Thursday, March 30, 2006
- Turkish Proverb
So I had a long long day the last two days. The only thing that gets me by, besides my lovely wife (carrying the "Pander" theme), is the coffee. Some days I easily do one pot a day. Some days, half. Never less. In the evening, I hit the triple shot vanilla latte. If coffee really does improve cognitive function and improve endurance, I am one damn smart long distance runner.
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
"Because not even the dumbest bumfucked shitworm of a paidos [boy] would leave a shield lying face-down where he couldn't snatch it up in an instant when the enemy came upon him."
- Polynikes in Gates of Fire
This past weekend I finished Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield. I will have to reiterate how much I recommend this book. One of the interesting moments is towards the end of the story. Note: I do not view the following description as a spoiler; this is more of an anecdote in the story rather than the plot (please notice proper use of the semi-colon). Plus, can you spoil historical fiction? It already happened right?
The Spartan king Leonidas chooses 300 warriors to defend the Greeks at Thermopylae. One of the questions raised during the book is how these 300 were chosen. Some are soldiers past their prime. Some are youths with no battle experience. They are all headed to certain death. It is known that this battle is one that will be to the last man. How do you choose 300 to die?
In one of the last chapters of this story, the reasoning/logic of Leonidas is revealed. He notes that he chose the warriors based on their wives and mothers. He knew that all of Greece would look to these women after the tale of this battle spread. What would they see? Would they see women in deep mourning or women steeled, proud, ready to fight themselves? It was the women who were part of these men lives that qualified them for battle.
Fascinating. And if I may pander to my female audience, wise.
I don't know enough about this Abramoff story to really weigh in on the matter with any educated or insightful opinion, but he seems to be getting what he deserves...What I found immediately interesting about the story on CNN was this quote:
"Before the hearing, more than 260 people -- including rabbis, military officers and even a professional hockey referee -- wrote letters on his behalf asking the federal judge for leniency."
They must have not seen this picture.
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
"Copy from one, it's plagiarism; copy from two, it's research."
- Wilson Mizner
Feeling uninspired and also have a list of a few interesting things I've been wanting to share. Add that up, you get bullets.
- Bureau of Workplace Interruptions - Go schedule one now. If you do, you really need to let me know how it goes. I might even issue my first prize to anyone who takes me up on the invitation.
- Video of Finger Break dancing. Yes, I actually watched it and yes I recommend you do so as well. It will make for a good workplace interruption...
- So I drive a hybrid. Not sure if I will make the jump to a smart car. They are evidently coming to the US though. Can you imagine one of these parked next to a hummer?
- Have you checked out Google Finance? Even if you don't manage a stock portfolio, some of the GUI interactions you can do after you search on a symbol are really cool. Worth at least 1 minute of your day.
- 40 yard free kick, upper 90. Watch this video to the end and watch how much spin is on this ball. None. I remember being taught by my coach how to kick a ball to do just that. Just like baseball, the keeper has a really tough time figuring out where that thing is gonna go. This is an amazing shot.
- I am really liking Matt Pond PA these days. Go to their website for a few mp3 files. The song on my hit list is So Much Trouble, which you can find at songs:illinois. It's straight up indie pop/rock that just makes you feel damn good. Buy the album here.
Unfortunately, these were one of the first items of my bachelorhood that were removed from the house after I was married. Looks like I will have to settle for boxes.
In other news: All that is left on the house is to sign the papers and hand over a check on Friday. Time to break out the boxes! Pictures (of questionable quality as they are from the MLS listing) are below.
Monday, March 27, 2006
I like the way Ed writes sometimes. When he gets it right, something about it just works. Example:
"Most people will know him from being the co-host of the TV show Hee Haw with the red, white and blue guitar. I know him by his records. I remember being a little kid and hearing Buck Owens music being played in my Dad's truck and in the basement learning to play billiards."
On ABC World News Tonight, Elizabeth Vargas did a story this evening on the growing popularity of kids music. In the recording industry, sales of children's music are up 60%. Music sales in the music industry as a whole are down 2%. Talk about bucking a trend.
