Archive: August, 2005

First match, first win

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, August 30, 2005, 11:04 PM | comments: 1

One down, 18 to go. In my first match as head coach of a high school team, we won. Not that I really have much to do with it when it comes to actual games, but it's a "W" and there will be highlights at 11.

In all the years I've been doing this, it has to be the first time I've had a team that didn't play down against a weak team. They blasted the first hit, nailed a jump serve after that, and it just never stopped. It was fun to watch.

The only thing genuinely weird is that I have no idea how the lineup may evolve. A lot of kids have proven they can do a lot of things. My 6'1" middle is actually a pretty good setter. I can't exactly ignore that. I tried a lot of new things since the other team was horrible, and they didn't let up. I was impressed.

As long as the attitudes stay positive, so will the outcome of our games. Strong start... let's see how it goes the next six weeks.

Another DDR success story

posted by Jeff | Monday, August 29, 2005, 11:58 PM | comments: 0

I almost forgot to write about this. For my practice last Saturday, I brought my PlayStation 2 in and my Dance Dance Revolution stuff to introduce the team to the game. I've been doing this with my J.O. teams for years, and there are always a few kids that really latch on to it.

This time was no different. Since I had the stuff all disconnected from my TV at home, it was a no-brainer when one of the kids asked to borrow it all. A couple of the kids met over her house and apparently played much of the night.

It's a great game for volleyball players because it teaches eye-foot coordination, and it seems to work the right muscles in that it does wonders for their vertical leap. Leaping volleyball players are a good thing.

Another VMA show in the can

posted by Jeff | Monday, August 29, 2005, 12:25 AM | comments: 2

While music is finally starting to get interesting again, the MTV Video Music Awards have been kind of hit or miss the last few years. This year was no exception.

The set was pretty cool. Interesting use of water, especially given all of the lights.

Green Day started the show, and it never really got better than that. In fact, it kinda got worse right after that when Puffy Puff P Daddy Diddy D came out. He's a great businessman, but he's still the biggest poseur in music.

It is refreshing though to see that some of the most beautiful people in the world are also the most talented. Alicia Keys and Shakira come to mind (how does Shakira move like that?). I'm so into Kelly Clarkson (the closet goth chick) and Joss Stone (the soul music hippy chick) right now.

It seems like every year they have an orchestra or a dead rapper on, so it only makes sense that this year they did both at the same time.

The Gap started running a series of ads equating favorite jeans to favorite songs, with Alanis, Joss Stone, John Legend and a few others. The morons paid all that money for the ads and to air during the show, and lame and unprofessional as can be, have a message on their Web site that says they're updating their site.

Did you see what Eva Longoria was wearing? Holy shit, I can't believe she could wear that on TV.

How the hell did Mariah Carey get nominated for anything? She hasn't been relevant in like 12 years. She sold out ages ago and hasn't made a good album in a decade. Her performance wasn't interesting either. What is it with her always posing?

I have to admit that I miss Beavis and Butthead. I think they're ripe for a revival.

Playing the role of Billy Corgan's creepy little brother was the lead singer from My Chemical Romance.

Kelly Clarkson was worth waiting for. She's intense, very much the real deal.

Other than that, it was easily one of the most forgettable shows ever. It's sad when the Grammy's have become the more interesting awards show.

Being a product of your environment

posted by Jeff | Sunday, August 28, 2005, 7:04 PM | comments: 0

I was having a discussion with a friend of mine about what a person's role in society really should be, and more specifically about your role as a coach. Given our difference in age (ten years), we had very different perspectives, but it was a healthy exchange.

One thing that I think we couldn't totally agree on was that of your responsibilities as a coach. She feels that you show up to coach and let the rest of the school take care of itself. My feeling is that your role has to be bigger than that, and that really everyone involved with a school has to be deeply involved to ensure its success, and the success of its kids. I don't disagree with her take, but for me, given my experience in general, that's not entirely adequate.

