Black Rock Coalition

I've had an affinity for black rock ever since I saw the "Cult of Personality" video on MTV. I was riveted. I found it fascinating that four black dudes could rock as hard as any white band. To me, a black rock band was groundbreaking. Before Living Colour, I thought black guys just rapped and sang R&B. That day I began a quest - to seek out all the black rock bands. I became fans of Living Colour, Lenny Kravitz, Fishbone and DC's own Bad Brains. I grew up in Atlanta which had their very own black rock band, Follow For Now. They put out one eponymously named album. I went to a ton of their concerts.

Living Colour were the groundbreakers - they co-founded the Black Rock Coalition. Check out the BRC's website for a list of bands, concerts, compilations and music. Rock bands with black members are more common these days thanks to the early trailblazers. Spin magazine recently published an article Black Rock: An Oral History. It's the history as told by those who lived it. If I've intrigued you, read the article then listen to some black rock.


Hierarchy of Beards

Wondermark's latest print, the "Hierarchy of Beards," depicts the evolutionary history of our facially hirsute brethren. You can buy the print here. View the full size image.


Meet the Beard Team

Meet Beard Team USA. Click on the pics for details. I've got a detail page of my own. It links to this blog. Thanks to Phil Olsen, self-appointed captain of BTUSA, for putting the team page together.


Expanded Beard Index

Back in July we posted the Beard Index, which is a poster of beard types. A couple of weeks ago, someone posted a comment to that post, which was a link to an expanded beard index. Check it out. It was created by a fellow beard enthusiast, John Dyer. Check out his comprehensive Beard Pages. It contains a FAQ, grooming tips and his quest to demonstrate every beard type on the index by shaving himself. During my pogonology session I stumpled upon another beard blog, the Beard Revue. Enjoy. In contributor news, we have our first Hairy Bastard, my good friend Euro Rob. He's a good man.


More on Super Bowl tickets

Back in October I blogged about my quest to obtain Super Bowl tickets. I entered the NFL Super Bowl ticket random drawing back in May. I just got my response in the form of a blue postcard.
Dear NFL Fan:

Your name was part of the Super Bowl XLIII random drawing that included all written requests received by this office between February 1 and June 1. The National Football League requests to notify you that your entry was not selected. All Super Bowl tickets available from the NFL for public sale have been allocated.

We appreciate your continued interest in Super Bowl games and the NFL.


The National Football League
Well that's that. But not all hope is lost. The NFL is vowing to cut out ticket middlemen, a.k.a. "scalpers". The league is studying possible methods to attempt to get its lowest-priced Super Bowl tickets directly to fans and not under the control of ticket brokers. "The reality is that Super Bowl tickets are trading at four to five times face value," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said. The league is taking it a step further. The NFL is reducing playoff ticket prices by about 10 percent. The league is making the move in response to the national economic crisis. The league also, for the first time, has authorized lower ticket prices for games in the first round of the playoffs than for games in the conference semifinals the following weekend. Tickets usually have been priced the same for those initial two rounds of the playoffs. "We want to be responsive to the economic challenges facing our fans," an NFL spokesman told the Associated Press.

I'm indifferent about this. I love watching football. I love going to games. Football gives me a respite from a hectic week. It gives me solace. During the spring and summer I yearn for it. But while I appreciate the NFL reducing the price of playoff and Super Bowl tickets, the league is pricing out the middle class. No family of four can afford to go to a football game. The price of tickets is ridiculous. But so is the price of movie tickets, automobiles, real estate, food...the list goes on and on.


20 Album Covers Recreated in LEGO

Article here. A good mix of modern and classic rock. A little overloaded with Beatles albums though. I would have liked to have seen a bigger variety of artists. Nonetheless, another great use of LEGO. The pic is Pink Floyd's "The Division Bell".



The Redskins played the Steelers on Monday Night Football. The game was significant for two reasons - 1. A Redskins loss means that Barack Obama wins the election and 2. for the first time in team history, the Redskins wore a burgundy monochrome uniform. Burgundy jersey with burgundy pants. They looked awesome. That was the best part of the game for me. They got their asses handed to them on national tv, but they looked great doing it. The uniform feedback on the internet was decidely negative, but from the articles I read, the team liked it and the burgundy monochrome uniform could show up again. I hope so. I'm obsessed with football aesthetics, especially when it comes to my favorite team. The Redskins 2007 Lombardi era throwbacks with the Packers style helmet left a lot to be desired. Some NFL teams have a third alternate jersey. The Redskins do not. I imagine a killer looking yellow gold jersey with burgundy numbers. They would be the only team in the league with a yellow gold jersey. Or bring back the yellow gold pants, like they wore in the '70s. Danny, you are a master of marketing. Please create the gold alternate jerseys. I'll definitely buy one.


