Archive: October, 2008

Cock rash

posted by Jeff | Friday, October 31, 2008, 5:02 PM | comments: 0

When the U2 song "Stay (Far away, so close!)" came out in 1993, there was a line in the song that said, "Like a car crash." But with Bono's accent, it always sounded like "cock rash" when I heard it. To this day, it makes me giggle when I hear it. I've had many laughs because of it.

Little memories like this make me smile.

Robots attack!

posted by Jeff | Friday, October 31, 2008, 1:24 AM | comments: 19

Good stuff...

I totally don't get how anyone in the McCain campaign thought this was a good idea. Nobody buys the "worked close with terrorist" nonsense other than ardent fanboys. It's insulting to anyone with even a little common sense. It also stinks of desperation that, to me at least, says, "We have no issues to talk about anymore, so let's use the scares and name calling." And worse, do it as telemarketing, which everyone hates.

While I certainly give Obama a lot of credit for his campaign, especially the "broken promise" not to accept public funds (seriously, how is that a bad thing?), at this point I think McCain deserves most of the credit for the widening gap. In 2000, he was a totally viable candidate, not divisive, issue driven and didn't pander to the right. I mean even I would've considered voting for the guy back then (a Bradley-McCain race would've been far more interesting). But now he's none of those things, and he sealed his fate when he picked a running mate that isn't even remotely qualified to take his place should something happen. Having a crazy person a heartbeat away doesn't sit well with me.

In a few days, it'll hopefully be over. I'm crossing my fingers that Obama can win, and do at least a third of what he'd like to do. Honestly, I think that's the most realistic expectation you can have of any president, as there are just too many things outside of your control to do everything you'd like. While I agree on probably around 70% of his policy positions, it's his ability to inspire and encourage others that I'm excited about. I hope he gets the chance to use those skills.

Post 10,000!

posted by Jeff | Thursday, October 30, 2008, 10:21 PM | comments: 0

See title.

Fuel perks: First under-$20 fill-up in years

posted by Jeff | Thursday, October 30, 2008, 6:58 PM | comments: 0

Got college?

posted by Jeff | Thursday, October 30, 2008, 5:18 PM | comments: 3

I find it amusing when people say something like, "I've got college," to indicate that they have homework or class or whatever. And nine times out of ten, they're a freshman or go to a community college. I extrapolate that they're trying to make it sound important.

It was always "school" to me, and that seems to be the case even with grad and doctoral students. (I've dated/married/engaged enough of them to know!) I mean, every fall, I went back to school, not college.

Just observing something I've noticed before when I saw it again in a forum.

Now that's a hybrid

posted by Jeff | Thursday, October 30, 2008, 2:25 PM | comments: 4

Check it out.

I generally stand by the statement that regardless of my income, I'm too practical to buy a luxury brand car. But this... this is attractive. Sadly, I wouldn't be surprised if it cost $60k. That's where my practical side says no way.

MTV launches... MTV Music

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, October 29, 2008, 2:45 PM | comments: 3

I find it absolutely hilarious that MTV has launched a video Web site that, and called it MTV Music. That's Music Television Music.

So now you can enjoy 1988's greatest performance video, complete with lasers, Vari-Lites and big hair. Awesome.

Our very own ceiling/monorail cat

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, October 28, 2008, 11:19 PM | comments: 3

Touch screen fun

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, October 28, 2008, 1:31 PM | comments: 0

Calacanis' e-mail on economy and opportunity

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, October 28, 2008, 11:22 AM | comments: 0

He caved, and posted it here. This is in reference to my previous post.

I think he's right that the value of a blog post can be marginalized since everyone has one, but if you write something valuable, that to me counteracts it. His "exclusivity" thing artificially alters the value. Like I said, sometimes I think he's full of shit, but I admire his drive and overall sense of entrepreneurialism in the tech world.

When idealism and fundamentalism meet, it's not good

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, October 28, 2008, 12:54 AM | comments: 0

I've said recently that I wish I could be a little more idealistic, the way I was when I was in college. I think optimistic might be more appropriate, but I see idealism as the ability to not be constrained by what I believe is possible. Our experience certainly colors that ability, but I try really hard to not let it get in the way.

What I find scary is the number of people who pair idealism with fundamentalism. When I say fundamentalism, I'm not referring to it in the religious sense (though there's a lot of that too), but rather the notion that you can take a basic ideal and make it inflexible and believe that it's a universal truth.

When idealism and fundamentalism meet, you get very loud voices that want to simplify everything and offer solutions to very complex problems. In light of the current market crash, we're seeing a lot of that now. You see it for social issues too, like abortion. If we subscribe to this ideal, we get that result.

But it's never that simple. A lot of politicians insist that it is, people latch on to those rigid ideals, and take them at face value. The result is the nasty polarizing we've been dealing with now for years. That's a scary world to live in, because fundamentalism at some point becomes radicalism. People fly planes into buildings and blow up abortion clinics for those rigid beliefs.

A week from now, another election will be in the books (hopefully), and with any luck we'll be able to move on. I can't remember any presidential election, and I've voted in five of them, that was so sound bite driven. And the rise of the Internet shows how blissfully stupid people will be to accept the bites at face value without any context.

The economy, the opportunity, the responsibility

posted by Jeff | Monday, October 27, 2008, 8:52 PM | comments: 0

As much as I think Jason Calacanis might be completely full of shit (perhaps it's his annoying Brooklyn accent), I can't deny that he says a lot of very smart things. So I subscribe to his e-mail, which annoyingly he won't allow anyone to publish, and he doesn't blog it. That's one of the dumber things he does.

