Archive for the ‘Review’ Category

Review: Intel ISEF (International Science and Engineering Fair) Public Day

May 17, 2018 Leave a comment


ISEF Public Day 2018

(c)2018 Intel ISEF

Review: Intel International Science and Engineering Fair

Us knowing ISEF was in Pittsburgh started out by attending a tour of CCAC. The one professor my step-daughter talked to strongly suggested that she check out ISEF on the public day (as he would be judging one of the areas). We’d like to thank Abiraman Srinivasan for that.

Keep in min my step-daughter goes to one of the most highly rated public school districts in the area. Nobody informed her of this opportunity, nobody knew about it when asked for permission to miss part of the school day. It took one professor that did not even have my step-daughter as a possible student yet to take interest enough in that student to alert them to what was really out there.

The event was completely and unbelievably impressive. When you see a student’s eyes light up when they realize what opportunities are really out there – it makes you overjoyed that you took the time to act on a suggestion.

Half way through the event, I asked my step-daughter if she would have handled high school differently if she knew what opportunities were out there she said “yes”.

The problem is when events like this happen very few schools get their students to them. Sadly this does create a lack of inspiration in our young to have any ambition for higher education. You have to know about the goals to have ambitions towards them.  Kudos to Intel for making this possible … even if you don’t like their processors. This is truly a company giving back to the community.

The only bad side to the event was the realization of how far behind the US is in education. A family member works for a very well-known tech college in Pittsburgh and many times you rumors of them only seeking out international students. After talking to many of these students at this event – I now know why. I spent half of my day having conversations with high school students from other countries and felt like I was speaking to seasoned scientists and researchers. When I talked to the students there from the US they were smart … but it seemed like I as speaking to high school students. Got back to the 60s, 70s, and 80s and this situation would have been flipped. I’m not bad-mouthing the US students, just indicating that we may need to get rid of the entitlement thing big time in this country so we can do some catching up.

In an unexpected and enlightening realization – this even also proved one thing. When there is a very strong common interest or goal people from all walks of life have absolutely nothing against each other. In this even where people of persuasion that the news depicts as absolutely hating each other.  Not a sign of any discomfort between any students, their parents, volunteers, or attendees. None. All of then had one common goal – advance science. We need to learn from this.

In summary – this was an amazing even from a multitude of viewpoints. If ISEF is happening and it’s not in your area and you have a student trying to figure out what to do with their higher education that may give them a real opportunity to actually pay for that education and still have enough left over for a real life – fly them to it.  It’s worth the cost of plane ticket. ISEF if an immense opportunity to simply expose students to the information about careers and opportunities that exist in current times and the future.

Give people opportunities and peace will happen automatically by giving the ability to have food,shelfter, and quality of life.

Big Kudos to Intel for sponsoring this event!




Wiener World (A Pittsburgh Icon)

May 15, 2018 Leave a comment

“Hot Dog King” (c)Lawrence A Capozzolo

No … this is not a blog posting on a less than family friendly movie.

Get you head out of the gutter.

No, really – stop thinking that!!!! It’s REALLY embarassing.

To the food …

Wiener World is probably one of the last established long time food icons left in the city that almost brings visions of a New York scene in an episode of Seinfeld. We did try the soup guy thing, but that didn’t stick.

I guess hot dogs are easier —- everyone loves a hot dog. I mean, what’s better than something that contains 2% of stuff that should never be in your daily intake. Just kidding.

WW has been around in the city ever since I can remember – sort of like S.W. Randall Toys and Gifts. It’s one of those things that’s never not been there. It’s also one of those things you easily forget to visit occasionally.

Don’t miss out on this one …. it’s a treat.

Tradition, taste, and hot stuff on a bun … perfect!

Our rating … we skip on this one. You just can’t rate tradition. Kudos to Wiener World for keeping it alive.


PS – don’t forget the chili.

Screaming Weasel

May 9, 2018 Leave a comment

Yep … that’s us!

A bit about “us” – since many have only been introduced to us recently, and nobody ever reads the “about” tab – and honestly, some time we just put things in it to be goofballs.

Most of the time it’s me, the author, Lawrence Capozzolo (signed SWB). An American, or Italian/German American, or mutt, or one of the people that’s paying a mortgage to house my step-daughter’s four furry critters (two dogs, a cat, and a rat). We’re pretty sure the animals had their lawyer get their names on the deed for the house too. They may have taken ours off at this point.