On a related note, which is why I made sure to catch this story on the news tonight, I am digging a tune off of a kids album these days. It is called See You on The Moon by The Great Lake Swimmers. Download it here. The song covers all of the topics of what you could be when you grow up, with sound effects. Each vocation is followed by the lead singer stating, "Thank You <insert occupation here.>" Buy it here.
The one thing I didn't quite get is why Software Engineer didn't make the song. Or IT Consultant. I think the sound effects for those verses would have been sweet.
Maybe I'll just remove everything else and write titles. Then, everyone can just post comments and guess at what I was going to say.
PS. I would be willing to bet that someone feels the need to correct my use of the semicolon in the parenthetical comment above. Have at it.
What do Detroit, Thank You notes, and the Final Four have in common?
Carlee and I were traveling up to Massachusetts for New Years this past December and were headed to Detroit on our first leg. We were behind on wedding gift Thank You notes. Actually. I was behind on wedding gift Thank You notes and Carlee was writing them all.
By some twist of fate (even though I have more frequent flyer miles), Carlee got bumped up to first class. We immediately started dealing. In the end, she gave me the first class seat if I would write 10 thank you's. It was a nice flight for me.
Turns out, in hindsight, it was a better flight for Carlee. She sat next to the George Mason head coach and the rest of the team was in all of the surrounding seats. Pretty crazy piece of luck. If I had known what I know now, I would have ridden coach with the underdogs.
Saturday, March 25, 2006
Administrative note: I am now making some occasional song files available for download. These are posted and shared via a file share service called YouSendIt. The links take you to the YSI site to download the song. The files are available for 7 days and can only be downloaded 25 times (these are the terms in using YSI and they fit my goals perfectly). When possible, I will use an alternate mechanism as I would like the download to be more direct.
You can find the first post of this kind in the Monthly Mix - February post.
Dig the song. Buy the record.
Eyes - Rogue Wave
Sénégal Fast-Food - Amadou & Mariam
Honey and the Moon - Joseph Arthur
Low - Cracker
Little Black Ache - Bishop Allen
Heartbeats - José González
The Leading Guy - Micah P. Hinson
Mushaboom (Postal Service Remix) – Feist
Please Please Please - Shout Out Louds
The One I Love - Sufjan Stevens
Secret Meeting - The National
Gideon - My Morning Jacket
King Without a Crown - Matisyahu
Tale from Black – Tunng
Indian Moon - State Radio
I Will Follow You Into The Dark - Death Cab for Cutie
When The Sun Goes Down - Arctic Monkeys
Chariot - Page
Through With People - Portastatic
The Earthquake of '73 - The Fruit Bats
Stay In The Shade - José González
Artistiya - Amadou & Mariam
Note on Micah P. Hinson - The Leading Guy. Not sure where I picked this up. But the song has a real strong campfire like chorus that just makes you sing along. Folk based rock with a voice that growls over the rhythm. MPH is from Abilene, TX and this tune can be bought on The Baby & The Satellite, which apparently is only available as an import. Check out more on his at his website.
Friday, March 24, 2006
Thursday, March 23, 2006
Evidently know as "coypus" in all other parts of the world, if you live in LA, you would refer to this animal as a Nutria. I have tried to explain to friends out of state what a nutria is on multiple occasions. I'll give you a few bullets pulled from multiple sources:
- Weigh on an average of 12 lbs; occasional individuals may weigh 25 pounds or more
- Mammary glands are located on the side of the body
- The hind legs are large compared to the forelegs; consequently, when moving on land, the nutria's chest drags on the ground and its back appears hunched
- The tail itself is 12 to 17 inches long
- The new band that formed after the Possibilities broke up in 2004
Two small related anecdotes:
- Carlee and I occasionally walk in the local park, which has a really great walking path and a small pond. Nutria have set up a home there and you can often see them around the pond. They come right up to you, mingle with the ducks, and eat the bread that you throw them. Good times. We saw 8 tonight.
- I'm standing in line for gumbo at a wedding last week and the woman behind me is telling another man how she prefers to cook her nutria in a crock pot. Remember now, this is a rodent. Enough said.
- Here is a recipe. It is "heart healthy."
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
A 4-1 shellacking. The US team was skinned alive in the second half. To be more specific, it all happened in about 8 minutes or so. Look at the picture above. See how Ballack is heading the ball at our net and you see no US players around him? That's not a good sign. You don't leave one of the most potent strikers in the world unmarked in your 18. If you do...bad things happen.