But the message he sent out today really stuck with me. In a nutshell, he said things are going to get even shittier, people will spend less money, whether that's rational or not (even "rich" people), lots of businesses will fail and it's hard to say where the bottom will be. He also said that it's one of the greatest opportunities to start something new, even if you have to lose a lot of money do it, because there will be less competition. And with unemployment likely to rise, more people will be spending more time doing "leisure activities" like screwing around online.

Really thinking about what he said in that message scared the hell out of me, inspired me, frustrated me, lifted me up, and scared the hell out of me some more.

I have three ideas. Actually, one of them is a "co-idea" for a project that a lot of people already know about. The other two involve another content/community idea and an outright online app. In a world without fear, I'd be starving the next three or four months building out those ideas, damn the consequences. In reality, I don't have the balls to pursue them. Or more to the point, I can't ignore the very real fiscal responsibilities I have for the next six months. (I'd spell them out, but doing so makes Diana feel guilty as if she caused them, which is totally not the case... it's just sub-optimal timing.)

The funny thing about starting up a new business of any kind is that it takes a lot of work. Even in the Internet world, where you don't need an office or physical goods, you still need time. Time is not as free as you'd like, and it continues to be the constraint that I struggle with.

So here's what I'm going to try and do while balancing the responsibilities that I have. Project 1 should be a slam dunk to get off the ground once I finish up some of the stuff I've recently talked about. Project 2 is a lot of work, in part because it's not well defined. Project 3 could potentially be something I could crank out in a couple of weekends. Given the scope of each opportunity, I have to prioritize their potential for return on investment, the investment being my time. Project 1 will get dibs.

I have to set real goals. Project 1 has to be real by the end of the year. That's only the start though, because it'll take a great deal of promotion and work to get it off the ground. The other two it just depends based on how they are defined, but just getting them to that definition, to me, is progress. I'd like to also have the definition phase done by the end of the year.

The mental challenge for me (and God knows I can be mentally challenged!) is to not be brought down by the weather, the day job and the constant fear that I'm not banking enough for the best honeymoon ever made. Oh, and I need to plan that trip. I'm slacking.

I've been thinking a lot about this week back in 2001, which felt very similar. I was laid-off for real for the first time (the real first time was from radio, and I was living at home, so it doesn't count), and I felt pretty horrible about myself, my profession and the world at large. But when I really dial back the sense of doom back then, I realize that it was the genesis of my current earning ability and career level: It was the time just before .NET was launched. It's time to plant the seed for the next big thing in my career.

Another "exaversary"

posted by Jeff | Monday, October 27, 2008, 1:22 AM | comments: 0

With all of the love in my life and excitement of a wedding in the very near future, I'm amazed that there's still a sting when October 27 comes up. I'm just not entirely sure what to do with it.

The strange thing is that I don't associate the date with my first wedding, I associate it with April 26, 2005, the day that Stephanie moved out. I can't think of any time in my life that I've been more in pieces than that day and the following weeks.

A whole lot of time has passed since then. I went through my anger and bitter phases pretty quickly I think. I mean, this wasn't a situation of not loving each other or hating each other. At first it was about her needing to figure out her life, and later I realized that I needed to figure out my own as well. In the end, we both knew it was the right thing, and I suspect we're both a lot happier than we were.

I think there are two reasons the day makes me sad. The first is that I had a best friend for a decade, and she's not there anymore. We still chat online now and then, or trade e-mail, but obviously it's nothing like it was. There's a certain shock to the system when something that was that intense for so long simply ceases to exist. What I've tried to do, mostly with success, is be as thankful as I can to have had the experience with her, and celebrate those good times (yeah, I know that's right out of a Dido song). Even with the obvious flaws in our relationship, there was a lot of love there, and it was a good thing. It's a permanent part of who I am. I genuinely think it was a privilege to be married to her.

The second thing that makes me sad is that I feel like I have this mammoth failure on my permanent record. This one is a little harder to negotiate. The best I've been able to do is allow myself to understand that given my life's experience at the time, I did the best I could. I truly believe that. My experience since has shown that the way any two people interact is completely unlike how those two people would interact with others. In other words, I can only take responsibility for half of the failure.

I remember thinking in college that relationships simply replaced the previous relationship. Now I understand that it isn't the way it works. Relationships are additive. I'll always be Stephanie's former husband, just as I'll always be an ex-boyfriend to others. I don't want to forget about those times because a lot of them were good! Going forward, I'll still have all of that as components of me. And on top of that, I'll be a husband again.

I'm thankful to no end that Diana is able to accept all of the pieces that make up me. She doesn't expect me to ignore them or pretend they didn't happen. I think that being with someone who acknowledges your history allows for a certain amount of self-affirmation. It never hurts to have a little help to be OK with yourself.

Let's interface

posted by Jeff | Monday, October 27, 2008, 12:20 AM | comments: 2

I've finally got my Deep Zoom player and image serving thing all figured out. The more I use Silverlight, the more impressed I am by it, but I'm also astounded at how incomplete the Deep Zoom system is (specifically, the MultiScaleImage control, which is the heart of the technology). Maybe incomplete isn't the right word, but they didn't do a very good job at fleshing out the most normal of usage situations.

Regardless, it's really cool to see a big panorama that Walt stitched together and be able to look around at it at its full, native resolution. These things can be as much as 8,000 pixels wide, which is like taking eight monitors and putting them side to side.

What this has led to is a need for me to finally think in bigger terms, and rewrite a lot of this image code to work in a more decoupled and generic sense. For example, I want to split out the tagging system. Think about how you can tag anything... photos, video, notes, etc... on Facebook. Yet these tags ultimately all come back to a single record, in this case, people.

