Tuesday, January 31
The Razor Race (a la the Arms Race) is unbelievable. I'm going to be shipping my face in UPS for genetic therapy any day now. It's craz(or)y!
+ Ladies: If you want to teach the man in your life to put the lid down on the toilet, do what Christine did: Never say anything about it. Strategize him into buying one of those cabinets that goes over the toilet (what's it called - an etagere?) because you need more storage space in the bathroom. Then move all of his toiletries to that cabinet so he can have extra room, especially his toothbrush . Voila. I put the lid down plenty now!
+ I've been having the somewhat freaky experience lately of running into the same agency-purchased stock photos for different products. One was national: the big-headed (intentionally) kid on the Golden Grahams free ring-tone ad-on-the-box was also on the Putt Putt coupon. The other was local: the same dyed-blond bobbed haircut young woman looking up with sunglasses is on an ad for Lexington Medical Center and the local crisis pregnancy center.
My ad image-messages are getting so confused. What would Marshall McLuhan say? (Paging, Walter, closest thing I've got to an expert...)
+ My last reflection in this list is the pro-big business propaganda lately on NPR. I mean, sheesh, if you're not safe from that stuff on NPR, where are you safe from it? I'm talking about Wal-Mart's purchased support (Find out how Wal-Mart saves the world and helps your community at walmartfacts.com.) and GM's (Saving the environment with hybrid and fuel-cell technology.). No liberal NPR listener is actually dumb enough to fall for these lines, right?
+ Matt's got an interesting post about jobs he's had. But the thing I want to tangent off of is that he says, from his work in the pizza business, don't buy from the national chains because it might not be too healthy for you.
I told you that to say we've been really happy with DiGiorno frozen pizza. It tastes as good as delivery (sometimes better), costs less, there's no tip, and you can cook it in the time it'd take to go pick up or get a delivery.
Monday, January 30
The Irmo Yellow Jackets . Stylized. Sorta' ugly. Hard to figure out for a first grader. Anyway, she asked.
Yesterday, on the way to church, she saw one of their logos and asked if they had a football team and if we liked them. I said yes they had a football team and they're probably our favorite high school team. I didn't point out that we've never cared enough to go see them play.
Well, Christine was frustrated by this (though, in the interest of full disclosure, she was already on the verge of crabby ;-). We both agree that Bethy has enough 'pert opinions' as it is. Christine wondered why I was contributing to that. We obviously don't see eye-to-eye on athletic partiality, but I didn't really say much.
Still, I thought about it some more. And after a little while, I told Bethy, 'You know, Iowa City West is probably actually our favorite favorite high school, and Irmo's second.'
Christine didn't say anything.
Go Trojans! ;-)
And I see in Iowa City news that the Northwest Junior High Knowledge Master Team:
> claimed its third-straight first-place finish in Iowa and a fourth-place finish out of 776 middle schools that competed
And my 7th grade Language Arts teacher, Rhonda Marshall is advising them. Go Vikings!
Footnote: I have to add West's stats because it's such an amazing school:
- West High teachers average 16 years of experience.
- More than 70 percent of West High faculty hold advanced degrees.
- West High annually leads Iowa in National Merit Scholars.
- Ninety percent of students completing AP exams earn college credit
- Jazz Band has won Iowa State Jazz Band Championship.
- Math Club has won Iowa State Math Championship.
- Iowa State Athletic Championships have been won by many athletic teams.
- West High annually achieves large numbers of All-State Musicians in Orchestra and Jazz Band.
- Graduation rate is over 98 percent.
- Average daily student attendance rate is over 96 percent.
- Overall 65 percent of seniors completed the ACT scoring at an average of over 24.0; Iowa state ACT average is 21.0.
I couldn't believe it. 6 and a half is awfully early to be coining that argument. I tried to explain that I didn't really want to go to work, either, but that I had to, and that we learn things we're not sure we'll need because it's good for us and because sometimes our plans don't turn out the way we expect. But I don't think he really bought it.
