Archive: October, 2006

Just watched United 93

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, October 31, 2006, 10:03 PM | comments: 3

I figured it was time to watch United 93. I know there was a lot of debate over whether or not 9/11 films are right or if the intention is pure or whatever. But at the end of the day, it happened, and it's important to tell the stories of that day.

The movie is allegedly fairly accurate as far as the stuff on the ground, while the stuff on the actual flight is at least somewhat fictionalized since we can't know exactly what happened. The families of the victims were all connected with the film, which certainly gave it some legitimacy. In fact, if you watch the special features, a lot of them wanted the film to be made.

The chaos on the ground, at the FAA and the military, is to me the most scary thing about the events of that day. It's amazing that the communication between agencies was so bad.

It's weird how you know how it ends, yet you want so much for the passengers to take back the plane. On one hand you're pissed off that they didn't survive, but on the flip side, you're glad they kept the plane from reaching its destination.

When I look back at that day, I'm proud of who we were, as a nation in those following weeks. But I hate what we've become since. The division, the intolerance or different beliefs, the willingness to accept limitations in our freedom, the blind unquestioning acceptance of everything that comes out of politicians' mouths. I wish we could do better.

The worst thing that happened to me that day is that I would lose my job. I think I got a good deal compared to a lot of people.


Anxiety issues

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, October 31, 2006, 1:36 PM | comments: 2

I managed to get through the urge to buy stuff I don't need last week (agitated by Neuski wanting to buy something ;)). That's the problem with this time of year. When I'm shut in and the weather blows, I want to buy stuff to temporarily fill the void created by having fewer opportunities to breathe fresh air and hang out with people. I suppose last weekend helped with that.

My strange arrhythmia is still there, but not so pronounced. It even seems to go away when I'm totally relaxed. But right now, particularly after a meeting this morning, I'm all jacked up now and anxious, so it's back. I hope to God the doctor is going to tell me tomorrow that it's just anxiety related. Can I have some Prozac? Thank you!

Orlando can't come soon enough. Honestly I don't even care that much about the theme parks as much as I just look forward to warm weather, nice accommodations and sipping girlie drinks by the pool.

I wish I could put my finger on where all of this anxiety came from. Honestly, most of the summer I've felt more relaxed than I have in years. I feel like I found my "zen place" and was able to reside there most of the time. Now I feel like I'm missing something, or there's something I need to worry about or whatever. Perhaps I picked a poor time to stop seeing my therapist!

It's funny, because I look back at blog posts from previous years and sometimes I don't even recognize the person that wrote them. I'm not saying that's good or bad, just different. The way people change, frequently and drastically, makes it really hard to stay on target to be who you want to be, let alone who you want to be with. Scary stuff!


Another reason Ed Markey is a moron

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, October 31, 2006, 12:17 PM | comments: 0

Instead of calling out the TSA for their pointless and ineffective security measures, Ed Markey wanted a guy pointing out said deficiencies to be arrested.

http://www.boingboing.net/2006/10/27/fake_boarding_pass_g.html

What an idiot. I swear if he'd spend a little time trying to fix real problems and not chase down critics of real problems, maybe he'd get something done.


Something isn't right

posted by Jeff | Monday, October 30, 2006, 10:38 AM | comments: 3

This weekend was tainted. Aside from formerly being my anniversary, and that bringing me down, I got a bullshit speeding ticket getting off SR 2 near Cedar Point. It was bullshit because I was behind other cars, and I know I wasn't going 76 in a 65, especially not when I'm slowing down to exit.

The weather was super shitty too on Saturday, though we did make the most of it. In fact, we had some good times.

Then on Sunday, in the middle of a Magnum ride, something wasn't right. My heart started beating out of my chest. You know that feeling when you're nervous or anxious and you can feel your own heartbeat, well it was that. But it didn't go away.

It's not as bad today, but naturally I'm a little concerned. Reading up on the subject, it certainly could be heart disease, but there aren't any of the other typical symptoms. When there aren't other symptoms, the online literature suggests anxiety-related things. Honestly, I hope that's all it is.

I was able to get in to see a Cleveland Clinic affiliated doctor (hey, if your insurance covers it, go for the best) Wednesday morning, and I'm having a general diagnostic since I haven't seen a doctor in probably 12 years. Lots of issues there from childhood doctors (I had to see a lot of doctors).


Second best on Digg

posted by Jeff | Friday, October 27, 2006, 12:13 AM | comments: 1

So I don't have the top story of the day on Digg (mine was second), but how can you compete with this?

http://www.collegehumor.com/video:1715915


Regaining enthusiasm for my stuff

posted by Jeff | Thursday, October 26, 2006, 10:47 PM | comments: 0

I have to admit that my interest in maintaining my Web sites really waned a bit during the time I was writing my book in 2004. Then last year, amidst the separation, coaching and other pursuits, I still wasn't that interested. I never stopped keeping up with news and such, but I didn't feel inclined to re-do things.