Now think of it in terms of photos. I have the good old fashioned "classic" photo albums, but now I'll have Deep Zoom images as well. I need to take a step back and build all these things using interfaces so they can work together. Instead of getting Photos, I'll get IPhotos (no relation to Apple).

It's funny, but despite all that I had read about interfaces when I first started to learn object oriented programming and design patterns, I haven't used them very often. They were used in some of the more complex projects I had at ICOM, but not really in my own stuff. I have used a fair number of abstract classes, which are essentially interfaces with some implementation, but even those are infrequent.

There are two things that I find exciting about this, both very nerdy. The first is the realization that I know this stuff, and the second is that my own projects are growing enough that I get to use the knowledge. Having a bigger toolbox in my head certainly frees me to think about more interesting possibilities. CoasterBuzz v4 was probably the first of my own projects that finally leveraged all that I know, and the result is obvious with the speed and efficiency of the underlying code. Again, I really credit that to the 2.5 years of working at ICOM with smarter people.

Going forward, I realize that it's important to continue to subject myself to brilliant people, even if it is a self-study situation.

My maple

posted by Jeff | Sunday, October 26, 2008, 2:01 PM | comments: 1

Car emoticons

posted by Jeff | Sunday, October 26, 2008, 12:20 PM | comments: 1

I want this. Somehow I suspect it's not legal in Ohio.

A marriage story

posted by Jeff | Saturday, October 25, 2008, 7:14 PM | comments: 0

Probably kind of random, but Scott Hanselman posted an interesting story about how he met his wife. Scott is a Microsoftie, a PM and an incredibly excellent presenter. He definitely raises the bar on wedding adventures!

Fat man and fat dog... photographed!

posted by Jeff | Saturday, October 25, 2008, 7:03 PM | comments: 3

Failing Xbox

posted by Jeff | Saturday, October 25, 2008, 12:03 AM | comments: 1

My Xbox 360 is starting to lock up. Last time I had it on it did it twice, shortly into games, then ran fine. Now it's locking up at various intervals, sometimes without even getting into the boot screen.

What concerns me is that I haven't had the red ring of death, which is when the three red lights appear around the power button. Apparently, the warranty extension insists that's the condition necessary in order to get a free repair. From what I've read, out-of-warranty repairs aren't cheap, to the extent it'd be better to simply buy a new one. That's $200 I'd rather not spend.

Be careful of who you work for

posted by Jeff | Friday, October 24, 2008, 3:31 PM | comments: 2

Walt sent me this blog entry about choosing who you work for. True words if I've ever heard them.

Being normal is failure

posted by Jeff | Thursday, October 23, 2008, 3:12 PM | comments: 3

We finally got to the first episode of Eli Stone last night. Amazing show, if you didn't catch it in the first season. Really well written.

Anyway, they obviously had to explain away how Eli was going to continue having visions since the aneurysm they removed last season would theoretically put an end to that. It came down to a character telling Eli that the thing that was making him miserable, not having the visions, was the result of the fact that he viewed being normal as a failure.

Wow did that hit me hard. It didn't sink in until I went to bed last night, but boy did it stick with me. I think that it might be the very thing that makes me so discontent with my career.

Understand that it's not attention and praise that I'm looking for. I learned in my early radio days that attention and celebrity, on whatever level, is overrated. Meeting a lot of famous people in that time only reinforced that notion. But I don't want to be normal either. I don't want to be a neutral contributor to the world. I feel like I have more to give than take. The question mark remains that I have no idea how to manifest that.

There's a point in there somewhere for the J-Pizzie Lifestyle Manifesto, but it needs to marinate for awhile.

Livin' true to you and others (JP Lifestyle Manifesto #2)

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, October 21, 2008, 9:55 PM | comments: 2

One of the things I thought about today, I suppose in the context of Diana's medical adventures, is how easily we share most everything. I don't think either one of us do too much screening of our thoughts to each other, and when we do it's generally out of some kind of consideration for one another.

While I know it's very The Four Agreements, it occurs to me that being honest and transparent in your relationships, with others, with yourself, in every context, is one of the most freeing things in the world. When you can be completely honest (or impeccable with your word, as Agreements puts it), you don't have to worry about who you keep secrets from, candy coating your mood, misrepresent yourself, etc. You just are who you are, and the people who love you and call you friend accept it or they don't.

This should extend to your professional life as well, and I admit that this is the place that I'm not quite as good at it. I don't mean whether or not you speak up in a meeting, but more along the lines of how you interact with those above and below you. I've always had a hard time saying, "I'm not content with the tasks you're giving me," or, "I'd like you to do this differently." It's a little easier for me to communicate to underlings, but harder to tell a boss they're failing me (perhaps because I'm not always sure how to word it in a way that may piss them off).

Ultimately, this honesty is what drives expectations of any relationship. And isn't that a huge portion of what relationship management is? Expectation management?

The hardest part of this is with the relationship with yourself. It's hard to admit your faults or your strengths to yourself without feeling like a narcissist. It doesn't help that you're with yourself all of the time, so how the fuck are you supposed to recognize your own patterns? It takes a lot of work.

I'm not suggesting that this is a universal truth, by the way. I think it's OK to place reasonable limits on what you're forthcoming about. Heck, that's something I likely need to do more of. You don't need to share with friends the scope of your last dump, and you wouldn't share the sexual details of past relationships with your in-laws, for some obvious examples. But for the stuff that counts, honesty is critical.

So here's the second point in the J-Pizzie Lifestyle Manifesto:

"Live honestly and transparently with those around you, and create an environment where this transparency is possible."

