NetFlix – How to find that hidden gem of a movie to watch

I recently signed up for Netflix online. I have been pretty happy with the service so far, for $7.99 they have a huge selection of TV shows and movies.  I use a Tivo Premiere to view shows on my TV that are streamed directly from NetFlix.  However they also have the ability to stream to game consoles, iPhone, and of course your computer.  Unfortunately, the challenge is to find shows that are worth watching. With thousands available, it can be hard to find that hidden gem. Because NetFlix does not have a lot of recent Block Buster releases, you mostly have the choice between older movies, or that hidden gem of a show or movie that was not super popular when released, yet is actually worth watching. I have a few favorites, and will post more in the future. Some quality TV Shows and Movies currently available are listed below in no particular order.

TV Shows


Vulcan T'Pol - Jolene Blalock

The Beautiful Jolene Blalock as Vulcan T’Pol

Star Trek Enterprise – Add to Your Instant Queue

Set prior to the events depicted in the original 1960s program, this series follows Capt. Archer (Scott Bakula) and the crew of the Enterprise as they explore space and discover the technology taken for granted in previous Star Trek installments.  This show was not very popular when it originally aired, mainly due to the story line flowing across multiple episodes.  As a TV show, this was difficult to follow, but when you can now watch them back to back at your leisure, it is an enjoyable show.  Jolene Blalock is also quite the hidden gem, beautiful and shows her ability to act as the role of the original Vulcan Second in Command.

Louie – Add to Your Instant Queue

Although Louie is currently in Season Two on the FX Channel, many people have missed Season One.  This is a classic comedy, Louis C.K. does his take of a comedy sitcom, but this is no Seinfeld.   Louie is raw and unapologetic.  He has the ability to make you groan, and then say to your self, well, he does have a point.   Well worth watching if you like edgy comedy that will make you laugh, and think.



Lana almost nude and naked

Archer – Add to Your Instant Queue

Archer is an adult themed,politically incorrect animated TV Show. The basic plot revolves around Archer, an over-the-top portrayal of the classic womanizing secret agent with a dose of bumbling Inspector Clouseau. It is raunchy, full of one-liners that you have to listen carefully for as they explode across the screen, and generally always good for 19 minutes of entertainment. You will find yourself having to rewind a lot, you may find yourself laughing so hard you miss the next joke.





Shutter Island – Add to Your Instant Queue
Wow, where was this movie when released to the theaters?  US Marshall Teddy Daniels investigates the disappearance of a patient from an insane asylum located on an isolated island. Throw in creepy inmates, a storm, and Teddy’s own personal demons, and you have the recipe for a thriller that will keep you glued to the screen. This movie will keep you thinking about what happened for the next week. Leonardo DiCaprio delights with his typical strong performance, it was if this movie was made with him in mind.

Letters from Iwo Jima – Add to Your Instant Queue
This is Clint Eastwood’s companion to Flags of Our Fathers (unfortunately not available on NetFlix).  This is the story of Iwo Jima from the Japanese perspective, often told through letters sent back home from the doomed soldiers sent to defend Iwo.  A strong performance by the main characters, not 100% historically accurate, but enjoyable none the less.  It will help if you are a history buff, however it is a good enough story to keep the average viewer engaged.

Red State – Add to Your Instant Queue
Another movie that was released into theaters and never heard from again.  However, this is a quality movie by Kevin Smith.  It is a little heavy on anti-religion and anti-government themes, yet is still a good movie with some chilling scenes.  I found myself keep saying, no, they would not do that, but yet they did.  Does not follow the standard script for a thriller/horror movie.  It is short at an hour and twenty minutes, so is a good movie to catch when you are short on time.

Stink Bugs will be knocking at your door soon – Kill them Safely

Don't live with Stink Bugs this winter


In the Mid-Atlantic, the mighty stink bug is only a few weeks away from moving from the fields towards your home. Now is the time to start implementing this years preventions. The number one myths about Stink Bugs is that pesticides will not kill them. This is false, and is probably spread because the newspapers are interviewing farmers, and that is true, farmers do not have food-safe pesticides that are will kill the stunkbug reliably. However, there are household pesticides that will work.