Working a full-time job this year has not only helped me move toward something of a more stable financial state, but also put me in the middle of smart people. That was the biggest reason I didn't want to do consulting stuff, no one to learn from. While the work doesn't apply much to something like CoasterBuzz, combined with all of the exciting things going on with Web apps lately, it's inspiring to do something new.

And the time is right too. The audience is pretty solid and trouble-free. I remember the early years where people would do something violating our terms and get banned, then tell everyone on every other site about how we censored their opinions (because you know, I really give a shit if you don't like some park in the middle of North Dakota, and I'll ban you for it). I used to take offense to that in 2002, probably because I was unemployed and not in the world of contracting joy yet.

The audience is so consistent as well. There is still some growth, but I think overall it has leveled off. I can accept that the market is only so big, and being at the top of it is nice. It's funding my HD toys at least, and I'm thankful for that.

Where I really feel most obligated is with the club members though. There's a group that's very loyal, with an amazingly high retention rate. I think if I gave them something more compelling, they'd recommend to friends and the club could really be a lot bigger. ACE manages to have thousands of members with virtually no value proposition, so certainly that's something to think about.

I've been doing it now for almost seven years, or almost nine if you count Guide To The Point/PointBuzz. That's crazy. It doesn't seem like that big of a part in my life, but it's crazy to think about the longevity. I never guessed I would've been doing it for so long.


More Netflix moments

posted by Jeff | Thursday, October 26, 2006, 7:26 PM | comments: 3

If you like movies, or rather find yourself addicted to them like me, then Netflix is good for getting your fix. I buy a lot of DVD's, but generally only those that I'm pretty sure I'll like. So I miss a lot otherwise, and that's where Netflix helps.

Tonight I watched Blue Crush. I love Hawaii, and Kate Bosworth is hot (except when they mapped her face on to some random surfer). Never would have pegged her for Lois Lane in Superman if I saw this one first. I'm a sucker for sappy sports movies too, which this kind of is. The character development is kinda weak, but there's a lot of nice cinemaphotography around Oahu.

Red Eye was pretty good. Rachel McAdams as an action star? Who knew. Good departure for Wes Craven too.

The Notebook was super sappy, and only an above average love story because of the subplot that happens in the present. The special features are funny because of all the chicks that say they can't believe a guy wrote it. As if we're emotionally crippled because we have a penis.

Oceans Twelve was somewhat unremarkable, but I do want to see the original remake (if that makes sense) just to see the Bellagio. I only saw bits and pieces when we had free HBO one week.

Over The Hedge came out on DVD recently, and you should buy it. Very hilarious.


37signals on Apple

posted by Jeff | Thursday, October 26, 2006, 1:13 PM | comments: 1

I know that this will annoy some people, but here's a video of the 37signals guys kissing Apple's ass:

http://www.apple.com/education/whymac/compsci/video.html

Forget about the content... look at the office. It's reflective of their Web apps. It's sparse, functional and simple.

I'll admit that I'm sick of hearing about these guys, but why am I so drawn to what they have to say? Why did I buy the Getting Real e-book? Sometimes I'm annoyed at myself for being into their world.

I think to answer this obsession question, we have to look at the two sides to the life of a developer. On the user side, simple is better in most cases. Who uses more than a fraction of the features in Word, right? I just want to write a damn letter! So the fact that Backpack or Ta-DaList does something fundamental in a fundamental way allows me to "just do it." You can't beat that appeal.

From the programmer view, they do what many of us only dream about. They build stuff quickly, it works, it delivers, it generates income for a company that consists of less than a dozen people and we're jealous. How hilarious is it that we all want to build The Next Big Thing and have it used by giant companies (or have your company bought by said companies), and these guys build something simple for the millions of small customers that don't buy products from IBM or Oracle.

I hate those guys because I'm not them!


Front page Digg

posted by Jeff | Thursday, October 26, 2006, 12:09 PM | comments: 4

I finally got a story to the front page of Digg. Look at me go! :)

http://www.digg.com/programming/37signals_shows_how_ridiculous_it_is_to_install_something_in_Windows_Vista


Camera looks

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, October 25, 2006, 3:37 PM | comments: 5

This is a repost from a comment I made on Tyler's blog, but anyway...

I've been looking at cameras. I need to replace my long zoom for my SLR (Canon 10D) because of a soda accident at Medieval Times years ago.

I realize that my biggest objection to non-SLR's is the lack of control. But the Canon A-series of cameras can do things like aperture and shutter priority, which is what I really want. They're a little bigger than the Elph series (I have an aging S400), because they use AA batteries, but I still like the idea of the control. Right now to force a shot at a reasonable shutter speed in dark situations, I have to cover up the flash to make it shoot.