Covered it some at the breakfast table. Christine was less gentle than me. She asked him if he already knew everything he needed to know about reading and writing and he said yes. She said 'Maybe to be a garbage man.' It sounds harsher in print than it was. Wil wasn't really paying attention anyway. I think he was looking at the comic on the back of the HoneyNut Cheerios box.
Sunday, January 29
+ Changed the lyrics for Liz Phair's song to fit me as I sing it to the kids:
I am extraordinary, if you ever get to know me
I am extraordinary. I am just your ordinary
average, everyday, sane, psycho superdaddy.
Sounds about right...
+ The Hawks beat 16th ranked Ohio State yesterday for a share of first place in the Big Ten. Wonder if they can keep winning these big games, and win the little ones as well...
+ We took the twins to 'The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe' yesterday. Their pick and it was a really good movie. We all enjoyed it (though it took Wil to the edge of his scared and sad emotions a couple of times). I'd also played some GameCube with them. I'm telling you that to explain the lack of perspective when, around 4, Bethy asked me to play baseball with them. I said 'I'm sorry, honey, but I have to work.' She said, very matter-of-factly 'Daddy, I don't like your new job. It affects me a lot.' I said 'Do you like having more money?' and she said 'I don't get to spend any of it.' Sheesh.
Friday, January 27
Bizarrely, I was skiing on a little hill called Sundown (Eastern Iowa's ski destination!) near Dubuque, Iowa. It was the eighth grade ski trip. I was 14 years old. Someone said the shuttle had blown up and I thought it was just a joke. I didn't even think it was a 'sick joke' because I didn't give it that much thought. Then I saw the footage on the tv in the bar in the little lodge. Crazy. It was the biggest national tragedy I'd been aware of in my few years. I even wrote a little poem about it called 'Broken Wings' (which, unfortunately, always evokes the Mr Mister song for me. Should've given it a different title).
I've always been excited about the idea of spaceflight. I ask the twins with some regularity if they think they'll ever go to space or the moon. I hope so. Who knows? If I live long enough, maybe even I'll get the chance.
Little did I know in 1986 that NASA either was by then or soon would be really screwed up - not a good hope for getting more of us into space. I'm a much bigger believer in private space travel now. I think the exploration of space is really worthwhile, deserving of a reasonable amount of risk by private citizens in the spirit of exploration and innovation. We just had the X-prize last summer with a great amount of innovation and no fatalities. Here's hoping that it keeps going and that this old man will make it up.
+ I didn't mention the Hawks' win over Indiana, so good for them, too.
+ Good news: Now that Pixar is cannibalizing Disney, they cancelled the non-Pixar-included plans for Toy Story 3 . Back to the drawing board. (via kottke)
Tuesday, January 24
We're always trying to improve the imagery in Google Earth and Google Local, but our latest update is bigger than usual. Not only have we added extensive 6-inch imagery for many parts of the U.K., but we've updated the Google Local database to match the coverage we have in Google Earth, and (drum roll, please) ... we've added two more zoom levels in Google Local's Satellite mode! Now for many areas around the world you can see a lot more detail than you could before.
*End Google fanboy gushing*
+ Ok, I know I'm totally biased, and even more suspect now that I'm on Tom's payroll, but his lengthy analysis on the Iran situation is the best thing I've seen or heard. Short version: attacking would be bad; reconstruction would be basically undoable; we need to deal with them, especially through Russia, India and China. I hope you check it out.
+ RIP, Finches' Wings. My buddy, Jason, has decided to call it quits on his weblog. Says his heart's just not in it anymore, and I can appreciate that. I'll miss his links and, Jason, feel free to send in posts to 'interact' anytime.
Monday, January 23
What's the Super Bowl outlook? If both teams played like they did yesterday, it'll be quite a game. They have two weeks off, which is a double-edged sword: they get to rest and recuperate, but it can also throw them off their rhythm. Plus, there's all the hype, and pressure (cue Queen/Bowie).
