Wednesday, December 24

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a Joyous New Year to you and yours!

Sunday, December 21

Sufjan Sampsonia S***

Cleaning out my blasted tabs. It was 42 tabs in 6 windows as of yesterday morning. I'm currently down to 19 in 3 windows.

+ I've had this one open for quite a while, and it's from 2005, but it's still really funny (someone posted it on Facebook the other day: Chinese Factory Worker Can't Believe The S*** He Makes For Americans.

To Tell the truth, I didn't even read it. The headline's enough.

I've often thought this, especially with some of the stuff the twins get in Happy Meal's: The Chinese worker who made this must think we're crazy.

Or, more probably, wishes they made so much money that they could throw around crap like we do.

+ The new Sufjan Xmas album is out! I haven't even listened to it yet, but will endeavor to today. Someone has put it up. My ethic: listen away. Buy it if you like it.

+ Brad mentioned fun with Google Maps on Sampsonia Way in Pittsburgh.


Sampsonia Way? Didn't I work on a house down there when I worked for the Pittsburgh Project?

Yep :-)

Ok, that was everything postable. Down to 14 tabs in 3 windows. Much better. Gotta run!

Saturday, December 20

Happy anniversary to me

Doing some research for Madhu. I've been posting here at interact for over 8 years. I'm sure you'll agree that's a lot in internet time. Here's the link to my first month. Kinda' quaint.

And I began posting long before that over at MetaFilter, where I really got in on the ground floor. I lurked for a little while, then grabbed user number 252, and first commented on thread 572, January 27th, 2000.

Yes, interact is languishing a little right now. I've been spending more time on Facebook. But I am proud of this weblog, not least of all because it's one of the things I've done longest in my life.

Monday, December 15

Xmas album request

Dear T-Bone Burnett,

You know what this world needs? A Christmas album from you in the vein of 'O Brother, Where Art Thou' and 'Walk the Line' with a heaping serving of Allison Krauss. Think you could pull that off?

I have been a good boy this year.



Tuesday, December 9

Panthers scouting report

Saw the Panthers last night and the last quarter and a half was really good. They ran roughshod over the Buccaneers.

If the running game hadn't gone berserk, and if they had lost, Jake Delhomme would have been the goat of that game.

I was pretty frustrated for the first two and a half quarters. The passing game was not working well and TB had really never stopped the run. So why in tarnation did they keep passing?

Here's the AP's take.

You might protest that they needed to establish the run or they wore down TB, but that wasn't my view. Maybe a little. It was more like the offensive coordinator finally got the message that the run was working and the pass was not.

Let me hasten to say that no one except Mike Martz loves the pass more than me. Maybe Steve Spurrier. But you have to go with your strengths and what's working.

'Goat' might be too strong, but Ronde Barber had a pretty bad game for TB. He had a couple of significant penalties and got stiff-armed to the ground on one of the long TD runs. On the plus side, for him, he had an interception.

Carolina's defense was ok. They did enough to win in the end. They certainly didn't dominate.

The stars were the blockers (offensive line + TEs + FBs) and the RBs.

But back to Jake. The Defense got a three-and-out on the first series and Carolina started with the ball inside TB's 50. To take advantage of that, they should have gotten a TD. And they made good progress, until Jake took a stupid sack when he should have thrown the ball away. 3 points instead of 7.

They AP story says the wore down TB, but, again, I disagree. They just finally stuck with what was working.

Worse than Jake's sack were his two interceptions.

But all well that ends well.

Sunday, December 7

Siobhan, Paul, Jaq, Mal (and IC)

+ Should we have named Elizabeth 'Siobhan'?

(Irish feminine of 'Sean'. Jean:Jeanne::Sean::Siobhan. Pronounced 'shi-VAWN' (approximately)).

Answer: almost certainly not. Not only would she always have to spell it, no one would ever be able to pronounce it. And it's probably a little too Sean-centered.

Three informative links: 1 2 3

But, extremely cool name.

Don't worry. If we had, Wil wouldn't be Sean William ;-)

+ I find out from Paul that the gender analyzer thinks there's a 75% chance that this weblog is written by a man.

+ Jaq has a long post about enjoying Firefly/Serenity, which we sure enjoyed, too.

+ But something I've been thinking about recently: I'm just not willing to take on the commitment of a tv show and all of its episodes. We watched the first season of Battlestar Galactica together and I watched the fourth and then we were done. Firefly's shortened run was just about right for us. I wonder if I would have kept watching it if they had kept it going...

+ Iowa City is one of only three cities in the world that is a City of Literature according to UNESCO (along with Melbourne and Edinburgh). Cool (but didn't bother to research the specs).

Friday, November 28

Sufjan tunes

I had an Anywhere FM account and they were purchased by imeem. They said you can embed playlists, so let's try it with the Sufjan Xmas music I wrote about earlier today. Enjoy!

Thoughts on Facebook

+ One reason I haven't been posting over here as much.

+ Started to get near 400 friends, so made the push and got it. Madhu called me a not-nice name ;-)

+ It's such a great way to keep in touch with a lot of people.

+ The interface is great. I especially love the way status updates work and how easy it is to leave a quick comment.

+ And you thought weblogs were low-commitment and ADD: Facebook requires even less concentration and commitment.

That was the best Xmas album ever! [now with songs!]

Well, it's Xmas season and, therefore, time to start listening to my new favorite Christmas album(s) by Sufjan Stevens. Third Xmas I've been listening to them and they're still the undisputed champion.

(And, yes, I know I keep writing about them with basically the same title 1 2 ;-)

One of the first things I thought today on rolling them out was that my friend Guam Brad would really like them. One of the next things was: you might, too. So I copy my email to him for your use (lazy post ;-):
Sufjan Stevens?

have you heard his Xmas albums? 90% sure you'd love them. lots of plinky banjo. non-ironic treatment of church classics like 'O Come O Come Emmanuel' and 'Lo How A Rose'. ironic new songs that point up the craziness of family but still respect Xmas. totally lo-fi - recorded in his apartment for friends a number of years in a row. i'll refund your purchase price if you don't like 'em! ;-)
42 songs for 20$

Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing [] (ignore the pix if you want)
Amazing Grace []
The Friendly Beasts []

(note: i only like about 2 of his non Xmas songs, so if you're like that, don't let it put you off)

enough geeking out. happy Advent (starting Sunday)!

Update: Here are many of the tunes:

Thursday, November 27

Happy Thanksgiving

I am most thankful for Christine, Elizabeth and Wil.

Wednesday, November 26

Lord Gates Macbeth Fawkes cliches

+ I am so excited about Robert Gates staying on as SECDEF. Almost all of his calls have been right (as far as I can tell). Reading about him is impressive, too: His PhD is in Russian and Soviet history with his dissertation being on their relationship with the Chinese. He's the only CIA director who has risen from entry-level employee to director. Further, I'm impressed that someone who was career CIA, an organization that has never impressed me, should get so many things right.

+ I have a new problem: I'm reading through Dorothy Sayers Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries for the first time and once I start one I can't put it down. Read all of 'Clouds of Witnesses' yesterday. Peter Wimsey is so silly!

+ Also reading Macbeth with Jason, Mary Pat and Bill. Only finished Act 1 so far, so if you want to join us, there's still time.

+ Some links I save for you: Thirty Cliches You Should Basically Avoid (Going Forward) (Lifehacker): 10 from Oxford and 20 from the Beeb. From these lists, I especially agree with 'to be honest' and '110%'.