The low end, 6mp model is under $200. :)


Party grill

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, October 25, 2006, 1:28 PM | comments: 2

I just picked up an ultra portable party grill from Target.

I can't wait to use it!


Therapeutic music

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, October 24, 2006, 10:09 PM | comments: 6

I don't know how people get through their day without music. It serves so many purposes for me.

I do remember a time in college where music allowed me to wallow in my own misery. Thank God I got over that. I made a mix tape with some of the most depressing songs I had. It's a wonder I didn't off myself or something.

I remember in 2004 when I was driving the long and horrible drive to Progressive, I bought Dido's Life For Rent. I read something about how she couldn't even get through "White Flag" without crying a little, and thought, wow, that's amazing. You could hear it in her voice.

But as much as that was a break-up album, it ended with a song called "See the Sun." The big line that always stood out to me was in the bridge:

Do you remember telling me you found the sweetest thing of all
You said one day of this was worth dying for
So be thankful you knew her at all
But it's no more

I had no idea at the time how useful that song would be to me some time later. That album still makes me smile. It's really quite an achievement. I snagged a live version on iTunes tonight.

Liz Phair's Somebody's Miracle last year was a little darker, but also a great sympathetic album to a more general set of woes. It's more of a, "I'm plugging away and doing the best I can" kind of thing, which lends a lot of perspective.

Some of the live Blue Man Group stuff, including the "Baba O'Riley" cover I pulled off of a TV performance, motivates me because of all the drums and violin shredding. Outstanding stuff.

I think that's why I went through such a long techno/electronic phase. It's like the zillion beats per minute and percussion created a sense of urgency to get my shit together.

I can't imagine a world without music.


Another moronic Bush moment... Stay the course

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, October 24, 2006, 7:37 PM | comments: 0

I can't believe anyone still defends this guy...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qZE20lzZZF0


Reassuring myself

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, October 24, 2006, 2:51 PM | comments: 2

Was it obvious in my last post that I was trying to talk myself into being OK with my own chaos?


The myth of stability and security

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, October 24, 2006, 2:26 PM | comments: 0

You may have read some of Cath's posts about being stressed out in vet school. We had a discussion about that and other things in life, and came to the conclusion that people who seem to have stability and security in life are chasing an impossible dream.

I don't think that it's pessimistic to say that in life we can achieve periods that are less chaotic than others. I don't look at that as a glass-half-empty view. Quite the contrary. The more volatile and disruptive things are, the more likely that there are opportunities staring at you in the face.

It seems that someone teaches us early in life that leading a stable life means going to college for something clever to do the rest of your life, getting married, having 2.1 kids, a pet, a mortgage and two cars. But who really does all of that, and is truly happy? I can think of a few people who are close to something like that, but they're in their 40's and have lived a life of chaos in the mean time.

I guess my point is that the chaos is OK. My college dream was to own and program a radio station. Instead I've had a significant career change, nine full-time jobs, three lay-offs, five cars, two apartments, two mortgages, a divorce and two cats.

Despite all of that chaos, I'm happy most of the time, and wouldn't trade the experience for anything. Unless you crawl under a rock into the fetal position and cry all day, every day, you'll get along just fine. Chaos is an inevitable challenge, and somehow, most people deal with it and lead fulfilling lives.

I know a couple that lives in the illusion of stability and security. They actually do have the marriage, kids and such, but they're two of the most miserable people I know. It's not that they don't try, but I don't think it's meant to be. Maybe they do it for the kids, but I just can't imagine staying together and giving nearly two decades of your life and staying unhappy. Finding the courage to break out of that cycle is hard.

I did the same thing a couple of years ago in my job. Imagine your first time working hourly at a rate that would easily net you six figures. The company has more money than God, you don't have a lot to do and it's super flexible. The American Dream, right? I hated it. Getting out of bed was torture and everyday was a soul-sucking experience. But there it was, no chaos, only stability and security.

Eventually, I realized the price to my happiness was too great to continue, and I finally broke out of it. There was risk, and I came out of it OK in the long run, because I embraced the ensuing chaos. It was probably the first time in my life that I really had the courage to do something that radical.

I've been making it a point to check in on myself the last few months, to see if I'm getting comfortable with the myth at the expense of my happiness. Sometimes I do see that compromise, and it's still hard to react to it. Isn't it weird how it's hard to be courageous for your own benefit?


So many Blue Man shows

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, October 24, 2006, 9:58 AM | comments: 2

Lots of new dates, including Detroit, Dayton and Youngstown. Youngstown? Must be a misprint.

http://www.howtobeamegastar.com/dates.php


Weekend recap: Cancer, BooBuzz, global warming

posted by Jeff | Monday, October 23, 2006, 1:48 PM | comments: 2

I had an action-packed weekend. Many good times.

