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