I am so tired right now it's killing me. But it's a good feeling because I feel like I'm accomplished or something. I got up at 4 a.m. this morning for the Maverick mini-media day. I left the park around 1, came home, and crashed. Now I have to prep for the drive to Hershey tomorrow and get the event stuff in order.
My big summer party is two months from right now, and I haven't yet invited all of the people I would like to be here. I really need to get on that. This weekend after weekend stuff is exciting, but I start to forget that bills are due, the cat box needs cleaned, etc. At least I pay someone to cut the grass. :)
In my tired lucidity today, I realized that there's so much positivity in my life. Despite that, I wish I was sharing it with someone on a full-time basis. I don't feel particularly lonely or sad or anything like that, I just know from experience that all the good stuff is even better when it's shared. And I'm hell bent on only being with someone I can share with, and who I can share their good and bad times with as well. That's really what it's all about. I'll never settle for anything less. I think it might be right in front of me.
Apple is starting with the DRM-free music from EMI...
256k downloads, no DRM, 30 cents more for the tracks. I absolutely think that's worth it. I'm looking forward to seeing how much of my music falls under EMI, and how long it'll take for other labels to follow suit.
It surprises me to no end that they've managed to finally get to this point, realizing that DRM does nothing to protect music and everything to inconvenience the people who buy it.
EDIT: I tried it out, and I can upgrade the last two Joss Stone albums, Gorillaz' Demon Days and the newer Norah Jones record for $14.40.
There were another two entries on News.com today about Twitter, and I keep asking, who cares?
If you're not familiar with the service, it's like short attention span blogging that can blast everyone with text messages with whatever you post. You can do RSS or view on the Web as well. But honestly, so what?
I mean, aside from Tyler who posts lots of pictures of himself balancing beverages on his knees and sporting Crocs and shades (;)), who needs this? Not only am I not interested in giving the world a play-by-play every time I take a shit, but I'm even less interested in seeing other people do it. It's like the people who change their status on Facebook ten times a day. I just don't care.
It really strikes me as a short-lived tech fad for narcissists and the people who love them. I'm starting to realize that some people spend way too much time being plugged in (and this from someone who makes his living doing so).
I think this is the first time I've done an NPR interview...
I can't even tell you how hard it is to stay awake or be enthusiastic when someone that dry is interviewing you. :)
I was on Sirrius the week before last, but I don't know if they ever posted that as a podcast.
I had a little time to sneak up to Cedar Point this morning to get a couple of spins on Maverick. I sure have been a geek the last few days, but I'm told that's OK.
I got to ride with a bunch of employees who were there to beat the Joe Cool rush, and rush it was. After my two rides, the line wrapped around Frontier Town to the Wave Swinger. Keep in mind the general public wasn't even in the park yet. This was all Joe Cool and resort guests! In fact, when I walked up toward the front of the park immediately after, Dragster only had a couple dozen people lined up prior to opening the queue. Clearly Maverick has captured a lot of attention.
In any case, first time out, I got in the front seat. My second lap was in the back. It was a beautiful morning. The crew seemed really on top of things. The trains are shiny, and station is really quite beautiful. The exit offers a nice view of the ride. The kickers pushed the train out, and the LSM's grabbed and very quickly moved the train up the hill.
It's certainly not the tallest drop, but it's such a strange feeling to go through that tilt beyond vertical. Before you know it, you're off racing through the course. The first two turn transitions are a little quick, which isn't a great thing for those restraints, but it's not a deal breaker. I found on my second ride that simply pushing your head back prevents any discomfort.
After the quick turns, up you go over that giant airtime hill. Holy crap! This is ejector style air, and it's even more intense in the back seat. Very nice. It was at the top of this that I realized I could hear the conversations of everyone on the train, because it's so quiet. They were all very excited to ride and enjoyed every minute of it.
Next was the twisted horseshoe roll, as they call it. While the marketing folk have made much hype of it, I really never bought into it. Here's what we didn't know: These things are perfect airtime hills, only inverted. While we're used to most inversions of this kind pushing you up into the seat, these things perfectly float you through them! I didn't get pressed into the seat, and I didn't drop into the restraint. Well done! They really nailed these things.
Then comes the "great great tunnel." The lighting package is interesting enough, paired with some thundering bass noise. I'm not sure how it fits into the theme exactly, other than to say that the lights at the start of the tunnel look a little like lanterns. Still, it's pretty cool, and I really look forward to some night rides when there's no light leaking into the end.
The launch is very smooth, and very steady. I think they found a sweet spot where it certainly has some intensity, but it doesn't stress you out either. Loved it. At the top of the hill, you barely notice the slight trims, and you get a slight pop of air before you dive down over the old Swan Boat pond.
And at the bottom of the dive comes the notorious "S-curve" where the heart line roll used to be. You know what? I can't imagine taking that roll at that speed. No good could have come of that. Even the quick direction change here is pretty aggressive, and that's only 90 degrees or so of rotation. I don't think anything is lost here.
After the dive over the tunnel, you do that other weird not quite an inversion thing, then another smaller airtime hill, and finally the brakes.
I think that this is the ride that the amusement park-going public has been waiting for, for, like, forever (not ages ;)). It's not too intense, it's mostly comfortable to ride, and you can ride it over and over without feeling like someone beat the crap out of you. And who knew the thing would be an airtime machine? I mean, airtime in the inversions... that's not something I expected at all.
I'm very impressed. I think Cedar Point has an insanely good winner on its hands.
Day two in Minneapolis, and Kara introduced me to the most unapologetic example of capitalism I've seen: The Mall of America, with The Park at.
Obviously, given two coaster geeks, we went straight to the park in the middle, the gooey sweet center surrounded by the chocolate shopping coating. Or something. If that sounds weird, it's because walking into that giant atrium and seeing an indoor amusement park is itself pretty f'ing weird. What happens when the kind of place that isn't supposed to be real doesn't seem real?
