Archive: September, 2003

Good decisions that turned out to be all wrong

posted by Jeff | Monday, September 29, 2003, 4:41 PM | comments: 1

I had a chat with one of my volleyball kids today. She's doing very well in a very difficult engineering school on the east coast and she's playing volleyball on top of that. Her story, however, goes all the way back to 2001.

In 2001, she was a sophomore in high school. I was coaching 16 club that year and it was my first year coaching a JO team. She was my setter, and I think her and I were pretty close, as I generally am with setters because they pretty much run things on the court.

The next year I did 17 open, and had a chance to have her on my team again. At the same time, I gained another setter who was, quite frankly, pretty amazing. I made the decision early on to have the new girl set for me and reassign my first girl to other roles.

This wasn't terrible at first, and she didn't seem to mind it that much. However, the two frequently clashed, and the new girl's ego and attitude got to be almost too much to bear at times. I stood by the arrangement though, because I felt it was best for the team, and certainly in the best interest of the girls.

Years later, I see that I made a pretty horrible mistake. Both girls went to college, but one lives at home, commutes and despite her amazing talent hasn't done shit with it, and will never play college volleyball. In fact, our club director even went out of her way to get her noticed last year, and she blew it off, ungrateful.

The first girl, however, as I said, went away to school and plays for that team. Yeah, it's Division III NCAA ball, but she's going to break the school ace record and ranks nationally. All this while holding down an insane schedule of engineering classes. That says a lot about how amazing she is.

What makes this so painful to me (not to mention how it went for her), is that I totally ignored the character of these two back when I coached them, and thought only about what I thought, at the time, was good for the team. In some ways I nearly crushed one and overlooked the flaws of another, when all along I should've done the opposite.

The one saving grace is that both got what they deserved in the end. The problem is that it has made me see so many things differently, all at once, about the responsibility you have to these kids. In some ways I failed them both, and I have to live with that.

It's easy to say it's "just volleyball" and they were "just in high school," but anyone who tells me that they weren't deeply affected by events in that period of their life is totally full of shit.


Why are weddings so sad?

posted by Jeff | Sunday, September 28, 2003, 12:46 PM | comments: 2

We went to a wedding reception last night, at this very cool hall in the old Powerhouse in the Cleveland Flats. The couple was a professor of Steph's and one of his former students (a little weird I know, but I guess love is love and I'm not one to judge). I frankly didn't know either one of them personally, but enjoyed the food and some of Steph's friends.

The wierd thing about going to weddings anymore is that it makes us sad. I guess it's because ours is over. Weddings are a one-shot deal where you declare your love, and all of your best friends and family gather for easily one of the greatest parties you'll ever have. It just kind of sucks that you generally don't get another one.

However, we have decided that in the next few years, we're going to have another reception anyway. We're going to rent a hall, get it catered, and invite everyone for another reception. Why the hell not? We did it last time for under $4,000, and I don't know, it just seems like money well sepnt. It's hard to put a price on friendship, which I think is why we had our huge luau blowout again this summer.

For our third anniversary again this year we'll be spending time with friends closing weekend at Cedar Point. Even though our wedding has long since passed, we'll continue to make new good times.


A loss for words in the cool of fall

posted by Jeff | Friday, September 26, 2003, 12:51 PM | comments: 0

You know, it's weird to me how for the most part I've been a blogging freak the last couple of weeks. It's like I always have something on my mind. However, the last couple of days, I really don't have anything on my mind. That's weird.

I think these sudden cool temperatures are winding me down a little. All I wanna do is sit somewhere and cuddle. It's like I have some kind of hibernation instinct or something. I'm all about flanel clothes, hanging with friends, and did I mention cuddling?

I'm really hoping the weather holds out tonight long enough to get a little CP action in.


DDRMAX2 is out today

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, September 24, 2003, 11:05 AM | comments: 2

So begins another chapter in the Dance Dance Revolution saga. If you're not familiar, DDR is a music arcade game where you pound the arrows on the stage as arrows on screen appear, which creates something that's a little like dancing. About a year ago, Kara convinced me to get on the stupid game at Cedar Point. I was so fucking hooked at that point. The very next weekend I went to CP with a friend and played some more. At that point, Stephanie pretty much encouraged me to buy a PlayStation2 and get the game (DDR Konamix). Life hasn't been quite the same since.

Just a couple of weeks after we bought the PS2, DDRMAX came out for the console, and we got that. Eventually we also scraped up the first DDR, though never scored the Disney version. By November of last year, we were kicking some minor ass.