Here are two quotes that sum up the performance of the US team this afternoon against Germany:
- Kasey Keller: "What this game proves is who can play at this level and who can't."
- Bruce Arena: "I don't think too many players played themselves on our World Cup roster tonight, to be honest with you"
If you want a good laugh, this live blog from the game has a ton of wit (highly recommended for the soccer fans in the audience).
I will have to shut down all media as of 1 PM CST - no spoilers allowed.
Don't Tread on Me.
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
The US Men's National Team takes on Germany (the host nation of the World Cup) tomorrow, 3/22, in Germany. 60,000 tickets have been sold. Germany is expected to come out on a tear due to the embarrassing loss against Italy 3 weeks ago (4-1). The US will be missing Donovan and Dempsey - two of my favorite players, which is unfortunate. However, Feilhaber (who I watched in the U20 World Youth championship on FSC) will step in for an injured Hejduk. Feilhaber was a stud in the U20 matches and I would love to see him make his way onto the pitch.
2:25 PM EST, live on ESPN2. I'll be Tivo'ing the game and watching it with my U-15 boys team over some homemade spaghetti (my wife makes a killer homemade sauce).
Don't Tread on Me.
Monday, March 20, 2006
Useless trivia link: I was reading somone's resume tonight and they had an alternate language listed: Amharic. I had to look it up. Even though there is no agreed upon way of transliterating Amharic into Roman characters, I am glad to see Coca Cola figured something out.
“I don't want a pickle, just want to ride on my motorsickle.” - Arlo Guthrie
The current food I would like to be a connoisseur of is the pickle. I really enjoy a good pickle. When I was visiting my childhood home earlier this year, I had a one from a local deli named Steck's Delicatessen in Bridgewater, NJ and my love of the modified cucumber was reborn. I haven't found a good local deli in Lafayette for pickles so I am exploring the supermarket selection. Right now I am on the Vlasic Original Dill and it is just not doing the trick. What's worse is that I now have a big jar I won't finish for a long time.
If you are like me, go to I Love Pickles and waste your time. You can buy a pickle putter and be the envy of the green, or purchase a "I Love Pickles" wristband reminiscent of the Live Strong wristband.
As you are eating a nice crisp sour pickle, listening to The Motorcycle Song by Arlo (that link takes you to lyrics and commentary, this link gets you to a place where you can download the tune itself), go and do some research on time management related to pickle eating. Then get back to work already.
Friday, March 17, 2006
Update on the house negotiations: I won't say we're done...because there are some major t's to cross at the moment. However, the contract has been signed, the loan approved, the appraisal occured this afternoon. There is a chance that we'll be calling U-Haul pretty damn soon.
Thursday, March 16, 2006
Ok. I hope I don't draw the ire of any of my soccer audience out there, but I need to say this out loud. The US Men's National Team may be ranked a little higher than they should be at the moment. I haven't bothered to read how these rankings are completed by FIFA, but we just achieved the ranking of 5th best team in the world. Yes. Fifth. We are ranked above Spain, France, England, Portugal, Germany, and Italy.
Don't get me wrong. I am stoked that we have earned respect. We deserve it after the last World Cup and the success we have had since then. I just happen to look at that list of teams under us and I think that we have a tough road ahead to live up to this ranking. I am a firm believer that this US team can beat anyone out there...that's why you step out on the pitch.
I guess you can call me skeptic. Maybe I am stuck in the past when the US team was pretty weak and I just have yet to catch up to the current reality. Either way, I will be sporting the stars and stripes this summer in Germany and screaming like a freak in the stands. I want to see us take Italy out. I get goose bumps just writing that sentence.
Don't Tread on Me.
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
I grew up playing soccer - from kindergarten through college (Division III NCAA) - at various competitive levels. In my old age, I now simply play in a co-ed soccer league every Sunday. The co-ed league has a few rule twists to recognize the co-ed makeup of a team, but beyond the ones bulleted below, it is soccer and it is competitive.
- No more than 5 men field players can be on the field at a time. The goalie is asexual. This means you usually have 5 men and 5 women + 1 goalie.
