Sunday, July 31, 2005

We Know its Hot. Thank You

I'm not sure how they did it, but somehow Karl Rove and Valerie Plane are off the front page. Not even I buy the Chris Rock explanation this time:

"...Bush took those kids over to Michael Jackson's house, Bush killed Lacy Peterson..."

With all the resources at their disposal I don't think the administration made it hot.

But come on, it's summer and its hot. Not exactly breaking news. Another comic nailed this one:

"Let's go to the map. Lets go to the map? Let's go to the window!"

Thanks Richard Jeni. We all ought to take that advice, get our weather coverage from the window, or if there's something really weird happening from say, oh, The Weather Channel. The news people have dropped some fairly important stuff to tell us its hot.

We know it's hot. Thank You. Moving on...

Perhaps to do my part to remind everyone about what Air America is calling "TraitorGate." I just love how lazy we are and whenever there's a scandal we just add "-gate" to it. I wonder what they called scandals before Watergate? Or is it possible that back then it was just the "Water" hotel and the scandal got named Watergate because of something that had happened before?

Back to TraitorGate. The other day your friend and mine Mr. Limbaugh had posited that the current scandal wasn't when the cover was broken, but rather Ms. Wilson had done it herself when she made a donation to Al Gore's presidential campaign years before.

What a load of crap. Are there people that actually believe this sort of thing?

As someone working a cover for an front company that was in oil consulting it made perfect sense for a political donation to be made. It actually would have looked stranger had there not been a donation made. I don't know all the details here, we've heard about the Democratic donation, but I wouldn't be surprised to find there was also a Republican donation. Companies & Lobbyists often donate to both sides because its not about helping one or the other win as much as it is about insuring access to the winner.

When making that donation it was absolutely proper for her to list her cover employer. What was she supposed to put down, "CIA?" People backtracking the money trail would find that a petroleum consultant who works for a consulting company made a political donation. Not really even newsworthy.

It doesn't become a problem until someone spills the beans that the consultant is in fact a CIA agent.

Anyone that tries to spin it any other way is just full of it.

I'm a Follower Too

From SBR: Selectively Biased Rants

1. Reply with your name and I'll respond with something random about you.
2. I'll tell you what song/movie reminds me of you.
3. I'll pick a flavor of jello to wrestle with you in.
4. I'll say something that only makes sense to you and me (maybe/maybe not).
5. I'll tell you my first memory of you.
6. I'll tell you what animal you remind me of.
7. I'll ask you something that I've always wondered about you.
8. If I do this for you, you must post this on your journal.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Before the Patriot Act

This has been bugging me for a while. Being on the more relaxed schedule of the summer has had me at home quite a bit more and I have started to watch a good deal of CNN in the morning (ok a lot of CNN, a fair amount of SportsCenter, and a fairly embarrassing amount of Star Trek Deep Space Nine). A little while back I happened to hear our President making a speech
at the Ohio State Highway Patrol Academy
. It was principally a homeland security speech. Here's the part that has stuck with me the most:

"Second, we need to renew the critical provisions of the Patriot Act that allow investigators to use the same tools against terrorists that they already use against other criminals. Before the Patriot Act, it was easier to track the phone contacts of a drug dealer than the phone contacts of an enemy operative. Before the Patriot Act, it was easier to get the credit card receipts of a tax cheat than an al Qaeda bank-roller. Before the Patriot Act, agents could use wiretaps to investigate a person committing mail fraud, but not to investigate a foreign terrorist. The Patriot Act corrected all these pointless double standards -- and America is safer as a result."

I swear, right there in real time I said "oh, I get it, before the Patriot Act you had to have actually been suspected of committing a crime before they could violate your rights - and now you don't."

I'm sure its more complicated than that, and I'm sure the word "conspiracy" figures prominently in the discussion, but in a lot of ways the whole thing had me thinking about George Carlin. Carlin had a routine about sin where he explained that in the eyes of God you didn't actually have to do something, all you had to do was "wanna." I couldn't find the quote, but it goes something like

Wake up in the morning and think you'll go downtown and rob a bank, save the bus fare, you already did it!

Somehow this feels like what they have been able to do under the new rules. A person doesn't have to have broken the law, they just have to be someone they think will be likely to break the law - or is going to break the law.

How can they know that?