Poor Judgement

There is this amusing website called "Hot Chicks with Douchebags". The companion book hit bookshelves in July. the website caustically lampoons male clubgoers and the women with whom they are photographed. The rampant "douchebaggery" displayed on the website makes me feel good about myself. Three "hot chicks" whose pics are in the book filed a lawsuit in New Jersey. The lawsuit says they have been forced to undergo medical treatment and psychological therapy, and have suffered financial damages as a result of their inclusion in the book. Yeah, right. They claim that the "vulgar" title has unfairly tarred them as "females who date dubious men." We'll aren't they? My advise is stop dating douchebags. If you familiarize yourself with the website, you'll easily spot the douchebags in the crowd. From what I can tell, all "hot chicks" date douchebags. What I want to know is how all the pics of hot chicks with douchebags get snagged for the website? Shout out to the Gator, member of the Douchebag Hall of Fame.


I'm Not Sterile!

This ecard that Chronic sent me says it all. A little Shock bun is in the oven. We found out today. We've started a new blog, the Shock Family Circus, that will chronicle the bambino's rise from conception to adulthood. Stay tuned.


The Martingale

There is a gambling strategy called "The Martingale". This doubling game offers something for nothing—certain profits, with no risk. Hence its appeal to gamblers. In a general sense the current economic situation was caused by Wall Street using the Martingale strategy. The carefully synthesized financial instruments now seeping toxically from the hulls of multiple investment banks are vastly more complicated than the Martingale. But they suffer the same fundamental flaw: They claim to create returns out of nothing, with no attendant risk. That's not just suspicious. In many cases, it's mathematically impossible. Read the article for the gritty details. It's fascinating.


Say Cheese: A Dozen Pics That Should Never Have Been Posted Online

A picture can be worth more than thousand words-a single photo can cost you your reputation, your job, even your freedom-if you post it online. Some words of caution to all you MySpace, Facebook and YouTube devotees - think twice before posting a pic or video online. If you need some convincing, read this article. Metallica said it best, "Sad But True".


Super Bowl Tickets (updated)

I've always wondered the face value of Super Bowl tickets. I'd never seen or heard the actual price. Aftermarket prices on the internet are extremely inflated so they don't give any indication of the what they cost the reseller. Finally, I found the evidence. The face value of some Super Bowl tickets has reached $1,000.

The Associated Press reports that 25 percent of the tickets for this season's game in Tampa will be priced at $1,000, according to the NFL. Tickets for last season's game were priced at $700 to $900.

The prices of 1,000 tickets for this season's game will be dropped by $200 to $500 each, the first Super Bowl price cut.

There will be 17,000 club and suite seats priced at $1,000 each, another 53,000 seats at $800 apiece and 1,000 seats at $500 each.

The only way for the general public to get rights to buy Super Bowl tickets directly from the NFL at face value is through the annual random drawing. You have to send a self addressed postcard registered or certified mail to the NFL. A few months later you'll get a postcard back telling you whether your name was picked. I've never been randomly chosen. As I discussed in my previous football blog post, the number of credit card points needed to get a pair of Super Bowl tickets has risen to 300k. My only route to attend the Super Bowl looks to be buying them from resellers on the internet. I'm going to have to get a second job.

Here's a link to a story about the Super Bowl random drawing. Check out the comment on my post as well.


9/29/08 Beard Update

We are up to 5 centimeters and counting! Atom decided to play with the mustache wax the other night, so we decided to go ahead and do a progress picture. The fuzzy chin is coming along nicely. This has been growing since his sister's wedding in June. Personally...I think he should wax that sucker every day!


The House That Ruth Built (in Lego)

I found another Lego artist on the information superhighway. This dude is the first of only six Lego Certified Professionals in the world. He is building a Lego Yankee Stadium in honor of the 85 year stadium's closing. It contains over 45,000 Lego elements. He built it with a Manhattan gradeschooler. Even if you hate the Yankees, you have to appreciate this homage to a piece of New York history.


Check out this Rocketboom daily internet culture video on beards: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L5oaT5VTgTU. It's very informative. Some of the footage is from the 2007 World Beard and Moustache Championships in England. There's no debate. Beards rock.


It's about time I blogged about football. The season got underway three weeks ago, and this is my first post. My Redskins are off to a 2-1 start under rookie head coach Jim Zorn. They didn't look so good the first game of the season on the road against division foes and defending Superbowl champs the Giants, but looked like a playoff team in home wins against the Saints and Cardinals. They face the Cowgirls this Sunday in their last regular season game in the rust bucket Texas Stadium. The Cowgirls are arguably the best team in the league, but like the saying goes "On any given Sunday." The pic says it all. I had a VA Redskins license plate on the Z [RIP]. Gots to show my love to my team everywhere I go. The Redskins are in the toughest division in the league. The NFC East is a combined 10-2 after 3 weeks.

My season ticket upper bowl pair were upgraded this season, so we are not in the nosebleeds anymore. Chronic appreciates that. I love going to the games. I redeemed some of my Redskins credit card points for a new Redskins waterproof windbreaker and a polo shirt I can wear to work. I also redeemed points for a 19" LCD HDTV. It's great getting this stuff for "free". I was shooting for a free pair of Superbowl tickets, but they are 300,000 points. I'll be dead before I could earn enough points.

