Archive: June, 2005

"Bleed Like Me" video posted

posted by Jeff | Thursday, June 30, 2005, 4:20 PM | comments: 1

The new video for "Bleed Like Me" from Garbage is posted here. This is, without a doubt, my favorite Garbage song ever. It's one of those rare songs that can be kind of soft and kick ass all at the same time.

And I think that Shirley Manson is actually getting cuter with age. That's weird. (OK, not that weird, because I think that about Stephanie as well.)

And in related news, my CD of that album has apparently decayed. It has drop outs in it starting with track 5. How screwed up is that? I mean, it really sounds like analog tape when you put a magnet over half of it. It's really weird. I have no idea like who to bitch to, because the record companies never post any kind of contact info.

Almost struck by lightning

posted by Jeff | Thursday, June 30, 2005, 3:57 PM | comments: 1

The sky opened up big time as I was leaving the office this afternoon. Lots of rain really fast and lightning constantly. I turned on to the main road out of the industrial park and a bolt of lightning hit a utility pole about 100 feet in front of me. I drove through the shower of sparks that rained down and the top of the pole instantly let off a ton of yellow-brown smoke.

That was crazy. I haven't seen lightning that close before.

Jessica on TWiT

posted by Jeff | Thursday, June 30, 2005, 12:01 PM | comments: 4

You former TechTV fans should check out the current This Week in Tech podcast for Jessica Corbin.

These days she's got a clothing line and doing a little TV and such. What can I say, I love the redheads. She's the reason I really got roped into TechTV back in 2001 when she was one of the people on The Screen Savers. I had the worst crush on her!

Buddy Christ

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, June 29, 2005, 12:31 PM | comments: 1

"Christ didn't come to Earth to give us the willies... He came to help us out. He was a booster!"
-Cardinal Glick, Dogma

Eating new things

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, June 29, 2005, 12:18 AM | comments: 2

I'm dropping pounds like crazy right now. I started dieting again to finish what I started in 2003. The goal is to drop my college beer trophy while I'm still young. It's the one part of my body I don't like. Normal arms and legs, and then that gut. It's not a Buddha sphere, thank God, but it needs to go away.

So using Weight Watchers Online, I'm actually getting it right this time and learning, because the point is not just to limit your intake of food, but to make good decisions that allow you to eat and feel full, but reduce the amount of calories and fat you take in. For example, you could eat a 1/4 lb. burger with cheese and blow 10 points, or you could have a vegetarian substitute, broccoli, and a baked potato for 10 points. I get 24 a day, plus 35 flex points to use during the week.

I'm a shitty eater, that's for sure. I am trying to eat more veggies though. I've also "discovered" (using quotes because Steph has been eating this shit for years) various aux chicken products that are really yummy. I've tried stuff from Boca and Morning star Farms so far (they make a kick ass spicy "chicken" and "chicken" nuggets, respectively), and looking for a good veggie burger. None of them have to taste like their meat counterpart... that's not the goal. I just want something easy to eat.

My weakness? Ben & Jerry's Organic Fudge Brownie. It's about 6 points a serving. It's hard to work into the day unless I miss breakfast, which happens now and then when I screw around in the morning.

Trying to save flex points so I can pig out on my birthday Saturday, with movie popcorn and such.

Cleveland's Terminal Tower turns 75

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, June 28, 2005, 5:17 PM | comments: 1

Cleveland is a weird city, because its downtown area is about as big, and in some cases smaller, than other cities that are overall about the same size in population. But through it all, they skyline has always been associated with the Terminal Tower, the 700-foot building on Public Square. Up until 1991, when Key Tower opened, it was the tallest building downtown. (Story from The Plain Dealer.) If you've seen the movie A Christmas Story, you've seen the building.

The name was designated in part because of all of the trains that cross through its basement. These days it's all commuter rail, but prior to the 70's you could jump on full passenger trains out of town.

It's strange, because I remember going there when I was a kid with my grandfather. Back in those days, in the late 70's, the actual terminal was largely closed. I remember going down there for I think a model train exhibit that was there, ironic since the real trains were gone. The one main hall that led to the trains had a lot of dirty marble walls and had fallen into disrepair.

A decade later, a lot of effort was put into restoring and expanding the building, and that's why we now have "The Avenue" portion, which is mostly retail and office space.

Another memory is the old Higbee portion of the building. This was the department store there, also in the above movie. I remember it being weird that every floor you went up, the escalators became more and more narrow. Even more fascinating in retrospect was that some of them were wood.