Friday night, Catherine and I went to see Michelle. A couple of weeks ago she had surgery to remove cancer from her kidney. They got it all, and felt pretty good about it. It was the most serious surgery she's had since they removed a tumor in her head when she was a teenager. She looks pretty good, much better than I expected. Getting around slow, and not able to sit up for long periods of time, but she seems to be in good spirits. We took her to Joe's Crab Shack (not impressed) and then watched Over The Hedge with her.

Saturday was BooBuzz. We had roughly a hundred people at the event, and the ERT on Dragster and Millennium Force was very "E" (almost not enough people!). Cath and I only rode The Force, but we had a blast. It got much more crowded later in the day, so we're glad we had the chance. Lunch was good, we recorded the CB Podcast, and I shot some video in the evening which I hope to cut tonight.

Sunday started out lazy, and Cath went back to Columbus to work in the afternoon. I watched The Day After Tomorrow, and I was surprised to see it was a pretty good disaster flick. Having Emmy Rossum in it didn't hurt either (from the movie version of Phantom of The Opera). The "science" is very loosely based on real climatology. The idea is that melting arctic glaciers dump fresh water into the North Atlantic which changes its composition and shuts down the "conveyor belt" that pulls warm water from the equator and send cold water back. This would hurt the temperature regulation and cause a huge freeze in the Northern Hemisphere. But instead of taking decades or a century, it happens in one week for Hollywood.


Kittie prison

posted by Jeff | Friday, October 20, 2006, 12:40 PM | comments: 1


Late night coding

posted by Jeff | Friday, October 20, 2006, 2:04 AM | comments: 0

I'm gonna regret this in the morning, but I couldn't sleep when I tried to go to bed two hours ago. So I sat down at the computer and pecked out a few hundred lines of code. I'm in such a groove. For the lack of progress on anything I want to do lately, I'll take the risk. I was inspired by throwing out a road block I recently bitched about on my tech blog.


Luna's thyroid disease

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, October 18, 2006, 2:28 PM | comments: 2

The vet called me again with further results from Luna's blood work. Her thyroid is off the charts hyperactive, and it offers a convenient reason for all of her symptoms. While it sucks that she has thyroid disease, at least we know now what we're dealing with.

There are two treatment options. The first is to give her medication the rest of her life, either by pill or gel in her ear. That will regulate her thyroid, but it's not a cure. The second option is the injection of radioactive iodine, which kills the bad tissue in the thyroid and gives her radioactive poop for a week (she would have to stay isolated). In theory at least, the cure rate is very high. It's about a grand to perform the procedure.

The doc still wants to do an ultrasound of her heart, because of the serious murmur she has. The thyroid problem could quite possibly be aggravating everything the heart issues, and her IBD. It's certainly causing her to eat like a pig and throw up.

So overall it sucks that she has thyroid disease, but at least now we know what to treat.


Sony Bravia ad

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, October 18, 2006, 10:29 AM | comments: 2

This is visually one of the most interesting things I've seen in awhile...

http://www.bravia-advert.com/paint/thead/full/


Thinking of Las Vegas

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, October 17, 2006, 8:15 PM | comments: 2

You know, it's weird, but I was thinking a lot about Las Vegas today. I'm not sure why, except that of course I had an amazing time on both visits this year.

I suppose a part of it is that it's so not for real, and I stayed in some rather luxurious places. All of the excess that goes with Las Vegas really gives you a break from real life, because it's so over the top. I guess a part of me is looking for a break from real life. Fortunately I've got a few of those in the future.

More than anything, I think the entrepreneur in me wonders how I could get some of that money. An ad agency contacted me once about buying ads on CoasterBuzz, but in the end it would've been too small of a buy to bother. Imagine if I had something bigger to play with. With 36 million people visiting every year, I'd like to think there's a market there for something.

And hey, everybody's a winner at Caesars Palace.


Please don't be depression

posted by Jeff | Monday, October 16, 2006, 11:05 PM | comments: 0

Out of nowhere, I feel like it's creeping up on me. I don't like it. I know what it is, it's depression, and it's brought on by fall.

Which is weird, because generally speaking, most of the best moments of my life have happened in the fall. But it's almost like this impending doom with the holidays on the horizon. What's the deal with that?

Tonight I turned on the fire place and buried myself under a blanket and caught up on DVR'd Boston Legal episodes. It's less fun watching TV by yourself. That's probably where some of the yucky feelings come from. Being alone sucks when it's cold. Thank God for weekends.

What sucks the most is that I don't feel like I can control it. There are certain obvious aspects of my life that get me down, but I can't just kick myself in the nuts and get over it. That's really frustrating.