Diana's vertigo

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, October 21, 2008, 9:31 PM | comments: 9

Diana has had a two shitty weeks now dealing with her vertigo issues. It really scares the shit out of me because no matter what the popular medicine says, namely that this sort of thing is caused by inner-ear problems, you can't help but wonder if it's something really wrong with the brain.

Diana has missed some work, slept in all kinds of strange positions, has only been able to drive her car once in the last two weeks, and is generally not able to be herself. Fortunately her doctor was able to refer her to the absolute right genius doctor at the Cleveland Clinic, and with great urgency we got to see him this afternoon. The alternative was December, which would not be acceptable.

She spent an hour with the doctor, who spent probably a half-hour just getting her history with the symptoms. The worst it ever got was several years ago while in Florida when she could barely crawl around and was throwing up and a total mess. I couldn't believe how much data he wanted, but like some TV medical drama, he was able to put it all together after doing a great many diagnostic exercises, poking her with sharp things, putting a tuning fork on her head and manipulating her head all over the place.

The diagnosis was not simple, and that's what makes this guy a fucking genius. First off, everything points to some kind of viral damage to her left ear, resulting in a condition called Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV). Different people at different ages and a bazillion other variables lose small fragments of calcium carbonate crystals that start to float around in the ear canals. Depending on the position of the head relative to gravity, these tiny crystals, or stones as the doc called them, stimulate the nerved endings that normally sense fluid motion to help you balance. The problem is that it's counter to what your other senses are taking in, confusing your brain, and making you one dizzy bastard. I can't even imagine how frightening that could be.

That in itself is treated with "particle repositioning therapy," which for most people, given the placement of where the crystals are trapped, means a whole lot of not lying down until the crystals land in a place where they can gradually dissolve over time without causing any further problems. This means that Diana can't sleep flat for the next two nights, which sucks. She'll have to do it in her favorite chair, upright.

Like I said, this guy is a genius because he put together other, seemingly non-related symptoms that confirm the diagnosis as well as address other problems. For as long as I've known Diana, she's had issues with neck and shoulder pain, which she attributed to sleeping funny. I doubt there's a person in the world who would ever think it was anything else. Her headache issues she has largely attributed to allergies. However, while not a popular medical opinion, but not fringe science either, the doctor strongly believes that the brain and the body compensate for more minor BPPV symptoms by trying to orient the body in a way that minimizes the imbalance. In Diana's case, it's accomplished by repositioning the head a certain way. Of course, the body is only built to carry the weight of your head one way, so this can cause muscles and bones to do all kinds of ugly things that cause pain.

The disorientation from the vertigo, combined with muscles pulling on her neck and head in unnatural ways cause headaches, while stress and computer screens (and apparently trying to sleep facing me!) further aggravate each other. So all of these symptoms appear to be inter-related, and need to be treated as such. She has to see a physical therapist to start working her neck and shoulder into a more natural position.

This is all ridiculously inconvenient for her, but we could only leave the clinic feeling like, "Holy shit, that guy was awesome." He added up so many things, explained the science, and figured it out in a way that wasn't simplified just to get us out of there. Most importantly, Diana has reason to hope this will be taken care of, and she can get back to driving, playing tennis, sleeping normally, and hopefully even address her muscle pain and headaches. And in the short-term, hopefully she'll be in good shape for our vacation, as she really has her eye on those tea cups!

I've had a lot on my mind lately, and this thing has been one of the things that trouble me. I was very happy to be there today, and I hope this treatment gets my redhead back to normal.

Lord I was born a XAMLin' man

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, October 21, 2008, 12:08 AM | comments: 0

(XAML is Extensible Application Markup Language, pronounced "zamel," rhymes with "camel.)

I've been thrown head-first into a project to build a WPF app at work. I'm not enjoying myself because it has all of the characteristics of ultimate failure, like no actual specification or design of any kind beyond some vague (always changing) screen mock ups. I'm all for Getting Real, but even I have my limits.

Putting that all aside for a moment, I'm seriously impressed with WPF as an honest to God replacement for crappy Windows Forms. XAML is pretty awesome too, because the very nature of anything XML based is that there's a logical hierarchy of stuff that flows and expands as you change it.

The real excitement for me comes with the fact that Silverlight 2 is a subset of WPF, living in the browser. And heck, there are actually more goodies for it and enormous potential to do pretty much anything you can think of. And it's so easy to prototype and build stuff! I'm thinking very seriously of building a chat system with it to complement my forum app, just because I think I can. But alas, I need to cut down on the science projects and start delivering some new sites, sooner than later.

Silverlight 2 was released last week, and unfortunately the books are a little slow to release. I still enjoy and value a good book, even with the mountains of blogs, forums and documentation out there. Although what's unusual about this particular product is that I barely touched it at all prior to release. Prior releases of the .NET Framework and Visual Studio I'd be all over long before they were final. I suppose this comes in part because I was working on delivering real finished goods for the summer. Now I'm trying to catch up a bit.

I still haven't totally wrapped my head around what I could do with these new tools. I think the first and most obvious thing is some new photo and video tools. Stay tuned for that!

Ages at odds (JP Lifestyle Manifesto #1)

posted by Jeff | Monday, October 20, 2008, 6:24 PM | comments: 3

Gonch's comment to my last post had me thinking about a tangent topic. Why does age and experience seem to put personality traits at odds?