Fortunately, we pre-ordered wristbands online, so we only had to go to guest services and not wait in one of several ridiculous lines around the park. Of course those guest services people were Minnesota Nice, as was the case with most of the people I encountered there. Good times. No Sponge Bob there just yet.
Started with the Treetop Tumbler. Strangest flat ride I've seen. No idea what it is or who makes it, but it sure is a unique sensation. The Mighty Axe is the other big crazy ride, and while unique, it's not the most comfortable thing in the world. It actually feels a lot like a Top Spin. The Screaming Yellow Eagle (or was it blue?) was fun. The kids love it.
Ripsaw is an interesting coaster with gigantic trains and two lifts. It just kind of drifts around the park, but it has nice speed to it. Surprisingly good choice for the family.
Timberline Twister is of course the star attraction there, and wow does it deliver. First time I've been on one of these, and it's pretty sweet. Spinning coasters offer a different ride every time, so you really should get several laps to form an opinion. What worked for us is that it wasn't busy the first time, and it was just the two of us, sitting on the same side to really throw it out of balance. This led to much spinning, and good times! Many giggles. The airtime just before the final turn was intense.
The second ride we sat opposite a couple from Orlando and Chicago, so between the four of us, we were from four different states, all tourists (arguable since Kara technically works there). Four adults and we did not have a ton of spinning. The last ride we had little kids opposite us, and got a nice spin toward the end, again off-balancing the car. I love this ride!
Another highlight was the log flume, with it's cheesy but fun little theme elements. Kara pointed out that it doesn't seem to leak anywhere. And she's right, it doesn't seem like there's any water drifting about to where ever. Very strange!
We divided up the riding with some other things. Lunch was fairly unimpressive at a Panda Express, but much later we got crepes at a little shop. They were very yummy. While eating lunch, we saw a janitor who was not Minnesota Nice, and nearly clubbed some people with his mop, repeatedly. Also, someone in a shark outfit was hugging kids while someone with a sand pail passed out coupons for the aquarium. Aquarium? I'm on it!
Underwater Adventures Aquarium was apparently recognized by Discovery Channel for having the "best shark encounter," and I agree. Most of the attraction is simply a tunnel walk-through of a series of tanks. And frankly, that's the way it should be. It's really quite remarkable. We went through it twice, actually, and it was totally worth it. Great to see the critters up close, and just feel submersed in another world. They had a coin-op coaster simulator outside of the gift shop, by the way, that did Blue Streak and Gemini. How random!
We also covered two of the three floors of the mall. We stopped at Old Navy, Victoria's Secret, The Sharper Image, the Apple Store (duh) and Love Sac, which sells grown up bean bags. Very impressive mall, if you're into malls.
While a little tourist trappy, I had a good time, in and out of the park. Again, another unexpected thing for me. I may need to go back so we can cover that third floor! :)
Having a friend working at Valleyfair gave me an excuse to finally visit Minneapolis. I have to tell you that overall I really liked the whole area, and it was not at all what I expected. But I've written elsewhere about the geography and culture, so here's my impression of the park that put the "fair" in Cedar Fair.
Kara picked me up at around 1:30, and we headed into the park. It was a little bit busy, mostly with school groups, but it was manageable overall. As you might expect, Renegade was priority one.
Aside from Gwazi, I've never met a GCI that I didn't like (and Gwazi I think suffers mostly from poor maintenance and un-Busch-like operation). With a relatively small ride, I wasn't sure what to expect. And as it turned out, the ride delivered in every single way.
The twisting drop is strange, but plenty smooth and offers an interesting sensation, especially in the back. What follows is a very well designed hill that gives you a nice couple of seconds of floater air. From that point, you get the classic, disorienting direction changes that GCI's are so well known for, and two very cool pops of air right near the end. And that, by the way, is what makes the ride so great: The ending is as strong as the rest of the ride.
I know that it costs a little more to maintain a wood coaster, but for $7 million, a ride like this is a total bargain. I don't tend to rank rides, but this one is definitely better than one of the three rides in Santa Claus. I absolutely loved it. I can see why Kara has been on it 60 times already!
Next up, Excalibur for the credit. As much as I wanted to whine about it, I guess it's not that horrible. The placement in the park is a little strange, but it's a neat ride. There certainly wasn't much of a line for it.
Mad Mouse was the usual Arrow Mad Mouse, and not braked much. It tracked pretty smoothly, it just has those couple moments of ouch on the thighs.
I was pretty anxious to ride Wild Thing, and I really liked it, at first. They were playing Chaka Kahn in the station. As much as I hate to concede that all of the enthusiast crybaby nonsense about braking at the mid-course is justified, well, it is. Those hills on the return trip should be wonderful moments of floating, but they just squeeze it too hard. It's a shame because it really could be a Magnum caliber ride.
The Extreme Swing is the exact copy of Skyhawk, minus the extra couple of feet for the sign. It too sounds different with the off-season mods in the cylinders. They seem to load this one much, much faster than they do at Cedar Point, fortunately, and it's such a great ride.
We also hit their Power Tower, which is confusing because the colors are reverse of the CP ride. Almost no wait for the drop tower. Love these everywhere I go too. The suspension bridge to it is fun.
To the front of the park for Steel Venom. I still stand by my preference for the double-twisting model in lieu of the nipple torture that the holding brake causes, but it's still a great ride to have in any park.
Kara was ragging on me for not doing the Skyscraper ("But it's only seven bucks today!"), but honestly, I just don't feel comfortable getting strapped into that thing. I remember the first time I saw one, at IAAPA in 2000, and I couldn't do it. Perhaps some day, but this was not going to be that day. Looking back now I feel like kind of loser for not just doing it, but don't tell her that.
We finished the lap with High Roller (yawn) and Corkscrew, which has that little video recording system on it. Pretty neat system, but I'm not sure why they put it on a ride that frankly doesn't appear very crowded most of the time.
We also took a spin on the Rockin' Tug. Kara said she passed it every day while working and really wanted to see what it was all about, even though it was a kid ride. I gotta tell you, it was a lot more fun that I thought it would be. I can see just loving the thing as a huge thrill as a kid. Good times. :)
With some time left before close, we headed back to Renegade for some more rides, doing six laps on the day. It really gets better and better every time you ride. Discussing it, I think that's what makes it such a great ride. It's very fun and very re-ridable. Love those beautiful and comfortable trains.