Last year, many homeowners and pest control companies were very successful at controlling incoming bugs with Cyper WP. This is a relatively safe (always read the manufacture’s Product MSDS) pesticide thatcan be used indoors and outdoors. At the end of Aug through Oct, it can be applied to outside surfaces where the stink bug travels as it searched for an entrance to your house. It creates a barrier that when the Stink Bug travels over, will kill it within 2-3 hours. It can also be applied indoors in attics, crawl-spaces, and basements. However, for best results, apply every other week to your roof eaves, tops of outside walls, around vent entrances, and anywhere that you have seen Stink Bugs crawling. It will not 100% eliminate your problem, however it will have a huge impact.

In the Spring as the Stink Bugs leave your house, you can reapply to affected areas. Cyper WP will leave a reside, so only use where it will not be seen, or will not be noticeable (roof eave). As an added benefit, Cyper WP will also help to control bees and wasps who try to nest in your eaves and crawlspaces. It will also eliminate spiders and ants in basements.  Spray in on the outside of your house, and you will notice a significant reduction of outdoor pests, including scorpions, roaches, wasps, etc.

The best price I have found is on Amazon’s web site. You can purchase here : Cyper Wp Insecticide -1 Lb. Control SprayPest Control)

And, as I wrote about before here, go buy a BugZooka Bug Catcher VacuumNOW to capture the stray bug that does make it past the Cyper WP into your house.

PLEASE, do not buy expensive books or traps, they are almost all scams.  There are only three proven ways to protect your home from invasion.  Seal all cracks and opening as best as possible, use a barrier pesticide like Cyper WP, and clean up any strays with the BugZooka.

Cyper WP will kill all the stink bugs outside before they get in your house


Bugzooka – The answer to your stink bug woes

Stink BugLike most folks in the Mid-Atlantic states, our house has been infested with Stink Bugs. They first invade the home in early Fall, looking to find a warm place to hibernate through the Winter. Whenever a warm day appears, some will awaken, and crawl through your house looking to get back outdoors. These pests first arrived from Asia several years ago, and have quickly become a major nuisance. Our home is surrounded by Soybean fields, which is where the Stink Bugs love to spend their Summers.

Because there are so many of them. catching them is a very tedious process. To make matters worse, if they are scared, or you crush them when removing, you will get stunk! You can try to use a vacuum cleaner, however this quickly causes an unpleasant odor throughout your house. We resorted to catching in tissue and releasing outside still alive. This reduced the smell, but was time consuming and still resulted in stinky fingers.

I finally found the solution, the Bugzooka! I had tried several battery powered bug catchers, however they did not have a strong enough suction to reliably catch the tenacious stink bug. The Bugzooka is manually powered by large set of bellows at the end of the unit. You simply press them in until cocked. With a push of a button, the bellows expands and creates a strong vacuum that will catch almost an bug almost 100% of the time. The great thing about the Bugzooka is that it requires NO batteries, with a simply cocking of the device, you are ready to catch more bugs. The telescoping tube will allow you to reach stink bugs on the ceiling, top of walls, etc. No more mess, and also works on all other types of crawling insects as well.

In the first three minutes of using the Bugzooka, I caught over a dozen stink bugs. After turning it over to my kids, the rest of the house was de-stink-bugged within another 20 minutes. There was little odor, probably because th bugs are not actually killed. Simply unscrew the top, and dump the stink bugs outdoors.
Bugzooka Stink Bug Catcher

If you are faced with a Stink Bug infestation, don’t wait, buy a Bugzooka today. You can click on the handy link below, and Amazon will have it to your door in just a few days.

BugZooka Bug Catcher: Get Stink bugs fast without all the mess!

