The Most Ass-Kickinsist Ass Kickers Who Ever Kicked Ass in the Most Ass-Kickinist of Ways

Murphy and I took in a show last night at Triple Rock Social Club. The Ashtray Hearts were first up, and they were great as always in their melancholy, we'll-bring-you-down-gently way. Next up was Robert Skoro. He much too into himself for me. At one point he mentioned how great it was to "be here at the Triple Rock here in Minneapolis," and how great the crowd was, especially for Minneapolis, and how the crowds "never seem into the shows when we play in the Twin Cities." I assumed he was from out of town, but looking at his website I see he is from the Twin Cities. The music wasn't that good either. He saved the best song for last, and it was pretty mediocre. Last up was Kid Dakota. This was the second time I have seen the Kid, and I was wowed once again. For a two piece (hell, for a ten piece) they really, as you might infer from the title of this post, kick some serious ass. Their recordings are great, but both times I have seen them live they have brought their a-game, and then some. Check 'em out, along with The Ashtray Hearts.

Shawn called while Skoro was on, and he and Lee joined us as Kid Dakota was taking the stage. We then went for some post-show nourishment, at Denny's. And yes Amanda we ended up at Denny's intentionally.


Diary of an Attic

As Jaq points out I am generating way too much content for a single blog. To remedy the situation, I have created a new blog dedicated to the work that is going on in our attic. I will try to update it daily, except on days that nothing is going on. Krista has also joined Blogger so she can post when she feels the urge. One note, it is going to be image intensive.
I Shall Call Him Mini Mac

Remember the super-cool G4 Cube? Well, Jobs and co. are at it again, but this time they made it affordable.

Also unveiled at Macworld Expo was the iPod Shuffle. A flash-based iPod that starts at $99 for those who want to join the party but not shell out the big bucks (or jump through the hoops).


The Great iPod Plot

I'm sure you all have seen those banner ads, or deleted pesky spam promising a free iPod, flat-screen, laptop or some other product. Well, I was so tempted by the thought of carrying my entire CD collection with me ensconced in a tiny stylish bit of technology that I thought I would at least check it out.

One of the companies who plaster those banners all over the web is FreeiPods.com. With just a small bit of research I learned that this is indeed a legit company. FreeiPods.com gives out 20GB iPods and iPod Minis. They way they are set up is a bit like a pyramid scheme. You complete one of their sponsor offers (such as joining Columbia House or something of that nature) and convince some of your friends to do the same. Once a certain number of your friends complete their offers you get your iPod. They in turn convince a new batch of friends to go along. I considered this, but I didn't feel right asking friends to sign up so I could get a free iPod.

Another company, that has many different names (it was called emarketresearchgroup.com when I started), takes a different approach. You are responsible for completing all of the offers yourself, and they offer the 40GB iPod. I was much more comfortable with this scenario, so I thought I would look a little deeper.

To gauge how likely it was that this place was legit I checked on who some of the sponsors were. Sponsors included the likes of Blockbuster and AOL. Evil? Yes. Associate with scammers in order to generate customers? Maybe, but not likely. Most of the offers they listed as examples also seemed to be free trial offers, so while not completely convinced, I decided the risk was worth the potential payoff.

Not wanting a deluge of spam in my nearly spam-free inbox, I set up a new e-mail account specifically for this experiment. For my free 40GB iPod ($399 retail) I would need to complete six sponsor offers. The offers were listed on three different pages, and I would have to complete two from each page. On the first page I chose two offers that would cost me a buck each. Each was a one-day trial that would renew at $40 a month if not cancelled. Since I was not interested in information on government auctions or how I could get a free car by having ads plastered all over it, I promptly cancelled when they showed up as completed about an hour after I signed up. On page two I signed up for a free two-week trial of Blockbuster Online, and a free month of Rhapsody music service. Now on to page three. Most of the offers cost quite a bit. "So that's how it works." I thought to myself. I scanned the offers looking for two that would keep my cost under the $60 limit I set for myself going in. I found one for a Discover Card, the only requirement was to activate the card and make one purchase. I could handle that. The only other offer that was remotely palatable was a free one-week trial to eharmony.com. So, with permission from Krista, I was back in the dating scene.