Overall, the park has a whole lot of excellent signature rides for its size. It's a real gem, and the Twin Cities are lucky to have such a great park!
I got back from Minneapolis last night, after having the best weekend ever visiting Kara and all that the (other) cheese state has to offer.
First off, Kara already refers to Valleyfair as "her" or "our" park, so I think that means she likes it. And I even caught her saying, "Yaaaaaah" a few times. She's being assimilated.
Naturally I watched Fargo the day before, just because I like how they talk up there. Not everyone talks like that, but when they do, it makes me laugh. It's not a bad thing, it just amuses me. It gives the place character.
The people all seem so nice, and what I thought would be some stuffy conservative Midwest locale is actually ridiculously diverse. My first clue was when the 50+ year-old woman at the Alamo car rental counter had her nose and her lip pierced (body piercing is clearly more culturally accepted there than it is here in Ohio). By the time I got into the world, I noticed that there were a great many people from the Middle East, Asia, etc. It was far from the white bread land I expected.
Development seems a lot more spread out. Things looked less dense as I flew in and out of town, which might have been somewhat skewed since I was coming from and going back through Chicago. Yes, there are Home Depots and Target stores everywhere, but it's not the wall-to-wall development you'd see in, say, Columbus, Ohio. That's a good thing.
Being there for only two full days, of course my priority was Valleyfair and the Mall of America, but there is a lot I feel like we didn't get to do. I'd like to check out the bigger casino (it's no Vegas I'm sure, but why not?), find good restaurants, maybe see a Twins game, and just generally see the city. It just wasn't the dull city in a field I expected.
Anyway, trip reports for Valleyfair and MOA are forthcoming...
From an IM exchange with Alex...
[14:34] Alex: i really think the one thing that CP SHOULD add from Intamin is a plug-and-play woodie
[14:35] Jeff: that's a stupid fucking name.
[14:35] Jeff: it's milled wood track. it's not a fucking USB drive.
[14:35] Alex: hahaha
I'm really disappointed with the head count for Chocolate Buzz: 28. Yeah, just 28. We really didn't have enough time to promote this event. We had the initial talks last September, but then I had months of silence from the park and couldn't get people to respond and make things happen. It was really frustrating.
The other strange thing is that people are always saying the club is too Ohio-centric, but with our second foray into the east (Dorney in 2005 was the first), we're even worse off than last time. Fortunately, the park isn't holding me to any minimum head count, so I won't have to eat the cost for any shortcomings.
One thing is for sure, the "E" in the the ERT is going to be really, really "E."
Yes, I'm obviously a news junkie. I need to find real work to do.
Anyway, USA Today is notorious for stupid headlines, like, "After Everest, teen to try college".
Try? If an 18-year-old can survive that, somehow I think that college would be easy by comparison. Who writes this stuff?
I saw a story today about a grad student working as a stripper for the purpose of a thesis. Her advisor seems to imply that exploring the issues around strip clubs and "sex workers" is largely unresearched.
For me personally, I've been to a strip club once, when a couple of the guys took me to one prior to getting married. I wasn't really enthused. Sex without touching just doesn't do it for me. I certainly love beautiful women, but it's such a cheesy cliche. Most guys seem to be OK with that arrangement, and of course there are a few who always think that the stripper actually likes them.
Anyway, the story is interesting to me because it does appear to be a subject that is never approached academically. We're so repressed in this country when it comes to sexuality, and it's still treated like something that is generally considered dirty or impolite to talk about, something particularly odd given the acceptance of violence in our entertainment media.
I'm reminded of the movie Kinsey and his real life namesake, where the main character endeavors into the sexual lives of people in the 40's to find that everything considered "dirty" or "naughty" was exactly what people generally did. So the question remains, decades later, if everyone does it, why is it so taboo?
Not only is it strange because of the comparison to violence, but every other TV spot is for boner pills. I don't know where I'm going with this except to say that our cultural attitudes are very strange and not rational.
OK, so while I'm not exactly in any position to suddenly raise children, I'm sure my regular stalkers know how much I'd love to be a dad some day, and would prefer girls (since I feel I know them better due to coaching).
So while I think the neighbor kid is a little douche, the little girls across the street tend to be nice. When my office was upstairs I'd see them playing in the street all of the time, and you know, a part of me always got angry when the idiot with the motorcycle would go racing down the street.
But now that the oldest one is an early teen, there's another horror I hadn't considered. What if my kid ends up being attractive? The girls' mother is very pretty, so I guess it's to be expected that the daughters will be too. When I see her go over to the neighbor kid's house, I get this fatherly instinct to think, "You stay away from that girl!"
The girls I coached have always been 16 or older, so I guess I kind of expect that they're old enough to take care of themselves. But what about 12 to 15? Would I be one of those over-protective dads who never let her out of my sight?
I guess it's something best left to think about way, way in the future.
While I do talk a lot about 24, the other show I still watch is Boston Legal. I don't know if the ratings are great, and I don't really know anyone else who watches it, but it is a great show.
They manage to tackle so many different issues in that show, and the character acting is really the best of any of the David E. Kelley shows. Of course, I like anything in the mainstream media that brings attention to how fucked up our culture can be.
I'm crossing my fingers that they hold on one more season. Until then, I have a bunch on the DVR to watch.
I've said countless times how cars really don't rank high on my list of things that I really care about. Sure I could afford a BMW, but why would I want one, etc.
But the gadget geek in me of course thinks that the Prius is cool. I mean, it's like a video game where you try to get the most out of your gas tank, and that's something I care about too. That would at least be practical.
But then yesterday, I saw a convertible Mini, and I just about went gooey over it. Talk about something totally not practical, and not cheap either. Similar gas mileage to my Corolla, but that's still more of a toy than anything. And technically, it's sort of a BMW.
See what the fresh air is doing to me?