She observed that I'm generally very skeptical. No question about it... I am. But I also explained that I used to be jaded. Being jaded is being skeptical without any hope, and that's a crappy way to live. Being skeptical is healthy because you have hope, but you're cautious and rarely expect that things will just take care of themselves.

So how does one get that way? Being jaded for me came from working for local government, a city and school system, immediately followed by working for a giant corporation that became a magnificent failure. I lost hope in "the system" on both counts.

Eventually, particularly during my layoffs, I slowly started to get my own perspective back. These days I'm feeling that fire I felt in college to see a cause and believe in it. It's not that I feel no one else can get it right at all, I just think that in education in particular, you have to be involved. I'm not sure what motivates me to do that other than my feelings that education failed me, my brother and countless people I've encountered in the work world, but I guess I feel that it won't get better if I sit back and assume other people will take care of it.

It all comes down to that hope. I think that's the motivator. With hope, you feel as if you can make a difference. Hope isn't about letting someone else do it. Retaining it isn't easy, because the world has a way of beating you into submission. That has been a recurring theme in counseling, that we tend to be a product of our environment, and an environment that squashes you tends to kill your hope.

One other thing that did come out of the conversation was also a realization that I can't fix everything, and I'm honestly trying to work on that. Someday I hope to find a balance where I can live my life in a manner that balances self-preservation with philanthropy and passion.

Enough thinking for today... I'm going to watch the mindlessness of the MTV VMA's.

Can't focus, mind is racing

posted by Jeff | Sunday, August 28, 2005, 2:52 PM | comments: 0

I can't focus today. I had grand ambitions of working on my forum software all day today, and so far I haven't even fired up Visual Studio.

My mind is racing about so many different things. I got up at 8 a.m. today, which I never do. It caught up with me by 11, when I took a short nap. I had some dreams that really trouble me. I also can't stop thinking about stuff. I want to buy something expensive, which typically means that something is lacking in my life. I want to endeavour on a new Web site. First volleyball matches are this week. I can see an end to credit card debt but don't want to work hard enough to get there. The brain won't relax.

It's weird that I had a relatively spiritual and calming day on Friday, and today I'm just a mess mentally.

No sympathy for SUV owners

posted by Jeff | Sunday, August 28, 2005, 2:14 PM | comments: 0

You know, I'm watching CNN and they're talking about how people can't handle the high gas prices. Not just anyone, but SUV owners. Cry me an f'ing river. Maybe you should have thought about that before you bought a vehicle that gets fuel efficiency in the teens.

When I think back ten years ago, no one had SUV's. People had Jeep Cherokees here and there, but if you looked at a parking lot, you didn't many SUV's. There were mini-vans, sure, but even those in most cases got OK gas mileage.

Of the people I know with SUV's, nearly all of them could get by with normal cars. They sure as hell aren't going off-road to pick up groceries. If I had a kids, there is no reason that my cars would be inadequate.

SUV's are a vanity item, they burn gas we can't afford, they create more pollution, they serve no purpose. And how is it people can't connect an increase in gas prices to an increase in gas consumption? I remember learning about supply and demand in third grade.

Buy a hybrid next time.

MTV VMA site a big piece of shit

posted by Jeff | Sunday, August 28, 2005, 11:18 AM | comments: 1

Message to the kids at MTV: When you build a Flash site, it's not an excuse to make navigation suck or to bring even high-end computers to their knees with animation. The 2005 VMA site is a complete piece of shit.

My third (and fourth) piercing

posted by Jeff | Friday, August 26, 2005, 11:49 PM | comments: 2

This week I hit my first major weight goal, and I'm now the lightest I've been in ten years. It's a good feeling. I decided three months and 16 pounds ago that when I hit this weight, I'd get something else pierced. So I did.

Three months ago, I got my first two piercings and when thinking about the aftercare, had the epiphany that I just needed to take better care of myself, eat better, exercise more and generally be more healthy. It was that day, twelve weeks ago today, that I started to diet again, and I've lost 16 pounds in that time. I decided when I hit my first goal that I'd get something else pierced. More on that in a minute.