My own nominee for most annoying is the en vogue use of the conditional tense: 'That would be me.' No, honey, it is ;-)

+ Apropos of nothing, British chancellor (probably) unwittingly quoting Guy Fawkes. 'Remember, remember the fifth of November!'

Sunday, November 16

Dangeous T-Bone weight and tone

+ T-Bone Burnett is the man: so many great projects. The two I've enjoyed most recently have been 'O Brother, Where Art Thou' and 'Walk the Line'. Question: would I like 'Raising Sand'? I know plenty of people who have and I certainly like Alison Krauss. Not sure, yet. I've listened to some of the tunes, and they're fine, but nothing really grabs me, yet. Sure, I could get the album, but.... We'll see.

+ I am happy to report that I am actually following through on doing dangerous things with the twins (remember when I wrote about that?). A couple of weeks ago we went to a parking lot and they steered while I controlled the gas and brakes and last night we built a fire and they got to stoke the embers a little. First time either of them had struck a match or lit anything on fire. Next: pocket knives.

+ Weigh-in and push-update

Lost a half pound this last week. Better than nothing. My current pattern is to eat pretty freely on the weekend and count points M-F. Working ok. I'm slowly losing weight and, most importantly, not gaining weight!

Walter suggested I do more push-ups on my knees to fill out my sets and my friend, Paul, from church, agreed. So I did that Thursday night: 65 real push-ups and 35 knee push-ups. Also, I've gone backwards a little bit because I decided to go ahead and start doing better push-ups now. My main criteria is that my nose and belly both touch the floor about at the same time.

One nice result of all of these push-ups is the best triceps I've even had. Wholey moley. Even when I was doing triceps extensions with a dumbbell my triceps were not this burly. I'd say they're stronger and firmer than my biceps.

Thursday, November 13

Where have you been?

Well, I bought myself a new game: Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn. Painless way to relive my D&D days, cutting into my weblogging time. Still, I have saved up a couple of things for you:

BWJones linked this cool infographic:

+ Truly amazing NFL story this year: two teams with 1st time NFL head coaches and rookie quarterbacks and doing pretty well. Crazy.

+ Paul and I talked about reading Macbeth together (I'd say it's the only major Shakespeare play I haven't read). Paul, are you still in? Anyone else?

Sunday, November 2

Fall back, Sunday morning catch-up omnibus!

+ Did you see that Gmail has a bunch of smileys now? Pretty fun. I'll probably mostly stick with the old school smileys, but my daughter sure will like these!

+ Even better, for me, is you can now add your Google Calendar in the Gmail sidebar. This is already improving the quality of my marriage (Christine gets a little annoyed when I don't check the calendar...)

+ Benet joined the Quantum Library conversation. Her most-read book is East of Eden. Whoa.

+ I'm late on this link, but did you see The Christian Science Monitor will no longer publish daily. Whoa.

+ Can't resist the sarcasm: the Jews could write in 1000 BC!

+ Can resist sarcasm (barely): MTV has a YouTube-style website now with videos including embedding! For you, I pick MGMT, 'Time to Pretend':

+ Miscellaneous Obama stuff from the last week (and, at this point, if Obama's not your man, just go ahead and keep that to yourself, alright? This thing'll (probably) be over one way or the other on Tuesday):

Recent video clip. Nice tone:

The Top Ten Reasons Conservatives Should Vote For Obama (Andrew Sullivan, who Tom has me reading for him)

The Economist endorses Obama

Saturday, November 1

Talkin' with Macon

Macon left a good comment on Politics, esoterica and friends:
I have never understood the logic of comparing education spending to defense spending.

So we spend more on defense? So what? That critique has nothing do say about the quality of either.

But I can play the game, too: I spend more on Peanut M&Ms in a year than I do on jewelry for Kellsey. Now, tell me: is that bad?

The question around dollars and education and defense is: are we getting our money's worth? In defense, I leave that up to you, Sean. ;-) But I'd say being the most dominant military in the world means we might be getting some of our value out of the spending.
In public education? I think not, but I lay the blame squarely at the feet of a bloated bureaucratic superstructure and Teachers Unions, not because there is insufficient funding.
My reply (no caps b/c I started it in comment mode and then thought 'wait, this turned into a post!' ;-)
it seems obvious to me, Macon, that the comparison b/t defense and education is supposed to be a comparison of priorities (self-evidently bad priorities to those who make the argument). however, you make a very good point: it's not apples to apples.

we do have the world's biggest gun, and it is worth something, not only for our own defense but also for the elimination of great power war. no one is really challenging us as military superpower. China's growing their military, but they can't compete (eg, they have almost no expeditionary capability). Russia's trying to recapitalize, but the economic downturn and their Georgian aggression are limiting them somewhat.

(tangential point: at the same time, no, we're not getting our money's worth. taxpayer money could be invested much better, like all government enterprises (oh, wait. i'm playing right into your anti-tax hands! ;-))

the bloated bureaucratic superstructure applies to defense and education.

hypothesis: Sean's Law: more money is wasted the further away it gets from the taxpayer. discuss.

in my mind, the biggest problem with education is societal, especially the lack of interested, supportive, involved parents.

Friday, October 31

Weigh-in and push-up-date

Doing ok. Mostly holding steady. Technically, I'm down a half-pound to 198.5 this week.

(GSR makes fun of me for counting half-pounds, but I say take the encouragement anywhere you can get it! ;-)

I've decided to totally re-vamp my push-up plan. Ultimately, I don't want to make the investment to do 100 push-ups in a row. So my new goal is 100 push-ups in 5 sets (of 20, math wizards ;-) with 2-minute rests.

Here's another change I've made: I really felt like I wasn't recovering with only one day of rest between workouts. I remembered that back when I was lifting seriously we rested two days between workouts of major muscle groups (chest and arms, back, legs). Plus, I was sore all the time. And it gets harder to build muscle as we get older (if you're not on supplements).

So, I made the change and am much happier. I'm not sore all the time and I'm able to add about 2 push-ups per workout. I've stopped using the 100 push-up challenge weekly sets and am just adding 2 push-ups per workout.

I did 80 pushups last night in 5 sets with 2 minute rests. Not bad. Again, obvious math: if I'm able to proceed without a hitch (bi IF!), I'll reach my goal in 5 weeks. My plan then, for those of you who care, is to take a week off and then go back to dumbbell exercises for my arms, shoulders and back. Maybe I'll alternate some with push-ups. I don't want to lose my hard-gained ability! Something else I'm thinking about long-term is improving the quality of my push-ups. I think they're all legit right now, but they could be a little better. I'm sure they don't meet the CrossFit standard ;-)

For something even more hardcore, check out this CrossFit Journal pdf. This is for the Walter Stokeses of the world (Walter is a beast and belongs to CrossFit in Austin). I'm really only looking for 80th percentile fitness (which Pareto says is achieved with 20% of the work it would take to get to 100% ability). My ideal would be to do 30 minutes of moderately strenuous exercise 6 days a week (except when training for RAGBRAI ;-).

Wednesday, October 29

Breaking hilarity

I know this will be way too crass and violent for some of you, but some of us, in poor taste, no doubt, think it's hilarious:

A Vote For My Husband Is A Vote For Me Not Breaking Your F---ing Neck

(via Ray Kimball on Facebook)

Sunday, October 26

I say 'O', you say 'bama'

Just when you thought the MSM was totally liberal... The State [SC] endorsed McCain ;-)

(The State really did endorse McCain. The smiley's there for my little MSM joke :-)

They've got good reasons. But, for my part, I view McCain as too excitable to want him as CinC.