I'm fantasy football league commissioner for the 7th straight year. We changed fantasy websites from Yahoo to Flea Flicker this season. We've retained the league name "All Killer No Filler" for consistency sake. Flea Flicker is a free keeper league, neither of which Yahoo offers. The core group of players are back. We have one new player this year, another female, putting the league chick count at 3. Lots of girl-on-girl action. My team, "Reefer Sutherland" is 3-0, ranked 1st in the division and 2nd in league. I was the #1 seed and scored the most points going into last years playoffs (thank you Tom Brady), but lost both playoff games and ended up 4th overall. After 5 years of mediocre seasons, it's nice to be one of the dominant teams.

Hail to the Redskins!


Bad Times Can Be Good For Your Health

I read an article about how unstable times can be good for health. I find that point of view intriguing. There is scientific evidence to prove it. Sure, unstable times breed worry and stress, but statistics show that as the economy worsens, traffic accidents decrease, as do industrial accidents, obesity, alcohol consumption and smoking. Deaths go down when unemployment goes up. People just can't afford to maintain the same lifestyle they had when they were more prosperous. An empty wallet means less cash for booze and cigarettes, so you'll behave better. It can serve you well. Risky activities, such as driving, increase in good economic times. There are more jobs so a greater potential for accidents and more money to maintain bad habits. I'm not saying recessions are good. For those suffering during poor economic times mental health worsens. But even as people are stressing out, they're smoking, drinking and driving less. Read the full story.


BrickFair 2008

Lego Taj Mahal
Originally uploaded by chronic-shock
I went to the local Lego show, BrickFair, over Labor Day weekend while Chronic was out of town. The three day affair is mainly for Adult Fans of Lego (AFOLs) but parts of Saturday and Sunday are open to the public. There was a huge turn out. Mostly kids with their parents. The AFOLs bring their MOCs (My Own Creations) to display. I'm still a rookie AFOL, so I didn't have any MOCs. Most AFOLs are on par with Trekkies and Star Wars nerds. They take it seriously. Some spend all their money on LEGO parts. Their houses are full of the bricks. I'd like to meet an AFOL who lives in a house made of LEGO. Check out all the pics from the show. BrickFair even got some press. There was a write up in the Post.


Dream Job - Lego Artist

Everyone has that "dream job" floating around in the back of their head. Sometimes that dream job is making a living from what started out as a hobby. Mine would be to make a living building with Lego bricks. Awesome right? "Never gonna happen" you say. Well one dude followed his dream and now makes a living as a Lego artist. What is a Lego artist? A Lego artist is an artist who's medium is Lego, the little plastic bricks consider toys. Check out the slideshow of some of his work. The pic is his work "Yellow". He's even made a working Lego computer and air conditioner. Check out his Brick Artist website which shows all his work. Everyone else, keep dreaming.


Rage Against the Machine, pt. 2

This is the follow up to my Rage Against the Machine post about my fight against technology. I decided to keep the HTPC. None of the original bugs were resolved. I just found work arounds instead. The work around for the blu-ray discs not playing was to buy SlySoft's Any
DVD HD software. That software strips the HDCP copy protection from the BD discs. This allows the discs to play flawlessly on the computer. Turns out I think the problem is with the display's HDCP compatibility and not the computers. Both computers experienced the same issue but had different chip manufacturers (first was AMD, current is Intel) and video cards. A new bug has reared its ugly head with the HP BD/DVD player software. It no longer plays digital audio. In order to hear the movie, I have to set the player to stereo sound. I've Googled the issue and found others that have experienced the same problem, but no solutions. I think the bug stems from the latest player software version update. Of course, HP's customer service is no help. Their solution is always "restore the computer to the factory settings". That's a hassle and a waste of time.

The XM Radio plug in for Media Center worked great for a while, then just stopped playing. The work around is I just listen to XM via the online website. I think the reason it stopped working was either a Windows Vista or Media Center update.

I haven't determined the cause of the networked external hard drive connection dropping out but I think it's the driver & firmware of the Belkin network USB hub that the hard drive is connected to. The software works great on XP, but not so good on Vista. Customer reviews of the hardware confirm this. My laptop's OS is XP, the HTPC's and Chronic's laptop OS is Vista and both experience the same issues with the Belkin hardware that I don't experience on my laptops.

All in all it's been a challenging experience. There are some positives in this experiment. We cancelled cable TV. That's saving the fam around $90 a month. We receive great reception from the indoor HDTV antenna. I have it pointed out the window. The trick was opening the blinds to give the antenna a clear view. The local channels are in HD and the signal is strong 95% of the time. The shows we watch that aren't on local channels are either available on the internet or iTunes. So we don't miss a thing. Blu-ray movies rock. There is a noticable improvement in video quality from DVD to BD. We're adapting to our new home theatre set up. We'll either look back and laugh or my head will explode, whichever comes first.

Lego Olympics

The Hong Kong Lego Users Group built a scale model of the 2008 Olympics. It's amazing. Check out the pic of the Bird's Nest stadium. View the entire article.


