The Haphazard Blog


2 Million for All That

by on Jul.12, 2010, under Entertainment

On TMZ (yes, I occasionally read TMZ) I saw a post talking about a house that Jesse James supposedly bought. It said:

Jesse James just scored himself a massive 7-acre mega-estate in Austin, Texas — so if he doesn’t want to be seen, he’ll have plenty of space to keep to himself!

James just closed the deal on this 9 bedroom, 7.5 bath mega-mansion estimated at $1.98 million.

And it’s perfect for Jesse — complete with a home gym, several pools, private theater and a six-car garage/workshop.

My first (and really only) thought was he got all of that for $2M? In Austin, TX, there’s just no way. I went straight to to find what listings they had for $2M. There was nothing even close to what TMZ claimed. I think the conclusion I came to was that the house was really in an exurb of Austin or they left off a zero.

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DirecTV Deals

by on Jul.12, 2010, under Bills, Entertainment, Football, Life, Sports, TV

I’ve detailed in the past the troubles I’ve had to go through to get the same deals other DirecTV customers get. This year was a totally different experience. I had read that DirecTV was changing the NFL Sunday Ticket package to remove SuperFan and make it one package. Ultimately, they split the package up. They removed the online viewing part of SuperFan and called that “To Go” and put all of the rest (Red Zone Channel (not the same as the NFL Red Zone Channel that has commercials), Game Mix, Shortcuts and HD) into the base package. The new price is $300 for renewals.  That price was a lot easier to pay. A little higher than I’d like (I’d prefer $250) but I wouldn’t cancel over it (I was ready to at the almost $400 I expected this year).

The price got even better thanks to the great community over at They had a thread talking about a $20/off for 6 months discount for existing customers. I called to check on what was auto-renewing on my account and after the CSR explained that to me, I dropped the “To Go” part and asked if I could get the credit. They checked, said yes and that was it. They had also started a program to match DISH offering Free HD for life. I’ve pretty much had a credit to offset the $10 HD Access fee since I got HD a few years ago. I asked about that and was told I couldn’t get that with the current credit going and that they couldn’t drop that and add the other one in its place. I was told I could see about it once the credit ran out, but no guarantees.

There was also a thread about the Free HD for Life for existing customers (it’s really for 24/months right now). I got my notification that my bill was ready and when I looked at it, I saw that the HD Access credit was no longer there. I called in and inquired about that credit, the CSR checked that I had HD and was on auto-pay and said no problem and added it. Explained the most they can do for existing customers is 24 months but to call back when that runs out and they’ll add it back on again.

It has been a completely different experience and I don’t know why but it’s very much appreciated. That kind of service goes a long way IMO. A couple months ago I was doing the math on building a home theater PC, switching to very basic cable, getting a good OTA antenna, switching from DSL to cable HSI and switching to Vonage World. Now, I will scratch off the HTPC, getting cable and a what not. I am still considering a switch from AT&T to Cox for Internet and Vonage for phone service though.

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World Cup Coming to an End

by on Jul.10, 2010, under Entertainment, Soccer, Sports, TV

There’s only the third place match the final left to be played. I think it has been a surprising World Cup. I had a co-worker predict this final, but outside of him, no one I knew had the Netherlands and Spain in the final. I really don’t have much of a preference for either team. I’ve been thoroughly annoyed by the diving from the Dutch team, which seems like an all time low, worse than the Italians. I’m pretty much just hoping for a good game and leaning somewhat towards Spain. In the third place game, I’m expecting Germany to win. After Brazil was knocked out, I was hoping for Germany to win the World Cup.

I’m hopeful that U.S. Soccer will be able to capitalize on their coverage from this World Cup. Although making it past Ghana would’ve really been huge (1 more win away from playing to the last weekend of the World Cup), they just couldn’t pull it off. I think if they can continue to build on the 2009 Confederations Cup and 2010 World Cup performances, they can attract more fans. And one day, they may get that striker with a killer instinct they so badly need.

I got a little laugh reading the latest ESPN Ombudsman article. While he doesn’t come out and say it, he implies throughout the first section that ESPN is in total control of the World Cup coverage. In reality the audio and video for all the game coverage is provided by a host broadcaster. All ESPN does is not mess it up. I do applaud them for keeping the on screen graphics minimalist in nature and using good announcers. The coverage is not geared for those who suffer from ADD. It’s for people who want to watch the whole game and have an understanding of the game. It’s a welcome change from the usual dumbing down of everything.

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Leonardo DiCaprio, Mountaineers Fan?

by on Jul.03, 2010, under Entertainment, Sports

Leonardo DiCaprio sporting the flying WV at the Argentina-Germany game.