There is so much research out there that indicates certain aspects of our personalities change with age, some for better, some for worse. I read a great article (maybe it was in Wired or Fast Company?) that indicated, after watching Baby Boomers reach their 60's, that the transition culminated in one particularly turbulent time that comes in the 40's (and speculating that it'd be the 50's for today's teens). The mid-life crisis, as defined by this article, was that people suddenly realize that they've let go of their ability to dream, be creative and cling to ideals, in favor of being realistic and practical. The result is a great deal of self-loathing that they've "sold out" or let themselves grow too far from their younger ideals. The article went on to say that this also was a source for resentment toward younger generations in the work place, but that's a topic for Gonch's blog. ;)

As this scenario relates to me, I think what I'm striving for is to have both. I want to be a dreamer, creative and idealistic, as well as realistic and practical. Being naive and stupid removes the constraints that would prevent most people from making serious mistakes, but it can also enable them to do really great things.

This is not a regret thing for me. I'm not self-loathing for feeling that I missed out on something or let go too much. My life has seen a great deal of chaos, especially these last three and a half years, but I'd never trade it in for what I've learned. It's true that joy is much sweeter when it can be contrasted with a great deal of pain.

So I declare the first well-defined characteristic of the J-Pizzie Lifestyle Manifesto:

"Leverage all that experience has brought to you, but always balance it with the hope and fear of limitless possibility."

How not to win votes: Treat people as morons

posted by Jeff | Monday, October 20, 2008, 5:01 PM | comments: 3

Uninhibited perspective and framing the right questions

posted by Jeff | Monday, October 20, 2008, 2:40 PM | comments: 3

I made a status change on Facebook and had a flood of sudden responses, mostly leading to the path that suggested I need a new laptop. I asked why my bastard friends would encourage me like that, and Tyler said, "The J-Pizzie lifestyle gives us all a goal to work for." He unknowingly set off a rash of interesting thought. (At least, it was interesting to me.)

The first thing that comment triggered was the realization that my search for an ideal set of conditions under which I'd like to live my life are far too undefined to truly act on. I don't know what the "J-Pizzie lifestyle" is supposed to be exactly. But more on that in a moment.

I once had a conversation with Kara where I stated that I consider her an equal in many ways. She thought I was largely full of shit because I have a decade on her, I've accomplished "stuff" and whatever. While that may be true, experience is often a blessing and a curse. While Kara's lack of life experience may cause her to make uninformed decisions, my excess experience can constrain my decisions. Isn't it funny how that works? You can end up in an undesirable condition either way.

I think this is one of the reasons I try to surround myself with younger people, whether it be the Tyler's and Kara's of the world, or teenage volleyball kids. Sure, there are just as many idiot young people as there are idiot old people, but for the most part the youngins' are less inhibited and see things in a much broader perspective. Sure, there are some 20-somethings who are already totally set in their ways and have a rigid view of the world, but I think most have a great deal to contribute. That's why I hate when people are so quick to write-off younger generations. Listen, and you might learn something from them. It's hard to un-color your perspective, but younger people can help.

Am I even old enough to refer to "younger people?" Rhetorical question... let's move on.

Back to that epiphany of sorts. I'm still a good decade away from the scheduled mid-life crisis, but I honestly feel like I'm having it now. Fortunately I'm too much of a tree-hugger to buy a Porsche. But I realize that much of my angst toward the system in place that I'm a part of, the system that you have to participate in to sustain yourself in the world, is rooted in the fact that I don't have even a vague definition of what I want my role to be.

This is another place where the younger perspective helps. Despite the relative uninhibited view of the world, you also start out having some rigid definition of how your life is supposed to go, an obvious domestication artifact left to us by our parents. We have to fail at some things, or see uncontrollable change, before we can loosen that up. For me it was the realization that the broadcast industry, and radio in particular, was a crappy business with little opportunity, and soul-sucking properties despite it being otherwise rewarding. Thank God for the Internet coming along, or I'd be totally lost.

I can see how Kara's and Tyler's views have evolved a bit since they graduated from college, and I think both have transitioned into that more fluid value system that allows them to adapt and still find a happy balance in life. It took me years to do that, probably around age 26. After that breakthrough though, I've seemingly gone the other way.

Nine years later, I've seen the personal side of my life fall apart, and then come back together. I've been in and out of jobs like a revolving door, mostly involuntarily. I think all of that chaos, I've nearly lost my way. I went from rigid life expectations, to fluid, to undefined. I don't have the slightest idea what I'm doing right now in most areas outside of my relationship life.

So Ty's comment, in a nutshell, has caused me to realize that in my quest to figure out my life, I haven't been framing the questions in a way that will help me find answers. The fundamental start has to come by way of defining what I want my lifestyle to be like. The "who" is a problem solved, thank God, so that leaves the other questions in search of answers.

Powell endorses Obama

posted by Jeff | Monday, October 20, 2008, 12:27 AM | comments: 10

"Because of [Obama's] ability to inspire, because of the inclusive nature of this campaign, because he is reaching out all across America, because of who he is and his rhetorical abilities -- we have to take that into account -- as well as his substance -- he has both style and substance -- he has met the standard of being a successful president, being an exceptional president," Powell said.

"I think we need a transformational figure," Powell said. "I think we need a president who is a generational change, and that's why I'm supporting Barack Obama -- not out of any lack of respect or admiration for Sen. McCain."


I think he absolutely nailed the reason I'll vote for the guy in a way I couldn't articulate. I'm still pissed I couldn't see the guy speak when I was in college because you had to be a Republican fundraiser type to get in. (Fucking Ashland. :))

A Sunday drive

posted by Jeff | Sunday, October 19, 2008, 6:15 PM | comments: 4

With the sun shining today, the fall colors, and a nearby Apple Store that I hadn't been to yet, it seemed like a good day to get out and about.