I have to admit that it hasn't been easy. For a lot of years I've been overweight without being fat, that funny place where it's not an obvious problem, but not a good thing either. I also ate like shit, which you'd think would be perfectly obvious to me being married to a vegetarian. So I started Weight Watchers Online again, and this time I actually got the meaning of it, in that you can eat all you want if you make the right choices and make it a balanced diet. No fads there, just common sense eating. I'm not eating a lot of vegetables, but I am eating them, which is an obvious improvement over none. I also stopped eating beef quite by accident, but I don't miss it and decided I should just stop eating it. It's an inefficient means of producing food anyway. I feel better than I have in about a decade.

So anyway, the shop I first got pierced at no longer employs the guy that did my first piercings, so I decided not to go back. Stephanie got her toe tattoo at a place called 252 Tattoo not far from me, so I figured I'd check them out since she felt really comfortable there. The place does a lot of volume, and it's the biggest shop I've ever seen. They even have two other locations. Very clean, not in the hood, what more could you ask for?

I decided this one was going to be an industrial in my left ear. Stephanie had hers done about two months ago (right ear) and once I saw the technique, I figured it was something interesting that wasn't just some cheesy hoop that everyone has. The guy at 252 was really relaxed, took his time, and made sure everything was right and the way I wanted. He changed gloves when he went into the drawer to get the barbell too. I wouldn't have thought to do that. He's obviously well-trained.

When the other guy did Steph's, he used two short needles, one for each of the holes. That made sense to me since thick cartilage would dull the needle. This guy used one for both holes. On one hand that makes more sense because you'll get the alignment for the second hole right on, but on the other hand it's certainly more dull for the second hole. I wouldn't say that either way is "right" though.

Holy shit did it hurt, much more than my other piercings. Add that to the "crunch" sound as it went through. The first one wasn't too bad, but the second one made me squint a bit. At the same time, it's kind of a good pain. I'd be lying if I said there wasn't a kind of rush from it. While it certainly makes you feel alive, it's not something I could do frequently.

So now I have a constant reminder that I achieved something special on my own in a relatively short period of time. I don't know what I'll do for my next weight goal, but I think I satisfied my body mod curiosity for now (I seem to recall that lasting a week last time). It's a neat feeling, and not so much about the way it looks. It's about taking ownership of the one thing no one can take from you. I feel accomplished, and motivated to press on to the next goal.

I should be podcasting

posted by Jeff | Thursday, August 25, 2005, 2:30 PM | comments: 1

You know, given my radio and television background, you'd think that I would have been podcasting ages ago. The thing is, I can't think of anything particularly exciting to talk about. I suppose I could do one in conjunction with CoasterBuzz, but God only knows how interesting that might be. I guess it would depend on who I conferenced in, and I wouldn't do it without at least one woman in the mix. That scene is a sausage party as it is.

I listened to the latest This Week in Tech and Digg Nation last night, and they're fairly interesting to listen to in part because they're done by people who have done real broadcast work. I'm sorry, but just because any idiot with a computer and a microphone can do it doesn't mean they should. There's so much crap out there.

If you like white trash...

posted by Jeff | Thursday, August 25, 2005, 2:00 PM | comments: 0

Jeff the American Idol

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, August 24, 2005, 8:46 AM | comments: 2

I had a weird ass dream that I was on some kind of American Idolesque show, only it was not live, and it was a lot like summer camp. The reason this is weird is that I can't sing to save my life, unless you consider what Fred Schneider of the B-52's does singing.

I ended up on the thing somehow by accident and I sang "The Stairs" by INXS (which makes me wonder if I saw a TV spot for that INXS reality show recently). The "winner" for that round was apparently me, and I was just excited because I was going to get $10k and could quit my job. I was having to do all of these interviews.