We played and played, and although we kind of let it lapse a bit this summer, we're getting back into it again. Today, DDRMAX2 comes out for the PS2, which means a bunch of new songs, some old favorites, and new challenges. It's a good day.

We're both pretty good at six and a few seven footers, but haven't played enough lately to have the stamina for more. Heck, we can even tear it up on doubles. Hopefully this new version will motivate me to play frequently, because it's pretty much the only physical activity I get.

I'll post a review tomorrow...


Departing from SuicideGirls

posted by Jeff | Monday, September 22, 2003, 12:57 PM | comments: 2

Steph and I decided we're probably going to allow our subscription to SuicideGirls.com expire. The place has really gone down hill in terms of community, really ever since they relocated to LA. They're just too fucking LA.

If you didn't know, SG is, I guess technically, a porn site. I hesitate to call it that because it's only about one step beyond a Victoria's Secret catalog. More "pin-up" stuff than anything. The angle they have is that the girls are all alt-goth-emo-punk or something along those lines. They have tattoos and piercings, and are generally much more like real women than what you might ordinarily find on nudie sites.

Now, the thing is that they also have journals and forums and such, so there's a serious community aspect to it. Think CampusFish, only they post nudies every day. The site was started in Portland, Oregon about two years ago, where if you don't have a visible tattoo or piercing they assume you're from Ohio. It's really a neat town, and on a short list of places I would love to live.

A little less than a year ago they packed up and moved to LA. Hell if I know why, except that they said it made more sense from a business perspective. This is the site, mind you, that dropped their prices in a period of insane growth, so I question if they really know what a business is.

Since then, we've watched a lot of the staff be jerks to people in the forums, and a clique of the girls basically be the same way toward people. Their heads just keep getting bigger and bigger, and they're now getting to a point to where they're too good for the people who keep them out of a normal day job. If you start to question what they do, they take it personally.

Now, I can sort of relate, because I take crap and dish it out too at CoasterBuzz.com all of the time. The key difference there is that 99.99% of my visitors didn't pay to get there, so naturally I pretty much say what's on my mind. This is in stark contrast to the developers I deal with that purchase software from me, some of which shouldn't even have computers. No matter how stupid they get, I smile, thank them for their business and help them out in whatever way I can. When people give you money, that's how you treat them, no matter how successful you get. (Maybe my software needs to be more successful? ;))

So I guess we've reached the end of an era with SG. It's a shame that they took something that was really special in an otherwise crappy area of the Web and turned it into something that has lost all focus.


Why is Bush so full of shit?

posted by Jeff | Friday, September 19, 2003, 11:17 AM | comments: 0

Ugh... this angers me:

http://www.msnbc.com/news/968569.asp

Synopsis: Now Dubya says that they don't have, and never had, any real evidence that Saddam was hooked to terrorists.

So let's go back to March, shall we? The justification for war against Iraq basically centered on three areas:

  1. Weapons of mass destruction. Well, so where are they? Still haven't found any, had no real proof they existsed before we started blowing shit up.
  2. Links to terrorists. Again, now El Presidente says there's no proof there. How did 69% of Americans think otherwise without proof?
  3. Saddam was killing his own people. Well, he was, about twelve years before that when we were there the first time. Why didn't we do something about it then? Or for that matter, why didn't we do something about it in the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, etc.?

So now that we're over there with people jumping out and shooting at us, troop morale blows, and we're headed to perhaps the biggest deficit in history, remind me again what the point was?


Fall is the best time of the year

posted by Jeff | Thursday, September 18, 2003, 11:35 AM | comments: 1

Yep... it's officially fall. I love this time of year. Just as Steph mentioned in her recent entry, part of that is enjoying the fall atmosphere at Cedar Point. It looks now like the rain may clear out by tomorrow night, which would really kick ass.

I wish I could put my finger on what makes it such a neat time of year. I guess part of it for me is that so many cool things for me have happened in the fall. I got married in the fall, used to start new school years in college in the fall, visit CP on fall Friday nights, hang out with friends in the fall, wear warmer clothes and snuggle with my honey more... all kinds of little things. And losing my job in 2001 in the fall didn't even ruin all of that... it's that special of a time of year.

You know what else is weird, is that people watching at CP is more fun too. While summer reveals a ton of skin for the dirty-old-man-in-training that I am, there's something very subtle and attractive about a girl wearing a big flanel or hoodie. I'm sure Steph would agree.