Well, as I told Catherine, closing weekend festivities are now less than two weeks away, Blue Man is about a month away, and Orlando is less than eight weeks away. Lots to look forward to, and in the mean time, I've gotta focus on meeting some of my personal goals.


My volleyball family

posted by Jeff | Monday, October 16, 2006, 1:52 PM | comments: 0

I got to see Caity play Saturday. I can't believe my prodigy is a starter in college. Her team still has issues, but I think a lot of that is the transition to having a new coach, and next year it'll be totally his show with no legacy to worry about.

It was good to see her parents too. I've honestly never had any parents that were as supportive of me as they were their daughter. That's a lot of trust to give, and I sincerely appreciate everything they did to help me help Caity be a better player. Granted, she had a good foundation from her first high school coach (who coincidentally was in my class at Ashland U.), but I had her in the years where she developed her court vision and decision making skills. So when she makes that tip/dump when she shouldn't, I take responsibility for that. ;)

I've had other players that put a lot of faith in my direction, as well as supportive parents, but Caity has gone further than the rest by way of sheer determination. She's the ultimate ideal in terms of work ethic. Had she been taller, there's no doubt she would've played for a bigger school, if that's what she wanted to do.

Our J.O. club is essentially being dissolved. Our club director didn't want to do it anymore, but instead of asking if we wanted to run the club, she essentially turned it over to some other guys. Or really, she just turned over the mailing list, because they're apparently not interested in using very many of the coaches that built the club over the last six or seven years. I just can't respect that situation, so I probably will not coach next year. I was actually thinking about taking a year off anyway, maybe to officiate, or maybe just to concentrate on my own life for awhile. Five months, three or four times a week wears on you a bit!

The last J.O. season took a lot out of me. The kids just didn't care about working harder or being better players. That's a tough situation when you see all of that potential staring you in the face. It was that much harder after my Elms team last fall, which started out way behind but came out way ahead because of their superior work ethic and willingness to learn. That season was, quite possibly, the high point of all of my coaching experience. I'll never forget that team.

So with my life generally in upheaval for a lot of reasons, I think I'm going to take a year off. I'll stay in touch with people, players and parents and try to keep a toe in the water. Then after that, depending on the when and where, I'll find another club or perhaps even start a new one.


Luna isn't well lately

posted by Jeff | Friday, October 13, 2006, 10:49 AM | comments: 2

Several years ago, it was diagnosed that Luna, my cat, did not have very long to live and had an enlarged heart. We'd also learn that she has the feline equivalent of irritable bowel disorder. She was informally diagnosed as being obsessive-compulsive too, and to this day she'll scratch so hard she causes a scab, and lately will eat or groom until she's so full of food or hair that it has to come back.

She was actually doing pretty well most of the last year or so, with her barfing episodes infrequent and short. Now in the last two weeks or so the frequency has increased, though the length is still pretty short.

I struggle with this. She's really a little crazy, but she's very friendly, and seems to be pretty happy most of the time. When I look back through my blog I can see that she's had periods of time where she was not well, and she always seems to bounce back.

One thing that came up recently with Catherine (you know the professors already call them "doctor" even though they're first year?), is that animals can't tell you when and where it hurts. The whole ethical dilemma about when you put an animal down is so blurry because of this. Is it selfish to put an animal down because you can't deal with them or because you want to keep them alive and suffering? There's no way to tell for sure.

The fact that she'll chase Cosmo (the cat) around an hour after throwing up leads me to believe that she's not suffering. She's an enormous burden and has caused in the neighborhood of $8k in damage to the house (because all of the carpet needs to be replaced), but I love her to death. I'm pleased that she's quickly gained weight too after losing a bit last summer. It's just that in the last week or so she seems to have taken a step back.

So having impressive veterinary resources at my disposal, we'll see if we can't treat the IBD so that her attacks are less frequent. Some kind of steroid therapy is one of the options, but as was the case a few years ago, there's risk that over time it may not have much effect.

I can't believe she'll be five years old in a few months. She wasn't supposed to see two.


Busy, with no break in sight

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, October 11, 2006, 1:23 AM | comments: 2

I'm so tired, and I intended to be in bed by now. I'm looking at my calendar and see that there is something going on like every weekend for the next two months. No opportunity to just sit around and pick my butt. I hate that.

And because I know Catherine reads this, I should make it clear that butt picking can be at home or in Columbus. The place isn't really the issue! But this weekend I have to (or rather would feel super shitty if I didn't) see my favorite volleyball player of all time play as a starting setter, the weekend after that is BooBuzz, the weekend after that is closing weekend.

I can't even imagine what Catherine is going through with all of the extracurriculars on top of vet school!


Southpark Warcraft

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, October 10, 2006, 1:16 PM | comments: 4

"I am socializing artard. I'm logged on to a MMORPG with people from all over the world and getting XP with my party using team speak."