Zen and the Art of Airness*

Air today, gone tomorrow.

The winner of the U.S. Air Guitar regional competition in Brooklyn rocked so hard during a daredevil performance that doctors had to amputate a toe she broke during the gig. Full story.

Look for me to compete in the 2010 US Air Guitar Championships.

*Airness is defined as the extent to which a performance transcends the imitation of a real guitar and becomes an art form in and of itself. Airness is the most difficult to define, yet the most decisive of all the criteria of judging an official air guitar contest. The other criteria are technical merit and stage presence.

2009 World Beard and Moustache Championships Categories and Judging Guidelines

Here are the beard and moustache categories and judging guidelines for the 2009 World Beard and Moustache Championships. Study them closely if you plan on participating. If you pull any of the that bush league amateur stuff at the championships you'll get disqualified.


Beard Progress as of 8/7/08

Here is the first beard progress photo. Atom decided that for the competition, he would like to compete in the Musketeer category. This style is a long, curled mustache with a long goatee. We have come up with a costume/outfit to go with this style, but we can not divulge that information. It will remain a surprise until we get to Alaska. So he will be growing a full goatee, which will look some-what normal for a while...until it becomes an unruly patch of fuzz. Next beard progress photo, I will include a ruler so we can start measuring growth.


LebowskiFest 7:11

Originally uploaded by invisoteeth
We attended the 7th Annual LebowskiFest July 11-12 in the Bluegrass State. That's a picture of me as "The Dude" with another character from the movie. Can you figure it out?

Here is here full account of the weekend: http://chroniccatastrophe.blogspot.com/2008/07/lebowskifest-2008.html


Into The Wild

Atom's Facial Hair Experiment
Originally uploaded by akkleis
I decided to turn my plans to attend the 2009 World Beard and Moustache Championships (WBMC) in Anchorage, Alaska into a fundraiser, dubbed "Shock's Beard Quest". My goal is to raise $2k to cover transportation, lodging and any beard-related activities. Beard Team USA is busy putting the logistics together for the trip. But it's up to the individual participants to pony up the cash. Hence the need for a fundraiser. Shock's Beard Quest has it's own blog http://shocksalaskanbeardquest.blogspot.com/. All the details including how to donate are on that site. All donations will be acknowledged on the blog and at the WBMC.

The Beard Quest coinsides with the "Facial Hair Art" exhibition at Touchstone Gallery in DC July 9 - August 2. Click on the pic for details. The exhibition is a series of pics of my different facial hair. It's the collaboration with photag artist Angela Kleis that i've blogged about extensively. It's finally time for the unveiling. Is the world ready?

Hair on Display!

After a year and a half of collaboration, the "Facial Hair Art" is going to be on display. Angela Kleis has decided to put the "Atom" series on display for the world to see. Well...the DC area anyway. Please come out and support the arts!

July 9- August 2, 2008

“MY SPACE on 7th”

Opening Reception and Wine Tasting
courtesy of Washington Wine Academy

Friday, July 11, 6-8:30 pm

My Space on 7th, a new tradition (second year) at Touchstone Gallery fulfills two perpetual needs: that of artists for exhibition space, and that of collectors for work they don’t yet know, often at bargain prices. The beginning artist has the chance to be discovered, while the established artist has the opportunity to go in a totally new direction.

Opening July 7th, this explosion of art will fill the main gallery. Building on the success of last year’s show, three-dimensional works will be included this year as well.

Due to an overwhelming response all wall spaces sold out within the first half hour of registration, which was by e-mail only, on a first-come, first-served basis.

Bill Abel, Cynthia Angeles, William Atkins, Karen Baker, Marilyn Banner, Andre Barnett, Sophie Bethune, Thor Berglie, Harmon Biddle, Sharon Burton, Alexander Feshenko, Olga Weiss,Tom Drymon, Larkin Goff, Philip J. Gross, Kurt Godwin, Alexandra Goldschmidt, Nathaniel Hester, Sandra D. Humphrey, Leslie Johnson, Angela Kleis, Lauren Shea Little, Mila Kagan, Peter Karp, Kay Layne, Emery Lewis, Priscilla De Lima, Mary Mallia, Karen Mazzarella, Laurie Mertens, Marcellus D. McIntosh, Elba Molina. Newton More, Bob Morrison, Jonathan Ottke, Wendy Plotkin-Mates, Haydeh Raskin, Paivi Salonen, Heather M. Schmaedeke, Jenny Singleton, Brendan Smith, Carole Lyles Shaw, Janathel Shaw, Laurie Tylec, Jaqueline Unanhue, Jon Wassom, Crystal V. Whitfield, Jack Whitsitt, Kelly Young and Gwenn Zaberer.

Beard Index

For those of you who are not versed in the facial hair lingo, here is a chart to help you out.


How Did It All Begin?