McCain supported the Colombian free trade agreement, which is most definitely a good thing, and Obama did not.

Good point about McCain not applying judicial litmus tests.

And good point about McCain challenging his own party.

I don't need to rebut all of those because I've already run the numbers and we know they're pretty close for me on policy, some advantages to McCain and some to Obama.

One way to boil it down is what McCain said in one of the debates. We need a steady hand at the wheel right now...

And I think that's going to be Obama.

(Plus, as I've admitted this campaign, I'm biased to the left and almost always vote Democrat.)

Friday, October 24

Vote for Obi-Wan '08

Politics, esoterica and friends

+ Arianna Huffington says political smears don't stick as well in the age of YouTube. I hope she's right. What do you think?

+ James Carville handicaps the intra-Republican blame game.

+ How to get my nerd vote

Matt's list leans left a little further than me, but I especially agree with 1, 7, 8 and 10:
1. Broadband Everywhere
7. Allow early voting by mail
8. Revamp Copyright/IP law
10. Open government
+ Ebay to ban sales of ivory products in January

+ Nice collection of visual depictions of the relative sizes of the world's highest mountains and longest rivers (via)

+ Jason's had a couple recent posts including his reflections on the food we ate in the 80s (ate-ies) and a nice pic of their youngest.

+ Like me, Jim really likes Facebook (though it sounds like he's a little less adept at navigating it ;-)

+ My buddy, Steve, played along with the Quantum Library game. Thanks, Steve :-)

Tuesday, October 21

Visual Rick Roll for geeks

Remember when I posted about Rick Roll? Well, Macon sent me an awesome Rick Astley Venn diagram!

Chris Vreeland is the genius behind this graphic. He works with Macon at Amplifier. Chris has an old-skool website and a a sort-of blog-thing (his descriptions).

Let's get this thing rolling! ;-)

Monday, October 20

Still catching up...

Debate followup:

+ Analysis: McCain puts Obama on the defensive

+ Warped facts in last presidential debate

+ Lex made this great comment over at Mark's place:
The kind of people who read Zenpundit are not the target audience for the debate. I never watch them. This group — whichever candidate each person is voting for – pay attention to politics and have long ago made up their minds. I know who I am voting for, as does everyone else who reads this blog. We are not part of the group that is undecided until the final weeks of the election.
The whole comment, and then the whole thread are worth reading.

Paul posted this picture:

Funny stuff (and great photoshopping!).

Election resources:

+ including FactChecking Debate No. 3.

+ Common Cause: Holding Power Accountable.


+ I totally want my next personal cell phone to run Android (Lifehacker review). Hopefully we'll get a cost-effective option in the next couple years.

Here's the AP review.

+ I was catching up on some SNL and 'Mark Wahlberg talks to animals' is pretty funny (especially if you like Andy Samberg.

I've got more to say, especially on health and fitness (short version: ok), but I'll save it for next time.

Thursday, October 16

My quantum library

Mark posts about the concept of quantum libraries, the books you read over and over again and learn something new each time. He kindly tagged me so here's my take:
The Bible

Tolkien's entire Middle Earth corpus including The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion and The Children of Hurin.

All six of Frank Herbert's original Dune books.

Getting Things Done - This book really helped me to get a few things done, which consequently helped my self-concept and outlook a lot.

The complete work of Thomas P.M. Barnett - might seem a little cheesy, but after reading every word the man has written for more than 3 years I still find myself in almost complete agreement with his outlook on international relations.

The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis

The work of Tim Keller
If you'd like to read more lists, click through on Mark's post above. Friends tdaxp and Lexington Greene included theirs in Mark's comments. Friends Shane and Soob also contributed.

Wednesday, October 15

Hated aphorism

+ One of the aphorisms I hate the most: 'What doesn't kill you makes you stronger.' Obvious contradiction: Some things that don't kill us leave us maimed for life. Here's a supporting point I just ran across:
We’ve all heard that what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, but that is a dangerous oversimplification. Many of the things that don’t kill you can damage you for life.

Tuesday, October 14

Starting to catch up

Well, I'm back from a week in DC, one reason why you haven't seen much here lately. Here are some of the links I've been saving up:

+ My friend, Mademoiselle Le Frog, showed me this video when I was in DC last week. Hilarious! (Some salty language, so not for Christine and her ilk).

Rejoinder: Wishing Roger Moore would come back (in the bridge) is very bad taste!

+ Tom linked this Economist piece on Amory Lovins. For my part, I like Lovins (as I've written before); may his tribe increase! Almost painless efficiency seems like a no-brainer to me.

+ If you care about the presidential race and haven't checked out yet, well, why not? Seems to be the best analysis going by a guy who, among other things, is a successful baseball stat geek (older Newsweek profile here).

+ Mark presents us with this picture:


My comment: Tyranny is a little worse than democracy. The tyranny of the majority is bad, especially when the majority is not using their brains in their personal economic and political choices.

+ Push-up analysis: maybe I'm trying to do too many push-ups. That is, maybe three times a week to abject failure is too many. Back when I was lifting in college (literally half my life ago, which, believe me, I know is part of the 'problem') we only worked each muscle group hard two days a week with two days of rest in between. I definitely have not felt like I'm recovering enough with just one day of rest. So maybe I'll try two. Any pertinent advice?

+ To celebrate their 10th birthday, Google ginned up a retro-search for 2001. Here's mine.

+ My latest TED talk viewing was Jonathan Haidt on moral values and what makes people come out left and right. I don't necessarily buy the whole argument, but it is interesting.

Haidt has a lot of side projects. He wants people to disagree more civilly, and I'm all for that. So much so that I signed the pledge. I mean, who in our circle argues for civil politics more than me?

Strangely, not many people have signed. I'm one of two from SC. Here's one that leaps out at you: the only signatory from Alaska is from Wasilla...

He takes the same moral values angle (he focuses on five) and offers up a ton of questionnaires on I came out moderate on Harm, conservative on Fairness, moderate to conservative on Loyalty, moderate to liberal on Authority and arch-conservative on Purity (quirk in the test or other?)

Lots more to catch up on, but that's enough for now

Sunday, October 5

Bad sports life

Latest exhibit:

Longest World Series Appearance Droughts

By The Associated Press

63 years - Chicago Cubs (1945 last appeared)

48 years - x-Texas Rangers-Washington Senators

40 years - x-Washington Nationals-Montreal Expos

32 years - x-Seattle Mariners

29 years - Pittsburgh Pirates (1979 last appeared)

x-never played in World Series

Saturday, October 4

More politics

+ Tom has turned me on to Fareed Zakaria, who I quoted in a recent politics post (the one about worldview, scary or not?). I just saw his Palin pan from before the debates today. It's a little dated, but his argument still makes sense to me. Sample:
Can we now admit the obvious? Sarah Palin is utterly unqualified to be vice president. She is a feisty, charismatic politician who has done some good things in Alaska. But she has never spent a day thinking about any important national or international issue, and this is a hell of a time to start.
+ Charles Krauthammer says Obama's calm, cool and collected and McCain's a gambler, so Obama will win.

Friday, October 3

Current political thoughts

+ Actually watched most of the debate last night. Palin was good, so she outperformed expectations/fears. All she had to do. Biden was fine.

+ I didn't need Vote, but they've got a pretty nice tool. Here are my detailed results. I came out a 88.78% match on issues with Barack Obama and a 87.32% match on issues with John McCain. They're not really that different.