The building represents an interesting part of Cleveland's history, and it's one of the few symbols of the pre-depression era of the city that have managed to survive. The various mansions are gone, most of the industry is gone. Despite the traffic consequences, I really kind of hope they're able to close the shoreway and build new residential and retail down there. That would make downtown a very interesting place again. (Of course, by the time that happens, I don't know that I even want to be living here anymore!)

Cats in thunderstorms

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, June 28, 2005, 5:06 PM | comments: 0

You'd think that cats that grew up in Northeast Ohio would be used to thunderstorms. Apparently not. Luna is hiding under the coffee table growling. Stupid animal.

A whirlwind of spending

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, June 28, 2005, 2:14 PM | comments: 0

Generally speaking, I don't get all that wound up about money these days. Stephanie is the one that gets stressed about cash. I mean, I spent the better part of last year not working and expecting a little debt to pile up. I also expected that if I picked up contract work that it would go down.

Well, it hasn't. I've been on this project now for nearly four months, and it's almost worse than before. The reason I don't completely freak out about it though is that I can trace where it has all been going. There was the tax bill, the quarterly taxes (twice), a last-minute vacation (which was so worth it), a new laptop I had to buy, piercings, DVD's, video games, volleyball travel, etc. So the situation is really by choice.

Anyway, today I realized I had not had an oil change in about 8,000 miles. Whoops! Oh well, it's a Toyota, it can take it. The thing now has 24k miles in 16 months, which is weird because I didn't work most of last year, and I'm working mostly from home now. Finally changed the air filter, and also bought a hydraulic jack so I can rotate the tires. Never did that yet either.

Then I went grocery shopping and racked up another $70, which actually isn't so bad considering I had not bought a lot of food in three weeks. I'll make a separate entry about what I'm eating these days.

There are bright spots though. I mean, our last gas bill was all of $25. With 90 degree days, I'm sure that expense will go to electricity now. I'm starting to put in too many hours, and coaching, so there's more income now (good bye free time). I don't have quarterly tax payment for several months.

I sure hope my book is selling well... Jeff needs that Hawaii vacation!

Schwan's letting me down again

posted by Jeff | Monday, June 27, 2005, 6:16 PM | comments: 2

Schwan's is really letting me down. First, over winter they stopped carrying their spicy chicken breast. It was nearly the same thing as what they sell at Wendy's. I was pissed.

Now the ranch potato wedges have disappeared from their site. WTF? As it is I'm barely buying any meat from them these days, and now my favorite potato products are disappearing as well? Most disappointing.

"Like you, we felt that the Ranch Potato Wedges was an excellent product. Unfortunately, we could not capture the interest of enough customers who enjoyed this product as much as you did.

Due to a combination of new additions to our product line and limited space on our route trucks, we have decided to discontinue this product."

Today is a good day

posted by Jeff | Monday, June 27, 2005, 2:07 PM | comments: 0

Yep. It's a good day. A little on the warm side, but it's a good day. Thank you, for this good day.

A mother's thank you, a kid's love

posted by Jeff | Sunday, June 26, 2005, 7:50 PM | comments: 1

I went to one of my volleyball kids' graduation party this afternoon. I shouldn't say just "one of," because actually she's my favorite of all time.

I think that the relationships we have in life can be categorized into some basic types, including romantic, spouse, friendship, close friendship, parent-child, child-parent, sibling, professional, etc. Some of these relationships I think people need to have more than others. Since I don't have any kids, obviously I don't have the parent-child relationship, and the sibling relationship has been essentially gone since my brother started using drugs as a kid.

Coaching junior Olympic volleyball, you spend a lot of time with the kids, and it's typical (for me at least) to develop a strong bond with certain kids. It's weird, because it's generally a combination of the parent-child, a sibling and close friend. Those are important to me because they're the kinds of relationships I don't have the opportunity to develop otherwise.

I first coached Caity in 2003 when she was 16, playing up a year on my 17's team. I got to keep her for a second year after that. As the setter, I had to depend on her to be the foundation of the teams, and we had to have excellent communication to make sure everything was going well. Because of that role, and because she's just such a good kid, we developed that kind of relationship I described above.

And I can honestly say it's not like any others I've ever had either. It's obviously not romantic, and it's not just a simple friend or acquaintance. She has always seemed like a little sister/daughter/friend combination.

Despite having all of her friends there, she spent a lot of time talking to me. Yeah, some of it is "silly" teenager stuff, but I don't mind. She gave me a long hug and thanked me for "everything" the last few years.