In other exciting news, the new DDR for PS2 comes out next week, almost a year to the day that Kara got me hooked on that fucking game. I haven't played as much as I used to, so hopefully this will get me in the groove again and losing a little weight again.


Being sick sucks

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, September 16, 2003, 10:48 AM | comments: 1

Remember when you were a little kid and you were sick? Probably your mom babied you, brought you food, set you up on the couch. Plus you got to stay home from school. So it wasn't a terrible inconvenience, really.

Wow does it suck when you're a grown up. I still get special attention from Steph, but your mind just does ridiculous things. You start to wonder if there's something far worse wrong, or if your heart is going to melt and stop, if they'll have to amputate an arm... you know, weird shit like that.

I was stuffy cranky all day yesterday, and by the time I got home from work, started to really feel like shit. By 8 I had a fever that just wouldn't quit. It absolutely sucked. So I slept on the couch and tried to sleep it off. That's never easy given the range of weird ass dreams you have when you're sick and you wake up hourly.

The good news is that when I woke up this morning, I could breath. Still a little achy, hearing still sensitive, but I was good enough to get my ass out of bed and go to work. It's weird that the recovery so far has been quick.

Right now though, I could desperately use a nap.


Weird apocalyptic dream

posted by Jeff | Monday, September 15, 2003, 12:16 PM | comments: 2

I hate having scary dreams because whatever is disturbing about them has to be coming from something in that brain of mine.

So here I am in some kind of dark world that is something like downtown Cleveland (near Lakeside and E.9th, if I had to pick somewhere), and it's dark and stormy only not raining. For some reason, I know that I'm somehow about to experience 9/11 as if I went back in time and it actually happened in this place that I'm at. There are of course two buildings, only they're not quite the World Trade Center.

Knowing what's about to happen, I'm frantically looking for my dearest wife, but can't find her. Phones are dead for some reason. I'm in a big lobby area of one of the buildings that extends beneath the entire footprint of the building and has windows along the top edge (influenced I think as a cross between photos of the actual WTC lobbies and Paramtown mall). I look up at the clock. It's 8:40 am. Weird that I know the time.

A plane hits the building that I'm in and there is an enormous thunder from above. Everyone else kind of just goes about their business and shrugs it off. I'm nervous because I'm worried my wife is upstairs in the building. Then, one of my volleyball kids (who I went to see play for her high school on Saturday) comes up to me in a panic and says she can't find her parents. All of a sudden, on the other side of the giant lobby area, explosions go off one at a time, kind of like stage pyrotechnics. I throw my VB kid to the ground and jump on top of her (some how covering her entirely even though in real life she's only an inch or two shorter than me). More of the pyro goes off around us.

From there, I get our asses out of the building, and head toward the lake. I look up at the one building to see a big hole in it and for some reason the other one has all kinds of holes in it and damage. I don't know what happened to my VB kid at this point, but I'm trying to get my new phone (I bought one Friday) to get a signal so I can find my wife, but it doesn't work.

The daytime darkness continues and for some reason I can see Cedar Point from the lakeshore (interestingly enough, to the east instead of west), so I start walking in that direction.

I get there (though it's actually more of a campground), and finally hook up with Steph. My brother is also there (talked to him on the phone yesterday) and he's asking questions about some new ride.

I have no idea what all of that means, but it's the first disaster dream I've had in awhile that didn't involve nuclear holocaust. I was having some allergy issues overnight, so that was probably keeping me from getting a good night's sleep.


Hard drive woes part II

posted by Jeff | Saturday, September 13, 2003, 7:26 PM | comments: 3

Well, I think it's official. There's no getting my data back from my dead hard drive. Everything that I read about clicking hard drives seems to indicate that it's not impossible to get stuff back, but at what cost? If it's more than a couple hundred bucks, I don't think it's worth it.

What did I lose? Mostly some irreplaceable photos that I had not yet burned to DVD. I think we've got prints of most of them, but you know, it's tough not having the originals. I think we're losing the CoasterBuzz events, our Las Vegas photos (which are mostly from my cousin-in-law's wedding) and misc. dumb shit that is nevertheless important. Less important, I lost my collection of SuicideGirls nudies, various downloads of older software that was important, some old database backups that might have some stuff on them I can't replace, etc.

The good news is that about eight years of documents and e-mail are safe, because that's is automatically put up on IBackup.com. I pay out the ass for the amount of space I use there, but clearly it's worth it.

So what it comes down to, I suppose, is that I need to burn stuff I can't replace frequently. In the mean time, I've gotta format and start over. So much for a do-nothing weekend...