+ I made three notes on the debate, stuff I really agreed with Biden on:
1. what he said on foreign policy, across the board
2. champions of the middle class - tax cuts
3. tying McCain to the failures of the Bush administration
I totally did not buy Palin's admonition to look to the future. We haven't passed the statute of limitations on the Bush administration, yet. Anybody who's connected to it has to continue to pay the price.

+ And, for the sake of truth in reporting: Some facts adrift in veep debate. The Obama/Biden campaign's distortions are disappointing to me, but to be expected, I'm afraid.

Weigh-in and pull-update

Way past time for one of these. Short version: I'm holding steady.

Weighed-in today at 200.5. On the one hand, not making progress. On the other hand, I'm not getting heavier and it took me awhile to gain all the weight, right? Or is that just rationalization?

Anyway, I'm fairly encouraged because I didn't count points on my trip to Austin last week; just tried to take it easy.

On the push-up front, I'm keeping after it, but not making much progress; seriously plateaued. Walter gave me the good idea of 'scaling' if I need to: finishing my push-up workouts with push-ups on my knees, if I need to. So, for example, tonight I did about 70 regular push-ups in 5 sets with 2 minute breaks and finished the last 5-10 on my knees. Don't feel like I'm gaining much here, but will keep after it for now. If you have great advice on how to break a plateau, please send it my way!

Other things to send my way: prayers and well-wishes for continuing to lose weight and get in better shape. Thanks!

Wednesday, October 1

Deeply and closely divided

Jonathan Vaught wisely writes in his Facebook status:
If Twitter is any indication [and I would add, Facebook], on November 5 one half of the country is going to bitterly, violently hate the other half, no matter who wins.
We're deeply divided politically right now. But guess what? The candidates aren't that different. There are things I agree with on both sides. Many others do, too. It's not like we're talking Communists and Fascists here. We're talking degrees of people who believe in free market capitalism and democracy/republic-anism.

Why do we feel the need to draw dividing lines and make them into huge chasms? We take positions, make them out to be more extreme than they really are, villify the opposite positions, and then project everything onto the candidates. It's a no-win system that produces the kind of political shenanigans we get treated to all the time. It's crazy.

Is there any way to fix this thing (not this particular election, which is probably already a loss in this regard)? To make it better?

Sunday, September 28

Politics, planes and Parkinson's

+ We continue to just talk past one another on politics. Just read your Facebook feed from Friday night. GOPs thought McCain clearly won; Dems, Obama.

+ Fallows says the same thing in this article.

Fallows says Obama 'won' the debate by being more convincing to those who are undecided. I'm inclined to agree with his argument, but I am biased.

+ I heard there's very little chance of surviving a water landing on an airplane. Turns out it's happened a few times. There's a chance.

+ Sergey Brin has a new weblog (via) and a post on Parkinson's Disease. After having recently read 'Before the Dawn' on Dan tdaxp's recommendation, I'm more interested in DNA than ever, including in getting my own sequenced with a service like 23andMe (but I'm not willing to drop the $400 right now).

Friday, September 26


Coming to you live from Austin, Texas (though I'm leaving soon and probably won't post this until I do). Austin City Limits festival is this weekend, but I will not be attending. I've heard of a couple of those bands, but wouldn't take time to actually go.

All that to say, here's my playlist from Austin, which otherwise has nothing to do with ACL ;-)

+ Here's a picture of me at hey cupcake! (credit: Macon):

+ My buddy, Macon, works for Amplifier who ships stuff for Rooster Teeth who makes Red vs. Blue, which still means nothing to most of you. Short explanation: they make movies with Halo. Worth watching if you want a laugh about the difference between real life and the Internet (some adult language/concepts for those of you (Christine) who like your humor pure as the driven snow).

+ Wholey cow. John McCain stood David Letterman up for Katie Couric and Letterman beat the fool out of him.

+ Macon and I were discussing child over-safety, something I like to rant about sometimes. He pointed me to this excellent video, 5 dangerous things you should let your kids do:

I really agree! Now I just have to take the time to do some of these things with the twins.

Sunday, September 21

Another Tim Keller video

This time, at Shane's alma mater, Berkeley

Latest political commentary

+ I knew there was an SNL imitation of Palin and Clinton, but I didn't know Tina Fey was playing Palin. Wholey moley. Thanks to Shane for embedding this. Hilarious.

+ Analysis: Are economy's fundamentals actually OK?

+ Fareed Zakaria: The World Isn’t So Dark

Zakaria says McCain says the world is scary and Obama has hope. Agree or disagree? I'm inclined to agree, and I agree with Obama.

+ The Shady History of Cindy Hensley McCain's Family

+ Biden gave average of $369 to charity a year (via)

Saturday, September 20

Tim Keller at Google!

Great Scott! How is it that Tim Keller spoke at Google and I didn't know?!

In case you don't know, Tim Keller is a pastor in Manhattan who is the smartest guy... well, in a really big set. Put it this way: everything he says is the smartest thing I've ever heard a pastor say. Or somewhere near that. He's really smart! And I'll put him up against anyone else's smart guys any day. He can eat Hitchens and Dawkins for breakfast (not hard to do).

Must stop gushing. Here's the video:

Friday, September 19

Back from the Mouse House

Yep, we spent three days at Walt Disney World, Saturday through Monday, with a day of driving on each side.

I think I should let the pictures tell most of the story, don't you?

We met our friends, Shawn and Kathy Linfoot and their sons Josh and Jensen. We know them from when we lived in Tulsa. Hard to imagine someone it would be easier to spend 3+ days with at Disney. It went really well.

Christine knows everything about Disney and these trips are planned to the nth degree. Not that every minute is filled, but if it's not filled, it's because that's part of the plan.

We stayed at All Star Sports because that's what had vacancies. It was fine. Disney also had a free meal plan running, which is another reason we visited at this time.

One of the cool things about this trip is we did things we'd never done at WDW before (except Christine has been to Animal Kingdom).

Our first full day was spent at Downtown Disney.

The coolest part of Disney Quest was probably the Design Your Own Roller Coaster (whatever it was called). You design it on a computer, then 'ride' it virtually in a simulator, including loops and spins. Very cool. However, I'm not that into thrill rides anymore. I don't like being jerked around. I guess I'm getting old

My favorite part was probably the Alien Invasion game. Second: Pirates of the Caribbean simulator.

Our second full day was spent at Animal Kingdom. The twins and I had never been before. It's a pretty good park. I enjoyed the East African replica stuff (though it's no comparison with the real thing!). Zoo-type stuff does not thrill me. The faux-safari was fine. I know it's a major thing to pull off. It just doesn't do that much for me.

In fact, that's part of the whole thing about Disney that I don't really like: all of the over-the-top pretending. It's no criticism of those who like it. Christine really likes it. It's great for kids. But I don't like it. It's too cheesy to me. Probably I just take myself too seriously, but there you have it. I'd rather just ride around their little savannah without the pretending that we are on a safari.

Crazily enough, one of my favorite parts of Animal Kingdom was the Finding Nemo musical. Now, I'm not a fan. In fact, I've never seen the whole video. But the technical stuff, especially the puppets, was cool.

Christine and Kathy hooked us up with a special safari plus dinner, so we actually did the safari twice.

Our third full day was Blizzard Beach. This was probably my favorite day. No pix yet because they were all taken on waterproof camera. Big fun.

That night we ate at Chef Mickey's in the Contemporary Resort. I just don't get into meeting characters and getting autographs and pictures, but that part's not for me, is it? I felt like I was a reasonably good sport.