Her mom caught me on the way out and thanked me for coming. She also described a school assignment Caity had to do, where she had to profile five people that had a huge influence in her life, a la the Five People You Meet In Heaven novel. Her mom told me that I was one of the five she wrote about. It took everything I had to not cry a little when she told me that.

Caity is going off to college now, not really a kid anymore but becoming a grown up. According to her mom, I made a difference in her young life. Still, I think the biggest winner is me. Knowing that I was a pivotal person in a kid's growing up is priceless to me. I have to make sure that I do the work to stay in touch with her through college, marriage, children or whatever is in her future. I'm so proud of her.

Depending on advertising sucks

posted by Jeff | Saturday, June 25, 2005, 7:16 PM | comments: 0

As June gets close to wrapping up, I was looking at my advertising revenue from my sites. It's down again. Depending on ads to sustain the business sucks. I wouldn't even care that much if I wasn't trying to eliminate this ridiculous business debt I've been carrying for years now.

It's weird, because when you watch online ad spending in general, it has been on a steady rise for a few years now. The problem is that a lot of that is attributed directly to Google AdWords (as seen on this blog). The problem with that is that it doesn't work well for the sites I run. The sites don't generate the right keywords to generate the right ads that people will click on. That's why I continue to stick to traditional CPM-based ads.

The biggest problem that I have is that the ad agencies I use, which generally specialize in niche content sites like mine, are inconsistent as hell. I don't know how any of them keep people on the payroll.

Hopefully July will be better.

Zombie dream

posted by Jeff | Saturday, June 25, 2005, 2:45 PM | comments: 0

I had a dream that most of the world was turned to zombies. I wasn't worried that I would get bitten or turned into a zombie as much as I was distressed that I'd be alone. Not a lot of interpretation necessary for that dream!

Stayed up...

posted by Jeff | Saturday, June 25, 2005, 1:38 AM | comments: 0

I napped my way through Leno to see BEP perform. Worth it. Fergie looked awesome. I so have a crush on her.

Tech driving ideas is all backward

posted by Jeff | Friday, June 24, 2005, 3:32 PM | comments: 0

I was going through the stack of "new economy" business rags I've been neglecting and reading about companies that succeed and fail. (Oh, and I know "new economy" is a stupid thing to call them since, uh, 2000, but what I'm getting at is that they're not Business Week or The Wall Street Journal.) I usually get pretty fired up when I read these and I want to do something awesome.

The business I've been running the past five or six years has been about 90% Internet content related. It has only been profitable (though still debt-laden) for about two years. The thing that comes to mind is the urge to jump-start revenue with something new and exciting.

But I see myself falling into the same trap that most technology related self-starters seem to fall into... What can I do with the technology?

That's not right. The tech can't drive the idea, the idea has to drive the tech. We frequently get caught up in software, platforms and products. Certainly these things can inspire us to create something, but they shouldn't dictate how we develop an idea.

I look at the kind of community sites I run, and I feel I've got it backward. I consider rewriting my forum software to take advantage of the next version of the platform, and never stop to ask myself why I'm doing it. Instead of spending time thinking about what I can build, I should be searching for the ideas that make that community a better idea, and use the technology available to me to support the idea.

Some day I'll figure it out.

Where does sport fit?

posted by Jeff | Friday, June 24, 2005, 2:02 AM | comments: 0

Between watching the finals, a club meeting yesterday and the potential for me to coach high school volleyball this fall, it made me think about where sport really fits in my life.

Truth be told, I was never good at anything when I was in high school. We had a club volleyball team (it's still not a varsity sport in Ohio), but I got cut both years we had it. Despite my weird pool of friends in high school, ranging from the alt kids, who were practically anti-sports, to cheerleaders, I was always drawn to sports and worked for the athletic department doing score boards, announcing, video, or whatever they would pay me for.

By the time I got to college, I had watched enough volleyball that I finally understood the mechanics of the skills. It wasn't that I was uncoordinated, I just never processed the skills in my mind enough to mimic them. I played club ball for two years.

When I was working for a local city and school district, I had my first shot at coaching, starting with freshmen. I did that two years, and after a break of a couple of years, returned to coaching junior Olympic ball. Five years down with that already. Now as a coach I've got skills. Teach it enough and you can do it better than the people you're teaching.

So why do I do it? Why do I get involved with this? I think the biggest reason is that there's always a certain amount of hope that you'll be a part of something extraordinary. That can apply at so many different levels, ranging from something as simple as one well-executed play up through some kind of championship. Those feelings of accomplishment, shared with other people, are high in my "feeds the soul" list.

The secondary reason, or maybe primary these days, is that the paternal parts of my personality need to coach. I get to help kids develop as human beings. It goes so far beyond the sport itself. There's nothing more gratifying than a kid thanking you for helping them out.