Doesn't there need to be an overt act? I mean, if you are going to kill someone and you go to buy a gun they can't arrest you for that - for buying a gun, that's not illegal. They can't even follow you home and watch to see if you are going to do something. You have to do more than "wanna" you have to actually attempt to do it. If you plan to rob a store and you go into the store to case the security they can't arrest you for that. You haven't committed a crime. If store security thinks you are going to take something, they can follow you around the store, but they don't call the cops and have them follow you home, tap your phone, and pull your credit card records to see how you've paid for the things in your house.

If you are a terrorist and you come to the US legally and enroll in flight lessons have you broken a law? What if you are a US citizen who sympathizes with a terrorist cause and you buy a bunch of guns legally? Have they broken the law? But aren't these the cases we are trying to get at with the powers granted in the Patriot Act?

If you are a terrorist, and we know you to be a terrorist, haven't you already done something to make you a terrorist? Otherwise how can we be sure you are a terrorist? Because you've hung out with terrorists? Wouldn't that be guilt by association? I didn't think we did that in this country. And if you had done something to make you a terrorist, then why isn't there a warrant on you we can execute - or why can't you be turned away at immigration?

And if we can't establish that you are a terrorist to such a degree that we can already arrest you or deny you entrance into the US and you haven't as yet done anything illegal, then why are we watching you?

OK. I'll give you that one. Intelligence is not law enforcement. Guilt by association is worth watching I guess. But we're on a slippery slope here. In a particularly dicey part of policy. In a part of the scheme where it seems like we need more oversite, not less.

Why do agencies need this kind of unfettered, unmonitored freedom to operate? Why can't we have a special court system, a group of judges who's only job is to issue these kinds of warrants on an expedited basis, maybe three judge panels where you only need a majority to get what you are asking for so one single judge couldn't stand in the way, and a system that allows for immediate, expedited appeals. At least this way there would be some monitoring and some control. It need not happen in plain sight, but it ought to be happening.

Also, I guess what we might need here are not new authorities, but new law. Don't make it so that it is easier to investigate someone who hasn't broken the law. Make it easier for someone who intends to do harm to break the law and then investigate them. Tougher weapons laws, tougher immigration laws, and tougher conspiracy laws. Make sure they've actually done something other than associated with fringe elements. I guess this would take more time to put in place, but it doesn't come with the same threat to the rest of the population that expanded powers to the enforcement community does.

Also, I have to say, I think the President's speech is disingenuous. It makes it sound like wiretaps and financial records of terrorists were unavailable. That can't be true. You make your case, likely you get your tap or your info. The key word is "easier."

Truth be told, if someone hasn't actually done something, something that could get a warrant issued, I'm not sure if it should be any easier.


The people at are apparently crapweasels...

That deserves its own entire line... The SME thing is just about over... Its definitely harder to get on a plane in Dallas than in Jamaica, I'm not sure that's a good thing... Hour after hour of footage of a bunch of muni workers draining a pond is in no way shape or form "breaking news"... Trinity is beginning to look as if she is reproducing asexually... the Pittsburgh Airport is depressing at night... I can sit for the Arena Rigging exam, I doubt I can pass the Arena Rigging exam, but I'm not sure that means I should not sit for the Arena Rigging exam... There are basically only three days left in pre-college, odd that I haven't been paid yet... Mom's looking for a part time SM in Chicago... SciFi Friday night is becoming awfully evangelical... AOL is going to add Plaxo to their service :-)... Guess its about time to finish off the thank you notes... What is 190 from 2400? A lot of editing for a wedding album... Skipping a two hour airport wait is worth taking a middle seat... I can't believe it was cooler and less humid in Dallas... CMU will be looking for an essentially full time Carp/Production Carp this fall if you know anyone... I should have socialized more with the other ETCP people... Cell phones made me forget how expensive long distance is... The blog has really taken a turn away from the political, I wonder if that's a good thing... Will we hit 10,000 on the counter before the one year anniversary?.. I really ought to get to work on the book, and the other book, and the other book... Its been long enough for the novelty to wear off and I still like my truck... If we were having a party in August, when would we have it?.. Everytime I fly I want to buy something from the SkyMall catalog... Pittsburgh is no longer the worst city in the nation for singles - now they tell me!..

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Question of the Day

How many riggers does it take...

If a ceiling flat, say 12'x12', is rigged from two system pipes, say 12' apart, and the downstage edge of the flat plays 4' above the upstage edge, which lineset sees more load?

Downstage set?
Upstage set?
Equal load?
It depends?

This shouldn't be this difficult to figure out.