I was chatting with someone today about how online "discussions" happen, and I realized that there is a fairly clear cut way that debates on any subject degrade. This is your handy guide to navigating these troubled waters.
When you start to run out of good points, try to shape the argument and make it about something else entirely. While some complex subjects certainly have peripheral issues to discuss, most of the time I'm talking about wholesale derailment. If not elephant, then chair or burrito. Everyone likes burritos, so there's a solid chance you'll be right in the end.
Then there's the classic, "You 'obviously' didn't read my post," defense. This is best used when you're absolutely sure that, regardless of the response, you're still right in the first place, and the other person is "obviously" just stupid. Be sure that if you use this, that you at least know the difference between "there," "their" and "they're," or you may end up looking more stupid than the jerk who didn't read your post.
Perhaps you're just annoyed that you're not getting anywhere, or getting shot down at every turn. That's when you start to make it personal. I mean, if you disagree, then you're just a socially inept know-it-all, or you live with your mother, or smell bad. (The last part is actually why Mac users are always right, because using a Mac does in fact make you smell better.)
In the case that you're debating with the person who runs that particular forum, or a moderator, then you bust out the, "You're picking on me," move. If you're not in charge, you automatically have a disadvantage, right? If things get too out of control, well, that's when you invoke Godwin's Law and enjoy the fantasy that you being put down in a forum is exactly like millions of Jews being slaughtered.
Using these trusty rules, you can endure and persevere in any online forum.
I swear, if this guy keeps it up, the whole Constitutional amendment scenario in the movie Demolition Man is going to come true.
This ranks up as one of the most ridiculous examples of how the feds are holding everyone back. Here we have movements that start grass roots, can't get support at the national level, that the states are perfectly willing to adopt. I applaud any state that is willing to stand up and not wait for the feds to address a problem. California in particular sets an example since it by itself is a huge economy.
And Bush is better off just not doing anything. Gas prices go up? "I'm gonna say we need to reduce oil use and emissions by some amount years from now." Yeah, and where is the legislation you've pushed for that? I swear we can't get that moron out of office fast enough.
Ugh, well it wasn't the greatest season, and the cliffhangers weren't that great, but there were a lot of, I dunno, happy endings. I won't give away too much since Kara hasn't seen any of the last four hours, but suffice it to say that the writing was not that strong.
My chief complaint is that "crazy Jack" was in and out the whole "day." I mean, the dude was fucked with and tortured in China for two years. How was he so clear thinking at times?
Oh well. They haven't written themselves into any corners for next season at least. We'll see what they do.
Wow, I have to admit that I found many artifacts in moving my office from the spare bedroom to the downstairs room (which still has no couch, because I can't find one that will fit well and match). I posted on PointBuzz an old sketch for the old GTTP. There are also old database schemas and diagrams (including one for CampusFish).
I found a lot of old ticket stubs and cards and notes from various special ladies. Tons of volleyball stuff. Old things to throw away. Magazines where I had letters published.
Most entertaining is a couple of old three-ring binders with printed out stuff about programming. Really old stuff, like ASP 2.0 stuff, circa 1998. I'm debating whether or not to throw it away, because it reminds me how little I knew, and how much I had people snowed when I got my job at Penton Media. In all fairness, that was not strictly a programming job, but it did provide the transition for me. Still, when I look at the scope of things I know how to do now, I'm surprised at how far I've come in the last eight years.
The old room still has a lot of crap that I need to clean up or throw away. My PC is up there gathering dust too. Eventually, once it's all clear, I'll rip out the carpet.
Pixar's new film, Ratatouille, seems like a slam dunk hit already, and I've only seen the trailer. They just released a very long clip on the Apple trailers site, and it plays in full 720p on the Apple TV. I'm crossing my fingers that this is what they've got in mind for that little box, only full-length features from the iTunes store. That would very much change the game.
I watched Fast Food Nation today. I gotta say, I'm glad that I haven't had beef in two years, and at this point I doubt I ever will again. I'm generally not interested in eating mammals as it is, but even though I know the movie is fictionalized to some degree, I'm still pretty disgusted by the process of beef production. While I'm OK with the whole circle of life thing, it just such an inefficient way to make food.
Great movie, by the way. Pretty huge cast with a lot of big names. How funny that the little girl from the TV show Growing Pains is in it. Also didn't expect Bruce Willis, Avril Lavigne, Ethan Hawke, and others.
When I was in college, I used to be really passionate about a lot of things. At the time, AIDS awareness was high on the list. (For the record, in terms of sheer numbers, it's low on the list of horrible things here in the US, but still catastrophic in Africa.) Being a tree hugger was something I always did to some degree, and I'm feeling more intense about it again. I used to speak out about racism, and that's sadly coming back, only now it's hate toward people from the Middle East.
I read an article somewhere recently about the stages of life one goes through in terms of how they live and what they feel, focusing on professionals that do well financially. While I'm not there yet in the financial part (though I'm pleased about the general direction), it said that the truly well-adjusted people enter a new period of philanthropy and activism in their late 40's. Well I think I'm entering that period of time in my early 30's, and I like how it feels.
I'd like to think that if I am getting that itch again, that at least this time I get the world at least a little more. If I were to go back and read my college newspaper columns, they were ridiculously idealistic, to say the least. I don't think that's bad, but I know my approach was confrontational, which certainly doesn't sway anyone to your way of thinking.
I dunno, I just remember how good it felt to really, really care about something. I have a new sense of vigor about having some kind of impact on the world. It's a feeling I just let get lost in so many other things. I don't want that to happen again.
I'm not sure why critics and people who've seen Casino Royale are so on the fence about it. It was, easily, the best Bond movie ever. I finally watched it after it sat here a week from Netflix.
Daniel Craig is the best Bond to date. Sorry Sean. Combined with a screenplay free of silly puns every two minutes (except for, "That last hand nearly killed me"), and a slightly darker look at what being a double-0 does to your soul, the whole thing just felt more human. Even the action was more grounded than the last few.