Our final morning, we had another character meal at the Beach Club.

All in all, a good time. Christine's planning was impeccable. The only question is: how long can I hold her off before she takes us again ;-)

Wednesday, September 10

I really hate political punditry

Stipulated: Jon Stewart is not objective. And I'm sure similar clips could be found for liberal pundits.

But the juxtapositions in these clips are just flat out amazing.

This is one reason politics, as normally practiced by both sides, makes me sick.

Monday, September 8

Jane Austen immersion

I bought Christine the abridged, audio Persuasion as read by Amanda Root, who played Anne Elliot in our favorite video version. She loved it. I hadn't had a chance to listen to it, so we started it over the Labor Day weekend and finished shortly thereafter.

I decided to follow it up by re-reading Persuasion last week, which was really fun.

Then we re-watched the video.

Then I got interested in doing a Google map with Jane Austen locales. So far I've done the Big Three (my own designation: Pride and Prejudice, Emma and Persuasion).

Biggest problem: the principal locales of our three heroines are all fictitious, so I had to put shapes in the approximate ares of the appropriate counties. These were helped by distances given to real places in Persuasion (17 miles or so from Uppercross to Lyme) and Emma (16 miles from Brunswick Square in London to Highbury). Persuasion was made easier by the significant role of two real places, Lyme and Bath. Pride and Prejudice, in contrast, takes place principally in three fictitious places: Loungbourne, Rosings Park and Pemberley.

Don't miss the green route that Elizabeth and the Gardiner's took up north (it kind of blends in).


Saturday, September 6

Friday weigh-in (one day late)

198 today. Not too bad.

I held off posting this because I was 199 yesterday and 198.5 last week and I hoped, if I held off one day, to at least get back to 198.5 when I reported to you, so there you have it.

Like I said, not too bad, given the anniversary celebrations last week and general slackitude. Doing ok since then, so hoping for one more good weigh-in this week before we go on vacation this coming Friday.

Push-ups. I got rocked last night. It was pretty disappointing.

I was supposed to do 99 push-ups in 5 sets, ideally with only a minute of rest in between sets. It says to take more time if you need it, so I settled on about two minutes in between sets.

And failed on the last 4 sets. :-(

I did:

More doubts about sticking with the 100 push-up challenge, but will stay with it at least for now.

And remember, keep thinking about and praying for me. I sure appreciate all the support so far!

Friday, September 5


Well, I did 100 push-ups Wednesday night.

Now, I did them in the space of about 3 hours, which is pretty spread out, but still, not too bad, aye?

Furthermore, something between my diaphragm and chin, including my arms, is usually sore or uncomfortable at this point, even between Friday and Monday, when I get two days off.

With the soreness, I come to my push-ups thinking there's no way I'll finish them all, but I did Wednesday.

100 more tonight, or I'll at least try it. And I need to rest less between the five sets this time (which could well affect my ability to do all 100 in 5 sets).

Still stuck on week three of the Hundred Push-up Challenge. Find myself sometimes wondering why I took this on, when I prefer lifting weights, but I'll stick with it for now.

And I do feel like I'm seeing some difference in tone and mass (either that, or it's just the soreness ;-), so that's a good thing.

Thursday, September 4

Chrome review

Ok, I was totally pumped about Google Chrome, I've been spewing it on my Facebook and Gmail chat statuses. People keep asking what I think of it and it's about time I wrote.

Overall, I like it. And someday, I bet it's going to be my browser of choice.

But not yet.

I normally have 5 or so Firefox windows open at a time with a number of tabs per window. Sometimes it's more windows and more tabs. Firefox can normally handle this pretty well for me.

So, for trying out Chrome, I switched two of my most common windows (and their tab sets) to Chrome. One window with Gmail and Blogger and one with the stuff I watch for Tom. These all work fine.

Normally I also run Facebook in my Gmail window, but some of the normal Facebook functions don't work well in Chrome, like simply clicking on 'Older status messages'. Nothing happens. Same thing with 'Give gift'.

I should add that I think part of my problem with Chrome is running Firefox at the same time. Both seem to run more smoothly without the other one. In fact, strangely enough, Firefox seems to take up most of my CPU cycles when running both at the same time. The first hour or so that I only ran Chrome this morning, it ran pretty smoothly and quickly.

Chrome also doesn't work right with one of the web apps I have to use for work.

Another Chrome annoyance: clicking on a link in Gmail or launching a tab from Google Reader with 'v' brings that tab into immediate focus instead of loading it in the background, like I am used to and prefer. Easy enough to shift-click or right click, open in new tab, but not as quick and not my established behavior.

Interestingly, this article says the biggest slow-down on the web is Flash. I'm not surprised, but I didn't have it pegged that way. Still, I run the essential Flashblock add on in Firefox, so no surreptitious Flash for me. Lots of good talk in this article, too, about how much CPU load each browser uses.

And, horror of horrors, this same author actually prefers IE8 at this point! ;-)

Without breaking down every one, here are some reviews I've read and enjoyed:
Google Chrome is insanely fast … faster than Firefox 3.0 (via Dan tdaxp)
Review: Google Chrome Mostly Glitters 

Google's OmniBox is pretty similar to Firefox 3's new location bar, and it's obviously where browsers are headed.

Here's something I haven't seen written elsewhere, though it's pretty obvious: For people who have teenagers crufting up their computer with spy- and adware, or older parents sabotaging their own computers, Chrome with its sandbox approach to security may be perfect.

Irony alert: if Google's trying to minimize the 'chrome', why call the browser 'Chrome'? I like the name enough, but something else would make more sense. Window on the Web. PureWeb. Not suggesting either of those, but something in that vein.

Friends that have weighed in on Chrome:

My poor friend, Mlle. Frog, has very good geek credentials, but so far thinks Chrome is a tool ;-)

Good buddy, Paul, sent this review: Google Redefines Web Browser 

In the end, what I'm most excited about when it comes to Chrome is the next release. I wonder how long that will be.

Enough from me. What do you think of Chrome?

Tuesday, September 2

I am such a geek!

Google's coming out with a new browser today and I almost can't stand waiting! In case you live in a cave ;-)

+ A fresh take on the browser
+ No Joke: Google Introduces The Chrome Browser With A Cartoon
+ The two sites that are eventually supposed to serve the download:
(Don't ask how many times I've reloaded them ;-)

Monday, September 1

The movie '21'

The two best things about this movie, which we watched last night, were not really about the movie:
  1. The opening song was 'Time to Pretend', though the arrangement was not as good as the original.
  2. It was based on a great-sounding book, Bringing Down the House. I certainly enjoyed the excerpt in Wired, which I linked in this post, back in 2002. I heartily recommend reading the excerpt instead of watching the movie.