SWB started originally started in 2006 when I purchased my G4 iBook and it had iWeb on it. I made my first posting after I noticed a blog called That’s Church (I’m pretty sure that was still its title back then – but I’m getting old, and memories fade fast now … so I could be incorrect.) The person writing “That’s Church” eventually went on to write for Pittsburgh Magazine.  Although my blog become popular in about fifteen countries doing about 1.2 million hits a year, I chose getting back into I.T. work (I could have been smarter and went back to school for carpentry or plumbing or HVAC …. but NO, I stuck with I.T.) therefore still writing but not keeping it up eventually doing it professionally.

The blog was started, like others at the time as a rant blog (humorous rant). I figured people would find humor in the annoying blabberings of us tech types, and I was right. Now that I’m close to 50 (ok …. REALLY close) I’m getting back into writing for it and doing photography for it again (unless otherwise stated – those photos are really mine) basically because of ageism (tech is becoming like the NFL … if you didn’t get your first Ferrari right in the beginning, the youngin’s aren’t going to give you a chance to get one now … you’re too old to work in tech) I’m back to writing. I like doing it anyway.

I don’t know if I’ll get my numbers back up or if I’ll ever get a donation (but although I’m not a non-profit, please keep in mind I have to replace two cars, a furnace, and put a kid through university – so have a heart, consider donating).  Right now I do a little sound engineering work, etc – waiting to get back into tech if I ever do.  If I just end up writing, better yet.

Back to SWB. It will continue to be a showcase for humorous rant, really bad poetry, attempts at legitimate poetry, and whatever gets thrown into it. Some others may write for it (if they do you will know). If you like the writing, please like the posts or blog – if you really like it – follow, if you think I should put it into a book – donate. Remember, books still do things like enabling me to generate enough money to donate to others that love to do what writers love to do.

The photography is also part of the showcasing in SWB, I’ve been doing this since the age of 13 …. so 36 years. You’ll notice various formats (slide, digital, modified, etc). The other site I write for Pittsburgh By Mini Cam is designed to be for low-res photography.

Yes … we do on purpose write badly, strangely, and horrendously (this is different from “badly” as it indicates a “graduate” level of “bad”). We try to make you think by readings that make you feel that Scotty forgot to but a few brain atoms back into you after beaming you up.

We just have fun.

… and we do consider padded rooms to be ultra comfy posh places. The straight jackets are slightly annoying though – especially when you have to type with your teeth.

We are the late show, art gallery, literary short, stand up comedian, sitcom, political humorist, poetm, life loving, opinionated schmucked (buggered for the British folks) up oxygen breathing carbon based units that you will hopefully learn to as least like. If not, click the “like” button anyway – people lie all the time.

-Lawrence A Capozzolo

SWB – “making legimate writer groan in agony”

Giving it some gas

May 2, 2018 Leave a comment

“The Pump” (c)Lawrence A Capozzolo

… actually more like filling up the tank.

BTW … this is a keyhain camera (Vivitar Digital Mini Camera) pic of the Citgo in Sewickley, PA – which I believe may possibly be the very last full service station in the country. I think we need to get it put on the national list of historic sites (and immediately after install a row of Tesla charging stations next to the gas pumps just to see the confused looks).

… so, getting on with it.

Since SWB is sort of revived (actually it’s becoming more of the defunct Confused Words poetry blog than Confused Words was … although I think someone took over that blog name on WordPress), we are going to try to revive a unique photo blog we started specifically for Art All Nigh in 2010 (if I remember correctly) – Pittsburgh By Mini Cam. The photo blog was specifically for images taken with those Digital Mini Cameras found in most Pharmacy stores for about $10 each. You know, the little cameras with imagers worse than a 1990s $5 web camera? Yep … those little things on the end of a keychain that make you wonder if you accidentally ate a handful of magic mushrooms after looking at the images.

Those cameras, albeit with their horrible images, are just plain fun …. because you have no idea what you took until you download them …. sort of like using a GoPro with really really really (x50 here) bad quality.

Many equate them to the cheap plastic cameras of the 50s and 60s or the discount single use cameras of the 80s. They take crap, but it’s just plain fun.

Anywayz … watch the site Pittsburgh By Mini Cam for new entries.

The first image series kicking the site back off will be from Sewickley and War Memorial Park near Pittsburgh PA.



Review: DUST Movies on YouTube

April 30, 2018 Leave a comment

Logo (c)DUST

Two links you need to know if you like SciFi and/or good production in general:

I remember the old days of good SciFi paperbacks … and publications like Analog, that showcased some of the greatest SciFi shorts of the time. BTW … Analog is still around. Many things like that just dissolve into memories you cherish in your rocking chair (or perpetual motion glider chair). The great thing is DUST, being one of the better online venues, became the modern upgrade for lovers of great fiction … in video form.