As far as Bond babes go, this one seemed so average, like someone you'd know in real life. Until she showed up in that dress at the poker game, anyway.
Totally worth the DVD purchase. Well done. I thought the franchise would slip into obscurity.
Hold on... this one was really fucked up.
I was in some neighborhood that wasn't all that nice, walking around, and there were a lot of people. There's this guy up on a road sign over the street, trying to secure a video camera to it, behind a traffic light, who looks like Steve from Barenaked Ladies.
Somehow I'm inside a building, like a 60's era school or college building, and walking past an open doorway I see this beautiful set and lighting on a stage. I back track a little, and find there's a concert going on, and it's a band called "Taxicab Confessional." Initially I think they sound like BNL, but before long they sound more like Keane or Radiohead.
There's a small entourage of people with me that I don't know, except for a guy from work. The lady selling tickets says it's $5, or $5.99 if you use a credit card. She's like 300 pounds, and calling me "dear" and "honey" and creeping me out.
As I'm standing in line to buy a ticket, a song starts playing that apparently there's a video for where people sign the lyrics. Once I get into the theater, there are ballet style dancers on stage with the band, and they're all signing the lyrics. I think that Kara would find it cool since she knows ASL, and probably know the song, so I snap some pictures with my phone and send them.
Just as I do this, the ticket lady comes up behind me and starts putting her hands on my head and neck in a sexual way. I push her off and she puts her hands over my mouth and I can't scream. I finally get free enough to yell help, and everyone looks toward me. She takes off, when this woman who looks like Laverne from Scrubs comes flying down the aisle and tackles her (she did this in a recent episode I think). Fucked up.
Then I find myself in line for ERT on some new ride, which was just opening. Enthusiasts around me are being assholes and complaining about one stupid thing or another, and I'm embarrassed.
I woke up then, with my heart beating out of my chest. What the fuck was that all about?
Cavs won. This might be the season where it happens.
Simply put, they can't have quarters like they did in the third tonight if they expect to beat Detroit. It's not any more complicated than that. The tempo difference was very visible. The fact that Lebron was on the bench is not an excuse.
Still, first conference final since the mid-90's, so it's about time. Should be a lot of fun to watch. I honestly think if they can pull it out, they can win in the finals, regardless of who ends up there. I think they're hands down better than anyone in the western conference.
Should be super fun to watch!
Way back in 2004, when I first started writing blog entries on weblogs.asp.net, I made a lot of posts about what it takes to be satisfied in development work. The winter before that I got laid-off from a job I didn't like anyway, and I started the year making mad money on a contract job at Progressive.
But I wasn't happy. Despite all of that money, I was bored to tears and disinterested. During that time I did manage to build PointBuzz, largely on existing code, but I wasn't doing much in the way of work for me. I thought at the time that maybe being full-time for me and not The Man was the only thing that would make me happy.
By spring, the book I talked about writing since the previous fall looked like a certainty, and I got a contract from Addison-Wesley. I quite Progressive, and did a lot of thinking, relaxing and writing that summer. I remember crashing in the "red room" at home in the sun, laptop with me, books around me, writing. My former wife thought maybe I was depressed or unmotivated, but I had a lot going on my head (something I wish I would've communicated more to her).
I went a long time not working a day job, getting by on the little bit of money that the business was generating. Early in 2005 I started contracting for a local firm, and I really liked the client they tasked me to work with. I had a great volleyball team that spring too. I was a little concerned that despite all of the contemplation in the prior year, I had no game plan to really build a business.
Then, in April of 2005, my wife left, and I was plunged into a panic of sorts. In the long run, we never got back together, but we both learned a lot more about ourselves, something that's easier when you don't have to look out for someone else. I stopped contracting in the fall and coached high school volleyball, and wondered if I wanted to write code at all. Ever.
At the start of 2006, running out of cash again, I looked for a job. In January, I took at job at Insurance.com. The truth is that I hated it, probably for the first several months. I didn't like the rigidity of the 9-to-5 routine. I took the job because the start-up atmosphere was still there, but with a slightly more mature organizational feel. But I couldn't get over that loathing toward myself for working for The Man. I felt like I was weak, and not driven enough to work for me.
Six months into it, I started to do work that I enjoyed. I was getting projects that were interesting to me. I wasn't totally sold on the place, but I was working with incredibly talented people, and that turned me on. It was the thing I didn't like about consulting. If you're the smartest person in the room, you don't grow much. At this job, there were scary brilliant people around me.
By the time this year started, things had turned around. I found myself taking ownership in stuff. The company was looking out for us and I felt like I was actually compensated for what I was worth, a feeling I've never had at any day job. I was getting validation that I used to tell myself I didn't need. Simply put, I liked my job, and I liked writing code again.
Today a substantial amount of code that I wrote went into production, and that's a good feeling. This year I was motivated to hit a milestone on my forum re-write, and I feel like I can quickly start to crank out components for my various sites. This line of work is fun again.
Word on the street is that Toyota will go all-hybrid by 2020. Why would this be a surprise? If they can make the tech work and hit an economy of scale point, it makes sense.
What I'm still crossing my fingers for is that they figure out how to do stock plug-in hybrids. Especially if you get most of your electricity from nukes, that's a huge win from an environmental standpoint.
I doubt there is a person in the world who thinks that Osama bin Laden is anything but crazy, but there's an interesting letter from him (allegedly) that spells out what he sees as the reasons to attack us.
I've been saying since 9/11 that no one has asked the hard questions about why so many in the radical Muslim world hate us. Americans have been pretty satisfied with the "they hate freedom" bullshit that the president has been feeding us. A thinking person would conclude that maybe our foreign policy for the past several decades may have something to do with it.
His perspective is one that the U.S. is oppressive toward "his" religion, which is the radical in him. Personally I think we're equal opportunity when we play world police, but we only engage in the places where there's money at stake. How many humanitarian crises have we ignored in Africa? When we ignore hundreds of thousands of people killed in Rwanda, but liberate tiny Kuwait from Iraq, we give the appearance of money grubbing, oil sucking jerks. The Gulf War was the right thing to do. Ignoring Rwanda was not. Starting a war on false pretenses wasn't a good idea either.