I don't look for the Seattle D to be as good against Pittsburgh as they were against Carolina. Carolina, by injuries, had basically been reduced to Steve Smith, a one-dimensional attack that Seattle had no problem taking away. But the Seattle D's still young and relatively inexperienced. On the other hand, I expect the Seattle O to play better than the Denver O. So what's it going to be?
I'm picking Pittsburgh, of course, mostly on preference and not clear superiority. But it could go either way. It'll be fun to see what happens.
+ Carol's got a post about why boys fall behind in school that I've got some comments in.
+DJMM reports that Ben Gibbard of the Postal Service is upset that the same director has done a rip off of the Such Great Heights video for the new Intel+Mac commercial. I thought it looked a lot alike.
+ John Hardy's name went up on the Stardust Space Probe. I think that's pretty cool.
Saturday, January 21
Here, mostly for fun and posterity, is my first post on his weblog.
We're really excited around here and I wanted to share my excitement with you.
Thursday, January 19
+ It doesn't bother me that Iowa isn't shooting very well as long as they play good defense and make their free throws. Climbed our way back up to AP #23.
Wednesday, January 18
I would, on the other hand, buy one of the synthetic diamonds described in this Wired article , but mostly just for fun.
+ Matt's got a funny little tutorial with pictures: How to speed up your mac and make it more stable when web browsing in 3 simple steps . Probably goes for PCs, too.
+ Have you seen the photset of MeFi users plugged into Google Earth? [Matt's post] Pretty cool. I used to hang out on MeFi a lot.
+ Tom predicted an Africa Command, and now it looks like that might be coming...
Tuesday, January 17
+ First: the NFL playoffs.
I was pretty happy to see the Steelers win, not least of all because Eric's such a big fan. I like Rothlisberger and Cohwer. I really like the city of Pittsburgh. And, as much as the reporters hyped it, I wasn't surprised to see Pittsburgh win. They were on a roll and Indy hadn't played 'a meaningful game' (as the talking heads kept harping) in a while.
My only disappointment was for Coach Dungy. He's such a great guy, all the more confirmed by this quote [ source]:
When pressed on the one missing link from his resume, a Super Bowl title, Dungy said he could walk away from the game without it.I hope he comes back for the sake of the game, but I hope, more than that, that he'll do what's best for his family.
"That's one of the blessings from my son's situation is that it puts everything in perspective," he said. "I'm sure I'll get over this a lot quicker than I will my son. It's a tough deal, but there are a lot more important things in scope of it than us not winning a Super Bowl."
That Pittsburgh-Indy game was crazy. Up and down and up and down. Rothlisberger has a great game. I think it's safe to say the Steelers didn't know how much they were getting when they drafted him and Willie Parker.
I did think the officiating in that game was pretty iffy, not least of all the no-call when Indy rushed across the line saying someone had flinched. If you stop play in that situation, there should be a call.
The Panthers really dropped the boom on Chicago. We took a break from football to play a little GameCube and by the time we got back to it, Carolina was up 20 to 0 (or something like that). There's no way the mediocre Bears offense is coming back from that against a good Carolina defense.
On to next week:
I think Pittsburgh's luck's about to run out. They've had to play two weeks on the road, and now they go into Denver. Denver had a week off and looked the best of all the bye teams. I'd like Pittsburgh to win, but I don't see it happening. There's no doubt they could get it done. I hope they do. But I don't think they will.
But I'm going to pick Carolina again. They've really been on a roll. I think they'll keep getting it done, even with their injuries (especially if Julius Peppers can come back). Steve Smith is amazing right now. On the Seattle side, I don't see them beating Carolina without Shaun Alexander at full strength. Maybe he'll get there. Plus, Carolina's streaky, and they could fall flat on their face again. But they seem to get up for these Super Bowl runs pretty well these days.