I know it isn't good for me, but I felt a visit to Melt was long overdue, for a dose of melted-cheese-grilled-bread-and-blackened-chicken-served-by-girls-with-tattoos-and-piercings goodness. The wait seemed way too long, but it was totally worth it. First time we've been there since they knocked down a wall and acquired the place next door. I love the vibe of that place, with the good food, great non-mainstream alcohol offerings and the location.

From there, we headed west to Crocker Park, so we could check out the new Apple Store and the new laptops. I'm horribly jealous because George already bought one, and he posted the unboxing porn on Facebook. Bastard. I can't believe how rigid and solid they feel, and they're stacked with hardware. I remember there was a time when there was a segment of the notebook market called "desktop replacement," and they were these giant, heavy, nut baking machines. Now, these things are even powerful enough for gaming (provided you aren't one of those idiots who buys $500 video cards every six months). Alas, I'm going to try hard to wait for them to become available on Amazon, because the sales tax is substantial.

I wanted to stop at the Pinball Shoppe, but it was closed. We took the long slower (but not longer) way home down SR-252 to enjoy the fall colors. I remember taking that drive a bunch when I worked at the now defunct CompUSA. We passed 252 Tattoo, where I got my industrial (*sniff sniff*).

I busted out my baby HD camcorder, which hasn't seen a lot of use despite having it for about a year. I originally bought it for volleyball, before the whole coaching thing fell through. I don't have a lot of video of Diana. I used to carry my DV camcorder all over the place. (I know someone who would love to have that camera, gently used as it may be. ;)) Of course, I posted the day's video on YouTube for family and friends to see.

Racism is alive and well, and in Ohio

posted by Jeff | Friday, October 17, 2008, 12:27 PM | comments: 25

Scary and shameful residents of Ohio show how stupid they are on Al Jazeera

I can't imagine why anyone would hate us with intellectual giants like this calling themselves Americans. What a bunch of fucking morons, racists and such.

From Tyler's blog.

Mama's girl

posted by Jeff | Thursday, October 16, 2008, 11:04 PM | comments: 0

Mama's boy

posted by Jeff | Thursday, October 16, 2008, 10:48 PM | comments: 0

Job update

posted by Jeff | Thursday, October 16, 2008, 4:42 PM | comments: 0

Someone at BooBuzz who reads my blog asked how the new job was going, and I replied that it was hard to say. The truth is that it's still too early to tell.

The company has been around awhile, but the app development wing of it is relatively immature. That's why I'm here, to up that game with regards to particular clients. But it's slow-going so far, so I can't really describe much beyond that. I can say I've had a trial-by-fire project to learn WPF, which is useful because it translates well to Silverlight (essentially a subset of WPF).

I also realize that I miss the people from ICOM, and that wears on me a bit. The place wasn't perfect, and maybe it was time for me to move on (even if it was involuntary), but there are good people there.

Massive potato

posted by Jeff | Thursday, October 16, 2008, 12:55 PM | comments: 3

No more iced animal cookies

posted by Jeff | Thursday, October 16, 2008, 10:59 AM | comments: 1

See here

This makes me sad. I haven't had them in years, but I remember them very fondly growing up. I wonder if I can find some in a store somewhere before they're entirely gone.

Lusty new MacBook Pro

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, October 15, 2008, 12:47 AM | comments: 1

The new Macs sure are sexy. I've been saying for awhile that I'd like to upgrade. I could really use the hard drive space and more RAM. I've become particularly aware of this since I've been using my current laptop for work. And if the new ones feel as solid as the MacBook Air does, that's even more appeal. There seems to be some protest online about the glass screen, but I can see my iPhone in bright sunlight and I suspect this would be the same thing. And for the first time ever, Apple isn't completely screwing you on the memory upgrade.

Yes, I can get by without it, and I'm going to try and do just that for as long as I can stand it (which could be a week for all I know). At the very least, I should wait until Amazon has it in stock so I can get away with no tax and 4% back via the affiliate program.

My rational side is reminded that I'm having the worst ad revenue month since, well, last October. And there's a honeymoon. And carpet.

In a place called vertigo

posted by Jeff | Monday, October 13, 2008, 6:56 PM | comments: 1

I used to just think vertigo was a cool song from U2, but unfortunately Diana has a history with the medical condition.

She had a severe episode of vertigo before I met her, but warned me about the possibility of it coming back at some point. Obviously the caution comes with amusement rides, but for the most part she hasn't had any real issues. (Except in Shrek 4-D at Universal, which frankly messes with my head too.)

This morning though she could barely stand up, which scared the hell out of me, so I worked from home. I guess there hasn't been a ton I could do aside from driving and running errands, but still. The going theory is that she's got some fluid build-up in her ears and/or sinuses, which is screwing up her balance.

It's kind of nice to take care of her for a change though. It's one of the things that I need in a relationship, the opportunity to be a provider in some way. I just wish it didn't have to be under circumstances where she felt so crappy.

Snotty alternative theory

posted by Jeff | Sunday, October 12, 2008, 4:03 PM | comments: 3

Diana came up with an interesting hypothesis last night, that the three or four times I thought I was "sick" this year (not counting the obvious sinus infection in March), I was actually having strong allergy reactions. I think she may be right. Most of my life when I have had allergy issues, it was sneezing and itchy eyes or whatever, and typically getting into an air conditioned place "cured" me. The problem is that the intensity of the episodes is a lot higher and causing a longer recovery time. The more I read up about allergies on the medical sites, the more I think she nailed the problem.

When I see how she reacts to allergies, even with all of her meds, I think that makes perfect sense. I'm just not used to it. So if I were to believe this theory, then I've only been sick once this year, and the rest of the time I've been battling... something.