- No slide tackles.
- Women must be 18 to play and men must be 23.
- If a woman scores a goal, it counts as two points.
The age limit: This can only be based upon the common perception that women mature quicker than men. While there may be studies that indicate this general pattern in our society, I can assure you that this rule is inappropriate for the league. I would only have to introduce you to a few players here or there and you would be convinced: sometimes, the older you get, the less mature you become. As a work around, I would like the league to either make the cutoff age for men and women equal (or) establish a Co-Ed Maturity, Soccer Assessment Test (CM-SAT). The test could have a series of questions along the lines of:
- If a 200 lb 35 year old man wants to take you out into the parking lot after the game do you: a] deflate his tires after you sub out; b] laugh in his face and tweak his nipple; c] meet him in the parking lot as invited and proceed to start a brawl that develops into a multi-team/parent blood bath; or d] walk away and let the referee handle it?
- You are playing a game and the winner of said game will be league champion. At halftime, your team is losing, lightning strikes are appearing on the horizon. Do you: a] Line up your team and either pray or perform a rain dance to ward off the weather; b] Yell at the opposition's team captain and claim that they are cheating because their rain dance is working and yours is not; c] Play in the lightning; or d] Reschedule the game to a later date.
2 Point Goals: This rule was initiated to encourage the involvement of women in the game. Unfortunately, it is not really accomplishing that at all. There are women in the league who are better than the men. The teams that win the league do so because they use all 11 players and everyone knows it. The "2 Point Goal" rule does accomplish a couple things well:
- By rewarding women for scoring, in an unequal manner, it legitimizes the false impression that the women are not as good as the men.
- When penalty kicks are awarded, teams have a woman take the kick and attempt to use this opportunity to get two quick points. Thus, the rule sets close games up for a series of pathetic dives in the box in an attempt to draw a foul and heartbreak losses on the heels of a referee who cannot distinguish acting. Trust me, it is not fun to watch a bunch of 200 lb 35 year old men with bruised nipples, bloody lips, and flat tires argue over whether or not there truly was a foul in the box.
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
Monday, March 13, 2006
"The qualities of a good battle squire are simple enough. He must be dumb as a mule, numb as a post and obedient as an imbecile. In these qualifications, Xeones of Astakos, I declare your credentials impeccable." - Dienekes in Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield
I finished Killer Angels and am carrying the theme "backwards." Last week I started Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield - this is an historical fiction novel that explores the great battle of Thermopylae. This battle is the story of the invading Persian army into Greece and the heroic stand of the 300 Spartan warriors against the might of the Persian army.
I know I mentioned previously (in my first post) that I was not a huge historical fiction reader. I guess actions may start to speak louder than words in this case. I definitely never thought I would read two novels about war back to back - especially since I would consider myself as having a strong pacifist streak. The thing about this book is that it is about so much more than just a battle. You learn about the traditions of the Spartans, you read about the adventures of a boy whose home is sacked by an invading army and how he finds shelter and family in Lakedaemon (la-ke-dee-mon), you learn about Greek and Persian history. It (along with Killer Angels) will go on my list as one of the best books I have read.
Publisher Note: I have added a "Reading" section to the sidebar of the blog. Personally, I think the addition of an image over there does something for the feel of the site. Don't worry, no advertisements planned. Enjoy.
Sunday, March 12, 2006
So the U-15 team went down in the semi's but the guys put up a good fight. What was really weak was that the referee got the game length wrong and shortened the halves to 30 minutes. We were down 2-1 and were coming back. 10 minutes is an eternity in soccer and I wish we had those 10 minutes today.
Real Salt Lake and the Columbus Crew came to Lafayette this weekend and packed the local soccer stadium with fans. It was great to see the local support.
And you can't go wrong with sushi two nights in a row followed by some fresh venison kebobs.
- The SXSW music festival is in progress in Austin. Even though it is so close, it is out of reach yet again this year. No real reason I have yet to get out there - I just have yet to make it a priority. Oh well. Go here and you can download hundreds of songs from the over 1300 artists at the festival. The two zero's in "1300" are not a typo or an exaggeration.