I was at a friends art show, when I was inspired to make art of my own. I had been growing out a beard at the time and friends had compared my look to Fidel Castro. I began to imagine all the different looks I could create with my facial hair. I brought up the idea to my friend Angela, who is a photographer. I told her that I would like to grow out my facial hair into different styles and have her take photos of these works of art. She thought it was a brilliant idea, and even agreed to put the pictures in a show once we were done with the series. The"facial hair art" collaboration began.

It turns out the pictures have had themes. Check out what the collaboration has produced -http://www.flickr.com/photos/angelakleis/sets/72157601595879753/

In the midst of all this, I read an article about the World Beard and Moustache Championships and Beard Team USA. I thought to myself "what a coincidence. Here I am working on a facial hair art exhibit and there is a competition out there for facial hair. I must find out more." Well I did, and now you are looking at the newest member of Beard Team USA. The next championship is May 23, 2009 in Alaska. That's plenty of time to grow something curly and crazy for the competition. For more details on the World Beard and Moustache Championships and Beard Team USA visit http://www.beardteamusa.org/.


Rage Against the Machine, pt. 1

I hate technology. That's right, you heard me. In our quest to streamline our expenses and make our financial lives more efficient, we've had some big wins and a spectacular loss. Technology is to blame for the loss. Before I get into the loss, let me tell you about our wins. It started last fall when we refinanced Chronic's car loan. That saved us $80 a month. Then I got rid of my car. Total savings $850 a month. I tweaked the car insurance. Total savings $40 a month. Chronic and I got a family cellphone plan where we share minutes. Total savings around $20 a month. The wife's gym membership expired, finally :0). Total savings $50 a month. Then we got greedy.

We became like Icarus. We flew too close to the sun. I had this brillant idea to drop cable tv. It is not our intention to stop watching television cold turkey just stop paying for the cable monopoly. I have a 50" plasma and intend to use it. Most shows are available on the internet or on DVD, so we wouldn't be missing anything. My idea was to buy a home theatre computer (HTPC) and an indoor antenna. My cousin successfully controls his home entertainment center with a HTPC. And he doesn't have cable. The HTPC i bought was an HP Pavilion Elite fully loaded with a high end AMD chip, 32bit Vista Home Premium which includes Windows Media Center that has a DVR, plus the computer had a high end graphics card, video card, audio card, huge harddrive, Blu-Ray DVD drive and a TV card. The up front cost was large, but the HTPC would pay for itself in a few months because we'd be saving $90 a month without cable tv. The indoor antenna can pick up the free over-the-air channels (NBC, CBS, ABC, FOX) in high def. My hopes were high. I found a website all about HTPCs called missingremote.com. Armed with the knowledge I had gotten from missingremote.com and my cousins success story, I went at it like a bat out of hell. But I ran into some frustrating bugs. The XM Radio plugin for Media Center didn't work. No music played. I could listen to XM Online with no problem over the internet. I couldn't find a resolution on the internet. Then my music library would lock up during playback. All my music is on a networked harddrive, and I never had problems listening to music on our other computers. Then when we went to play our first Blu-Ray disc, it errored. I researched the error on the HP website and found that you can't playback Blu-Ray discs with an HDMI connection. It only works with a DVI connection. Well, my tv only has HDMI connections. And I didn't have a DVI to HDMI adapter. But I don't understand why Blu-Ray doesn't playback through HDMI on a computer. HDMI carrys a video and audio signal, where as DVI only carries the video signal. But the signal is the same. So it should work. There was no explanation as to why it works the way it does. My frustration reached the boiling point so I returned the computer.

I didn't want to be defeated by technology, so I scheduled a rematch. I ordered a new HTPC with an Intel chip (I read a couple of reviews where users had loads of trouble with an AMD Vista machine, but no trouble with an Intel Vista machine). I purchased a DVI to HDMI adapter. I downgraded the firmware on my network USB hub that my external harddrive plugs into. The recent firmware upgrade caused issues on Chronic's AMD Vista laptop. The downgrade fixed the issue. I hope it fixes the issue with the HTPC. The new machine is currently being built. Part 2 of this rant will be my experience with the Intel machine.


The LEGO Secret Vault

The LEGO company has a secret vault guarding almost every LEGO set ever manufactured. There are 4,720 sets in the vault-from the first sets in 1958 through 2008. They are new in box and in mint condition. One of my WAMALUG co-horts found the link to the story. WAMALUG is the Washington Metro Area LEGO Users Group. The cool gadget guide blog Gizmodo set one of there writers to Denmark to tour the LEGO factory and write about. Here's the link: http://gizmodo.com/tag/legotrip. It's a LEGO fan's dream come true.


At Least It's an Ethos

It's been over a month since I last blogged, so lets catch you up on me. I just celebrated my 33rd birthday. I got Mario Kart Wii and a book "I'm A Lebowski, You're A Lebowski - Life, The Big Lebowski, and What Have You." A must read for fans of the movie The Big Lebowski. If you've never seen the movie please watch it at least three times. Find out what the legion of "Achievers" already know and love. Then check out LebowskiFest. Chronic and I will be in attendance for 7th Annual Fest. If you've never heard of the movie you're a fucking amateur. Go scold yourself and get a life. Mario Kart Wii is a fun game. It incorporates the Wii style of game play into the classic game. Sixteen new tracks and 16 classic tracks. It comes with the Wii wheel, a steering wheel controller. You can now choose between karts and bikes, the first time motorcycles have been a part of the Mario Kart series. Thanks to Chronic for the great gifts.

