Category Archives: review


I went to BlogWorld & New Media Expo 2010 a couple of weeks ago, and am still recovering. It was fantastic on so many levels. I met lots of interesting people, learned all kinds of good stuff, and walked the equivalent of a trip to the moon and back, carrying a laptop and all the assorted swag and junk that accumulated daily like barnacles on a battleship. I learned a lot about what to do differently at my next conference. Like fly Southwest instead of United, carry a notebook instead of a laptop, and go to the exhibit hall on the first day instead of the last. Water under the battleship, as they say.

Picture credit : Al Seib - Costume credit : Dominique LemieuxBefore heading to BlogWorld, Cirque du Soleil offered me a pair of tickets to the show of my choosing. I picked Mystère on Saturday night. Since I didn’t know anyone else who would be attending, this gave me the opportunity to make a new friend, or at the very least, the perfect bribe to get someone to pretend to be my friend for a couple of hours.

We went to the Shriner Circus every year when I was a kid. It always included a variety of clown acts, some aerialists, peanuts, popcorn, and a whole lot of animal stink under the Big Top. The entire night was magic.

Cirque du Soleil is nothing like the Shriner Circus. For one thing, there were no actual animals. And another, comfortable seats. And the popcorn costs 8 bucks. And, unlike Shriner’s, the clowns didn’t make anyone cry. But the magic is there, in that theater, in leaps and bounds.

How do I describe what I saw? Amazing. Inspiring. Mesmerizing. Captivating. Stunning. Hilarious. Spellbinding. Actually, all those words are inadequate to describe a night’s entertainment that left me (almost) speechless.

Picture credit : Al Seib - Costume credit : Dominique Lemieux
What did I like? Everything.

My favorite parts:

Taiko starts the circus like the Big Bang. It felt like my heart was part of the show as my entire body rocked to the beat of the drums. It was primal, and everywhere. I lost myself in the rhythm, and my whole being ate it up, feeling it soak into every pore, and run through every vein.

Hand to Hand: Two brothers, in an awesome show of grace and strength, moved in fluid motion from one incredible pose to another. It is hard to describe the extreme control and power they exhibited. I wanted to be them. I wanted to have them. The women in their lives are very, very lucky.

High Bar: Aerialists leapt from bar to bar, 40 feet in the air, without missing a single flip, roll, or catch. I, in complete contrast, have a permanent bruise on my hip because, after 7 years in this house, I still can’t walk through the kitchen without running into the table, or corner of the counter. These people would fly, completely trusting that someone would catch them, 30 feet later. And the catcher always did. It was flawless, and took my breath away.

Picture credit : Al Seib - Costume credit : Dominique Lemieux

If I were 6 years old, this is the circus I would run away to. The entire performance, from beginning to end, was one being, one organism, floating along a river overflowing its banks with passion, energy and singularity of purpose: to capture my imagination, and my soul.

When the show was over, I felt mentally spent, as if I had performed along with every act. And I left wanting more. This is why they gave me free tickets. Just like a drug dealer handing out samples, they knew I’d get hooked and keep coming back for more.


(P.S.: Thank you to @freshatforty for going with me. You made the evening more enjoyable by allowing me to share the circus with a new friend.)


Ya Know

Not everyone can be Click and Clack from Car Talk, but that doesn’t stop auto mechanics from trying. I wouldn’t have a radio announcer rebuild my transmission, and he’d be smart enough to leave the job alone. Unfortunately, there’s at least one grease monkey who thinks his voice was made for radio. Uh, no. Seriously. Would you tune in and listen to this guy?

YouTube link

Okay, I take it back. He’s hilarious. But not for the reasons he’d like to think he is.

There was a perfectly good car show on KEZW. For some reason, the production director thought this one would be better. Better for whom? Not for the listeners who would rather hear Tom Collins, The Auto Answerman, a talented, real radio guy, running the show with the smooth precision that years of radio experience can afford. He fielded calls, gave car reviews, handed off questions to his guests and kept it interesting. And in all that time, I don’t think I heard him say, “Ya know,” once.

I doubt this car repair show will last long. No one can listen to that voice week after week and resist the impulse to stab themselves in the ear. So, they’ll tune out, the show will get no calls, and the advertisers will go somewhere else with their money.

I’ll be tuning around to find the new home of The Auto Answerman – a real radio show. I’ll let you know when I find it. Ya know?