It's obviously not Diana or the cats, because they've been here almost a year now, and the allergy problems are intermittent. Grass and tree pollen are obvious problems I've always had, but the dry weather this year I think made it much worse. I tend to react much more strongly though in my adult years to various chemicals and household substances. I can't really use scented anything. I have to be careful about what lotions, perfumes and scented candles I can be around. For the most part we've figured out what I react poorly to, but perhaps not everything.

I feel like it's a great thing to at least have some ideas though so I can act on it. It'll be easier to figure out once it's too cold to have the house open all of the time. It's also a relief that I'm not having an immuno-meltdown.

Maverick multiples

posted by Jeff | Sunday, October 12, 2008, 12:24 PM | comments: 4

We got 12 laps on Maverick yesterday morning. Seven of them were without getting up. How cool is that? I love that ride. Diana and I got to ride it solo before the rest of the crowd got there, which was pretty cool. The lighter train just crawled into the mid-course, giving us a launch from a near dead stop. That was sweet.

The park was crazy crowded after that. We got some solid mini-golf in after that, which is a surprisingly good deal. Two-for-one with your Platinum pass means eight bucks for 36 holes for both of us.

We also spent some time just sitting on the beach. With the "surf" pounding and a warm sun, it was a nice zen-like moment. It was entirely too crowded to do much else, but the morning was pretty fabulous, and that made it worth it.

Deep Zooming, new laptops and feeling craptaculous

posted by Jeff | Thursday, October 9, 2008, 11:39 PM | comments: 1

My latest science project has been to figure out how to cut up an image for Silverlight's Deep Zoom (see HR Memorabilia) so I can store the create and store the images on the fly, without using Deep Zoom composer. I've had only limited success. I'm missing something in the math, which is in part because it's still poorly documented. Some of my interim zoom steps are the wrong size. I feel like I'm so close, but not quite there.

Apple sent out invites for a new laptop announcement next Tuesday. The common sense part of me says, "You don't need a new laptop." The other side says, "A new laptop will have more RAM and hard drive space, and you can get a bigger screen, all of which are issues with your current 2.5-year-old laptop." It's true that the constraints are annoying, but of course I'm thinking about the stuff I need to buy for the next six months and the crappy economy.

I still feel crappy after last night's respiratory meltdown. I don't quite feel bedridden sick, but I don't feel even remotely good. I got home today and crashed for an hour. It sucks because the brain is willing to engage in a great deal more than the body is.

Wish I

posted by Jeff | Thursday, October 9, 2008, 3:51 PM | comments: 2

A beautiful day, and I wish I were home working on [some project here] with a cat in the window and sun filling the room.

Crazy allergy blast

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, October 8, 2008, 11:00 PM | comments: 4

I was pleased to be breathing pretty free in MSP after sucking down a Zyrtec the day we got there, after having a crappy night before we left. I don't know what it is, but I was having all of the crappy allergy symptoms.

I seemed to be OK when we got home, then within ten minutes of climbing into bed last night, I got all weasy and snotty. That caused me to wake up with a soar throat and congestion and such. I have two possible theories. The first is that Diana used a scented softener on some of her clothes last week, which is a known problem for me. The other theory is that it's the sheets on the bed, which may not have ever been washed here, and therefore have residual scent of some kind on them. It sucks, because I can't use any of those scented laundry products. Actually, I can't use scented cat litters or a lot of other household cleaning products that are scented.

When I got home today, I figured I'd start cleaning up a little, and vacuumed everything, in part to suck any possible allergens out of the carpet. That wasn't a good idea. The Dyson is pretty good at sucking that stuff out, but when you empty it, you're probably going to expose yourself to it. I had a massive allergy attack, the worst I can remember since college. I was totally blocked up.

It pisses me off because I haven't had any significant allergy problems, aside from a couple of weeks in the spring, in years. And it's still nothing compared to the prescription medicated kind of issues that Diana has. I'm feeling exceptionally not well now, and crossing my fingers it doesn't blossom into a real sickness.

Google Trends: Roller coasters not as cool as they used to be

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, October 8, 2008, 3:22 PM | comments: 0

I know I've blogged about it a couple of times, but it occurred to me that Google Trends would be a good measure of how popular amusement parks and roller coasters are in the minds of the world. Sure enough, it's not the hot topic it used to be. I wish you could see all the way back to 2000.

Hanging out with K-Diz in MSP

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, October 8, 2008, 12:50 AM | comments: 1

Me and Diana got back tonight from Minneapolis, after spending a few days with Kara and her current home town. I haven't seen Kara in person in a year, and Diana hasn't really spent any time with her. That troubled me because it was strange that one of my best friends and my fiance hadn't really had an opportunity to get to know each other.

I mentioned awhile back that it was exciting to see younger friends doing their thing, and that it was inspiring to see them out conquering the world. Kara is definitely conquering hers, and it's crazy to see how much change she's had in her life in the last year. So naturally, we wanted to corrupt, er, expand her horizons some more!

Our first day in, she picked us up at the airport and we dropped her off at work at Valleyfair. We crashed at her apartment since we were up a bit early. We headed up to the park around 3-something and had a good time riding new-to-Diana coasters. We checked out some of the haunt stuff too. The park looked really good, and it got progressively busier as the night went on. Kara joined us after she was done working and we did some more riding and haunt junk.

I think Kara was worried about entertaining us, but we ended up simply going out to a Cheesecake Factory for dinner just to enjoy each others' company and hang out. I really enjoyed that dinner as we all traded stories about each other. It made me appreciate more than ever how amazing a friend Kara has been, especially the last few years, and how lucky I am to have landed the perfect partner for life in Diana.