-Stan


Going to Blue Man again!

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, October 10, 2006, 12:09 AM | comments: 4

My life continues to amaze me. Catherine told her mom all about the Blue Man show, and her mom said that she has been interested in them for some time. So Cath found a flight for a hundred fifty bucks and said we need to get tickets for the Columbus show for us and her mom!

I'm convinced that Blue Man will one day bring us world peace. Only good comes out of the Blue Man experience.


Fall at the park

posted by Jeff | Monday, October 9, 2006, 4:37 PM | comments: 0


Best Show Ever

posted by Jeff | Sunday, October 8, 2006, 5:39 PM | comments: 4

I've been to more concerts than I could list. Seriously, I don't even remember all of them at this point. But I can tell you that last night's Blue Man Group show at The Q in Cleveland was the best I've ever been to.

Catherine was blown away, and that's saying a lot because I think her musical standards are a lot higher than mine. We agreed that the show blows away what they do in their stage shows. Kara loved it too, and since she has been obsessing over The Complex for the last year, I should hope so!

Tracy Bonham opened, and she delivered. I was relieved when I heard she was on the tour because she really made The Complex (the DVD anyway) feel more legitimate. She knows how to capture a crowd's attention and keep it (not hard when you say "Go Cavs" in The Q). She did most of her set by herself, using a sampler to play then loop her own stuff. She plays guitar and of course the violin, and she does both well. A few members of the band, or at least their shadows, joined her on a few songs.

She did the three songs I was hoping for, including "Mother Mother" from 1997ish, as well as "Naked" and "Shine" from her album last year (my two favorites). I love "Shine" because it's one of those songs that you want to play for people that don't realize their value to the world. Makes you feel good about people and what they have to offer.

The Blue Man set was largely The Complex, with the expected covers. The totally new thing they added was Pink Floyd's "One Of These Days," and it was absolutely insane. The bass line came from the tubes, and it absolutely rocked. They worked a gimmick into the song about over-zealous guitar solos, and with one of the greatest lighting moments really realized all of the visual potential that goes with such a great, classic rocker.

There were several blow me away moments, the first being "I Feel Love," which went just fine with Tracy on vocals in the 40-pound lighted dress. The crowd was not nearly as into it as I expected, but they were lame most of the show (only empty seats were in the nose bleeds).

"Exhibit 13" was very moving, and it gave me goose bumps to hear/see it live. Baba O'Riley was easily the high point in terms of energy, from the sheer speed of the drumming to the way Tracy shred the violin. Totally amazing.

If they come to your town, you need to go see them.

Here are just a few photos.


The hella whack shiznit that happens inside your brizzle

posted by Jeff | Friday, October 6, 2006, 1:08 PM | comments: 6

Barely a day away...


TV stand

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, October 4, 2006, 11:01 PM | comments: 12

I need a TV stand with shelves for a couple of components. Sadly, none of them meet my needs because none of them are deep enough. What should I do, build my own?


V for Vendetta

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, October 4, 2006, 10:52 PM | comments: 23

I finally got around to seeing the movie, and I have to say, I was fairly impressed. Let me go on record as saying that I think the Wachowski brothers are largely full of shit (and themselves), and that while the first Matrix was cool, the second and third parts smelled like fund raisers. In fact, Assassins I thought was better than the Matrix nonsense in terms of delivering an entertaining story.

Anyway, V is a fairly strong indictment of our politics. In fact, it shows a future where the United States is in civil war and decay, and the UK is a fascist police state. The power of the "high chancellor" was gained by the propagation of fear, the fear of war, terrorism and disease. You know, the stuff on the news every night.

It asks the important question about what you're willing to give up in the name of perceived safety from perceived danger. In US terms, it has been the driving force behind our president's policy for the last five years. It seems that we as a nation have become willing to sacrifice some of our civil liberties and, sadly, our soldiers, to give ourselves some comfort in thinking we're more safe than we were before. Worse yet, the politicians can simply stand up and say, "Look, we stopped bad things. Bad things we can't tell you about."

There is a growing side effect of all of this "protection" we're offered, and I think the film tries to illustrate how these things tie together. We're becoming a nation intolerant of anyone not considered part of the status quo, whether it be immigrants, homosexuals or non-Christians. It's really quite scary to me, and far more scary than Islamic extremists on the other side of the planet. The movie shows what happens when those sentiments go too far.

It also poses a question about what a terrorist really is. We've all heard the expression that one man's terrorist is another's freedom fighter. I've said since 9/11 that we still concentrate too much on the "how" that enables terrorists and not on the "why," to understand the reasons people would want to commit terrorist acts. I can already see in the coming elections that people aren't buying "because they hate freedom" anymore.