Then I had to sing again, and I did "Everything" by Material Issue, at the urge of some producer who wanted me to "sing a song about girls." The other dude who was in the running to win, but wasn't going to (I somehow knew it was already decided), was there and talking through my entire song. He was like this Bo Bice kind of dude. I got in his grill and yelled at him and he cried.

Some girl who was also not going to win came up to me and asked if I listened to a lot of top 40 growing up because she could hear it in the way I was singing or something. It was strange.

Aside from the absurdity of me singing, one thing that stuck with me was the idea that I didn't forget any words, which is totally the opposite of my recurring radio dream. I have no idea what it is in my head that created this dream.

Cell For Cash

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, August 23, 2005, 10:48 PM | comments: 0

I just remembered that I sent in my "old" phone to Cell For Cash about a month ago, so I checked to see what the status was. They cut a check today for $15. The phone was only two years old, and I didn't really need a new one, but I did switch providers.

They properly dispose of it or resell it. Not a bad way to go.

Jacket weather

posted by Jeff | Monday, August 22, 2005, 12:22 PM | comments: 0

It's cool and breezy today, very much fall jacket weather. My favorite time of year. :)

Cedar Point with a non-enthusiast

posted by Jeff | Monday, August 22, 2005, 1:17 AM | comments: 2

I took my assistant/JV coach Liz to Cedar Point today and had a great time. We didn't even get there until 4, and her M.O. was just to take it easy and ride whatever we had time for.

I'm always amazed at how much more fun it is going to parks with non-enthusiasts, particularly if it's only a once-a-year thing for them. Maybe it's because of the sites that I run, but it's hard to go to a park and hear people talk shop for six or more hours. It's just not that interesting. I admit I fed Liz some useless information about a few rides, but most of our conversation was just about every day stuff. And God knows Liz has a lot of stories! ;)

I've had other visits like this with Freeze and some other people. Even the CoasterBuzz events tend to be fairly light on the geek factor, and that makes the parks really about the people. That's much more interesting and fun than making it about the rides.

Emotional batteries

posted by Jeff | Sunday, August 21, 2005, 1:01 AM | comments: 2

My counselor says that people have emotional batteries that are often depleted then need to be recharged so they can function again.

Either my battery is constantly being discharged or my charger is broken...

Congrats Pete & Mary!

posted by Jeff | Saturday, August 20, 2005, 10:44 PM | comments: 0

I'm exhausted

posted by Jeff | Friday, August 19, 2005, 9:34 PM | comments: 0

I thought I could do it, but volleyball and the contract job together are killing me. I think if both were of medium importance to me, I could do them both, but I love coaching so much and hate the work just as much that it's taking its toll.

I'm so lame. Either that or I really haven't allowed the world to beat me into submission with the idea that you have to do work you don't like to survive, and that's a good thing.

The truth is, if I could get through the next two or three weeks and actually get the stuff done that I need to, I'll be most of the way there. It's just hard when the work seems meaningless and the coaching is shaping young lives.


posted by Jeff | Thursday, August 18, 2005, 9:16 PM | comments: 2

Something is at the door!

posted by Jeff | Thursday, August 18, 2005, 10:23 AM | comments: 3

Team building fun

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, August 16, 2005, 10:59 PM | comments: 0

I did some of my team building activities with my high school kids today. In the J.O. teams, it's important to do because you frequently have a lot of kids that haven't played together a lot. For the high school situation, I found that in a lot of ways it's more for me than it is for them.

I haven't totally figured out all of the personalities yet, so this gave me a chance to see how they interact. The activities were the typical range of stuff from trust falls, cooperation exercises and emotionally challenging stuff. It's fun that I actually learned something from all of the crap we did for resident assistant training in college.

Did the activities deepen the bonds between the kids? Yes, I think it did. It also established a lot of trust between them and me, the outsider coming in to change everything. That's certainly worth it.