Leonardo DiCaprio West Virginia University Mountaineers Fan

This isn’t the first time he’s worn the hat. I don’t think anyone has found out why yet.

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Picross 3D (Nintendo DS) Review

by on Jun.19, 2010, under Entertainment, Video Games

I’ve been playing Picross 3D for a couple weeks now. Picross 3D takes the Japanese nonogram puzzle and adds another axis.

They take a slightly different approach from the nonogram in that they only provide one number for a row or column. This simplifies it on one hand, but on the other, the number could have a circle around it (means that it is broken in 2 pieces) or a square around it (means that it is broken into 3 or more pieces). I think this lets them make more complex puzzles using the smaller space they have. It seems the maximum size is 10x10x10.

Picross 3D Screenshots

The controls are pretty simple. You use the stylus to rotate the puzzle, show/hide layers and select blocks. By default the stylus interacts with the puzzle. You have the option of using the D-Pad (if you’re right-handed) or the buttons (if you’re left-handed) to toggle between the hammer (to remove blocks) or paint brush (to protect/mark blocks to keep). This toggle is a little bit hard for me since I generally can only work the D-Pad if I hold the DS with both hands. It works best if I set the DS down and play. I tried to come up with a way that would work better. The best I had was if you could just tap the hammer/paint brush icon (would need a 3rd icon so you can manipulate the puzzle) to choose a mode. The drawback here is the time it would add to constantly switch (the puzzles are timed) and to get a perfect score the time limit is low. You need to get a perfect score so you have a chance to unlock the 2 extra puzzles on each level. Having said that, it would’ve been nice to have that option as well so you could play it with only a stylus.

My only complaint is that you have to get through an entire level of difficulty to move onto the next level of difficulty. I’ve already completed about 170 puzzles and I would guess there are 100+ more before I finally get to Hard (there was Easy, Beginner and Normal so far). Overall. my fascination with Japanese number puzzles has me hooked and I find this to be a fun game that can take up hours of your time.

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Zen Vegetarian Cuisine Review

by on Jun.19, 2010, under Dining, Entertainment

I recently went to Zen Vegetarian Cuisine (note the menu at the website is not updated, but the items are the same or similar) in Wichita, KS and had a pretty good lunch there.

The concept behind this restaurant is to provide “Asian” food without meat. So take a traditional meal that you would find at a Chinese/Thai/Vietnamese restaurant and replace the meat with soy protein or tofu. It’s really that simple and I thought it was pretty good.

I ordered a “bento box” meal. It was the “Love & Compassion” which was fried soy protein (this was really good, it was crunchy, chewy and seemed hollow), pineapples, green and red peppers, mushrooms topped with a sweet and sour sauce. It also included a choice between fried rice and steamed rice. I chose fried rice, but in retrospect, the steamed rice would’ve been better because I just mixed it all with the main course.

Also, the bento box includes a choice of a couple soups (I went with the vegetable soup since the other was egg drop soup and our waiter wasn’t sure if they really used eggs in it or not), a spring roll, a cream cheese blossom (cream cheese deep fried in a wonton wrapper) and a bunch of tempura (for all the Indians out there, this is Bhajjiya or Pakora). It was a lot of food for lunch at a very good price. I was very surprised when it came to the table.

I also had a mango milk tea which was really good. There were what I thought was some type of black berries in it, but they were actually black tapioca pearls. Finally I had the mango ice cream for dessert. There wasn’t anything particularly noticeable about it that made it better than other mango ice cream I had before.

I really enjoyed the food at Zen. If I worked or lived near there, I’d stop in a every week or two. They had a lot of pages in their menu and you could try so many different things they have to offer.

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by on May.24, 2010, under Entertainment, TV

After a night to think about it, here is what I think happened right now.

At first it seemed a little Sixth Sense-like with Jack’s realization that he is dead. As best as I can tell, that did not mean he was dead the whole time.

I think his life on the island was the beginning and end of the series. Everyone did crash on the island. Everything we saw happen on the island, in flashbacks and flashforwards all happened during their “lives”.

After each character died, they moved on to another life as themselves (it seems that when they move on they are “themselves” again). So the flash sideways is life after death. What happens after you die.

In the grand scheme of things there isn’t a concept of time. Each “life” doesn’t necessarily happen in a sequence, but what they all experienced together on the island was the most important thing that happened to them. That binds them together. Perhaps that is why their lives/paths will always cross no matter what.

I’m not quite sure what the realizations and reunion was. My first thought as I watched it was is this is how it happened, but as their lives intersected they saw what they could have instead and chose those lives instead (totally wrong). Now all those people had all the memories/experiences of their other lives that.

For now, I think that is the mystery that remains for me.

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