Planning for the next World Beard and Mustache Championship (WBMC) is underway. It is being held in Anchorage, Alaska on May 23, 2009. Beard Team USA (BTUSA) wants to make a strong showing at WBMC. BTUSA wants to overtake the Germans as the most dominate beard team in the world. I'd like to compete in WBMC but it's too early to tell where my life is going to be next summer.

My upper level Redskins season ticket pair were upgraded. The seats moved from the row 2nd from the top down to row 15, one section over. That puts me farther away from the 50 yard line, but closer to the field. It's worth it, especially in the upper level. The view of the field is basically the same from either section.

My dream of becoming a helicopter pilot is now one step closer to reality. Check this out: http://www.acecraftusa.com/index.html. With the GEN H-4 I'll be flying in no time. It's the world's smallest co-axial helicopter ever made! (that actually flies). It is an ultralight one-man helicopter. It's small enough to keep in my garage. My commute would become a lot more interesting.

Rock stars ask for some stupid crap. Wedgie threats and fat roadies highlight this hilarious Foo Fighters rider: http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/years/2008/0513081foo1.html. I love the Foos. A laid back band with a great sense of humor that really rock. Speaking of rock, we saw The Black Keys at the 9:30 club. Heavy Sole.

One last thing. High gas prices have people dusting off there bikes or buying new ones. Will we see a sea change in personal transportation? I hope so.


Dollars & Sense

I don't normally blog about politics, it's just not my style. But with the state the U.S. economy is in, I feel like offering my $.02 (which is worth a lot less against the Euro). First, the housing crisis. There is a lot of effort by the government to find a fix for our current housing crisis. I realize that something must be done to help people in the unfortunate situation of losing their homes to foreclosure because of the overall impact on the economy, but my emotional reaction to this is very different. Why should my tax dollars be bailing out someone who bought beyond their means? I think it is ridiculous that builders who in the past five years have been making money hand over fist should be given tax breaks. And like most policies it does not help those who are fiscally responsible and live within their means, like me and my family. Why not a tax break for all homeowners instead of just those who buy foreclosed homes? Second, rising gas prices. Prices at the pump are skyrocketing. It's outrageous. High gas prices is one of the major catalysts in me getting rid of my car. Tawny took only premium, which is around $3.80 in our neighborhood. Just putting gas in Ruby (our Xterra), which takes regular unleaded, cost us around $60 yesterday to fill the tank at $3.40 a gallon. Chronic is going to ride the Metro to school starting in the fall and is going to start carpooling to work on Fridays. People are going on vacation closer to home because of the weak dollar and high gas prices. That's a smart idea. Please pass along any creative ideas to conserve gasoline. Third, the economic stimulus checks. These checks are supposed to stimulate the economy by encouraging people to spend the money. Do yourself a favor and save that money or pay down debt. But retailers are making that very hard to do. They want a slice of the pie. Major retailers like Sears, Wal-Mart and Pizza Hut are all offering "economic stimulus" sales, cutting prices 10% to 30% in May when the checks begin to be mailed out. I think you'll see every retailer try everything they can to reach into consumers' pocketbooks. Resist the urge to spend that money. Think long term, not instant gratification. Put all this together and the outlook is grim. Pray for things to turn around.


Getting More Mileage Out of Life

I never thought the day would come when Tawny wasn't a part of my life. I've spent so much time with her over the last 3 1/2 years that it seemed inevitable that we would be together forever. The daily commutes, the topless drives to anywhere, the vacation in the OBX. Those are good memories. But the relationship is over. We've gone our separate ways. Tawny and I have broken up. I was slowly weaning myself off of my dependence of her. I dropped her off at the dealership last Saturday. I turned around and never looked back. I am now proudly car free. It's no big deal. attitude is everything. if you decide it's possible to live without a car, it will be.

The vast majority of car owners in this country have an addiction to it. And like any addiction, it's a costly one. Most Americans spend their entire adult life feeding this addiction with precious time and money simply because they don't know any other way; they don't know there is a viable alternative to a car based existence. The good news is all it takes to cure a car addiction is a little info and some mild lifestyle reengineering. As author Katie Alford writes in her book Divorce Your Car! "Car dependency is a psychological addiction, not a physical one." From birth, cars are as much a part of daily existence for most of us as eating and sleeping. It's no wonder most Americans don't question why or whether they need a car-they just accept it as a necessary part of life. Driving is remarkably habitual. Once you settle into a habit, it appears to be the only way to do things. but now that I've switched to a bike/walk/public transportation lifestyle, it no longer occurs to me to use a car for everything. All the whining about being out of shape or too old or that biking isn't safe is just a rationalization to avoid having to think about your life and actually implement changes to improve it. Without a car you learn to plan ahead, to be patient and to delay instant gradification. Part of living car free involves reevaluating, rearranging and streamlining some of your activities for better efficiency.