The main character is a nasty guy who blows shit up. He does so because he was wronged, and he sees others being wronged. If anyone sees enough of that, they're driven to fanaticism. I found that the character's actions were often misguided, even a little sick, but his motivation was pretty clear. He was a product of his environment.

The big moral question I walk away with is whether or not you are justified in your actions because of what has happened to you. It's easy to categorize war, terrorism and violence into good and bad, justified and indefensible, but I think the reality is that it all depends on where you're sitting. The thing I suspect a lot of people struggle with is that it's too hard to see from that other position, myself included.

Lots to think about in that movie. Go see it.


Hibernation mode

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, October 3, 2006, 5:26 PM | comments: 1

The real drag about living in this part of the country is that this weather makes you want to hibernate and shut down. I'm not experiencing any typical SAD kind of depression, but I'm just tired and wanna nap.

I decided this week that there's no point in trying to pressure myself into getting work done at home. I'll clean up the dump before I have people over this weekend, but development work can wait. I'm still feeling out and playing with the power of my new comprooder anyway, so I lack focus.

I may bust out the grill tonight and make myself a little something. Maybe my world-famous burritos.


Jet survives mid-air crash

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, October 3, 2006, 10:52 AM | comments: 2

This is a pretty amazing story. Crazy that two planes could collide in the middle of nowhere, and the small one lands with its passengers unharmed. Yet the 737 crashed and killed everyone on board.

New York Times


A new computer takes some time to get right

posted by Jeff | Monday, October 2, 2006, 9:25 PM | comments: 8

As much as I've always loved getting some shiny new hardware to play with, I have to admit that the transition to the new computer is always a something that takes more time than you like. It takes even more time when you're changing platforms entirely.

But in this case, I guess it hasn't been all that painful. I moved all of my iTunes library, which was super easy because of the awesome backup features in iTunes 7. They actually work between platforms. I also moved all of my photos over so I can use iPhoto. Since I had no real solution in the first place on Windows, this was a lot of fun and I made a bunch of new albums. I can't believe I've collected some 3,600 photos since early 2003, when I finally went to having a digital SLR. It should be pretty easy to make dupes for Stephanie too.

Aside from all of my development stuff, the only two Windows programs I need to use are Microsoft Money '97 (don't laugh, it still does exactly what I need) and Quickbooks '99. I'll just install those in Parallels.

The only real question mark I still have is with regards to my backup scheme. I've been using IBackup for years, and with one account I can backup my desktop automatically and my Web server. Now I'm not sure how I'm going to handle that. There are plenty of Mac-centric services that also do this, the cheapest actually being .Mac, but I don't want to pay for another service on top of IBackup if I don't have to. I could use IBackup in Parallels to get stuff from my shared OS X folder, but that feels dirty. At a little over eight bucks a month, I might as well just bite the bullet and get .Mac, and enjoy the doc sync to my MacBook Pro.

Overall though, so far I'm really pleased with all things Mac. I'm planning to do a little HD video experimentation on the nuclear machine later this week or next, and I'm anxious to see just how fast four Xeon cores will crush H.264.


Holiday World - 9/30/2006

posted by Jeff | Monday, October 2, 2006, 2:42 PM | comments: 2

I wasn't sure I'd make it to Holiday World this year, even though they opened The Voyage. It seems like every weekend I've been doing something or going somewhere, and I just wouldn't have time.

But oddly enough, I started dating someone in the spring who had never been on a roller coaster, and now wants to ride as many as she can. Weird how that goes. And since Catherine lives in Columbus now, that takes off almost two hours of drive time. She really wanted to go, and I had a favor coming at the park.

So we packed up the dog and drove down Friday night to the Comfort Inn at I-64. I've stayed there before, and it's exceptionally clean and well run. This time was no different. We went to Santa's Lodge for dinner, and they had a buffet with chemical potatoes and cold chicken fingers. Should've probably just had Wendy's but now we know.

We headed out in the morning and arrived at the park around 9:30 a.m. under a slight drizzle.

First off, puppy prison, er, doggie daycare, is very nice and clean. It's $5 to put your pooch outside, $10 to put the dog inside. Cosmo is a Boston Terrier, and doesn't hold heat very well, so we put her inside. I think Cath was put at ease by just how nice everyone was, from guest services to the ticket takers.

When 10 rolled around, we made our way back toward 4th of July and down toward Thanksgiving to ride The Voyage. Kara and Matt were also there. When we arrived at the station, one or two trains had gone out (well, it was one train, but cycled a few times). I was surprised at how long it took for the train to come back. This is a very, very long ride. We took the front seats, the Michigan dorks took the back.

The Voyage does what few rides do well. It tosses you up, then changes direction. It does this a lot, and it's a pretty amazing feeling. It does this perfectly probably a dozen times. The first few hills are Timbers-esque, and then in the turn around it gets really crazy.