Google hitting the high seas?

The buzz today is all about Google’s patent application to move their data center offshore. Their application states: “Computing centres are located on a ship or ships, anchored in a water body from which energy from natural motion of the water may be captured, and turned into electricity and/or pumping power for cooling pumps to carry heat away.”

This plan to “go green” is more about saving green than it is about helping the environment. By moving offshore, (7 miles, in fact) to international waters, Google will save tons of money in property taxes, and its energy will be free. Sounds like a great idea.

Is it?

An “anchored” ship doesn’t always stay where it is supposed to. Ask the folks in New Orleans about that. Then there’s the weather. If another Ike or Ivan blows through, will the data center hold up? Yesterday’s editorial cartoon by Wayne Stayskal may be more prophetic than funny:

Then there’s the issue of building a big enough data pipe to the rest of the internet world, and keeping it secure. Of course, if you’re not paying taxes and your energy is free, that leaves a ton of money for infrastructure.

I find it hard to believe that this will not have an impact on the aquatic life around them. The fishes may not appreciate the hot bath as their home waters are constantly circulated through the data center. Not to mention all those little creatures who will be cooked as they move through the cooling pipes.

I’m guessing that this effort to “go green” will not sit well with the environmentalists. Building outside the reach of any court who may wish to control their impact on the environment is a pretty smart move.

Honestly? Their negative impact on the environment may push their market share over to another search engine. This could be the kick in the butt Yahoo needs to get back on top.

My thoughts, exactly

I hate it when I call a US phone number for tech support from a US company, and my call gets routed outside the US to someone who barely speaks the language. What’s worse is when they think they are fluent and talk at about 300wpm, so I can’t understand a single syllable of what they are saying. The call ends up taking 10 times as long as it should, and leaves me frustrated, not entirely certain that we’ve reached a meeting of the minds, or that they even understood the problem. What does this do? It gives me a good reason to change to a different vendor.

I’m not alone. In fact, JD “Illiad” Frazer says it much better than I can, in ONI: LEARN TO COMMUNICATE CLEARLY YOU BLEEPING BLEEPITY BLEEP

I agree with JD: In my experience, most customer service screw-ups come from broken communications between the customer and the CSR.

Big Business, don’t you get it? Good Customer Service is what keeps your customers loyal. If you fail at this, you fail. Period.

Onion Rings

I love onion rings. Not enough, though, to put up with bad ones. They gotta be good, which means they absolutely must be hot, crisp, with the right amount of crunch and fresh onion goodness.

We went to Rock Bottom Brewery in Loveland for dinner Thursday night. Their onion rings were greasy, soggy, and ice cold. Husband’s meat loaf dinner was mushy and tasteless, too, by the way. So, for an informal review of Rock Bottom Brewery, I’d have to give it one point out of ten. The one point is for the friendly, although somewhat inattentive, waitress. The atmosphere was average – what you’d expect for a large chain. Big, new, crowded, noisy.

But, back to the onion rings. I’ll give you a list of the top three places to get stellar onion rings, and a couple to definitely avoid.

#1 and the absolute best: Runza. There are no Runza Restaurants in the Denver area, so I have to stop by their Loveland restaurant to get my fix. Unfortunately, I am very rarely in Northern Colorado, so I don’t get these very often. If you’re in Lincoln, Nebraska, you may remember Rock & Roll Runza – art deco 50’s interior and wait staff on roller skates. It was a fun destination. Too bad they went corporate.

#2 and a strong contender: Sonic Drive-In. I’ll qualify this, though, with a disclaimer: it definitely depends on which Sonic you go to, and when. You want to go when they are busy, so the onion rings are absolutely fresh when you get them.

#3 Dewey’s All-American Grill. Their rings are plentiful, crunchy, and divine. They’re served all stacked up on a post, which is fun. Bonus: the dipping sauce. Good enough to lick the bowl. Double-bonus: friendly, attentive wait staff, a zillion tv’s tuned to every game you’d want to see, and you don’t have to eat in your car.

The bad: Okay, I’ve already mentioned Rockbottom Brewery. Another forgettable: Denny’s, where the onion rings are worse than the ones I make at home (which, by the way, I dump out of a bag and put in the oven).

The absolute worst onion rings of all time: Burger King. Chopped onions in a soggy batter that soaks up grease without getting crunchy. Ick.