On pure talent and consistency, I think Denver's the best team left. And I'm sorry to say that, because they're my least favorite team. I respect Mike Shanahan, but I don't like him. I think his elite O-line is, without a doubt, the best way to build a football team. But, at the same time, they play right on the edge of dirty with cut blocks and salary cap cheating. If it comes down to talent and consistency, I pick Denver to win it all. But if Pittsburgh or Carolina can stay hot and lucky, they could win two more. Seattle's the dark horse, in my view, unless they all of a sudden catch fire.
+ New hard drive technology will continue to drive up capacity and drive down cost. doing the math on this article, we could be looking at 800 GB in a 2.5 inch drive for 325$ in five years. Need that much space? ;-) Of course, more and more, we'll transition to wireless and storing data on the internet instead of locally. I love thinking about this stuff (though I don't have the discretionary income to buy much of it).
+ Here's a fun little article on the Roberts Court. (Remember that part in Two Weeks' Notice when she names the Sup.s to show she's in her right mind? Funny.) What can I say? I like Judge Roberts.
My only concern so far is his support for judge pay raises. I suppose it's just economics, that we want to keep good judges and not lose them to more lucrative jobs. I think this is Roberts' main motivation. On the other hand, $162,500 and $175,100. seems like plenty of money to me. I'd especially be interested in your take on this, Paul.
Sunday, January 15
+ Saturday footballl report: Seattle eked out a win without Shaun Alexander and the Patriots battled but made too many mistakes to win (truth in reporting: including a Tom Brady interception). They did get ripped off on an interference call that basically spotted the Broncos a touchdown, but that's how the ball bounces. I still think they're a dynasty (now that we're in the era of salary caps and free agency), and they'll probably be back tough next year. We'll see. More good football today.
+ Based on the Wal-Mart law I commented on the other day, Brad asks who should be paying for health care, and discussion ensues. My comments:
right now those costs are being born by taxpayers (ie, Medicaid). is that preferable? why should Wal-Mart and its stockholders get richer and the employees not even get better health care?
not suggesting we chuck capitalism. it's not an all-or-nothing choice. like Brad, i'm wondering who should pay for healthcare. and i do think it's more important for a company to take care of its employees than it's shareholders. or i might settle for equal treatment.
the good thing about employer-provided healthcare is that bigger employers can get good rates and packages. group buying or something to get better options for all employees sounds good to me. i liked Kerry's idea of everyone having access to Congress' package, if just for the chutzpah of it. shake 'em up a little.
i don't really think socialized medicine is the answer, either, though the economics sometimes
point me there. we waste a lot of money on health care expenses in this country, though it's probably better than the alternative.
bottom line: i wish we had something better.
Friday, January 13
7 Things . . .
I want to do before I die:
- climb Kilimanjaro again
- ballroom dance with Elizabeth
- (nothing comes to mind with Wil. We're living it now: sharing video games, comic books, Star Wars, etc.)
- visit Ireland
- write one novel (I have several ideas, but little discipline...)
- be happy empty-nesters with Christine (not that we're not happy now, or I'm looking too forward to getting her back to 'myself' or...)
- be a chillin' father to my adult children and a chillin' grandfather
- let a typo or misstatement go without commenting on it (see my comments on Macon's post above)
- complete a long-term writing project
- get back into exercise and eating right post-twin fatherhood
- after that, make a list. You're probably right...
- willingness to listen to me talk about the strange things that interest me
- interest in me
- brown hair
- brown eyes (sadly (but just a little), neither of my two is a 'Brown Eyed girl')
- fixin' to
- How you?
- or either
- Well ain't that a fat baby's behind?
- carry (instead of take)
- Do what?