I remember thinking that it went pretty slow through the mid-course, but figured I'd revise that opinion later in the day when it was warmed up. Even with the relatively slow speed at the mid-course, it never lets go after that. The Gravity Group had a lot to work with on that long descent back to the station, and they did not disappoint in any way at all. I was blown away. More on the ride later.

We walked on to Gobbler Getaway for some dark ride fun. Grandma's poor cat in the queue looked like he had a raw spot from all of the rubbing. Poor thing. The queue is absolutely beautiful, and indeed the whole ride has far more style than you'd expect for a park this size. It's world-class, even, and an indicator that the "little" park in Santa Claus isn't really that little anymore.

We rode The Legend, which was uncharacteristically slow (an opinion tainted by the four straight night rides I had at last year's Fall Affair), but I figured it would get faster as well with a full train. We were in the front again.

After that lap, we hit the flume since it wasn't clear if we'd have jackets on later in the day. Good times. I hope they scrub out the tunnel, because it smells moldy. We took one more spin Legend, toward the back, and this was a faster ride with a full train.

On to The Raven, which Catherine really liked. I'm really amazed at how well this ride runs even today. It seems to be so well maintained that I suspect it rides a lot like it did when it was new. Again, another front seat ride.

Around the park again, we entered the kids area to ride The Howler. I explained to Catherine that this is what enthusiasts call credit whoring. But hey, the kids love it.

We went to visit the dog, and then had a little lunch at Kringle's. Pizza is so hard to screw up, yet most parks make really bad pizza. Holiday World's is, as I expected still top notch. I got some cold curly fries on first try, but they had no problem giving me fresh replacements. Cath's salad was huge. All in all, it's still unusual to pay $10 for two people. Well done.

By this time Voyage had been running a couple of hours, so we headed back down there to ride again, this time in the back seat. I wasn't prepared for the difference in the experience.

The back seat offers most of the same sensation, only amplified. A lot. As much as I enjoyed it, I have to admit that by the time we went through the tunnel in the station, I was about ready for it to be over. My back was not feeling particularly good about the intense physicality of the ride. I wouldn't call it rough exactly, but intense doesn't quite capture it either. We got off the ride kind of slowly, and began leisurely started walking toward where ever our feet were taking us. I loved the ride, but wow... that seemed like a bit much.

We would make another round and browse the gift shops, take another lap on The Raven (still impressive to Catherine), and killed some time during a shower playing Skee-Ball. All told I spent about ten bucks so I could win a Stewie Griffin and some other junk.

I've been bugging Cath all season to ride Power Tower at Cedar Point, but she wouldn't do it. I figured Liberty Launch would be a good starter S&S tower because it's so small. Wow, did she freak out. You know how there are girl screams that are, well, just girl screams, and actual terror screams? These were terror screams. She did not like that ride.

It was still early afternoon, but we managed to ride most of the major attractions, and we planned to drive back to Columbus. We couldn't leave without another lap on The Voyage, and wanted to compare the warmed-up front to our earlier rides. I was surprised to see a fairly long line down into the midway, and they were only running one train. I hate to criticize the park, because it's Holiday World, but I don't understand why they were only running one train. The wait was a half-hour, which doesn't seem like it respects the guests' time very much. Oh well, I put up with it (and the smelly guy in front of us).

This last lap, in the front, was the lap that cemented The Voyage my favorite wood coaster, and maybe favorite coaster period. It was absolutely amazing, start to finish. And what a big finish it makes. Where most coasters get dull toward the end, I would argue that the best part of The Voyage is actually the last third of it. It does everything coaster dorks like... speed, airtime, laterals, amazing visuals... it's the whole package. When we came flying into the brakes, I knew that this was the ride that sets the new standard. Saying that I was blown away doesn't even cover it. If I could have any ride as my own private coaster, this would be the one. It was absolutely amazing.

After our final lap, we picked up Cosmo and headed back to Columbus. We stopped in Cincy at a Macaroni Grille for dinner. The lighting on PKI's Eiffel Tower was stunning. Overall, a great trip. Can't wait to ride The Voyage again next year!


Dell 30" down yet again

posted by Jeff | Monday, October 2, 2006, 1:15 PM | comments: 3

Why must they wave this nonsense in my face. The 30" Dell widescreen is down in price again, this time to $1529 with free shipping.


Still my best player ever

posted by Jeff | Monday, October 2, 2006, 10:49 AM | comments: 1

I learned today that Caity, my favorite volleyball kid ever is starting setter now for her college team as a sophomore. They're 16-2 so far.

Awesome.


The Voyage == Best Coaster Ever

posted by Jeff | Sunday, October 1, 2006, 10:27 PM | comments: 1

I'll write a TR sooner than later, hopefully.


Fanboy

posted by Jeff | Sunday, October 1, 2006, 1:39 PM | comments: 2