Sunday's agenda had us seeking out a movie while Kara was working. We saw Flash of Genius, which I really liked. I still love the experience of a movie theater.

We picked up Kara after work and went to the casino. She has never gambled, so we agreed to brief her on something simple like video poker. The casino doesn't have any table games beyond blackjack, and they don't serve alcohol, so it's a really strange vibe to the place.

The old grandfather sitting next to her gave her the best casino advice: Stay home! But she picked a budget of five dollars, and did quarter bets. At first she wasn't hitting anything at all, and it was hard to sell the idea that this would be fun in Vegas. But she did start to hit and played on that five dollars for a little more than 20 minutes, so she could see how with some free drinks and the entertainment value of playing, this could certainly be fun. I mean, you piss away more playing Skee-Ball and at best you win some worthless plush doll!

We rounded out the day with an on-demand movie (Vantage Point), and played with her cat, Maggie. Cutest cat evar. She has a little under-bite, lots of personality, and she's tiny despite being about two-years-old. She obviously could tell we're cat people.

Our last full day was reserved for retail bliss and Nickelodeon Universe at the Mall of America. It started with my first visit to Ikea. That was fun, and it made me wish I had a new place to decorate. And an Ikea where ever that may be. We had breakfast there for a huge 99 cents. Yummay. I got some $25 LED lights to mount under a shelf. And a squeegee.

In the mall, we hit the coasters right away. First was the SpongeBob coaster. It's not bad, perhaps a little average. I think that Gerstlauer's Euro-fighter platform is pretty cool, but I think they have pushed what they were asking it to do a little too far in the space they had. If a few of the transitions had a little more room, I think they'd be smoother.

Avatar Airbender was is the shockers that blew me away. Wow... what a fantastic ride. Sure, the capacity is dismal with only 12 people on it, but the sensation is amazing. I can't remember the last time I rode something that was so free feeling and comfortable. It totally exceeded my expectations.

We did have one little mishap, when the log flume somehow sent a wave over the front of the boat, soaking Diana.

Aside from a little looking around the Best Buy, and a fun stop in Lovesac, I stayed out of the shopping while the girls did some light shoe shopping. We also scored a bottle of wine, which was another thing we intended to introduce to Kara.

And so we did, after picking up some bake-at-home pizzas from this pizza joint that makes it, but don't bake it. Kara likes girl beer and Boone's, so we figured since she was living an otherwise grown up life, it was time to get her drinking a grown up beverage. We got a $20 bottle of muscat, but it wasn't quite as sweet as we hoped (or the wine guy led us to believe), but Kara said she liked it.

We closed up the weekend with a yarn purchase (Diana is gonna make a scarf and gloves for the Minnesotan), and some lunch. Kara was a gracious host, a great friend and a ton of fun. I'm so glad we finally got out there. She hated that we kept buying her food out, but it was the least we could do for giving us a place to stay and a car to drive. Great times, that's for sure!

SNL does the VP debate

posted by Jeff | Sunday, October 5, 2008, 2:47 PM | comments: 0

Meh Thing

posted by Jeff | Saturday, October 4, 2008, 8:00 PM | comments: 1

Lil' Bill O'Reilly

posted by Jeff | Friday, October 3, 2008, 3:45 PM | comments: 2

Tyler already blogged this, but it's worth repeating...

I'm squishing Cleveland!

posted by Jeff | Friday, October 3, 2008, 11:45 AM | comments: 4

Nukeular Palin

posted by Jeff | Friday, October 3, 2008, 12:42 AM | comments: 13

Seriously, how does anyone get elected when they can't even say "nuclear" right? It's like nucleus, which presumably you learned in biology, the year before chemistry.

Palin did a nice job of not choking, but she didn't really say anything. It was mostly rhetoric, and very little policy. She's charming, sure, but she has no idea what's going on.

Biden surprised me. Can't say I really knew anything about him, but I was pleasantly surprised. He had his bouts of rhetoric as well, but he actually talked about what he and Obama would do if elected. He was remarkably a good portion of the time.

I think the analysts are probably right, that this won't change much.

People like this get to vote

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, October 1, 2008, 2:26 PM | comments: 6

It's hard to have faith in the political process when people like this get to elect people.

And it doesn't get better for six months

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, October 1, 2008, 1:23 PM | comments: 2

This cold, wet and gray weather is not good. It messes with my head. And we've got six more months of it in store, which is not encouraging.

Thank God for trips during that time to warmer places, ending in the best trip of all!

It has to be about us

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, October 1, 2008, 1:18 AM | comments: 5

One of the many reasons we decided to have a destination wedding and a short guest list was that we wanted to do it on somewhere cool. Ultimately, the wedding is about us declaring our love before God and Gulf of Mexico. It's not any more complicated than that.

Of course, there are some fun distractions that are less about us, like picking the location (done!), buying a dress (done!), planning the honeymoon (not done), etc. I think for Diana at least there's a little bit of stress in that, but not so much that it clouds the reason we're doing this in the first place.

But unfortunately, some level of drama on behalf of friends and family can creep in. Having a small affair was supposed to minimize that kind of thing, but it seems that isn't the case. It upsets Diana, and that upsets me. I have no stomach for teenage passive-aggressive bullshit in my life, and I'm certainly not going to have it around a day that's supposed to be one of the best of our lives.

We love our friends and family dearly, sure, but they need to realize that our wedding is not about them. It's our special day, and everyone else can suck it up for a little while so we can make sure the day is special in the way we would like. I don't think that's a lot to ask of anyone.