When hard drives attack

posted by Jeff | Friday, September 12, 2003, 10:17 AM | comments: 3

I'm irritated. Last night when I booted up my computer, the hard drive began making a nice clicking noise. Not good. I'm not pleased. There's a lot of stuff I need to get off of there. I backup all of my normal documents daily to an off-site Internet provider (happens in the background), but there is still a lot of stuff that I don't have, like photos waiting to be burned to DVD, Photoship files for my sites, etc.

I don't think it's impossible to save the stuff that's on there, but what a pain in the ass. It's an 80 gig drive that's not even that old, perhaps a year old.

The biggest problem is that I pretty much would rather be doing ANYTHING else this weekend.


Two years after 9/11

posted by Jeff | Thursday, September 11, 2003, 1:06 PM | comments: 0

I know that a lot of people I think would just rather not think about what happened 9/11/01. I can't say that I blame them.

But on this day I think it will always be impossible for us to pretend that it's just another day. I'll always reflect on that day, probably for the rest of my life. The thing that will change year to year is what the world has become since then.

For better or worse, the events of 9/11 certainly brought together the world in the weeks following. It was heart warming to see people from all over the world share in our pain and anger. It's kind of ironic that it took a catastrophic act of hate to show just how much love there is in the world.

The disheartening thing is that people are more or less back to being assholes here in the states. Inconsiderate drivers, grocery store rudeness and total disregard for other people. The worst part of that is just that it's stupid shit that cause people to be that way. Honestly, is getting one car ahead in a pack on the freeway that critical to your daily existance?

Politically I don't think we're doing much better. The economy sucks, unemployment is high, and despite raiding Afghanistan and Iraq, it's debatable on whether or not the world is a better place. It certainly hasn't done anything for our PR status in the world either.

At least I can account for myself though. I feel much better as a person, about who I am and what I'd like to be. I've remembered that spirit I had in college when I was out to change the world, and now, have a better grasp on what I can accomplish.

And heck, I'm celebrating a third anniversary next month. :)


Some days consulting seems like it could be a great job

posted by Jeff | Thursday, September 11, 2003, 12:13 AM | comments: 0

This evening I did a three-hour consulting gig for a small Web dev shop near me. Basically I was training one of their code monkeys on some best practices and design patterns for ASP .Net and Visual Studio .Net. It was kind of cool because he's well versed in Java, so teaching him the ins and outs of .Net was relatively painless, just a matter or applying the concepts to Web applications.

I don't charge this company a lot of money for consulting because they aren't giving me difficult work and they do use me frequently enough. What's fun about it is that they're techie dorks and generally get excited about what they do. That makes it fun for me too, because generally I work in a day job that I don't care about that personally.

The point is that it was pretty easy work, I enjoyed it and it paid well enough that if I did it 30 hours a week every week I wouldn't need a day job. Maybe consulting isn't a bad thing.

Of course, if people would spread the word about CampusFish, that would be fine too. :)


People are so inconsiderate

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, September 9, 2003, 2:29 PM | comments: 1

So for lunch I went to a nearby county park. You know, to get away from stuff and some fresh air. So I'm sitting there in my car when this crack whore pulls up next to me in a giant SUV, reclines the seat, and takes a nap.

Now honestly, does she need air conditioning when it's 74 degrees and she's in the shade? And furthermore, could she even possibly realize how fucking inconsiderate it is to the people parked next to her now sucking her exhaust fumes?

Of course not, because she's so fucking important and she has a big SUV.


A good start to CampusFish

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, September 9, 2003, 12:55 PM | comments: 0

Well, so far so good. We've got a nice little start-up core of users on the site and so far everything seems to be working pretty well. I've already been given a couple of good suggestions I'm pretty sure I'll implement soon.

What I'm still not sold on is the look. The brick thing is OK, but the site needs just a little more color. I think I'll do something different with the right-hand navigation, just not sure what.

I'm really thrilled with the performance overall. This isn't the most complex site ever built, but the performance tweaks are pretty serious.


Feeling good about stuff

posted by Jeff | Friday, September 5, 2003, 11:29 AM | comments: 1

I realized on the drive to work this morning, a drive that I generally loathe, that I feel pretty good about life. I'm starting to feel passionate about stuff again. I haven't felt that way in awhile.

It's not that I've felt particularly bad or anything. Stressed out about stupid shit, yes, but not feeling bad exactly. There's a part of me that is kind of resurfacing. It's the part about taking on the world and enjoying the possibility that I can make it my bitch. I'm starting to care about things.