So after one official practice and team building, I'm cautiously optimistic. Unfortunately our schedule is not very strong, but we've got two scrimmages against bigger schools and of course we'll have to get our game on when the tournament starts.

Who knew I'd have fun coaching high school?

Another PC fan failure

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, August 16, 2005, 12:20 PM | comments: 0

After my previous PC fan issues, it looks like I've got the same problem again. When I turned on my desktop today, the fan on the motherboard (same one as on my HTPC) started to grind and make noise. I guess that means I need to shell out another $10 for a big hunk of metal to replace this one too. What a pain in the ass.

OS X on Intel... it's for real

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, August 16, 2005, 12:26 AM | comments: 0

Actually, the theory is that OS X has been running on Intel CPU's for a long time internally at Apple. But anyway, the build that went out to developers, that was supposed to be tied to special prototype machines with a DRM chip, was hacked and it's all over the Internet now.

I watched one of the video clips someone did, where the thing boots natively on a laptop with a 1.6 GHz mobile Pentium. It loads really, really fast. I can't wait to see this thing run on actual Apple/Intel hardware next year.

Yeah, I'll buy one. I've always loved the Apple hardware, and OS X, but being a Windows developer, it's not like I can totally switch. Give me a box that I can run Windows and OS X on, and you've sold me, especially a laptop.

.xxx domain names under fire: More proof that people are stupid

posted by Jeff | Monday, August 15, 2005, 9:50 PM | comments: 0

Just when you start to have faith in people's intelligence, some folks and politicians are freaking out over the new .xxx domain names.

The argument is pretty stupid. It creates a "red light district" for porn. Uh, have these idiots been on the Internet lately? The porn is already there. The appeal of this new top-level domain is that it makes it really easy to identify it. You'd think the White House of all places would get this, seeing as how is a porn site. Filtering an entire top-level domain sure makes an easy decision for parents!

Zen coding

posted by Jeff | Saturday, August 13, 2005, 7:55 PM | comments: 0

Living an extraordinary life

posted by Jeff | Friday, August 12, 2005, 3:51 PM | comments: 0

I spent a little down time this afternoon watching the retrospective that ABC did on Peter Jennings Wednesday night. To say the guy had an extraordinary life is an understatement. Not only do I have enormous respect for him as a journalist, but for his thirst to absorb everything that the world had to offer and to create positive influence in the world.

I feel like a broken record because I've been looking for meaning in what I do for years now, and this show threw me into that loop again. I don't need to have the influence of Peter Jennings to be happy, but I need to feel like I spend my time doing things that feed the soul. In my contract job, the only thing I feel I get out of it is money. That sucks.

That's in stark contrast to other things I do that make me happy, and by extension make other people happy. Coaching is probably the best example of this, where I have a measurable effect on people. There are so many kids that I've influenced and built relationships with that it's getting harder every year to keep up with them all. But it's such a sweet problem to have. Every minute I spend with the kids makes me feel like I'm doing my part in the world.

Even maintaining my silly Web sites makes me feel like I'm doing something that contributes to the world. They're not going to cure cancer or anything, but some people enjoy visiting them.

I'm not unhappy, I don't think, I'm just continually frustrated that the things that really feed the soul have almost nothing to do with making a living financially. If I'm doing something that is only for the money, is it really worth doing? Seems like a real waste of time when you consider we don't have a ton of time in the first place.

My head hurts.

Gamer dies from marathon gaming session

posted by Jeff | Thursday, August 11, 2005, 11:41 AM | comments: 0

Some dude in Korea died after playing some computer games for nearly 50 hours straight.

Yes kids, you need to take breaks now and then and interact with human beings. You remember, those fleshy things that walk around the planet?

So begins a high school volleyball season

posted by Jeff | Thursday, August 11, 2005, 12:15 AM | comments: 0

Today was the official end to try-outs. If you would've asked me in June if I'd ever coach high school volleyball again, I probably would have said no way. If you asked me if I'd coach a tiny division IV school, I'd suspect you were on crack. High school ball hasn't interested me since I did freshman back in '98, and the public school nonsense combined with the lower level of competition turned me off.