- Paris Hilton (if I never read/heard her name or saw her picture again it would be too soon)
- Ashlee Simpson
+ Heard on NPR this morning (naturally ;-) about the new Wal-Mart law in Maryland
The measure would require companies with more than 10,000 employees to spend at least 8 percent of their payroll on health benefits, or pay the balance into a state low-income health insurance fund.
Incidentally, Wal-Mart is the only company that big in Maryland.
Apparently, though I don't see the figures in this article, a pretty high percentage of Wal-Mart employees use Medicaid for health insurance, and the state wants to bring those costs down.
Makes sense to me. Is there something I'm missing?
Wednesday, January 11
+ You might be tired of my Vikings news, but I'm not, yet. They fired the previous coaching staff and then hired the D-backs coach from Tampa to be the D-Coordinator . At 33 he seems a little young for such an important job. Our trendiness increases (in addition to the West Coast Offense) with someone who will install the Tampa Cover 2. But it's worked well for Tony Dungy (in Tampa and Indy) and Lovie Smith (in Chicago). I'll be it's biggest fan if we win more games.
+ Hmm: Brazil expects to be energy independent this year, largely because of ethanol. I don't know what to think about ethanol, but I do know we pay a lot of farmers a lot of money not to grow corn and greater energy independence would be very good.
Tuesday, January 10
+ Brad quotes Guy Kawasaki's PowerPoint rule, which sounds about right to me: 'ten slides, no more than twenty minutes, and no font smaller than thirty point'.
+ Nothing real interesting here today. I'm feeling sluggish, tired, and dull. One reason: stayed up too late playing Harry Potter: PoA on GameCube. Not smart.
Monday, January 9
A couple of years ago I had a job that required me to arrive at 5 a.m., as I did not own a car at the time. So my girlfriend used to drag herself out of bed every morning at 4:30 and drive my sorry ass down there. Though I bought a vehicle shortly thereafter, the memory of what my wife (incredibly, she agreed to marry me after this) did for me over the course of those months continues to haunt me.
Of course, my father did far more when I was an infant. Fortunately, evolution has designed us to forget everything before the age of six so we can enter our teens and 20s completely free of any sense of obligation to our parents, and therefore devote the time we would otherwise have used to call them to replaying World 4-1 of Super Mario Land in the hopes of getting our record time below 160 seconds.
And then one day you're mopping excrement off the nether end of your own child and thinking, "Man, this is a lousy job. I hope when this kid is my age he appreciates all I've done for him as much as I appreciate all that my…uh…" And then there it is: the specter of used-to-get-up-at-three-in-the-morning-to-make-sure-I-hadn't-kicked-off-my-blankets takes up residence in the back of your head and insistently pokes you in the aft-brain whenever you interact with your own father from that day forward.
If often think along these lines. It start with something like 'The statute of limitations on what my twins owe me (and Christine) will never expire.' Not in some kind of miserly tit-for-tat way, but just reflecting on the nature of our relationship. But then I invariably think 'Of course, that's not how I treat my parents.' And I can't make myself. I still think stuff like 'They can call me this week.' But I'll cycle back tomorrow to 'Wil and Elizabeth owe me for the rest of our lives.'
To touch on Matthew's phrasing, while the generosity of others haunts me, it seldom really changes me. Gratitude is rarely felt deeply enough to impact behavior long term, at least in my life.
In that vein, Alex has a post about the birth of their second child and the Fatherhood of God (and I had a quasi-objection in the comments).
During the cold war, the American military used to engage in nation building every decade or so, but since then it's more like once every two years, with a clear concentration on backward Muslim states. All these operations cost money, and as most drag on for years, either the Pentagon forgoes some of its Big War systems in budget battles, or soldiers and marines on the ground inevitably get shortchanged. Star Wars, say hello to hillbilly armor. Want to know why it's taken so unbearably long for our loved ones currently serving in Iraq to receive the body armor and armored Humvees they so desperately need? Because budget battle after budget battle, year in and year out, the Big War crowd inside the Pentagon has consistently defeated the Small War constituency found in the Army and Marines.