Sports aren't for everyone, and that's OK. The things I get out of it can be found in other things in life. But for me, I can't imagine life without it.

Spurs win, but a classic series

posted by Jeff | Friday, June 24, 2005, 1:02 AM | comments: 0

Detroit managed to blow a 9-point lead in the third quarter, and then just choked in the end. Still, it was the most interesting NBA final series I've seen.

Neither team had what I'd call real super stars, both played intense defense, both had coaches and players with real heart and love for the game. Really, it was good stuff. I hope this is the turn around for the NBA that it so desperately needs to recapture the good old days of the late 80's.

I want to buy something!

posted by Jeff | Thursday, June 23, 2005, 12:23 PM | comments: 3

You ever get the strong urge to buy something? I know you've been there, where you buy something cool and get it home, and it smells like something new and you're really excited. I've got that horrible urge right now.

It's horrible because I need to be putting the smack down on our debt. It's horrible because there is so much I should be doing, like working enough to bill more hours and pay off said debt. I have my own software projects to work on, and they've been suffering from neglect for months (which isn't my fault exactly, I have been busy with the contract job). I have three months of Business 2.0 and Wired to read. I have a screenplay about something to write.

But for the record, here's what I'd buy if I could...

-A Pocket PC, probably a Dell. The Dell models are so cool because they're inexpensive, have CF slots (great for photo jerks like me), and Wi-Fi. Top model could be had for $400 when on sale.

-A Panasonic AG-DVX100A. This is the indie film nut's camera. It can shoot at 24p, which to normal people means it shoots 24 frames-per-second with non-interlaced frames. In other words, film only with video. It also has real XLR connectors so you can plug in real microphones. It can be had for under $3k, especially with the current $300 rebate. The only thing that holds me back is the potential for HD gear to be right around the corner.

-A Cobalt Flux DDR pad. OK, so this one is at the top of the list in terms of being frivolous. The CF pads are metal and the closest thing you can get to the arcade experience at home, for the amazing price of $300 each.

-A Mini Cooper S. I don't know why I even bother entertaining that thought.

Alas, I should just enjoy sitting here under the umbrella on the deck, as butterflies fly about and I sip a beverage. Oh, and fucking Cosmo sits at the door and cries.

I need to get to work...

Bush finally got something right... nuclear power

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, June 22, 2005, 2:10 PM | comments: 4

I can't believe it. Bush actually is pushing something that makes sense... nuclear power (or nukeular, as he calls it, since he's still a moron).

As much as I consider myself an environmentalist, nuclear power is still the most efficient way to generate electricity in this country. Now if we could just kills these stupid rules the prevent us from recycling the spent fuel. If we could do that, we would nearly eliminate the waste product. Integrate hydrogen production into the electricity generation process, and we can start pushing real alternate fuels for cars too.

Game 7

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, June 22, 2005, 1:26 AM | comments: 2

What do you know, the NBA finals will actually go to seven games. I'm shocked. The first four games were boring blowouts, but the last two have been exciting, and now it comes down to the wire.

I like the Pistons because they're so strong on defense. It makes them more interesting to watch. Volleyball is that way too. I also like Larry Brown, because when you see him in interviews or the audio from the bench, the guy genuinely loves the game and loves his players. The NBA, and pro sports in general, lack that kind of passion, so it's fun to see.

I'd like to have people over to watch Thursday, but I don't think any of my friends actually care. :)

Parents moving to Florida

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, June 21, 2005, 7:55 PM | comments: 1

My parents are moving to a retirement community of sorts north of Orlando. It's unexpected because my mom has always seemed irrationally attached to Northeast Ohio (I wasn't much better at one time), but it makes perfect sense.

First my aunt and uncle decided to go down there, in part because of a mid-life system shock in the form of prostate cancer, and partly because they love Florida and it makes sense. After my mom and step-dad went down for a bit, they too felt at ease, and that it was an obvious way to go. They've got enough equity in their house to nearly eliminate long-term debt entirely, and as a nurse, there's plenty of work for my mom.

It sounds pretty fabulous. It's essentially a town made for people winding down. It has everything you need, and you can get around in a golf cart. They have restaurants, clubs, stores, their own hospital, etc. It's like a town for the 55+ crowd. Each household pays a fee of like $110 a month that goes toward all of the various amenities and entertainment offered. The houses are fairly inexpensive too.

I'm happy they're doing it. Makes a load of sense to me.