Granted, no amount of poor policy justifies the actions of terrorists, but it does help to understand their motivation. A little external perspective makes a difference. We're a proud country, but pride can look like vanity at a certain point. We have a PR problem, to say the least.
It makes me sad to see we still have our soldiers dying, every day. This isn't our war. They're not defending the colonies, they're defending a nation of people who don't even seem to want us there. Saddam is dead, he was not funding terrorists, there are no weapons of mass destruction, and the country is slipping into civil war. And the commander-in-chief declared major combat was over three years ago.
And the other day, there was a story on the news about how the VA isn't providing for our guys coming back without legs. Are you kidding me? What is wrong with our government?
I was at work for ten hours today. I was trying to solve a problem last night at home, and will probably do so today. What's wrong with me?
I can't remember the last time I cared enough about my day job to spend that kind of time on it. This particular issue is so frustrating since it's not something I have real control over, but I'm hell bent on figuring it out.
If you look around and feel that, politically and culturally, things are really fucked up, eventually you have to look at people in general. I think people are getting more and more stupid every day.
Reading comments on news stories at various news sites, you can see what I mean. Take the rise in gas prices. People blame the greedy oil companies, Republicans, Democrats, the global warming "conspiracy," and my favorite, obesity. It couldn't be, you know, that people drive more than they used to, in big cars that get crappy gas mileage. That's crazy talk!
Two things bother me about this. The first is all of the nonsense peripheral "discussions" that come out of it, like liberals/conservatives are destroying the middle class. That's like my previous analogy somewhere that because of elephant, chair. People want to pin blame for everything on someone, especially politicians and corporations.
And that's the second issue that bothers me. No one wants to take any responsibility or action themselves. I perceive it as being so bad that I'm finding myself fall into my more idealistic feelings, to do something.
So gas prices are up, and you don't like it. What are you going to do about it? You can throw your hands up in the air and do nothing, or you can make lifestyle changes that save you money. It's not a hard thing to figure out. It's far more constructive than coming up with asinine theories in the realm of macroeconomics and politics.
I actually cut the podcast and posted it last night, and I have no stack of bills to look at. As much as I generally feel overwhelmed with junk on Monday nights, I've got nothing to do!
So here I am, enjoying the Cavs game and loosely working on code. I'll work in some whirlpool therapy at halftime. After the game I'll watch 24. Nice cool breeze flowing through the house, and I'm just generally relaxed.
I've been so worked up and anxious lately, I'm not even sure about what. The heat is off at work, as the major project I've been on goes live this week. The lawn guys cut the grass today. Travel plans are pretty much all in place. No major worries.
It's a nice feeling.
I knew when I woke up today that my body was a little pissed off at me for burning it. I went out for lunch with Catherine, and ate only half of my food. I got home and took a two hour nap. Even now, I can't seem to engage my brain to my body and make things happen. I have so much that I'd like to do, that I'm spiritually willing to do, but it's not manifesting itself as action.
It feels a little like hangover. And when you get in the shower in the morning, you can smell that weird smell you only have when you've been in the sun too much (Stephanie always, appropriately enough, said I smelled like amusement park).
What I have managed to do is work a little on the new photo album code library I've been working on. The back-end code is more solid and flexible than what I wrote five or six years ago, and makes nicer thumbnails. The UI I'm wrapping around it is very Facebook like. I hope to integrate it into Campusfish at some point this year, after CB and PB get upgrades.
I learned today that Schuyler Fisk and Josh Radin were here in Cleveland last month. Fuck.
My office is mostly moved. Now I have to start tearing into the old one and throw away the many boxes and miscellaneous crap that has accumulated there. Then the carpet comes up and I start enzyming or bleaching where the cat pee seeped into the floor. I like having my technical books there in the nice big room, and once I have a new couch for down there, I suspect I'll spend more time there, and get more work done. I can't believe it took me so long to realize that if the environment isn't conducive to doing something, change the environment.
Keep laughing through the hits and misses...
Went to Cedar Point yesterday. Brought sunscreen, did not apply it. My body was so tired trying to repair itself that I fell asleep around 10:30.
We didn't actually ride anything while we were there. It was more about just getting back into the park and seeing people. It was ridiculously crowded, with the main lot nearly full, much of it buses. Cath and I had lunch at Famous Dave's with Eric and his wife, we had drinks with Pete and his wife on his boat (that's where the sunburn likely occurred), and watched half of the Cavs game at the Game Day Grill (which sucks, by the way).
It feels pretty good to be back in summer mode, that's for sure.
I'm fairly annoyed. Got my auto insurance renewal from Progressive, and it's up $90 a half because of the bullshit ticket I had in October.
I guess for shits and giggles I should shop around again. I'll fire off a quote on Geico, and after we elevate some of my 1337 code next week, I'll get up to four quotes from leading insurance companies on Insurance.com (shameless plug).
I'd like to see what I can get from Nationwide, because they do my homeowners policy, but I hate having to call someone. So annoying. I don't know how the century-old insurance companies are going to survive relying on agencies.
UPDATE: The rate I got from one of the carriers on Insurance.com was $120 less. That's an easy decision.
Yesterday's mini-golf fundraiser was a lot of fun. It's always the real unofficial start for summer for me. I can't believe I've done it now eight years in a row! I also can't believe we got second place, seeing as how we haven't even finished it in the last couple of years. Ironic, too, that we beat the guys with their own balls and putters.
I remember the first couple of years feeling like the event was a chance to schmooze. Now I feel like it's a chance to catch up with a lot of friends and I haven't seen in awhile. It's really not about the park anymore as much as it is the people. I'd never want to work there full-time (good luck getting me to wear a tie), but it's fun to work with them, and even throw back a beverage with them now and then.
And then there's the culture around it among my other friends. It's such a great environment to hang out in. There is a lot of comfort in that. I feel very fortunate to know these people and see them frequently throughout the summer.