Of course I will assume that the answer is it depends. Harry suggests that it depends on the relationship between the center of mass and the position of each support. Which I guess I buy. Looking at the torque it seems like everything ought to cancel and the loads should be equal - but equal seems a little counter-intuitive.

But maybe the answer is counter-intuitive.

Just 8 more hours of question reviewing tomorrow. Woohoo!!!

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Hold Still!

So this was cool. Its a story I saw tonight on Nova. I have to admit to have become more of a Frontline guy lately, but Nova still catches my attention every now and then.

The story was about some famous, old, tapestries, a famous, old, museum, and a pair of famous, old, mathematicians. That and the less famous, less old process of digital archiving.

Apparently the Metropolitan Museum in New York had these tapestries in as a visiting exhibit. Also while they were there they were going to do some cleaning and restoration and then do very high resolution photos of the entire piece for their ever growing digital archive. The idea was to shoot photos with a resolution sufficient to see what was happening with each thread of the tapestry. The piece is 30' tall. They were shooting 30"x30" images, very high resolution and very long exposures.

Image files as I am sure those of you with dial-up will attest are large. The files they were generating were huge. So huge that their computer could only handle one at a time. The mathematicians got involved because they were interested in writing an analysis that would allow a computer to stitch together these very large images without any optical clues - all from the data.

The mystery begins when they complete their work and look at the finished aggregate image only to see that it doesn't line up. That is to say that pieces of each part of the mosaic of images line up, but other pieces don't. So it is more than a matter of just shifting a tile. They check the data, check the camera gantry, make sure the piece wasn't shifted accidentally while being scanned - at this point I figured it was going to be something about how the subway line runs directly under the building.

Turns out it was none of those things. I'll finish this up as a comment in case you want to watch the episode rather than read the answer here.


Val declared a copout on the last answer I gave, so I guess I need to go again. Most of the answer is there, I just really failed to put it in a good form. To refresh your recollection...

5. You are given unlimited resources/money/staff to change three things about your job/workplace. What do you change?

Ok, so here goes...

  1. For me, a tenured position with no administrative responsibilities. I understand that this is sort of the holy grail of academia. Right now it seems like I have really four jobs instead of one. First I teach my classes. Second I mentor and oversee production. Third I administer the Production Technology & Management option. Fourth I am supposed to be developing my career and the form as a way for me to eventually advance to tenure. What really happens is I teach my classes and everything else competes in some kind of Grecko Roman Scheduling battle to see what ultimately happens. At work at the top of the summer I got my "to do" mailbox down to less than 20 entries. Today it is over 120, AND I AM TECHNICALLY NOT EVEN EMPLOYED AT CMU FOR JUNE, JULY, & AUGUST! There's just no time to concentrate on anything. Cutting the responsibilities to just classes and production would make things much more manageable - although by no means easy.
  2. A facility that is not busting out all over and was designed specifically for the teaching of Production Technology & Management. This is a hard one to sell at work these days because we are in a building that is less than 10 years old. Even so we are busting at the seams and we don't even do 1/3 of what we ought to be doing. The new space was programmed based on the structure of the old place and neglected to count many of the found spaces that were used, so even though the new shop is that same square footage as the old three shops it is effectively smaller, the theatre is 8 times the volume, and that is for what we needed then not for what we might need in the future. We need more shop space, more office space, more classroom space, more lab space, more everything space. I suppose even if I did get to design my own facility I would hate it in a year, but at least I would go bigger than I needed at that moment to leave some room for expansion. (Of course this neglects the impact of budgets and available land, but I don't have to consider that here.)
  3. Ten times the annual operating budget. I figure everything I was looking for in the last post would fit into that number. Maybe I am wrong and it would be less, but its hard to fight the impulse to just say unlimited budget which seems downright wasteful. The 10x budget would hopefully cover items 1, 3, 5, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 1, & 3 from the last answer. Adding the full amount of the current budget to cover each of 10 new priorities doesn't seem too far off base.

So maybe I wasn't waffling with the last post but rather just being overly specific. The three answers above cover everything I talked about previously except merging a couple of very independent university units, moving the campus to the tropics, and world peace.

And it wouldn't be right to get everything you wanted, even in a fantasy world.

What the Client Wanted...

I am always looking for this thing and it came up on the random image search, so I thought I would put it here for the next time.

This really does tell the story of my business pretty well. In fact this one is a little more developed than some of the other versions I have seen.