I have yet to see a single short on their YouTube channel or site that I would not want to see as a full feature motion picture. Many of these talented film makers work production for many of the commercial length movies you watch at the theaters … some are independents. Regardless of the situation … curating on DUST is outstanding. Check them out … you won’t be disappointed.

swbkudosKudos from SWB!

Keep it up and keep us entertained.

Experience the future …. watch DUST!


National indie bookstore day

April 27, 2018 Leave a comment

coolstuffTake note tomorrow is Indie Bookstore Day (April 28, 2018) – click here for info. Despite the fact that “they” have deemed bookstores a dying breed … I completely disagree.

I do believe that hands are being changed from the Wally World sized mega libraries, back to where books belong … with the indie dealers that love them, and know them. I don’t care who you are, but the experience of buying something from someone that actually uses the product, or in this case, has read it …. makes a big difference.

I like going into my indie bookstore, where the shop keep (yes, I watch to much British TV) might have a bit of a intellectual “attitude” because they actually read their books on something other than a pad or phone (which means they actually comprehended the book too). I like the fact that they can hold a conversation with me on an author, a subject, or an issue – and have a clue.  Try that at Goliath Books!

We have a great indie store near where I live called The Penguin Bookshop. Great selection, and it sort of reminds me of Black Books – except the people at Penguin are actually sober.

If it’s in stock tomorrow I will be buying Alan Alda’s new book on communicating.  Check it out here.

If you aren’t buying books, buy one tomorrow (or maybe today) …. start a habit!


Review: Lost In Space 2018

April 26, 2018 Leave a comment

(c) Netflix / from IMDB

Wait …. where is Joey? Remember Joey from Friends … he played Don West in the last Lost In Space movie (1998).

I want Joey back.

Actually I think Netflix should have done “Friends In Space” as a Friends reunion project.

OK … I’ll stop. I know I’m irritating the scifi geeks.

On to what everyone else now doing in the blog-o-sphere … reviewing “Lost In Space” …

So far I’ll rate it a 3.5 out of 5. I like the show, and the new modern scifi feel – but I grew up with the original show, so I miss a little quirkiness of it – and thought Netflix would have attempted to insert a little of that with Dr. Smith. I think they tried to do that with Parker Posey’s character, but honestly I think that Parker was not the right casting. Like other’s reviewing the series, my first take is that her character as played does not fit in the gist of the current series. She’s just out-of-place …. and not out of place like Dr. Smith was in the old series … but, to a point where if her character left nobody would probably care nor notice. Nothing against Parker … just not the right fit.

Overall I think Netflix did a nice job of taking the basis of the series and updating it with a modern flare that actually seems possible in the near future (not within my lifetime, but in fifty years or so).

I’m getting older so besides the Dr. Smith thing being noticed (probably much due to sentimental remembrances of the character), a few niceties were noticed:

  1. I could watch with my family without constantly being tensed up and ready to cover my children’s eyes  due to the politically correct sex scene inserted every 15 minutes or so specifically to attract all lifestyles to view the show (or at least to not offend them), adding no value to the show.  This even with it being TV14.
  2. There is a balance in the characters. As a man, I don’t mind see strong women characters in a show or movie … but when it gets to the point where a series has been turned around to only have strong women characters (unless appropriate – documentaries and such) and the men are depicted to the point where they are only “stupid pitiful entities” (that might be a quote from Star Trek – I’d have to check) that’s also a form of discrimination, and slightly offensive. Lost In Space did a great job of not doing this with their character development – Kudos. This is a very nice representation of everyone being seen as strong in a group … when it is time for them to be so.
  3. The Robot wasn’t presented as a glorified microcontroller … he was present as a true friend to Will Robinson … who sometimes gets  pushed to the side and needs that friend.

The show also does a great job of presenting everyone as one big family. A little dysfunctional, but family. They all realize that if they don’t work together (you even see it in the acting with the Dr. Smith and Don West characters) they will not be around much longer, and humanity will have found no new place to live.

The almost immediate twist of Maureen Robinson noticing the black hole while floating on the edge of space doing recon was reminiscent of “Lost”. That very “Lost” feeling of “oh … wait, we crash landed on a planet we may be able to survive on” … and then the realization that it’s going to all end in a few weeks if they don’t get off the planet. That “I’m safe now …. but wait for it …. I’m actually still screwed again” feeling. Although I can see this being used multiple times in the series, I honestly hope they don’t beat it to death. It took some serious writing skill to innovate that in “Lost” when nobody knew it as a writing method … but now people know about it and can feel it out, so hopefully the writers will take that into account.

All-in-all the design of the spacecraft, the presentation of the cast and story by them, and the very decent acting makes this delightful to watch.

My rating again: 3.5 out of 5.
My Wife’s rating {{snore}} … but that’s another story.

Enjoy the show … pass the popcorn, please.