Taiwan Honors US and ROC Veterans – Part 2 of 2


This article was written by my father, retired Lt. Colonel Howard O. Smith, who served in Taiwan during the mid-60’s, and who traveled back to Taiwan this past August to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Chinese’s bombardment. The People’s Liberation Army of Mao Zedong fired more than 450,000 shells on Kinmen Island and several other smaller islets in a 44-day artillery bombardment beginning on August 23, 1958.

After many thanks to our hosts, we boarded the ROC AF C-130 and flew to Kinmen. You can imagine our surprise when we were met at the ramp by a very large group of greeters and media personnel. We were all given leis and ushered into their briefing room for refreshments and a very warm welcome. Then we were taken to a memorial for a US National Guard Lt Col killed in an artillery bombardment in 1954 which overlooked the mainland only 1200 meters away. Unfortunately the weather was still not the best and we could only just make out the mainland. We were taken to a factory that forges knives from old artillery shells left over from the communist bombardments. We watched as the owner forged a piece of shell into a knife. Many in our group bought items in the shop, including Wade. He purchased a steak knife set that was then engraved with his name and the 8/23 date. A fitting memento!The next day saw us ushered into an underground hall that had been set up for a speech by the President of Taiwan. Most of the speech was in Chinese but President Ma switched to English a number of times to thank us for coming and to thank the US for the assistance our country has provided to maintain the freedom of the ROC over the years. After 50 years of sometimes contentious times he felt recent changes have “…created the conditions of reconciliation…” between Taiwan and Mainland China. He noted, however, that he has “…maintained the security relationship with the US…” and will purchase weapons systems from the US for military preparedness.

After the speech we all went to a cemetery for Taiwanese military personnel killed during the bombardments in 1958, where we participated in a ceremony commemorating these men and their service. After the service the President took the time to come over to our group and shake hands with a number of us, including my wife and myself. Quickly, however, the mass of media personnel surrounded the group and we were blocked from seeing or talking with him at that time. The eleven members of our group who had been there in 1958 were invited to lunch with the President. The rest of us continued with a tour of the island.

Shortly we were taken back to our C-130 and flew back to Taipei, bidding farewell to our MND escorts who did an excellent job of hosting us. We will certainly have fond memories of the experience of those few days.

Taiwan Honors US and ROC Veterans – Part 1 of 2

black cat u-2

This article was written by my father, retired Lt. Colonel Howard O. Smith, who served in Taiwan during the mid-60’s, and who traveled back to Taiwan this past August to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Chinese’s bombardment. The People’s Liberation Army of Mao Zedong fired more than 450,000 shells on Kinmen Island and several other smaller islets in a 44-day artillery bombardment beginning on August 23, 1958.

On August 24th, 2008 the Republic of China (ROC) Ministry of National Defense (MND) conducted a memorial service for ROC military personnel killed during the Communist Chinese artillery bombardment of Quemoy (now Kinmen) and Matsu Islands in the Taiwan Straits in August 1958. In addition to the Taiwanese veterans who were invited to the service, there was also a group of American retired and former military personnel who had been present in or near Taiwan during the fighting or who had participated in the US support given to the ROC from 1958 until the mid 1970s. In our group of almost 30 there were 11 men who were there in 1958, with the remainder having served in Taiwan during the rest of the time period. My wife and I were in Taiwan from March 1963 until March 1965 and our eldest son, Wade, was born at the US Navy hospital just outside Taipei. We three were very excited to be among the group returning for this 50th anniversary gathering.

Our trip to Kinmen was part of a longer tour to Taiwan. We spent the first few days visiting various tourist sites, and then were escorted to Kinmen by MND personnel. I will cover the primary purpose of the trip for us, the return to Kinmen.

On August 21st three representatives of the MND (a Colonel, Major, and First Lieutenant) escorted us while we traveled south from Taipei on the new high speed “bullet train” to Kaohsiung, a city on Taiwan’s southwest coast. At that point the presence of a typhoon just south of Taiwan caused our trip to Kinmen to be delayed by one day, so we were taken to a number of tourist sites in the area. On the 22nd the MND advised that we would be leaving for Kinmen the next day.