- Red Bull bought the MetroStars and has decided to rename the team: Red Bull New York. This little tidbit of news even made Saturday Night Live. It's just a matter of time until it is Red Bull New York vs. Houston Bell South's. Seriously. Do we have to suffer through stadium names and team names including products? I have a bad feeling about this trend. Perhaps the MLS should allow sponsor symbols on the team kits so that we can have team names that don't make us all sick.
- Too much fun to not try. Church Sign Generator. Brought to my attention via And the Ass Saw the Angel (a blog of a family member of a friend of mine; read: I stalk a family on-line).
- Freeware list - looking for a free email client? Free PDF creator? This is a good list to start from.
- Music Find of the Week: If I could buy it, I would do so in a second. This is a live set by Jeff Tweedy of Wilco with the guitarist Nels Cline at the University of Chicago - posted on Wilco's Roadcase. Stream it loud, it is wicked cool.
- This one is just too weird and sometimes disturbingly catchy not to point out (found by cruising through the A's on the SXSW website above). Adult Radio were described as a cross between Ween, Butthole Surfers, and Townes Van Zandt. Download a track here. Scratch your head. Download more at their website if the itch hasn't gone away.
Friday, March 10, 2006
Ellen: "Audrey's frozen from the waste down."
-National Lampoons Christmas Vacation
It's been a long two days in Salt Lake City. One left. Work is going well but is also mentally draining simply because you need to be engaged constantly. I've gotten to see a lot of great sites. Rapid blizzard conditions today - which cleared out fast. The entire horizon is white. Mountains.
The other day I was debating between the lake or the temple. I ended up hiking to a point where I could look one way and see the lake - the other way and see the city. I followed it up with a tour of Temple Square. This place is amazing. The Church of Latter Day Saints runs the square like clockwork. One on one tour guides everywhere. Following work today we went to Park City and toured the 2002 Olympic site. 20 degree sleigh ride. I almost lost a toe due to frost bite. It was my 5th near death experience.
Here are some photos - the photos link to larger shots. In the following order:
- The hike
- The Temple (above post)
- The Olympic Ski Jump
- The sleigh ride
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
"Blind we are, if creation of this clone army we could not see." – Yoda
So I have one day in Salt Lake City (and very little free time). As of this morning, it is a toss-up between the Temple Square and the Great Salt Lake. If only I could do both at the same time...hmmm....
Tuesday, March 07, 2006
I do however, occassinally speak like an engineer. It has drawn comments from multiple audiences in my personal and career walks of life. I use the term "delta" and this is a sure fire way to move the conversation into me trying to explain to someone what RPI is. I prefer the stock phrase: It's like MIT but better.
Anyway. Headed to Salt Lake City, UT today. The temperature delta is 30 degrees. This was just a really long winded way of saying I am actually looking forward to the cold.
Monday, March 06, 2006
I am working on a presentation in which I plan on touching on the power of networking. Through the course of some of my presentation research, I found this great quote online.
"...it is important to realize that any lock can be picked with a big enough hammer."
What is even cooler is that it is supposedly from the Sun System and Network Admin Manual.
For some great visual images of networks (including the one on this post), go to Visual Complexity.
PS. Just so we are clear. I actually did go and search the Sun System and Network Admin Manual - but I couldn't find that quote. Regardless of the source...it made my slide deck.
Saturday, March 04, 2006
- As you may have (or may not have) noticed. I am a fan of the Scott Adams blog. He had a pretty damn funny post this weekend regarding internet dating sites. He asks his readers: "If you had to design a dating web site that matched people on just two criteria, what would those criteria be?" Very funny. Be sure to check out the comments he receives back - they are sometimes just as good as the actual post.
- I haven't tried this yet but I am sure it will be kind of interesting if I do. If you "own" a website, check out Google's Site Map.
- I'm pretty curious about Microsoft's Origami project (along with the rest of the world that does not automatically hate anything with Bill's name on it). The website is vague, yet really well done. You can find other websites with rumors, commercials, etc... but the actual site is just damn simple and simply good. Go here.
- I have (tangentially) mentioned before that I have bought into the personalized Google start page. You might want to buy into it as well. Anyway, one of the feeds on my start page is the Wikihow pages. I toy with taking it off...but really, some of the topics that people post are just priceless. Try this one: How to Slice a Banana Before It Is Peeled - the author of this particular post actually encourages you to practice this. Just plain weird.