10 things to know about me

I have had this tab open for the longest time. Steven tagged me. The rules:
Title a blog post "10 Things to Know About Me" and list ten things that anyone who wants to know you well, to know who you really are, would have to know. But for the sake of brevity, each of the 10 Things must be expressed in 25 words or less, and 1 Thing must be expressed in only 1 word.
  1. In some ways, I believe in historic Christianity more strongly than ever. OTOH, I'm usually at an almost total loss for how to live it.
  2. Bad Sports Life: Cubs, Vikings and Hawkeyes
  3. I am an extrovert who really loves being deeply connected to people. I have had, literally, not one friend here in Columbia until this year.
  4. I love music but came embarrassingly late to the golden age of REM, New Order, The Smiths and The Cure.
  5. I only have the capacity to add a few new bands per year. This year's 'finds' are MGMT and The Killers.
  6. Like Steven, I love rainy nights. Unfortunately, I think of Eddie Rabbit's song about them every time.
  7. I often think in ads and late 70s/early 80s TV.
  8. I sometimes worry that, in Wil, I am creating a 'monster' that only I think is hilarious; a father's prerogative.
  9. I love Iowa and would like to move back there. But did I love it before? Would I? Can you go home again?
  10. G(af)TD
Non-binding tag (no guilt necessary!): Paul, Brad, Scott, Jason and historyguy

Sunday, August 31

Olympics - All-time hardest and videos

+ I'd swear I've written this before, but I can't find it here on my weblog. The hardest athletic event I can think of is balance beam. How do little girls do it? Tiger Woods won't hit without silence. These little girls backflip on four inches with music blaring for the nearby floor exercise, clapping for other events and announcements. How do they do it? Truly amazing.

+ kottke had a great post about Olympic moments on YouTube:
One of the best ways to watch the Olympics is to chase down all the references made by NBC's commentators on YouTube and watch them in addition to (or instead of) the regular telecast. Here are some of the ones I've found.
He's got some great stuff there I'd encourage you to check out. The two that make my greatest hits are:
Some of my others (in (why not?) chronological order):
Without committing myself, the performances that stand out to me from Beijing are Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt.

How about you? What did I miss?

Stokes champ election

+ This issue of Sports Illustrated includes one prediction that the Cubs will make the World Series, one that the Vikes will make the playoffs, and two that the Pats will win the Super Bowl. I am doomed ;-)

+ My friend Benet, who happens to be African-American, has a nice post about the historical nature of the Obama nomination in terms of her own family's history.

+ defective yeti mostly does comedy, but here's an interesting piece of political analysis: choosing such a young and inexperienced VP candidate will give the Dems more license to talk about McCain's age and health.

+ Remember when I posted about having coffee with the Stokes clan but no picture. Well, this is pretty much what they looked like (down to Mary's car with bike on back):

Such great folks! It's like being with family :-)

+ When they visited, Paul gave me the book Mover of Men and Mountains, the autobiography of RG LeTourneau. Very interesting book about a pioneer in the earth moving and heavy equipment industry. Out of his Christian conviction he resolved to keep only 10% of his profits and gave the rest to charity.

Friday, August 29

Friday weigh-in


Hooray! I lost 2.5 pounds last week! Finally, something more than 1!

The Weight Watchers site, when I put my weight in today, said something like 'We don't recommend that you lose more than 2 pounds a week. Please change your approach.'

Me: Are you out of your mind? ;-)

Anyway, it's a nice surprise because, as I wrote in my belated post last week, I totally fell off the Points wagon Friday, Saturday, and some of Sunday. But I was down to 198.5 by Wednesday. Up a little Thursday, but back down today. Hooray!

Impossibly hopeful wish: If I could keep up 2 pounds a week, I'd be down to my goal by December 12th. Seems kind of unrealistic, though. I mean, there's our anniversary, Disney World Vacation, probably two business trips, Christine's birthday and Thanksgiving. What do you think? I think it's too much to hope for.

How many times have I had to get down below 200 again? I think this is the 4th. That sucks.

The desperate prayer that always comes to mind:

'Dear God, please don't let me get up above 200 ever again.'

Obviously I've been the problem, and this is not a mature prayer, but there you have it.

Push-ups continue to go well for my part. I hedge because some genius thought it was a good idea to go from 69 push-ups at the end of week 2 to 99 on the first day of week 3. Not possible, at least for me. I did all of the first 4 sets, 74, but only 10 of the last set of 25. I'll either stay on this day until I can complete it or repeat the week until I can complete it. We'll see.

Thanks for your continued support. Keep those thoughts and prayers headed my way.

Wednesday, August 27

Johnny and June

Christine and I are watching Walk the Line and we like it pretty well. Most historical movies send me to Wikipedia to research the real history.

In this case, I'm looking to YouTube, too.

First off, Phoenix and Witherspoon's performances are amazing. All the more reason to look back at the real thing:

I Walk the Line - unfortunately (in a 'sad when relationships are broken', non-moralistic sort of way), Johnny was not 'walking the line'.
Jackson - Witherspoon is much prettier than Carter, but there's no denying Carter had all kinds of personality (as played up in the movie). Carter's vocal style is almost Broadway (which Witherspoon mostly did not match).
It Ain't Me, Babe - I was pretty sure this was a Bob Dylan cover.
Johnny Cash & June Carter, 1967, rare footage - interesting mostly for the interaction between June and Johnny he'd kicked his drug habit and they were married.

Upon finishing the movie, it could be called 'The Apotheosis of June Carter' ;-) She definitely comes across as a saint.

Love's angel queen

I don't know why, but Juice Newton's song Love's been a little bit hard on me popped into my head today. The video is really painful, but if you liked it back in 1982 you might enjoy listening to it again now.

While you're traipsing down memory lane, here's Queen of Hearts (also bad video) and Angel of the morning (barely tolerable video; didn't notice the cheesy arrangement when I was 9 ;-)

Tuesday, August 26

Olympics wrap-up

Well, it was a great, fun Olympics. A few last thoughts:

+ Good article from the recent SI. As much as I'm a huge advocate of peacefully rising China, it's important to remember that they have a long way to go on freedom and human rights. The IOC and NBC both took it pretty easy on China.

As for China authorities, the pretty little girl stood in for the more homely singer. Digital fireworks were added to the original picture. No protests were approved, and some who applied were reportedly detained. Tourist visa requests were denied. Foreign protesters were deported. And some suspiciously little girls helped China win the women's gymnastic team gold medal.

+ As the same article said, and Bob Costas waxed eloquent about at the close, the people of China were very friendly, helpful and welcoming. And we hope those people get more freedom as soon as possible.

+ Someone said somewhere that the US shouldn't try to match China's medal haul. I basically agree with that. If we want to invest more money, that's great (especially private money). But, they have a system we can't and don't want to replicate.

+ Another good article in SI about how Michael Phelps is not the greatest Olympian of all-time, bar none. That's probably right. Others had impressive longevity. Greatest single Olympics performance of all time? No question. Among the very short list of greatest Olympians? Indubitably.

+ My faves: Michael Phelps (of course), Shawn Johnson (Iowa, represent!), the Dream Team (despite myself, to some degree), and Usain Bolt.

+ All in all, a lot of fun, and I got surprisingly into it. Wonder if that'll ever happen again. We'll see...

Monday, August 25

Hooray for my new desk!

I finally decided I work better with my two laptops on a real surface rather than trying to use them a lot of the time literally on my lap. So I started working more at the kitchen table. Well, no offense to me, but Christine didn't like that: she uses the kitchen for her work, including stuff on the table, so I was cramping her. She likes to listen to books on tape while she cooks and cleans and washes dishes, but I don't. Plus, with school starting back, the twins need the table after school and Christine also sits for two other 4th grade friends, so I certainly need to be out of the kitchen by 3.

Besides, typing on a surface that high isn't good for my wrists.

So, I was looking for a table that would adjust down to a good height for typing. I was shooting for 24" (all the way at the bottom of what's recommended).

In addition, this table would go in the front room, which I use for an office, but which also has to double as a guest room. So this table has to fold up and disappear when guests (primarily Christine's parents) come (to allow the hide-a-bed to fold out).