Script simplicity

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, June 21, 2005, 7:04 PM | comments: 0

I watched Napoleon Dynamite again today, for only the second time. Honestly the first time I saw it I was a little dumbfounded that so many people liked the movie.

But the thing is, it is what it is. Like Lost In Translation (not that I'm suggesting the two movies are even remotely in the same league), it isn't necessary to have an elaborate plot of discreet actions. I think it's perfectly acceptable to write a script that conveys a set of feelings or gives you some feel for characters. There's a lot more risk involved to do a film where there isn't specific action, because I think people generally expect it.

The realization I have is that if I want to crank something out with a bunch of friends, I just need to write a series of scenes that have no point, but good dialog.

Bee in the car

posted by Jeff | Monday, June 20, 2005, 5:32 PM | comments: 2

There's a TV spot running now, I think for Progressive, but maybe not, where a guy trashes his car because of a bee. I nearly had that experience today.

I was driving along on a hilly and winding road when a bee or wasp or something got into the car. I had the windows and sun roof open. I was going around 45, the speed limit, and the thing got down into the foot well and into my fairly loose-fitting boat shoes (no socks). I nearly flipped out, swerved, hit the brakes, and was thankful there was no on-coming traffic.

I got my foot out of the shoe, but it was still struggling in the foot well. I finally got to a country side road and pulled over, when the thing just got up and flew out of my open door.

Scary couple of minutes.

Interesting Father's Day stat

posted by Jeff | Sunday, June 19, 2005, 3:59 PM | comments: 2

I saw on CNN today that 75% of fathers surveyed say that having a child made them realize what was really important in life. A full 97% said they'd do it again. That's amazing to me. I can't think of anything in life that people are so sure of.

Identity theft a lot of hype

posted by Jeff | Sunday, June 19, 2005, 1:16 PM | comments: 2

I really think that all of the hype surrounding identity theft is, well, hype. Yes, the electronic exchange of personal information certainly offers opportunities for exposure, but people act like this is something new.

I saw one consultant on TV make it a point to indicate that you're most vulnerable in paper transactions. It was particularly worse in the days of carbon copy card slips. The human being at retail that can touch your card is far more suspect than any online site where nothing other than a machine ever sees your information. I tend to believe that.

I guess we always need something in the news to worry about. Terrorism is apparently so last year.

A sobering dose of perspective

posted by Jeff | Sunday, June 19, 2005, 12:49 AM | comments: 0

I went over to a friend's house for dinner tonight. He's about 12 years older than me, and cousin to the mother of a couple of girls I went to high school with. He had some sad news.

The oldest daughter, Katie, was a year behind me in high school. I had a huge crush on her, though she never wanted to be anything more than friends. She played volleyball, and she was a total sweetheart to really everyone she knew. Everyone liked her but she belonged to no clique.

Like most people, she grew up, went to college, got married and had kids. She also got breast cancer. It spread so quickly and to so many places that she only has a few months to live. She would have to be about 30 or 31.

Shit happens in life. Think you've got problems? That you can't work through the shit? Look around... someone has it worse.

As for Katie, I'll always remember her as this beautiful person that made me feel included and at ease. Even though she might not have many days left, the world was certainly made better because she was a part of it.

The more you know

posted by Jeff | Saturday, June 18, 2005, 4:03 PM | comments: 0

"The more you know who you are, and what you want, the less you let things upset you."
-Bob, Lost in Translation

I picked up Lost in Translation yesterday at Best Buy, not because I have a big crush on Scarlett Johansson (OK, minor contributing factor), but because it's one of those movies that I think genuinely explores a deep emotional aspect of the human condition. Clearly not many people are that fond of it, seeing as how it was only ten bucks, but I think it's brilliant.

The movie is about two people that are in a weird place physically, emotionally and spiritually, and find comfort in each other's company. The right people for the right the time and place. It's nothing more complicated than that. Maybe the fact that it is something so simple is the reason people don't like it, but come on, how could you not identify with that?

And that of course gives me the urge to write and make a film. That's something I desperately need to get out of my system. My first screenplay, Third Time, was pretty horrible. I think it's a good idea, but I can't even revisit it and get it beyond the first draft. It's horrible because the first act is stupid, and it's hard as hell to setup the main character as his own nemesis. I haven't thought of any clever plot devices like that.

I guess I want to make a film that has an impact on people the way some films have an impact on me. That's probably not even a realistic expectation for a first try, and maybe that's what's holding me back. I need to write something more simple, that I can shoot in a day or two. It doesn't have to be something deep... there will be plenty of time for that down the road.

