had two great articles to help me decide, Twitter Desktop Apps and Seesmic vs. TweetDeck.

In the end I decided to install both Seesmic Desktop and TweetDeck.  TweetDeck is prettier, gives off a cool vibe, like you’re cool for using it.  Be part of the cool crowd and use TweetDeck.

Seesmic Seesmic isn’t as cool looking and has kind of a cartoonish icon.  My first impression was not as good and I ended up using TweetDeck more.

But I went back to Seesmic and am staying with it for a few reasons.

  1. When you look at your replies in Seesmic you can determine to which tweet was the reply you made.  I cannot figure out how to do that in TweetDeck.
    Update 07-27-2009: Previously when I clicked on the “in reply to” in TweetDeck it would not work.  But for my newer replies it is working and it displays it nicely in the client instead of opening a new browser window like Seesmic does.
  2. In TweetDeck whenever you shorten a URL with bit.ly it does not associate this shortened URL with your bit.ly account.  Since it does not do that you cannot track how many times people clicked on your URL.  In Seesmic you can configure it to know about your bit.ly account by giving your username and API key (which you can find in your account settings).
  3. This is more qualitative but Seesmic has been developing their product at a faster pace.

For now I am going to stay with Seesmic but considering the rapid pace and competition amongst the various Twitter desktop clients, I might be switching again soon.

What Twitter desktop client do you use and why?

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July 26, 2009
Speaker: Pastor Casey Barton
Series: Lead/Feed/Intercede
Passages: Philippians 2:12-18

Casey Barton, as a youth, did drugs and alcohol.  He vandalized the local country club.  Sadly I can somewhat relate.  It seems such a common story for young men and a story I don’t want my sons to write.

When Casey became a Christian he thought “Great!  Now God can fix my life.”  Soon though he was back at the country club vandalizing again with his buddies.  At one point he was riding a golf cart with his friend at 3 AM when his friend kicked out the windshield.  At that moment he distinctly remembers hearing “I thought you wanted God to fix your life.”

You’ll Come – Hillsong

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Needs inflating - Photo: Peter Orosz

I am pretty good about regularly pumping up my tires ever since I discovered I can use the air pump for free at the Costco Tire Center.  Every time I get gas at my local, overcrowded Costco I then drive over and pump up the tires.

A few months ago I noticed one of the tires on my beloved Prius was a bit lower than the others. I just assumed it was random since it wasn’t very low.  After awhile though I noticed it was the same tire, my front left tire.  A few months ago when I got an oil change the tires were rotated and I was hoping that maybe now that it was in the rear it would not go as flat but it did not make a difference.

Toyota Prius

I continued running like this because the tire never seemed to get very low between fill ups. Also I had no idea where to go to get my tire patched and I was too lazy to figure out.

This pattern of inflating and deflating every two weeks fell apart when Ji Seon began filling up the car.  She did not know I inflated the tires and the tire became flatter and flatter.  Still I did not address the problem because I noticed my fuel mileage was still the same.  My laziness knows no bounds.

cluttered desktopOne day I showed my now quite flat tire to my car friend expert.  The expression on his face said “You know nothing about cars.  How can you do this to your car?”  (I am sure I have the same expression when some people show me their computers.)  But he was very polite and explained why I had to buy new tires since the side walls had been almost completely worn off.

I wasn’t sure where to go for replacement tires.  My friend suggested Costco lukewarmly.  Though one blog post recommended them the comments on that post weren’t that reassuring nor were the complaints about Costco Tire Center on this site and other sites.

I called Yarnell’s, my auto mechanics, and the receptionist suggested America’s Tire Co.  When I asked about Costco she said “Oh, they’re good too.”

When I asked what’s the difference the receptionist said “Oh they’re the same.”

P185/65R15 Michelin Energy Saver A/S TiresI then called the mechanics my friend uses, Japanese Beetle.  The mechanic, who was very friendly, told me he sends all of his customers including himself to Costco Tire Center.  He said that some of his customers also use America’s Tire Co and Wheel Works.

After talking with everyone I decided to take a chance with Costco Tire Center so I went over yesterday afternoon and asked for a quote.  The serviceman strongly suggested the Michelin Energy Savers and quoted $600 to replace all four plus $70 off with the Costco coupon.  This was a lot more expensive than I expected.  I ended up asking to just replace the rear two tires and the quote was $300.  The wait he said though would be 2.5 hours and suggested I come back in the morning.

Update 10-28-2009: The price seems to have come down.  At Costco.com the tires are $121.99 and at Amazon.com they are $145.99.

Michelin Energy SaverThat night I checked out different sites to see if I should get the Michelin Energy Savers like this forum.  There seemed to be no consensus about which tire to use for replacement.  In the end I decided might as well pay the extra, you usually get what you pay for.

I arrived at Costco Tire Center this morning at 9:30 AM but already I was too late, the expected wait was 2.5 hours again.  In the end I waited over three hours but fortunately I had my laptop with me.  Most of the time I waited inside Costco sitting on a lovely couch they are trying to sell.

Now I finally have a healthy tire as shown below.  Notice the green cap because the tire is filled with nitrogen.