But here I am, coaching at a tiny little private school. The way it all went down was that one of my former J.O. kids forwarded my name to her athletic director, and before I knew it, they were giving me keys to run open gyms. I don't think I ever formally agreed to even do it. But when I met the kids, and when I saw the awesome potential they had, what can I say, there was no question I was going to do it.

So the challenge is this: There are two and a half weeks before our first match. In that time, I need to solidify the fundamentals and teach them how to effectively run the swing offense. No small undertaking to be sure, but I really do think the kids can do it. It might be a little sloppy, but I don't think it will be horrible either.

No matter what happens, I suspect it will be a good time.

Mental exhaustion setting in

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, August 10, 2005, 12:05 PM | comments: 0

My brain is so fried right now. There's just too much going on my life right now to process it all. The contract job and volleyball alone are difficult enough on their own, but then add in existing life issues, and it's just a lot to think about.

My brain hurts. It doesn't want to think anymore. I can't even rest efficiently because the thinking won't stop. I need a nap!

Need to waste time

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, August 9, 2005, 1:51 AM | comments: 0

Remember the good old days of the World Wide Web where you could screw around looking at stuff for hours? I wish that was the case tonight.

I can't sleep. I can't work because I can't focus, so that makes it hard to do much of anything.

Freeze @ lunch

posted by Jeff | Monday, August 8, 2005, 1:27 PM | comments: 3

Peter Jennings dies of cancer at 67

posted by Jeff | Monday, August 8, 2005, 11:39 AM | comments: 1

Peter Jennings died yesterday of lung cancer at the age of 67. It was only four months ago that he announced he was sick.

I obviously didn't know the guy, but this makes me profoundly sad. As someone with a degree in journalism, I've always respected him as someone interested in the people, the story and the details. He always appeared genuine.

Not only that, but Jennings was the anchor on ABC News for more than two thirds of my life. I was 10 when he got the job. Through the biggest moments in history, from the fall of communism to the events of 9/11, he was the one that shared the story with me.

There will never be another Peter Jennings. I suspect the days of nightly network television news are numbered, and even if it did stick around, there will never be another guy quite as solid as him.

Basic chicken stir-fry

posted by Jeff | Sunday, August 7, 2005, 6:20 PM | comments: 3

This is my second attempt at stir-fry, and it's MUCH better this time! Frozen broccoli and carrots, chicken breast, a little olive oil, some sesame seeds, a little sauce last. It's supper yummy!

Escaping credit card hell

posted by Jeff | Sunday, August 7, 2005, 1:21 PM | comments: 0

I was looking at finances today and I think I'm finally starting to make some headway toward getting us out of credit card hell. It's my fault that we're here in the first place after not working a day job most of last year (partially to write a book that isn't selling that well), but one has to do what they gotta do.

There's some light at the end of the tunnel. The business card should be paid off by the end of the year, maybe as soon as November. Our personal cards have the bulk of the balance on a 0%-till-May deal, and the rest of it should be gone within the next six to eight weeks. I feel pretty good about where it is all headed.

The only variable involves how long I can stick with this contract job I'm on, and if there's any work coming after it. I think the thing that's bringing me down on it is that I'm not managing the time I put into it very well. It's all over the place, and that's getting worse now that volleyball has started. A total of 70 hours per week between the two doesn't exactly leave you with a lot of time to catch your breath, and since the contract job is less fun, I don't want to do it. Call that immature if you want, but I'm so used to doing what I want now that it blows.

Anyway, things feel positive overall, so that's a good feeling. You don't get that very often with something that generally makes you feel bad!