Jeff coaching high school again? Perhaps.

posted by Jeff | Friday, June 17, 2005, 4:09 PM | comments: 0

I got to talk with the principal of a small private girls high school today. I already did the actual interview a few weeks ago at the urging of one of my former players, and I kind of knew I was high-end enough to have the job if I wanted it. I'm not being arrogant here, it just really is a huge difference in the level of competition compared to what I'm used to.

So as of now at least, I'm most likely on board but not signing any contracts until August. So even if it were to not work out, I can help get the kids up to speed over the summer. I'm still kind of crossing my fingers about the college gig, but not getting my hopes up. Either way, I think there's a new challenge ahead.

NBA finals finally interesting

posted by Jeff | Friday, June 17, 2005, 12:51 AM | comments: 0

I liked seeing Detroit win last year. Generally I find the NBA boring anymore, but seeing them win was fun because they really are a team. They were clearly about the game. You don't see that much anymore.

This year's series started with Detroit just not showing up against San Antonio for two games. It was pretty hard to watch. Then they go back to Auburn Hills and totally own the Spurs for two games. Tonight you're looking at a 31-point blow out. Wow. Seven guys in double scoring figures. Amazing defense. Still a team, not a couple of superstars. It's a refreshing change from the old Shaq and Kobe show.

Of course, the ratings suck so far, and I don't think anyone cares. The NBA is so close to being interesting again.

Dude, I got a Dell

posted by Jeff | Thursday, June 16, 2005, 6:30 PM | comments: 1

Awhile back I mentioned I needed to replace my HP laptop because of the power connector. I was never really fond of it anyway because it got too hot (regular desktop Celeron), fans were too loud, it was heavy, had two or three annoying bright/dark pixels, crappy video hardware, horrible battery life. It did have pretty blue LED's though.

I had never really considered buying a Dell, for whatever reason. Still, I posted about the problems I was having and someone linked to a coupon for Dell where you could get $750 off a certain model configured to $1500 or more. So I got mine to $1506.

Specs: Inspiron 6000, Pentium M 1.6 GHz, 256 MB Centrino chipset, 802.11g, 1680x1050 15" widescreen, 60 gig drive, CD-R/DVD. Not fully loaded at all, but certainly more than adequate for most anything other than gaming. It really addresses all of the problems I had with the HP. Most importantly it runs cool and quiet.

I've barely used my desktop since I got it. I can park on the couch, the bed, the deck, whatever, and it's a solid performer. For $756, it was an absolute steal. The only minor complaint I had was that I had to blow away the entire hard drive and nuke all of the crap that Dell loaded on it. Seriously, it took several minutes to boot, so I figured it was easier just to start over and download the drivers.

Alanis on Letterman

posted by Jeff | Thursday, June 16, 2005, 1:47 AM | comments: 1

Did anyone see Alanis on Letterman Wednesday night? She's got a new acoustic album out soon.

Anyway, I have to admit that she's always been kind of, I don't know, odd in appearance, but in a good way. Tonight she had these short little bangs and wavy hair, and she's really cute. Like certain other people I know, she seems to get cuter with age.

Crazy air conditioning problem

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, June 14, 2005, 9:52 PM | comments: 0

When we got home Sunday morning from our PKI/BeastBuzz trip, there was a big puddle in the red room. Yeah, that's the room with the new carpet. What the hell?

Remember that room is on a slab, as it's positioned behind the garage. Turns out the water was coming from the furnace. I'm not sure why I didn't turn the air conditioning off anyway while we were gone, but what was done was done. I wiggled the drain pipe from the furnace to the drain in the floor and it seemed to bust loose a clog, so that's apparently where the water was coming from.

I used our carpet cleaner to suck as much water out as I could, but a lot of it was clearly under the padding, which is laminated on the side, ironically enough to keep liquid from seeping in. I put the fan on it the last two days and that has mostly dried it out, and it doesn't stink too bad. The worst stink I realized this morning was coming from the standing water under the furnace, so I'm drying that out now.

I'm not sure I like our house anymore. It's only four years old, but stupid shit like this concerns me. We've had a lot of silly things like that around the house, some more serious but in warranty (like the leaky window that brought down the ceiling in, you guessed it, the red room). Oh well, at least the roof doesn't leak.

On the diet again

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, June 14, 2005, 5:49 PM | comments: 0

I decided that since I'm generally taking better care of myself these days (those of you that can view my private blog know how I arrived there), it might be a good time to try and lose the last few pounds I wanted to lose.