Ooh. And how about this juicy one:
The Cold Warrior crowd received its ideological imprinting on China decades ago, and no matter how smoothly they may talk about global affairs today (think Condi Rice), they are none of them to be trusted on China. Here's an easy way to spot them: If they ever quote Henry Kissinger or Zbigniew Brzezinski, tune them out completely. If they think Ronald Reagan defeated communism single-handedly, watch your wallet, but if they've ever worked under, or anywhere near, Dick Cheney, then watch your back.
+ What've we got in the NFL? I watched most of the games (mostly without voume and doing something in addition, lest you think I wasted my whole weekend ;-) Same old thing, really, in the AFC (which has to be the conference favored to win the Super Bowl, whoever they send): New England is resurgent and trending as strong as anyone. That was some fine trash when Brady said with a smile, 'The thing that impresses us is winning Super Bowls.' The teams with recent playoff experience beat the teams without it. Surprise: the road teams did so well. Maybe that experience trumps home field. Teams with injured quarterbacks fared poorly. The Steelers are trending awfully well. I weigh the change to keep your games rolling as more valuable than having a week off, but we'll see. You still have to think real highly of the Colts and their chances, but the Patriots and Steelers look pretty good right now. Of course, did it take the injury of Carson Palmer to slow down the Bengals?
The Panthers seem to be able to play with anyone, as long as they're playing their best, which they sometimes don't do. The announcers wanted to rave about their running game yesterday, but the Falcons (last week) have has terrible run defense all year, and the Giants aren't that great. Steve Smith is a playmaker every week, but the Panthers D needs to limit their opponent. No one looked good in the Washington-Tampa Bay game and it's hard to see Washington lasting another week.
Let's make some predictions for next week. I'll go ahead and pick the Colts in their own place and the Patriots because I like them. I'll take Carolina for the same reason, in a grudge match (though this one could easily go Bears), and Seattle without thinking about it. After that, we'll see...
+ As frustrating as the Hawkeyes' basketball team has been, their defense must be amazing... (haven't had the chance to watch them yet).
+ Not too smart of me: I didn't even think that when Brad Childress came over from the Eagles he'd bring the West Coast Offense. I'm a little ambivalent about that. Seems like almost everybody's got it. I'm more interested in Brad bringing Andy Reid's system and class to the Vikes.
+ Also re: the Vikings, this article talks about the new owners being aggressive in their hiring of Childress. For my part, I welcome owners who are aggressive and willing to spend some money to win, not just watching their bottom line and flying in from San Antonio, aye, Chris?
Friday, January 6
+ But, that, I would totally buy: Anil Dash on how to beat iPod/iTunes.
+ And, that I will download: Google Pack. Short story: Google's going to bundle a bunch of cool apps together.
+ OK, the Vikings have named Brad Childress their new head coach. Seems like a solid guy. Here's hoping good things are coming...
+ Happy Epiphany! The Xmas season has come to an end (thanks for the reminder, Brad.)
Wednesday, January 4
+ Ran into a post today about coming up with an app where you gain experience points and level up for getting things done in your real life . Some funny comments, and this idea could really work for me! ;-)
Tuesday, January 3
+ Mike Tice is out as Vikings coach. I always liked him pretty well, but he didn't win when he might have, and that's basically what you have to do in the NFL these days (unless you work for the Rooneys, who have had a lot of success with their two coaches).
+ The Hawks didn't do very darn well yesterday. They got some really bad calls, but also made too many mistakes. To their credit, they fought to the end and made a game of it. I only watched the 2nd quarter, which was bad enough. Seems like the Hawks alternate between good work in bowl games and embarrassment. Bleah. Hope Ferentz doesn't go to the NFL...
+ Jack Abramoff's going to plead guilty. Wonder if he'll implicate DeLay...
+ Mary has a nice Pride and Prejudice post over on Kith and Kin, on which I commented.