I'll miss not having Cath around this summer, because she turned into quite the little enthusiast last year. I still can't believe it was one year ago I dragged her onto Mine Ride and she was terrified. I figured our relationship would go nowhere after that (I can't date a non-rider), but she quickly liked it and we were together eight months. Good times. :) At least she'll be there this weekend, and we're doing Universal again too.
So while I don't tell them all of the time, I really appreciate my friends!
As I expected, there have been many stupid comments posted on my sites regarding the Maverick delay. Assuming it mattered when they figured out they had a problem in the first place, how is it that everyone other than the park itself is suddenly an expert?
I especially love the crap from Lance at Screamscape, and how everyone buys into what he says. I'm not one to blindly just follow the park, but when they invite me to work for them on a video gig with the ride a few days before they intend to open, do you really think they were aware of the problem prior to that? How much common sense do you need?
People will believe whatever they want to believe I suppose, even though, as usual, the most obvious answer is the most likely.
What a bummer about the late Maverick opening. I'm not bummed because I don't get to ride, I'm bummed because I don't get to be a TV producer pretend. Gretchen and I were going to have a chance to relive our college days, hacking stuff together quickly and getting it out to an audience much bigger than the Ashland cable system.
Sigh. I'm bummed out.
"We're taught to do things the right way. But if you want to discover something that other people haven't, you need to do things the wrong way. Initiate a failure by doing something that's very silly, unthinkable, naughty, dangerous. Watching why that fails can take you on a completely different path."
I suck at finding travel on the cheap. I never seem to get discounted rates or don't book at the right times or whatever. Today, I got lucky. Cath and I are going to Orlando for the Blue Man Group show, and Cosmo is coming with us.
First there was the flight. It wasn't available yesterday, but USA3000 had a flight to Orlando for $150 round-trip, with taxes, which is a steal out of Cleveland. Continental has lots of flights, but their "dog tax" would've been an extra $200! USA3000's was $90, and Cath was OK with that. It's a little scary because they don't have any backup flights, but at a savings of $100 per person, it's worth the risk, I think.
Then, I was able to find just the right navigation through the Universal Web site to find the season pass discount for hotel rooms. The first time I tried, it was the full summer rate, at $249 per night. Ouch. Now you see why I'm used to going in the off-season. Then I followed a different link, and the price went down by $80 per night! The first night is even lower since it's part of the spring season, so all told I saved around $240 by having a season pass. That $180 pass paid for itself a long time ago.
So with the dog, flights, taxes and three nights in a four-diamond hotel, the total cost ended up being around $800 for two. I've paid more in previous November trips for the same hotel. (I know it may not sound like a bargain, but for a hotel snob like me, it's a good value!)
I went to Bob Walsh's wake today. He was Tim's dad. I was surprised to see that, for the most part, the general feeling in the room was fairly upbeat. Not a lot of tears. Given the nature of Alzheimer's, frankly I suspect it was kind of a relief.
And what an enormous family too. Six kids, 14 grandkids, and three great grandkids. Can you imagine seeing 23 human beings in your life that you had direct responsibility for their existence? That seems staggering for me to think about! There were many pictures there, and it was fairly obvious that people loved the guy dearly. What he did for a living, or how successful he was in life, I don't think mattered that much, not when you were surrounded by so many people who cared about you.
Aside from meeting him a few times at Cedar Point, I really didn't know him. I probably had not even seen him in five years or so. Lois tells me the disease was not kind, but he fought it right until the end, living about five days longer than the doctors had expected.
Naturally I write about this here because of its effect on me. I've been to one funeral in my life, my great grandmother's when I was in high school. I've been to one other wake, for one of my former bridesmaid's mom, though she was cremated, and her family was small, so it was a very different experience. The truth is, these kinds of things make me extremely uncomfortable. I'm not sure what to say or how to act, especially when one person is laughing and the next is crying. Even more strange is that I'm there more to show support for a friend than pay my respects for someone I didn't really know. It's all so surreal.
Death is very much a part of life, and I accept that it's inevitable. I'm pretty sure there's a higher power, hopefully an afterlife, but even if there isn't, I accept that there's nothing I can do about it either. I don't bother myself with "What's the point?" questions because they aren't helpful.
I think if I manage to be a husband and good father, that's the most I can hope for. Or if not hope for, make it happen. That seems to be what previous generations have done.
I have a lot of friends right now going through interesting things or important times in their lives. I have this strange conflict where I'm so excited for them, and yet sad that I'm not really a part of their lives.
It's a lot like the feeling I get at the end of a volleyball season, where I've developed relationships with kids and their parents, and get to be with them for some of the ups and downs in their lives, and then I'm just not a part of it anymore.
I've certainly identified that one of the things I like most about a serious relationship is being a part of that person's life in a significant way. For me, being able to give (in the emotional sense) to someone and be appreciated for that is one of the most satisfying feelings I have. That gratitude almost always comes back to you. I like being a part of that ecosystem more than being the sole focus in something.
Understand that I'm not blaming anyone or feeling ripped off by friends or former girlfriends/lovers or whatever. People have lives and circumstances that change. It just makes me sad to not be a part of those lives the way that I used to be. That in turn causes my brain to emphasize single life and all that love I have to give not going anywhere. It's a weird feeling I have not had in a very long time.
But alas, spring is upon us, and there is much to do, and much to look forward to. For that, I'm very thankful.
Now that I've seen The Queen, I can say without question it was a better movie than The Departed. No contest. Along with Little Miss Sunshine, that's two more Oscar worthy.
Historical dramas are always interesting from the standpoint that you wonder how much is guessed or exaggerated. Regardless, I thought the guy who played Tony Blair was awesome, as was the Queen.
The British monarchy is fascinating to me. It's such a strange institution, and despite temporarily feeling it wasn't necessary, the Brits seem to really place some value in it again. It's something unique about the country.
Diana was certainly an interesting figure too, and the people who showed up to mourn her death, that was staggering. To have a public figure that inspires people so much... that's something we could all use right now.