On the morning of the 23rd we were taken to Tainan Air Base and given a tour of the ROC Air Force Academy. At their museum I noted a PT-17 on display. This was a WWII biplane trainer that was used by both the US and ROC Air Forces during and just after WWII. This type of aircraft was sold as surplus in Taiwan and I was lucky enough in 1963 to have flown a number of hours in this model of aircraft. After the tour of the museum we were taken to the headquarters of the unit at Tainan AB. This unit flies the locally produced fighter know as the Ching Kuo. After a briefing by unit personnel we were allowed to participate in flying their simulators for this aircraft. With assistance from a training tech I got into the “air” and initially performed straight and level procedures, then moved on to banked turns before returning to the airfield. I never got to that phase in my 1960s training and did no better this time. I crashed!! Wade was using the other simulator and performed a very nice flight before greasing in his landing. Of course, he does have his private license!

Taiwan to Honor US and ROC Veterans – 50th Anniversary of the Chinese’s bombardment

roc honor medal

August will be a busy month for the American population, with gas and food prices going up, the Olympics in China, and the Democratic Convention in Denver. Except for some military veterans, very few will remember that 50 years ago the United States and China were very close to military conflict in the Taiwan Straits over two relatively minor islands (Quemoy, now called Kinmen), and Matsu just a short distance from the mainland of China. In August 1958 these islands were still controlled by the Republic of China (ROC), who had been driven from the mainland in 1949 when the Communist Chinese declared the Peoples Republic of China (PRC). Beginning on August 23rd 1958 the PRC attempted to invade and capture the islands after an intense artillery bombardment. The United States strongly supported the ROC on Taiwan, and President Eisenhower reacted to the attacks by sending our Seventh Fleet into the Taiwan Straits to try and control the situation. U. S. troops from Okinawa were alerted in case they were needed to help the ROC.  Military supplies were provided to the ROC, including early versions of the Sidewinder air-to-air missile, which the ROC air force effectively used to destroy many Communist aircraft.After the military situation eased and the shelling diminished and then ceased the US provided military support to the ROC, both personnel and equipment, until the mid 1970s. At that time an agreement was made between the US and the PRC that stipulated the United States would not station military personnel in Taiwan. Thus ended our direct military involvement with the ROC.

Now, many years later, the government of the ROC is commemorating the 50th anniversary of the shelling by inviting military veterans of both the United States and the ROC to Kinmento share their experiences during the battles and the period until the 1970s. Over 30 Americans who were stationed in Taiwan at some point between 1958 and the mid 1970s will be honored by meeting with high level ROC military commanders on the island and then attending a luncheon on August 23rd.  Eleven American veterans who were present during 1958 will be seated with President Ma Ying-jeou, the newly elected President of the ROC.  Oral histories of their experiences while in the area in August 1958 will be taken from the 11 US veterans.  The rest of the US veteran group represents the time period from 1959 through the mid 1970s.

Since the end of World War II many military personnel from the United States have spent a portion of their lives providing assistance to friendly countries around the world.  In many cases they have grown to appreciate other cultures, possibly learn some new languages, and realize what it is to be able to return to the United States and enjoy the many blessings we have here, even when there are bad times.

So, while you are enjoying your summer, keep in mind those men and women veterans from your community who are willing to volunteer to go to other areas of the world, some dangerous, some not.  We should remember them because the citizens of those countries who we assisted have not forgotten and celebrate our having been there.

This article was written by my father, retired Lt. Colonel Howard O. Smith, who served in Taiwan during the mid-60’s, and will be traveling back to Taiwan this August to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Chinese’s bombardment.  The People’s Liberation Army of Mao Zedong fired more than 450,000 shells on Kinmen Island and several other smaller islets in a 44-day artillery bombardment beginning on August 23, 1958.