Michelin Energy Saver for Prius

Lesson learned.  Fix the flat for $20 instead of waiting to replace it for $300!

Update 10-28-2009: My mileage seems to have improved by about 7 mpg but part of that may have been because the tire was kind of flat before. :-)

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Rent: Filmed Live on Broadway [Blu-ray]Sunday and Monday night we watched RENT: Filmed Live on Broadway Blu-Ray DVD.  I love RENT.  You can watch an excerpt of this DVD here.

I still remember watching RENT at the Shubert Theater in Boston.  I found the experience moving and spiritual.  Some people would ask how can a musical about Bohemians be spiritual.  My answer is that the theme of this musical is love and you can’t get more spiritual than that.

Watching the DVD was so fun for numerous reasons.

  1. Rent (1996 Original Broadway Cast)I felt like I understood the plot better.  Though we have the CD and have heard it many times it’s still not the same as watching the musical.
  2. It was great to see the close-ups and understand better what was being communicated in the expressions of the actors.
  3. Subtitles really help to understand what is being sung during those pieces when more than one person is singing.
  4. I felt this cast was actually better than the original cast.  This is not surprising considering everyone on Broadway wants to be cast in RENT.  When it was first cast they had a hard time finding anyone because it was off Broadway and written by someone no one heard of.

A few things surprised me when watching this production.

  1. The set changed from what I saw in Boston.  It seemed smaller though I expected it would be bigger.
  2. Mark and Roger’s voices were a little smoother.  I thought they originally intended it to be rougher since this is supposed to be a “rock opera.”
  3. Mimi was not portrayed as sweetly.  In retrospect this makes more sense since Mimi is a drug addict stripper.
  4. RENT is more sexual than I remembered and the close ups really emphasize that.  It takes away from some of the enjoyment of the musical, especially the middle one-third of it.
  5. During the end of the musical when they sang my favorite song “No Day But Today” Mark projected his film, which consists of footage of his friends, all around the top of the walls of the stage for an incredible effect.  But in this version of the musical he just played on a small section of the wall.

Here is a YouTube video of “No Day But Today” from the RENT movie which I have not seen but I expect won’t be as enjoyable as this DVD.  In fact watching this YouTube video already disappoints because the song does not seem as vibrant and they show Mark’s film without showing the stage so it loses its effect.

And here is a YouTube video of “No Day But Today” performed in Korea. Interestingly enough it’s all sung in Korean until the end when they sing the chorus “No Day But Today” in English. Based on that you know this was not performed in North Korea.

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Helping Out at Senior Housing

 | July 18, 2009 2:04 PM

Today our small group went to Lytton Gardens to spend a bit of time playing board games with seniors.  Originally our whole family was going to go but one of our closest family friends’ son was having a birthday party so Ji Seon and the boys went to the party.

The last time I was in senior housing was when I was a teenager doing a paper route.  The regular paper route boy was away so they asked me to do his route which was in a local senior housing.  I remember being quite affected by that experience.  Some of the seniors looked so unhappy.  One person asked me if they could have a paper because he’s so lonely.

My grandmother lived with us so the idea of senior housing was kind of foreign to me.  I am not saying it’s wrong, I just wasn’t used to it.

Helen and Victoria

For ninety minutes our small group played various games with different seniors.  At my table Victoria and I and Audrey, who organized, and her children played Disney Yahtzee Jr. with Helen.  We asked her some questions to learn about her life.  We learned for example that one day she and three others drove out to California from Pennsylvania and when they got here they decided never to go back.  But some of her answers seemed to contradict others.

Helen definitely seemed to enjoy Victoria who liked saying hi to Helen.  Having the children there was really great.  The children had fun playing games and the seniors enjoyed their company.  In fact it seemed everyone had a good time.

Victoria enjoying herself at Lytton Gardens

I think I might like to do this again.  Maybe I am thinking too much but as we get older it’s interesting to face our mortality.

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It has been very hot the last couple of days.  Thankfully we have a family friend with a pool so on Monday when the temperature reached almost 100 degrees we and another family cooled off in this friend’s swimming pool.

This summer we started swimming lessons for Dylan and Isaac.  Ji Seon did a lot of research and found in my opinion a miracle worker in Jim Malley at Kona Kai Swim and Racquet club.  Dylan and Isaac are in a class of just four students and one of the other students is Isaac’s best friend, Elliott.

Dylan swimming with coach Jim Malley

For some reason Dylan has just loved swimming and in just two weeks has gone from a boy who doesn’t want to put his head under the water to someone jumping off diving boards and doggie paddling to his amazed and proud father.

Isaac swimming with coach Jim Malley

Isaac also has progressed a lot, especially considering his age but he doesn’t enjoy swimming as much.  When we go to Elliott’s house Isaac doesn’t swim.  He prefers playing with Thomas Trains even when Elliott is swimming.  Dylan on the other hand swims almost nonstop until everyone else is out of the pool.

We are in the third week of swim lessons and there are six weeks in total.  I am looking forward to seeing how much more the boys will learn.  And next year Victoria will be taking swim lessons too!

I myself, inspired by Tom Yu, have been trying to learn how to do a back dive.  It’s painful but fun.

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