- One of the potential music finds of my past week: Hotel Lights, from Chapel Hill, NC. Download "Let Me Be The One" on songs:illinois. Suave mellow indie pop.
- Do yourself a favor and go grab the track (Texas To Ohio) by Damien Jurado at So Much Silence. Stop by DJ's website here and grab three more tunes.
- Jon Stewart is everywhere these days, including SI.com where he waxes poetic on the similarities between Nutella and Soccer. This quote is truly priceless: "To me, it's probably more like Nutella. The rest of the world clearly loves it and puts it on almost everything, but here in
we're like, 'I don't know, man, it tastes like almonds.'" America
- New Pearl Jam single. Yes. I am serious. I would click here while it lasts.
Friday, March 03, 2006
"If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost;
that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them."
Henry David Thoreau
If you had told me 4 weeks ago that I would even consider buying a house with known, major foundation problems. I would have asked if you were smoking it or injecting it.
- Now though, I'll just refer you to here and say, BOCTAOE to that premise.
- Then, I'll ask you to read this and I would say, BFO BOCTAOE.
Thursday, March 02, 2006
Can you tell I am pumped up for the cup? I'll be there in person, watching US v Italy and US v Ghana (as well as the Round of 16 game that we better make). Back to Poland - We really held the second half well. The ability to hold a 1 goal lead for 45 minutes is key in the show. Non-soccer fans probably think this is a recipe for "boredom," but from where I was sitting, it was anything but that. More soccer links of note:
- Critique of ESPN broadcasters during the game. Yes, the guy actually said these two phrases: "well defensed" & "we’re told the weather will be very different during this summer’s World Cup!"
- Really quite a funny explanation of the off-side rule. Check your political correctness at the door.
- I just started reading this site - it's got it - plus, everyone agrees that, seriously, the ESPN guy was not good.
- USA Today has a soccer homepage. Seriously. I am not kidding. Really.
"I find it rather easy to portray a businessman. Being bland, rather cruel and incompetent comes naturally to me." John Cleese
I'm going to start a new business. It wasn't my idea, but I don't care. The business model: sell things you get for free. The business is all based on the fact that someone out there is actually succeeding at selling Firefox. And Firefox doesn't care. I definitely recommend reading this if you are into open source software.
Now I just need a list of free things to sell.
Wednesday, March 01, 2006
The US Men's National soccer team beat Poland today in Kaiserslautern, Germany, 1-0. There was a snow storm in the final 20 minutes and the 13,395 fans appeared to be living it up. The snow got so bad that the officials pulled out the yellow, high-resolution ball in the 80th minute.
Player thoughts, in no order (and not all of them, just the ones that made impressions on me):
- Dempsey: Good game, dangerous all around. Has a knack for drawing the foul, and doing so in some good places. Potentially the most creative dribble our squad has. Gotta like him and I hope he starts in the cup.
- Keller: No fail defense, wall in the back with a few strong saves in the 1st half.
- Cherundolo: My vote for man of the match. Dangerous out of the back, strong D. All around, all over the field. Near miss on the first half free kick.
- Lewis: Good defense, needs to improve his crosses.
- Onyewu: Great game – but scares the bejeezus out of me because he puts sleeper holds on guys in the box. One day I fear the PK.
- Beasley: Looked weak to me. Touch was off all game. As usual, he has the potential and you can see it…but in this particular case, potential was all it was.
- Twellman: Got the assist. Can’t argue there. However…he seemed otherwise quiet most of the game.
- Johnson: Did he play? I think he got lost.
- Convey: Exploded on the pitch as a sub and ate some Polish lunch. I liked him more than Beasley.
- Mexico beat Ghana 1-0
- Czech Republic tied Turkey 2-2
- Italy beat Germany 4-1
My Soccer Blog - has all the updates on the international friendlies. This is my wife's favorite.
Du Nord - Tons of links to external resources. Good launching point for your soccer needs.
World Cup Blog - I stream this to my google personal start page. Good place to jump to various country info.
Remaining games on the road to Germany: Germany, Jamaica, and 3 more to come - all prior to the big show.
See you in Germany.