Faux chicken nuggs... Yummy!

posted by Jeff | Sunday, August 7, 2005, 12:05 PM | comments: 0

Living for everything

posted by Jeff | Sunday, August 7, 2005, 12:03 AM | comments: 2

Stephanie and I were talking briefly at lunch about living in the moment, as it relates to those times where your mind races constantly and you just can't stop thinking. Indeed, if you're always thinking about what's next, you'll likely miss what's happening now. The days will just fly by and become months, then years, then decades, and you may not realize you missed it all.

But living in the moment is a lot more complicated than it sounds. With every passing day, your life becomes a little more full, and those experiences, for better or worse, define you. Some of those experiences really fuck you up, others make you better. Hopefully you get some good memories out of them. The biggest challenge I suppose is processing your past in a way that allows you to be at peace with it. That leads to more thinking of course, but letting go, accepting or processing your past isn't any easier than living in the moment.

The opposite direction in time is probably the one that makes you most crazy. Imagine a giant piece of graph paper that fills a wall, and each little square is a moment of your life. Some portion of that giant graph is filled with little images of events in your life, and the rest is this giant, white, unfilled space. It could be filled with virtually anything until there's no more room, at which point you die.

What do you do to fill that space? The possibilities can make you comatose. Just in the near future you have career considerations, family, money to make, bills to pay, tasks to complete. The possibilities can block all of the things that are in front of you, from simple things like condensation on a glass of water, to the brief touch of another human being.

How do you reconcile all of this? The best I can do is to see that prior to any particular day of my life, uncertainty was there, the moment came, and I lived through it. The next moment is going to happen too, whether I like it or not.

That comes full circle to the idea that you have to do something in the moment to make it worthwhile. What constitutes an extraordinary moment? It's not every day that you get your first pay check, have a first kiss, start college, buy a car, take an exotic vacation, get married, etc. If living life in the moment is held to those extraordinary standards, most days will be a disappointment.

So the best conclusion I can reach is that you have to live for everything, including your past, the moment and the future. They're all so connected in a way that defines who you are and will be. Bad stuff happens, good stuff happens, and a lot of the time, seemingly mundane things happen. It's OK to think about and try to reach a particular goal in the future, so long as you don't forget where you've been or that things are happening around you right this moment.

As with most things in life, there are few absolutes. The conventional wisdom is carpe diem, and in the larger sense, I agree with that advice. However, it's insane to think you can live a normal life by ignoring the past and the possibilities of the future. That, to me means living for everything. It can certainly be done, just don't let the past and future completely overshadow the present.

Good evening smells

posted by Jeff | Friday, August 5, 2005, 9:00 PM | comments: 0

Someone somewhere near me is burning a fire. That's a good smell when it's the right kind of wood. Reminds me of camping. The air is cool, there's a nice breeze... this is an ideal evening.

Really irritated with credit card fees for merchants

posted by Jeff | Friday, August 5, 2005, 1:16 PM | comments: 3

When you swipe your credit card to pay for something, you probably don't think much about it. It doesn't really cost you anything directly, if you pay off your balance every month. But the truth is that it does cost you something, because the merchants get screwed and they have to pass that cost on to you.

I accept credit cards for CoasterBuzz Club memberships, to pay for event tickets and subscriptions to this site. Right now, if you add all of the fees and discounts together and divide by the amount I charge, my costs come to 10% of the transaction amount! So that $20 membership costs me $2 just to process. How ridiculous is that?

Visa and Mastercard need oversight. They can charge whatever they want because there is no one else. I've seen studies that estimate the true cost of a credit card transaction, for everyone including Visa/MC and the banks, to be around five cents. Yeah, five cents. So why am I paying $2 on a $20 transaction?

Write your congressman. Ultimately you pay this as a consumer.

HTPC maintenance

posted by Jeff | Thursday, August 4, 2005, 6:21 PM | comments: 2

The chipset fan on the motherboard in my home theater PC started to make ridiculous noise, really within the first month of building it. Annoyed, I bought a little heatsink today to replace it. At $10 at CompUSA, it was probably a rip-off, but it solved the problem and now there's one less fan making noise (not to mention grinding noise). I'm thinking about getting another one for my desktop machine, which has the same motherboard. It's a really loud fan.