I think in part it comes from all of the people going back or going off to college. Stephanie is of course a grad student, and when she talks about going to campus (John Carroll, not CSU), combined with the cool fall weather, it reminds me of how I used to feel about it. To add to that feeling, I have all of these former volleyball kids and young friends who are going off to school.

In a way it's kind of disturbing, because I remember seeing 30 and 40-somethings when I was in school just totally beaten down without dreams or drive, and I promised myself I'd never get like that. I'm not quite that bad, but I think I've suffered from a little indifference the last couple of years. That's no good.

I feel good about a lot of things right now. My marriage, my technical achievements, this site, my overall position in life thus far. There are some things I need to work on, like not eating like an asshole, but the most successful people are always at least a little critical of themselves.

The thing I want to work most on right now is making time to enjoy myself. I've got my hand in a lot of projects right now, but I can't let that keep me from stopping and looking around every once in awhile. It's Ferris Bueller syndrome.

"Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."


Evanescence: My latest drive CD

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, September 3, 2003, 10:50 PM | comments: 0

I picked up the Evanescense album yesterday, a little apprehensive, but figured I'd give it a shot. When "Bring Me To Life" came out I got the wrong impression entirely. Part of the reason is that it was on our local "extreme radio" station, which made me assume it was just your typical dick rock with a guest female singer. Turns out it was the opposite.

I know it's terrible, but having an attractive woman as the front for your band helps sell records. Having one that sounds like a creepy dark version of Sarah McLachlan is even better. She's a hot gothic princess who can sing. Combine that with angry guitar and some of that ethereal and epic sounding stuff and you're headed in the right direction.

Overall I really like the album, probably 8 of the 11 tracks, which to me qualifies it as a good album. It'll probably stay in my car for awhile. My biggest criticism is that I think they need to push the sound just a little harder. I think to do that, they need just the right producer. In their bios and interviews they say they like that "ethereal and epic" sound, I just think they need a little guidance to round it out.

Tonight I saw them "live" on MTV's Live at The Hard Rock, and I was a little disappointed. Amy Lee, the vocalist, has the pipes, but they're not well trained yet. I don't hold it against her... she's 20 and suddenly a rock star. I think with a little time and discipline she'll be really polished live. Reminds me of the time I first saw Shirley Manson and Garbage circa December 1995, where she lacked the confidence and vocal consistancy she has now.

Wow, I sound like such a music critic! I hate music snobs and I don't want to be one, but I think the more you listen to over time the more you're able to put a finger on what you like or don't like.


Fulfillment probably won't come from your job

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, September 2, 2003, 6:03 PM | comments: 0

There was an interesting story on ABCnews.com today about "quarterlifers" and their need for fulfillment, or lack thereof, from their job. Wow, can I relate.

In a nutshell, studies show that people my age are pretty much not getting anything out of their jobs aside from a paycheck. I'm sure that a lot of people, especially if they're older, would generally write this off as a shitty work ethic, but I think that's nonsense. My generation has been making great strides at repairing the shit left behind by previous generations.

I think the problem is a bigger one, one that is very much American culture at its most ridiculous. Take the Japanese, for example. Here's a culture known for their incredible work ethic, yet they take off twice as much time as we do (or in the case of my cheap-ass employer, four times as much). Are the Japanese slackers? They've managed to slack their way to the top of sales charts in all kinds of areas here, including auto sales.

Then there's the crap the kids have been fed since birth for decades. They teach you in school that there are all of these fabulous careers to choose from (generally neglecting to mention the less glamourous jobs) and that someday you'll get one too. You'll go to college, learn something important, then use those skills to get a good job. Ha! What a sack of shit that is.

Look at my history... I went to college for radio/TV, even double majored in journalism, and I'm a code monkey. Not that I'm complaining... I love to write code and it sure pays better. I'm just illustrating that nothing works out quite like they say it does.

I'm all about mastering your own destiny. I can't stand people who bitch and moan just to do so. Irritates me like a rash. Having a healthy dose of perspective is important in life, because things are almost never as bad as you think.

My issue comes with the fact that we're so driven into this work-paycheck-grind model that we're going to miss something, and not realize it until it's too late. I like what I do, but when I get home, I can't say that I did something important or that I believe in what I did. To me, that's as important as getting the cash, and it's the part most absent.

It's not impossible to find those jobs, I'm sure. I've had jobs where I really believed in what I was doing (though some of those were spoiled by stupid people I had to work with). The road I've been going down leads me to believe more and more that working for myself is the only answer.

Now if I could just ask the right questions...