Car free living makes exercise a part of your life, not something else you have to try to fit into your busy schedule. And exercise is something I sorely need. Chronic and I have taken up biking as a hobby. I walk 1 1/2 miles roundtrip to the bus stop every weekday. I've come to realize that cars are mostly a way to display status. Im not out to impress anyone, at least not anymore. Financial independence is more important to me and my family than image.

The environmental movement has finally won me over. I believe in protecting the environment. "Think globally and act locally." Getting rid of my car is my way of reducing pollution.

Perhaps the most valuable benefit of car-free living is peace of mind. It comes from the cumulative effect of the many smaller benefits of the lifestyle. For example, solid personal finances and good health are essential to peace of mind. And peace of mind is the foundation for building a high quality of life. When you get rid of your car you may find that all the benefits add up to one big payoff - a richer, healthier, less stressed life.


Off The Charts

I read this article about this dude that has 3 million records. Obsessed much? The owner of the collection calls it "The World's Greatest Music Collection". It's bigger than the one at the Library of Congress. Possibly the largest private collection in the world. Part of what makes the vault so valuable is that the owner never sold the last copy of a record, so it is filled with rarities. One of the things that separates the dude from most collectors/retailers is his meticulous archiving. In 1983, he published a two-volume Music Master discography that became a reference book for the industry and drew the praise of Dick Clark. Now, he has nearly 1 million records archived on an electronic database. Got to love OCD. The owner estimates the value of the collection at $50 million and said that CD Now nearly bought it for $28.5 million earlier in the decade, just before stock in the online Web site plummeted. He added that over the years, the Library of Congress and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum have both expressed interest in the collection. But with the retail record industry dying fast and people downloading more music than buying CDs, he went 21st century and turned to eBay. Selling the collection as a single unit for 3 million in the auction. A buyer from Ireland had agreed to buy the collection but eBay later discovered the bid was a fraud. Do you think he'll take $5000? I can write him a check right now. I'll just have to find a place to keep the records. I've got a guest room that doesn't get much action...


Hirsute Pogonologist

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Originally uploaded by akkleis

Yup, another posting about facial hair. Beards are in vogue. Facial hair is everywhere. An article in TIME magazine, a segment on CBS's Early Show, the Republic of Movember, a mirror.

On Thursday Feb 21, there will be a segment featuring Beard Team USA's trip to last year's World Beard and Moustache Championships in England. I'm a card carrying member, even though BTUSA doesn't have membership cards.

Movember (the month formerly known as November) is a charity event held during November each year.At the start of Movember guys register with a clean shaven face. The Movember participants known as Mo Bros then have the remainder of the month to grow and groom their Mo (Australian slang for moustache) and along the way raise as much money and awareness about male health issues as possible. I'll grow a mustache for charity.

When I started growing my beard back a year or so ago it wasn't because it was a new fad. I am not trying to make a statement. I just didn't want to shave my face anymore. Could I be a trendsetter and not know it? I was the first dude in my high school to have the 90210 "Dylan sideburns". I guess you could say I'm an artist and my medium is facial hair. Or you could call me a hirsute pogonologist (a.k.a. shaggy beard scholar) if you're not into the whole brevity thing.


How I Scored My Wife

A friend sent me a link to a CNN article about great first date cars. Not because I'm cruising for babes in my hot little topless orange number, Tawny (that's her and me in the pic), but because the 350Z Roadster is featured in the article. But my first date with Chronic involved taking Tawny for a spin down I66. That might just be what endeared me to her. Here's what female auto journalist Sheryll Alexander had to say about about the car:

Nissan 350Z Roadster
Mack Points: Pure Mack Daddy with powerful growling engine. Convertible top and sexy exterior lines.
Not Diggin' It: Rather small interior can make things tight, a bit too racy for commuting
MSRP: $27,900 - $40,250

First comes marriage, then the kids and then going out on a date seems more like a miracle rather than an exciting weekly excursion. So, my husband and I were overjoyed to be driving a sleek yet curvaceous Nissan 350Z Roadster on a recent trip to a world-class dinner at The Montage Resort & Spa in scenic Laguna Beach.

While watching rather violent Pacific shore waves break over rocks, sand and cliffs, we sat in the Z's cozy leather seats and noted how its driving mechanics feel so much like driving a Corvette -- pure power, racy cockpit and over-the-top masculine styling.

The exterior design definitely calls out to a more hip crowd of daring men who like the Z Roadster's sexy curves and oversized haunches. The carbon silver color, a dark silver tone with glinting highlights, really showed off the Z's muscular frame with modern appeal.

Now, your date may not get off on the under-the-hood details like molybdenum-coated pistons and micro-finished crankshaft and camshafts, but you'll get excited every time you let this 3.5 liter V6 roar down the highway. We thoroughly enjoyed the tight handling and super fast acceleration, but the heavy-footed manual transmission was not so fun.