(the blue heatsink is the replacement, the little Abit fan is what was grinding)

One of those days

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, August 3, 2005, 11:29 PM | comments: 0

Do you ever have one of those days where an unusual number of strikingly positive possibilities just fall into your lap? I'm having one of those days.

I have a potential business opportunity that could be huge. No certainties, but big potential.

I met my JV coach today, hired just a few days ago, and thankfully we see eye to eye on a lot of things. I'm just generally at ease now because it's someone I know I can trust with the future of the program. That's a relief.

I'm learning that the guy I hired for the project I'm on is fairly capable and inventive, more so than I expected. That means less pressure on me.

If God can work in an extra two hours per day, everything will be perfect!

From the really crazy shit file, everyone survives plane crash

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, August 3, 2005, 1:17 AM | comments: 0

I have to say, this is not something you see every day...

309 people, all of them, survive plane crash in Toronto.

Watching 24 season 2

posted by Jeff | Monday, August 1, 2005, 11:30 PM | comments: 0

To break up my ridiculous marathon work sessions, I've been watching 24 season 2 as kind of a reward for hitting certain milestones.

I forgot just how good season 2 really was. I mean, there are more "oh shit" moments than the other three seasons easily. I have to say that the writing that year was the best of the four. That's not to take away from the other seasons, because they're all incredibly awesome television, but season 2 is intense.

One of the things I like about it is that, as with season 4 (not yet released on DVD), they make the point that while a lot of terrorism comes out of the Middle East, that doesn't mean it's a core value of Middle East cultures or Islam. In a way it's a shame that they need to remind an American audience that, but hey, people watch stupid rednecks act like, well, stupid rednecks and call it comedy.

The funny thing is that the writers manage to write a real-time script and it actually works. When you watch a few episodes in a row, it's easier to see it as one physical day that the story takes place, where as during the weekly episodes during the season there are times where you lose sight that every episode is just one hour. They generally don't take a lot of liberties with time, though it's sometimes hard to comprehend anyone having a day like the characters in the story!

If you've never watched the show, buy it. Each season is around 19 hours of entertainment (the first shows are commercial free, and maybe the finales as well in certain seasons). Really good times. Worth every dime on those days where it's too hot to be outside.

Guts are suffering

posted by Jeff | Monday, August 1, 2005, 4:26 PM | comments: 4

Yesterday's disregard for responsible food consumption has caught up with me today. My body is really pissed off. Not comfortable at all.

A good old-fashioned date day

posted by Jeff | Monday, August 1, 2005, 12:53 AM | comments: 2

I planned a day of doing stuff for Stephanie today, kind of an old-fashioned date day. I didn't do a good job keeping most of it a secret, but I did manage to keep the picnic part a secret.

First we went down into the Cuyahoga Valley National Park for a mini-picnic. I got her a salad from the grocery store and we had GardenburgersĀ® on the little gas grill. (Seriously... I doubt most people would know it's not beef.) Also got the premium root beer. Yummy.

From there we went to Best Buy and Target to kill a little time, and by some miracle, didn't actually buy anything.

Next off was the movie, Sky High. Yeah, PG Disney movie, I know, but Stephanie loves super heroes, and it was a fun flick. Two of the girls in the movie are adorable, the kind I hope to have some day. (No rush!)

Next we headed off to Borders and I bought Stephie a couple of books, as well as made sure my own was in a prominent position so someone would notice it and buy it. I can't share what the books were. ;)

Dinner was at a Thai place that also has a variety of Asian dishes. They have the full range from the more authentic stuff to mainstream crap like sweet and sour chicken. Good stuff, good decor, and it's casual. Yummy.

The day ended with some backrubbing and a late nap in the air conditioning. It was a great traditional date day. The only thing we didn't do is mini-golf! ;) Good times with my girl.