Weight has always been a weird thing to me. In high school I was skinny, but around 180 pounds. The doctor I saw for my college physical said it was probably bone density, and to a lesser degree muscle mass in my legs (I was hardcore into cycling at the time). As college went on and I discovered beer, I added a beer trophy, which has kind of always bothered me. I've still got that crazy 30" vertical leap and a 36-38" waist, but it just doesn't feel right.

So in the last few months of 2003, I signed up for Weight Watcher's online, and I lost around 16 pounds. I'd like to lose about 16 more.

My diet weaknesses include an attachment to meat and an aversion to vegetables, neither of which is good. The meat consumption I've backed off on quite a bit, eating red meat only once or twice a month, and I'm eating a lot less chicken too. The vegetable thing I'm getting better at as I discover ways to prepare it and order it (thank God for Asian food). I've got a long way to go, but the mental blocks are finally coming off.

This time around, I've also discovered various vegetarian faux meats, and they make it insanely easy to stick to the diet. A Boca vegan burger is just one WW point! The simulated Italian sausage and spicy chicken patties, also from Boca, are only three points each, and both are very yummy. I want to try some of the organic, more hardcore varieties too. There's no danger of exceeding your point totals eating this stuff. The next challenge is integrating in more vegetable servings.

It's funny how much better I feel not eating crap. I nearly eliminated fast food from my diet the first time I tried this, and I suspect that's part of the reason why I didn't gain back anything I lost. Now I need to keep adding good things in. It's kind of exciting, even though I have weak moments and want to pig out.

BeastBuzz 2005 trip report

posted by Jeff | Monday, June 13, 2005, 5:56 PM | comments: 1

Stephanie and I love going to Paramount's Kings Island because they treat us so well for the big CoasterBuzz event. The marketing staff there really makes us feel like family!

Anyway, we've discovered over the years that we've been doing this that it's just too hard to do the full-on experience from morning to night, in part because we have to be there early enough to pass out tickets and man the booth. For that reason, we generally stick to eating and socializing most of the day. At a park like PKI, it's such a cool environment that it's not hard to just relax!

After we closed the ticket booth at 11 (we'll be doing it at 10 next year), we headed into the park for something to eat. For something different, we tried the new burrito place right inside the gate. It used to be Asian food, and apparently this location has been a flop no matter what they put in there because of its location. The burritos are OK, but they need to learn how to roll them and they need to season stuff and wash the beans. The meat needs to be marinated in something, and the veggies need a little olive oil and seasoning.

We scored boarding passes for the Italian Job Stunt Track, but it went down for a period of time so we didn't get there. No worries, we'd get to ride later.

We stopped in for the launch of the scavenger hunt, but did not participate. It sounds like Steve and Kristin made it pretty brutal!

Lunch came, and given the humidity, it was so nice to be able to have it in the International Restaurant. I was pleased to find that the burgers this year (they're a different kind compared to last year) weren't too bad. Everything was fresh and I love that they keep springing for dessert! Stephanie and I sat with the marketing team (Jeff Siebert, Maureen and Kristin), and learned all kinds of interesting things about the park.

After lunch we hit the hotel for a nap. Like I said, that's essential for us and allows us to better enjoy the end of the day, where all of the action is.

We agreed at lunch to meet onceler (Mike) and his traveling bachelor party. His lovely fiancee Artemisa was unfortunately not there, but we had a great time hanging out with his posse at Lt. Dan's Backyard Bar. This is such a neat location in the park, but as was the case last year, it's horribly understaffed. God bless the guy working the bar, because he tried his best to keep everyone taken care of, including the people coming up for food orders.

I think this was still the best part of the day for us, meeting the new people. It was weird how Stephanie and I made a lot of connections with regards to things we're all involved in with Mike's friends. Weird how total strangers can seem like best friends.

After a few rounds, Jeff Siebert happened to be walking through and stopped to talk to us. Most of the people in Mike's group had never been to the park, so they had a lot of interesting feedback to give. Jeff offered a little line cutting action, and since Steph and I love Tomb Raider so much, we opted for that. CPLady's (Linda's) crew was there, so they joined us.

Well, as is typical for Siebert, he didn't just walk us up, he gave us the tour. Part of that was the opportunity to go down the tunnel under the ride, which was kind of neat. We also watched a full ride cycle from in the show building, and I'm still just in awe seeing that thing in motion. The ride was fun, as always. I really dig the ride for what it is.

After the ride, we made a quick stop for a T-shirt Steph wanted, and headed to the Paramount Theater for the scavenger hunt awards and some really great promotional video clips.

Delirium is of course down for the count as it awaits a new main gear, so it was not a part of ERT. They've got a giant spacer they're apparently going to put in the place of the hub at the top of the ride so they can bring it down and make the repairs.