However, we were especially impressed with the sound engineering, which makes the Z Roadster roar like you've got thousands of growling beasts at your feet. Your date, no doubt, will definitely think you are a dynamic guy with this much power at your feet.

Certainly not girly in any way, the 350Z Roadster's interior is a marvel in masculine design. This all-black wonder of leather and chrome accents looks and feels even more like a race car with its ventilated leather and mesh-appointed seats, which in our case came in a very stylish two-toned black and burnt orange accent colors.

Remember to be sensitive about your date's delicate hair style, so don't put down the Nissan Z's soft top until you have stopped at a quiet scenic spot. The silent, smooth and quick design of the top-down function would even impress fictional ladies' man James Bond.

Basically, the Nissan 350Z Roadster is truly a he-man's ride come true whether girls like it or not.

Wedding Video

The full 1hr 4min Shock wedding video. Enjoy!


Redskinz Finally Hire A New Head Coach

After a search that lasted 32 days, the Washington Redskins finally hired a new head coach-Jim Zorn. Who's that you ask? Well he's most recently the long tenured quarterbacks coach of the Seattle Seahawks. The Redskins originally hired Zorn two weeks ago to be the team's new offensive coordinator. Then they turn around and promote him to head coach. Zorn has never even been an OC of an NFL team and the Skins make him the HC. It's a departure from the big name HC hires the Redskins are known for since little man Danny Snyder bought the team-Gibbs 2.0, Spurrier and Schottenheimer. Whether it's a big name or a no name, the Redskins organization is screwed up. Washington Post sports columnist Sally Jenkins said it best in her Feb 7 column:
It's a bitter shame to say this, given how much it surely pains local fans, but the truth is that Redskins Park is no place for someone with a bright future. It's too dark and dysfunctional. The phrase "coach killer" comes to mind. No good one, except possibly Joe Gibbs, has had a decent experience under Snyder, not Norv Turner, Marty Schottenheimer, Steve Spurrier, Al Saunders or Gregg Williams. Which is why the only people who seem to be realistically entertaining the job now are either those desperate to get back in the game, such as Jim Fassel and Steve Mariucci, or climbers looking for their first head coaching office.

There is a consistent, central weakness in the Redskins' organization that no coach can fix. It's Snyder's tycoon mentality, his assumption that he can purchase people and make them do what he wants, and if they displease him, discard them. His paycheck players and presto coaching solutions fail every time. The franchise is based on a series of extravagant bribes, not a dime of which has ever been spent on the qualities that made the Giants into Super Bowl champions, namely good faith, loyalty, patience, unity and, above all, belief in the leadership at the top.

Something else in the NFL world saddens me as well. After 31 years, HBO is "sacking" Inside the NFL. I love that show. I didn't like any of the hosts-Bob Costas and former NFL players Dan Marino, Cris Carter and Cris Collinsworth-but it was a "deep" football highlights show, if there is such a thing. Inside The NFL was unique. I'm a traditionalist, so when I see a institution like Inside the NFL taken off the air by a dominant TV station due to competition, well all is not right in the world.


Wedding Highlight Video

Our wedding highlights video. Set to the music of Lenny Kravitz. Total running time 4m19s.

The full wedding video is over an hour long and is a bitch to upload. I've ripped it into separate chapters and will post the full length video when I get it uploaded.


The Mustache Is Making A Major Comeback

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Originally uploaded by akkleis
So says MSN's A-List. I'm partial to the beard, but as you can see from the picture, i've grown a mustache. I look really horrible in this picture, and the hair lip certainly doesn't help. But this mustache turned into the handlebar, so the effort was worth it. My wife would disagree. Is it spelled mustache or moustache? The A-List had a couple of interesting links. First, the Top 15 mustaches in Rock History. All in all a well compiled list. The one glaring omission is Lemmy from Motorhead (see pic that is not me). Second, the American Mustache Institute. My blog wouldn't be complete without the beard index's fraternal twin, the official AMI mustache guide. There are even rumors of an animated series based on John Oates' (the lesser half of Hall & Oates) mustache. I've finally found my calling-growing beards for the enjoyment of everyone, including myself. All is right with the world.


2008 Washington DC Auto Show

Originally uploaded by chronic-shock
We went to the annual DC car show. It is a showcase of all the new models from all the car manufacturers that sell automobiles in the US. There are also some concept cars and technology displays. This show pales in conparison to the Detroit and Tokyo auto shows. The auto manufacturers don't unveil anything at the DC car show. They just put on display their offerings for the masses to consume. We went on a Sunday, and the crowds were terrible. We did get to see Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Porsches, Maseratis and the newest supercar the Nissan GT-R. See all the pics from the show here.


Beard Index

My friend sent me the beard index. Now I have reference material. I think the next beard for me is the Hulihee. My friends and family are starting to jump on the beard bandwagon. It's going to be a crazy ride...


Guitar Hero

the guitar hero
Originally uploaded by spiggycat
A pic of me playing Guitar Hero 3 on NYE. I rock. Happy New Year.