Thank God for a sunny week. I was in such a bad mood by the time I left work because of a number of things that went on there today. No one thing was that big of a deal I guess, but collectively I found myself angry. I don't really get angry very often.
But I find myself wound up a lot lately. It's funny because the developer I work with that I consider my hero can pretty much just let stuff roll off and not worry about it. I'm not doing that.
Like I said, it's nice to unwind with some sun and longer days. It makes life much easier and I feel more relaxed when I get home.
Got my confirmation for the speaking engagement at IAAPA in November. It'll be that Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. Tentative title to my presentation and synopsis:
Your attraction in a Web 2.0 world
Blogs, fan sites, MySpace, YouTube and mainstream media all combine to create a rich and interactive connection to your customers. Learn to use these opportunities in a way that requires more creativity and less budget.
The presentation may get tweaked quite a bit to focus on smaller, FEC style attractions, but we're still working on that.
This week's blast of Digg with the HD-DVD encryption key was interesting enough to watch. If you weren't following, one of the keys that allows HD-DVD gear to playback discs got out into the open, and it was posted on Digg. A lot. At first they tried to remove the stuff and ban users that posted it, because it was a clear violation of the DMCA. The site eventually went down and in the long run, they decided to just let it go.
Kevin Rose, Digg's founder, not only conceded defeat, but posted the code himself. I think the world of this guy, who started out as a nobody on TechTV, but I can't say I entirely agree with his actions. They were doing the right thing removing the naughty data because there was potential for harm to the company. While I agree that the code would eventually get out into the world well beyond the scope of Digg, he made his play way too soon. He put his business at risk. And then to post the code himself, well, that's just asking to be sued.
The unfortunate thing is that the bulk of techie nerds aren't even the type I know and look up to, they're the hacks who work at Best Buy in the Geek Squad or are help desk jockies. They have their high ideals about open source software and free love, but fail to grow and mature to understand that in a capitalist culture, someone has to make money. People need jobs to eat. That's where the disconnect is between the crowd and Digg The Business. Let's face it, crowds are stupid.
I 100% believe in intellectual property rights, and at the same time, I hate DRM, dongles and anything else that makes it harder for me to use something I paid for. I don't live under the fantasy that if no one gets paid for music, software, movies or whatever, that it'll just magically exist anyway.
But laws are what they are. Right or wrong, they're there. Civil disobedience is one thing when you're talking about human rights, but it's quite another when you're talking about zeros and ones traveling through the air and on copper wires. I'm not so jaded that I believe that the democratic process can't work to make meaningful change. Look at the recent Internet radio royalty structure. Enough people made noise, and now there is new legislation to make it reasonable so that Net radio doesn't die and go away. The people spoke en masse, our representatives listened.
Unfortunately, Rose was right in his post that the community would rather see Digg go down in flames than do what's best for the business. They might get their wish if Digg gets sued. If there's anything I've learned in the last nine years hosting communities online, it's that they require some moderation if you hope to keep them useful. People get all pissed off when we remove things that violate our terms of service or that we consider spam or whatever, but that's why we still have a loyal and continuous user base. We don't censor ideas, and we never have.
The whole incident pans out what I've been saying for the last couple of years, that the "wisdom of crowds" is really that crowds are stupid. It also proves my Jerry Springer theory. It's not that TV executives are serving crap because they want to, it's because that's what the audience wants. As the audience of sites like Digg grows and becomes more mainstream, it shows that the crowd really does want that. Maybe that's kind of sad, but I saw it coming.
Last night I managed to mostly finish a piece of library code that I can use pretty much in all of my various projects. For the longest time, I haven't been happy with the way images are referenced, stored, labeled and the quality of the thumbnails. The new code, in less than 800 lines, does all of that now. It needs a little refactoring, but generally speaking it works really well.
I am pleased. :)
I'm at about 50% in the redecorating process. I've moved my desk and my computer downstairs. I have a mess of wiring for the moment for the router and cable modem. Will resolve that part hopefully next week.
I moved all of the framed Jurassic Park movie posters to the corner where my desk is. They look pretty good together again. I replaced the fading red curtains with, well, red curtains that I'm sure will fade. I got a lamp from Target that's bulit kind of like a torch, with little shelves on it. I put the plant I nearly killed on the bottom of it. I really dig it.
I think to make the room really interesting, I need some kind of couch. Stephanie suggested a sectional, because it would be good for sexy socializing between all of my attractive single friends. Kidding. I don't have any attrac... er... single friends. ;) The summer I stayed home to write my book, I had super chill and relaxing times on the chase in that room, soaking in the sun and the breeze. Something to facilitate that would really tie the room together.
The old office, which is one of the three bedrooms, is in worse shape than I expected. Luna left some nasty surprises behind the desk. She vomited on one of the power supplies, and some how managed to not kill herself in the process. More pee too, which explains why the room smelled so bad. (Despite this, I still miss that cat like crazy.) The remaining challenge is cleaning out all of the crap in there. So many boxes to things I bought years ago. I also need to go through the filing cabinets and throw tons of shit away. It'll probably take a good week or so, and then I can rip out the carpet and start soaking the corners with enzyme stuff.
My head has been in a weird place the last two or three days. I've realized that, quite frankly, I'm a bit lonely.
The problem with this is that the self-aware, happy with himself kind of person is supposed to reject that. The thinking is that if you're truly well adjusted, you don't need other people to be happy. I agree with that too. But just because you're lonely doesn't mean you aren't happy with yourself either. Ignoring that feeling I think only makes it worse.
Things I don't currently like about myself are my inability to follow through on projects, and I'm not doing the work to exercise as much as I want, but aside from that, things are pretty cool. The lonely feeling relates more to some of the setbacks than the actual state of not being with someone. Dating has been a horrible experience for the most part. I'm meeting plenty of women, and the problem isn't that no one is interested, but rather those that are don't interest me. I guess I've learned to be picky, some stupid decisions not withstanding.
I'm sure I'll work it out, I just let my head wander a little too much.
I might get to do something really cool, a lot sooner than I expected, this weekend though. ;)