Flight of Fear was first then on the ERT list. It was a little slower than last year due to a little more mid-course brake action. Overall it wasn't that detrimental to the ride. I love that thing!

Next was The Italian Job Stunt Track. They were blasting through three trains and really cranking it. I only got one lap on media day, so it was exciting to get another chance. It was Steph's first time, and we got to drive in the front. What a difference at night! The effects at the mid-course are more dramatic as are the police cars. I'm still surprised at the moments of air on the ride. It's a winner all around. Great ride!

As is tradition, we ended at The Beast. With the humidity and the light rain, I expected the ride would really fly, and did it ever. A lot of people are critical of the magnetic brakes, but honestly the net speed of the ride is faster this way (it has been measured). It all depends on if you consider one quick grab at the end of the shed a buzzkill or if you consider the same from the long old skid brakes. I choose the shorter grab.

All in all, it was a great night. I really enjoyed myself, and can't wait for next year's 30th annual BeastBuzz!

Today's choice lyrics

posted by Jeff | Thursday, June 9, 2005, 2:22 PM | comments: 1

"Now Free me
Let me loose to love you
Yeah how I long to seduce you"

-"Free Me"
Emma "Baby Spice" Bunton

"B-L-A-C-K-E-Y-E-D-P to the E, then the A to the S
When we play you shake your ass
Shake it, shake it, shake it girl
Make sure you don't break it, girl"

-"Pump It"
Black Eyed Peas

The Black Eyed Fucking Peas

posted by Jeff | Thursday, June 9, 2005, 2:54 AM | comments: 1

I bought the new BEP album from iTunes today. Make no mistake... this one buries the last album. It's that good. I'm diggin' it after just one listen. I can't remember another album that I got into that quickly in a long time, not even from Garbage.

The first track, "Pump It," which samples the song Misirlou by Dick Dale (you probably know it as the start to Pulp Fiction), is the most brilliant and intense sample/cover I've heard. It just keeps going after that, with a total of 16 songs and guests that include J.T. and Sting.

The iTunes download also included three video files and extensive liner notes. Most impressive.

It's going to be hard to get this out of my car CD player.

An author's validation

posted by Jeff | Monday, June 6, 2005, 1:19 AM | comments: 3

Some person I don't know sent me an IM, and it went like this...

xxx: Hi, I have been reading your book.
xxx: I think it's awesome...
popworldCP: thanks!
xxx: this book helped me fully grasp the concept of OOP
xxx: loving it!
popworldCP: awesome... that was really my mission, and i'm glad even one person "gets it" now.
xxx: it takes less coding to do something and it's easier to read
xxx: haha
xxx: i read well over 7 books on this subject
xxx: they never fully go into explaining the concept
xxx: your whole book is about OOP
xxx: thank you so much for a great book!

If the book never sells more than ten copies, that made it worth it.

Pain is real

posted by Jeff | Sunday, June 5, 2005, 7:14 PM | comments: 0

I'm reading Saying What's Real: Seven keys to authentic communication and relationship success. Very interesting read, especially the very beginning that explains why we communicate (or don't) the way we do, based largely on the way we've been raised. Fascinating stuff.

There's a line that really caught my attention...

"When you use this key phrase ['Hearing you say that, I feel hurt'] to help you embrace your pain voluntarily, there is a certain power and grace to that act. You are bringing the light of conscious awareness to your feelings and sensations. You are affirming that you are okay just the way you are. Being present to pain is an act of self-affirmation and self-empowerment. You'll feel stronger and more resilient when you do this."

I can think of at least three ways that's true right now.

Music like an old friend

posted by Jeff | Friday, June 3, 2005, 2:25 PM | comments: 0

I was zipping around through my iTunes library (over 4,000 songs) when I came across the Tomb Raider soundtrack from 2001. How kick ass was that? Sound tracks used to be the shit in the 80's and early 90's, but now most suck. But the Tomb Raider soundtrack was good stuff.

It's weird to listen to something like that when you haven't heard it in a long time. It's like meeting up with an old friend.

A very spiritual day

posted by Jeff | Thursday, June 2, 2005, 8:46 PM | comments: 2

Have you ever had a really spiritual day? I'm not talking about religion here, but rather some instance where suddenly so many things in your mind and body suddenly came together in a way that made you feel at peace?

I had one of those moments today, and in realizing a lot of different things, I'm looking forward to the future in a way that I haven't in a very long time, all the while trying to live a bit in the moment.

Sounds like a lot of crazy bullshit, but trust me, it's not. :)