All of the offers soon showed up as completed on the emarketresearchgroup website except for Blockbuster and Rhapsody. I called Blockbuster, and soon had that taken care of, but with Rhapsody it appeared to be impossible to talk to an actual person. I cancelled Rhapsody and went back to the sponsor offers page two to find something else. I settled on the Entertainment Book of coupons to local merchants. The coupons to places we frequent will more than make up for the $30 I paid for the book.

My status was now updated to show that I had completed all of the required sponsor offers. I made screen shots of the web pages, just in case. My next step was to print my voucher, fill it out, and mail it in. Done, done and done. I even used certified mail just to be sure. According to the USPS website my voucher arrived on December 18. I gave it two weeks, but my status had not updated to show that they had received the voucher, so I gave them a call. There was no option to talk to someone, but I was able to leave a voicemail. My hopes were beginning to fade. Chin up! The next day I received a call back and was told that they are behind in processing the vouchers, so while mine may have arrived, it could take up to three weeks to process. One week later still no update on the website, so I placed another call. Again, my call was returned the next day and I was assured that they had indeed received my voucher and an order would soon be on its way to their fulfillment center.

I'm feeling good about my chances of getting the iPod, but time will tell. All said and done, I would estimate that I spent about three hours working for it, and about $25 (not including the Entertainment Book which will pay for itself).

A side note about the eharmony.com trial. While signing up I realized that I was actually giving thoughtful responses to the questions used to generate the matches. I decided that since I was signing up to get a free iPod, not dates, that I would speed up the process by clicking random radio buttons for my answers. Then I decided that I would have some fun and choose the least desirable answers. Such as answering "1" for "I think it is important to listen to my partner. 1 being not important, and 10 being very important." After answering many of these in this manner I was presented with five matches upon completing the process. Maybe there really is someone for everyone.
Writer's Cramp

Jaquandor explains his preferred method of composition, and it makes my hand hurt just thinking about it. 150,000 - 200,000 words, and no page numbers? That's asking for trouble if you ask me.

He is however bringing The Promised King, into the modern era by publishing it online in blog format. He has one chapter up so far, and will be adding chapters every couple of weeks. Spread the word.

Who needs Daunte Culpepper when you've got Brett Favre? I expected the game to be close, but I was confident that the Vikes would pull it off. I even made a little cash on the outcome. Now for Philadelphia. I bet they can do it. Any takers? Hmmm, on second thought... OK, maybe a buck.

Oh, and while we are on the subject, is there such a lack of things by which to be disgusted that we have to act as though we are repulsed by Randy Moss faux-mooning a bunch of cheese-heads? For the record, Moss walking off the field last week didn't bother me that much either.
Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year

Well, at least I hope they were. We've been a bit busy lately. We were out of town two weekends in a row for the holidays. We also spent this past weekend taking care of some last minute decisions regarding our attic, and those still aren't finalized.

The holidays were good, had fun with family and gave and received some great gifts. I got a number of great gifts, including the first two seasons of Northern Exposure, Tenacious D: The Complete Masterworks, a nice set of poker chips, and a nice deck of cards. Krista and I both got a number of gift cards, every one very useful.

Several of those gift cards were to Home Depot, which is handy considering that work is set to begin this afternoon on our attic. The preparations for this project have taken most of our free time lately. We managed to get rid of quite a bit of what was in the attic, and everything else managed to fit in the basement without impeding movement down there too much. We have a couple more things to pick out, but I expect that we will have most everything finalized within a week. So the construction will likely be finished just as the Parasite outgrows it's host. I expect that I will never sleep again.