So, I was looking for an adjustable height folding table. And, guess what? They're pretty expensive. I was willing to spend $75 or $100, but I was hanging up on the shipping. Couldn't find any in stock anywhere locally, and the office superboxes (Staples, Home Depot, Office Max) didn't seem to have them available to order for in-store pick-up.

Yesterday I had a brain storm: I'll build one using sawhorses and a door. I've seen doors and filing cabinets advised before, but, again, the desktop would be higher than I wanted. Plus, filing cabinets aren't very mobile (and casters don't roll well on carpet, and add height).

So, I went to Home Depot last night. Found the exact door I wanted: 18" wide (as a door, that's the depth dimension for a desktop), 80" long.

Excellent. Started looking at sawhorses...

and didn't really want to spend $20 each for the cheapest adjustable, foldable ones. So I decided, where angels fear to tread, to make my own from those basic brackets @ $4.99 for two ($9.98 for all 4).

I had some 2x4s at home from my last project, so I just bought one more @ $2.54. If your project's roughly similar to mine and you had no wood at all to start with, you'd need 3 2x4x8s ($7.62).

I already had wood screws, so I didn't need those. Added expense if you don't have any already (but you only need 24 or 32 :-).

To recap my goal and a major value for me: cheap ;-)

I bought a circular saw for my last project (around $50) and borrowed my neighbor's drill for driving screws (I have a little, cordless drill without much oomph).

Next, begin to build (this is a quote from the old Fairytale Theater Three Little Pigs :-)

I got lucky here, and didn't even realize it until the end. Since my desktop would only be 18" deep, I only made the connecting 2x4s for my sawhorses 17" long. See the luck? Purchased sawhorses would have been much 'deeper' and taken up much more space. I lucked into one of the best aspects of my project.

Next, I cut the legs, figuring I needed them 20" long, accounting for the brackets, 2x4s, and desktop thickness.

What I didn't realize until I got almost all of them cut: I didn't account for chair height and leg clearance under the table. (Can you tell I'm not a project stud?)

At which point, I panicked. I thought 'Man, I've got to add height!' So I didn't set the legs all the way up in the brackets; just far enough to catch the first screw hole. Probably added about an inch and I was still worried about clearance.

I worked pretty hard at getting the legs evenly situated at 18 1/4" from frame to ground, but the legs still came out pretty uneven. The biggest part of that was the variable width of the 'bite' on these particular brackets. If I had bought the next more-expensive model (about twice the price, IIRC), I bet my results would have been 100% better.

However, they're sitting on carpet and it doesn't need to be completely stable, so there's no problem. I don't notice any wobble as I type or write.

Time to assemble the desk.

I really like it!

I shouldn't have panicked on the chair and leg clearance. My resultant desktop height was 26 3/4". Still better than standard table tops, but I could have gone 2" lower and I think I would have liked it for typing more (especially on my work Dell Latitude D620 which runs so amazingly hot that I usually sit in on a cooling rack (like for cookies (idea may have come from Lifehacker)) or use a water bottle as heat sink (idea definitely came from Lifehacker) when on my lap).

So, that's pretty much it. Would've made some changes knowing what I know now. Got a little lucky. All in all, I'm satisfied.

Total cost for me (not including stuff I already had): $31.06 and about 3 hours, including the Home Depot trip. Excellent.

Here's the same spot, broken back down. (It really is an 'after' pic and not a 'before' ;-)

The door is easily stowed, behind the couch if I want. The legs go into the garage for the duration of the stay.

Potentially important usage note: I will try to keep 'permanent' items off of the desk and only put stuff on that is easily moved and stowed. We'll see how that goes.

Sunday, August 24

Obama and predisposition

Ok, I took the plunge and support Obama on my Facebook profile. Lisa (Mark's better half ;-) asked me about it, and here's what I wrote:
sure, since Mark is a conservative, he can counter every pro-Obama point, just like a real liberal could counter every pro-McCain point.

i recognize in myself a tendency to rationalize to the left. i say i'm a moderate, even come out a moderate in those tests you can take, argue both sides, then vote for the Democrat. i see this same bent in most people, i daresay including Mark ;-)

predispositions, assumptions, presuppostions, heck, even just plain old values (not moral values, necessarily, but like 'i value X over Y'). that kind of stuff.

i've certainly never been susceptible to being argued or convinced into voting Repub, though i can recognize valid positions and criticisms. haven't run into too many many people who are truly uncommitted, though there must be some.

Friday weigh-in (a couple days late)

I did weigh-in on Friday; just writing it up now.

Weighing-in is no science. Weight varies a lot from day to day. That's one reason people say don't weigh yourself every day.

On the other hand, I started weighing in ever day on two versions of the Hacker's Diet that uses a weighted average (no pun intended ;-)

If you can keep from riding an emotional coaster from elation to disappointment, it's nice to have more data. It can even be encouraging.

Because it's possible to have 'bad' weigh-ins. Sorta like mine on Friday.

'Bad' is probably a little too strong. But at least one day last week I was 199.5. That was exciting. Friday, only 201.5. Still, I'm in that range, so that's encouraging.

Most of us want to lose weight faster than it comes off.

On the other hand, steady weight loss is usually pitched as more desirable by reputable outfits because we're striving for holistic behavior and lifestyle changes. After all, we probably never gained more than one pound per week.

Plus, I think I'm getting my points tuned. I had a problem with accounting for one of my staple foods. Now I've got it worked out. I was under-reporting points, so it'll be interesting to see the result as I stick to a more accurate accounting.

Still doing well with exercise, especially push-ups. So I'll start week 3 on Monday.

Sunday update: Ok, I wrote most of that on Friday (at least the notes). Totally fell off the wagon Friday night (pizza at a friend's house) and Saturday (in-laws in town Saturday - Mexican and Olive Garden). Going out is bad for me. Must get back on wagon. It's a waste of my WW investment to not be working on my weight loss, right?!

Ack! Almost forgot: please keep praying and thinking about me! And thanks for all of your support so far!

Saturday, August 23

Pickens Plan

My good buddy, Jim, has a post about the Pickens Plan to reduce dependence on foreign oil.

This Pickens guy has some good ideas: more wind generation and more natural gas (LP) for cars. Great. Some thoughts (adapted from my comment over there):

+ First, as I've said many times before, we need to let the market work on energy like it's starting to do. Would be better if we didn't subsidize gas and roads so heavily.

+ I may have said this before, but independence from foreign oil is not the goal. It's a form of isolationism that we don't need. We need to be better engaged with the world, not less.

+ Natural gas is great. Let's ramp it up, by all means.

+ Wind plan sounds good. A lot of the land he's targeting is not particularly arable anyway.

+ 3:55 (in the video): first check: OK, what's the cost of all that wind generation (new infrastructure) and conversion of cars to natural gas (including refueling infrastructure)? Surely that would cut into his $300B savings.

+ Not to mention his premise: Can we really not handle buying foreign oil? We have the number one economy in the world. Sure, we're a little depressed right now, not least of all from the housing correction. But is $700B for foreign oil per year really unaffordable and undesirable?

All in all, I'm not convinced this is the way to go. But there's no question we need to do lots of things better WRT energy.

Kinetic RPG indignation

+ Dan had a post on YouTube kinetic typography. I found this style interesting, but, from what I know of and subscribe to re:design, a little too busy, too precious. (No criticism of Dan.)

I liked the Abbott and Costello, of course, and the Hitler piece was very chilling. But I bet they both could have been even more effective if they were less fussy.

+ Clive Thompson has a point: Weight Watchers Online is sort of like a role-playing game. The more they can make it like an RPG, the more 'fun' it'll be. We shouldn't be far away from integration with WiiFit and the iPod/Nike system, right? (via)

+ The parents of the Chinese gymnasts can be as indignant as they want at suggestions of cheating. I'm indignant that their system of girls, coaches, parents, and government broke the rules.

Friday, August 22

Redeem Team is right

Had a chance to watch some Olympic basketball. It is SUCH A RELIEF that the Dream Team is better-representing us these days, both athletically and in terms of sportsmanship. It's fun to watch them play as a team and drub some of these upstarts ;-)

Mike Krzyzewski is obviously doing a great job in the wake of Jerry Colangelo's reset of the whole national team approach. I wonder if it makes Coach K any more interested in an NBA job...

Finally, I really liked Doug Collins' color commentary. Knowledgeable and calm, unlike some dufuses we get.

Wednesday, August 20

Michael Stokes

+ What makes Michael Phelps so good?

+ If you haven't seen it yet, the SI frame by frame Phelps victory by .01 seconds. So awesome!
Michael Phelps was in big trouble in the 100-meter butterfly. He was seventh in the eight-man field after 50 meters.
Look! By frame 3, Cavic already had his head up! That might have lost it for him.

In addition to being an amazing swimmer, Phelps must have some intuition about how to get to the wall fastest!

(via, which also links some of Cavic's nice post race commentary.)

+ Paul, Carol and Mary made it to Philly. I neglected to mention that they drove through Columbia and we got to grab a nice hour at Starbucks. However, we were having such a good time that none of us took a picture :-(

Saturday, August 16

I've got soul...

... but here's a commercial ;-)

I'm not too commercial. It pains me a little to embed a commercial, but...

The song dominates! (and the video's not too bad, either ;-)

Friday weigh-in

Ok, I did weigh-in yesterday; just didn't get it posted.

202. One pound down. Not as much as I would hope, but...

When I try to think on the positive side, this is life change, right? I'm trying to change how I eat for good. As long as I'm doing that and losing weight, I'll eventually get where I want to be.

Sure I wish it would be sooner. I even wish I had started on a lower-calorie diet to begin with, maybe even just liquids to get that first big bump I've gotten before.

Oh, well. The main thing is to be going in the right direction.

Further, when I got on the scale this morning (I weigh-in everyday, though many people say you shouldn't), I was 201.5. So more of the right direction.

I did all my push-ups this week, too, but came to realize I was a little mistaken last week. In the first week, you don't do the same numbers everyday: they change each day. I did 5 sets for a total of 41 push-ups Mon, Wed, and Fri. I was supposed to do 5 sets for 41, 54, and 63.

Oops. Corrected that this week, basically doing week 1 over again. No worries. Still getting good exercise, including yoga.

Please remember to pray for me/send positive thoughts my way. And thanks for your support this far!

Friday, August 15

Olympic roundup

I've been enjoying the Olympics, especially the amount of news we can get on the web. I can plan my viewing more judiciously. Miss something? No problem to watch it later. Other thoughts:

+ In that spirit, I watched some on-demand judo and tae kwon do. I thought they might be interesting. Wrong. Very boring. Stylized scoring with very little continuation. Mix it up a little, then go back to the center, sometimes scoring a point. I'd rather watch wrestling (no dig, since I used to wrestle).

+ 4 days old now, but Jason Lezak was absolutely amazing in the 4x100 free. How do you make up that much space in 15 meters?

Lezak's swim is one for the ages
Who’s talking now? USA Men’s 4x100 Free Relay!!
Video: U.S. men win 4x100m free relay

+ Is it even remotely possible that all of those little Chinese girls were at least 16 years old? My universalizing nature is tempted to call them a whole nation of cheaters, but that wouldn't be fair. Still, it casts a little pallor on the games.

IOC turns blind eye to controversy over China's kiddie gymnasts
Chinese news service reported that gold medal gymnast was 13

+ Great individual competition last night. I was really pulling for Shawn Johnson, since she's from Iowa, but it's a subjective sport and Nastia Liukin was really good and absolutely stuck all of her landings, so good for her.

Felt like sort of a referendum on short, powerful and cute or tall, lithe, and graceful.

Something else good: Shawn was very gracious re: Nastia's win.

+ Michael Phelps is a beast. What else are you going to say?

I really like the lead on this story:
On the seventh day of the Olympics, Michael Phelps rested.
I'm enjoying watching swimming a lot, including all of the events that are on around Michael. This week switches to track, which I almost certainly won't watch as much.

+ Remember when we were kids (if you're my age or older ;-)? We had one culture, only 3 networks, and the Olympics were huge. Now, my kids barely know about it and the good stuff is on too late for them to watch anyway. News flash: different world ;-)

Monday, August 11

Superman, Batman and Fuelly

+ My buddy Lexington Green (not his real name) has a GREAT post over at Chicago Boyz about the REM classic cover, 'Superman', including the original by The Cliques, which I'd never heard before. I really like it. It's crazy.

+ From my work feeds, Defense Tech has an interesting post (with an excellent picture from 'The Dark Knight Returns' on the possible reality of Batman, pointing to an interview with a guy who wrote a book on the subject.

+ A really cool website that I neither need not want: Fuelly. Created in part by Matt Haughey, the mastermind behind MetaFilter and its associated sites:
Fuelly is a site that lets you track, share, and compare your gas mileage. Simply sign up, add a car, and begin tracking your mileage.

By recording and analyzing your mileage, you can see how much money you can save with small driving changes. You can also see how your mileage compares with EPA estimates and the mileage of other drivers using Fuelly. Tips and a discussion forum also offer ways to save. The site is free to use, so sign up to start tracking your miles today.
In my humble opinion, it's not worth all the work. Saving gas is not going to save the planet (which may not need environmental saving in the first place, and if it does, it's going to take something much bigger).

My opinion/position aside, it's cool and very well-done, like everything Matt does, and I wish him all the best.

Friday, August 8

Friday weigh-in

Well, I did what I was supposed to do: a good amount of basic exercise and kept under my points. But I only lost a half pound since last week, so that's pretty disappointing. I'm hoping it was just one of those bad weigh-in days when, if i weigh myself tomorrow, I'll be another pound lighter or so, but we'll see.

Benet swears I should be sure to eat all of my points. This is really hard to believe. Maybe I'll try it this week.

Something that makes it hard to believe is I get 33 points per day, plus another 30-some discretionary for the week, PLUS a point here and there when I get enough activity in. I'm eating way more than my previous diets (although not with the periodic binges).

Like I said, I did well with my exercise, including all 41 of my pushups, broken up in three sets, repeated M, W and F (today). So that's good.

Well, the main thing is to keep up the fight. And I sure would appreciate your continued prayers and well-wishes. Thanks!

Thursday, August 7

Viking coffee battle

+ I really like Galrahn's post The Greatest Battleship In History. Short version (he's said this before) current Arleigh Burke-class destroyers have more firepower than any warship in history. The rest of the world can't compare. But we keep building more and proposing bigger ones. I close with his final comment:
The surface fleet is too big (ship sizes) and too small (numbers).
+ Another NFL season begins, another year of hope for the Vikes. I even wore my tshirt today. SI has a postcard from Vikings training camp where the biggest question, no surprise, is how will Tavaris Jackson do this year?

Otherwise, the defense and offense are both upgraded and pretty highly regarded. We'll see...

+ Pretty interesting post about Starbucks' attempts to get their oomph back. (via)