You have to make some changes for it to be right on. Customer=Director, Project Leader=Designer, Analyst=Technical Director, Programmer=Job Lead, and Business Consultant=Account Executive.

The bottom row is even better. That first one is right on. In my own description of files from commercial shops I say "the file is filled with only fax cover sheets." The people referred to as "operations" would be "the screwups downstairs" in the parlance of my own circles. And the customer really does always get billed like you've built them a roller coaster. At one shop I discovered that to have us build one Hollywood flat was $1000. It had better have flags on it.

Anyway, enjoy, and remember it the next time you have to go through a 3 act opera to get something you didn't quite want.

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Question #5

5. You are given unlimited resources/money/staff to change three things about your job/workplace. What do you change?

Well, here's one near and dear to my heart. I think I've actually answered this question in the line of work a couple of times already - to little effect mind you. Still, its always an interesting exercise, deciding where the limitations of the program are and what we are lacking to be the place we want to be.

I've had to answer this about gear, people, and classes. The fun part is that no matter what you have you always need and want more. And as soon as you get something it shows you other things that were missing.

Which if you're not careful leads you to the obvious conclusion that you should just make the best of what you have and make sure you get home for dinner.

So the first list goes like this:

  1. Expanded faculty to cover technology in lighting, sound, control, costumes, scenic art, and production management. Expanded staff to cover the technical responsibilities to production in each of those areas.
  2. Bringing Drama, MAM, MEIM, and ETC under one banner and managing them like one unit.
  3. Full automation package and production budgets such that mainstage productions are of a LORT A level.
  4. Scene shop expansion to include independent and comfortable sized spaces for props, paints, metals, electrics, carpentry, machinery, and graphics - with the gear to match the space.
  5. A wet dream of a classroom for teaching CAD/CAM and other computer applications, with the gear to match the space.

and so on...

But then you start to feel shortsighted and the list starts to look like this:

  1. Full time, full year employment for all faculty & staff.
  2. Full ride scholarships with stipend for all graduate students.
  3. Full ride scholarships for all undergraduates.
  4. Salary increases for all faculty & staff to reflect the wage they would be earning in the commercial sector.
  5. Increased budget for travel and professional development for all faculty & staff.

Which is a big chunk of change as well. And after that you start to go a little loony and the list begins to look like this:

  1. Free parking for me for the length of my employment.
  2. A bigger office, with a real window, and a mini-fridge.
  3. Just two classes per semester, please!
  4. Full tenure with no administrative responsibilities.

Really I think the best all time idea around this issue was one that my classmates and I had when we were at CMU for undergrad:

  1. Move the entire university to the island of St. Thomas.

Makes sense doesn't it?

But this offers unlimited resources, yes? So again, this has been a failure to think big. The most magnanimous wishes above really only scratch the surface and are at their very core still selfish. Unlimited resources? Ok then:

  1. Place my place of employment in a world without poverty, strife, or evil.


Question #4

4. If you could be any religion but the one you are/were raised in, which would it be and why?

This one is tough for me. I have the twin answering difficulties of not having had a substantive battle with my family faith as well as really not knowing enough about any other faith to have envied it. I grew up in a mixed marriage. My parents received the instruction from my grandparents: "just make sure they get something." So although our home was predominantly one way, for a while we had bits and pieces of a couple of heritages.

Truth be told I think that might be a good thing. Maybe my answer to this should be "I'll have the buffet!" Take the best things from all the world's religions and leave the chaff aside.

Growing up less than devout I always had a gnawing inside me that religion as a pursuit was hypocritical and misguided. What I saw was people putting on the Sunday best must less often than each weekend to go see and be seen. There's a joke that goes around about seating for services that expresses what I mean about my own experience pretty well:

SUBJ: Seating Request Form
During the last holiday season, many individuals expressed concern over the seating arrangements. In order for us to place you in a seat which will best suit you, we ask you to complete the following questionnaire and return it to the office as soon as possible ...

1. I would prefer to sit in the... (Check one:)
___ Talking section
___ No talking section

2. If talking, which category do you prefer?(Indicate order of interest)
___ Stock market
___ Sports
___ Medicine
___ Congregates' secret medical tragedies
___ General gossip
___ Specific gossip (choose:)
___ Fashion news
___ What others are wearing
___ Why they look awful
___ Your neighbors
___ Your relatives
___ Your neighbors' relatives
___ Sex (Preference:
___ Who's cheating on/having an affair with whom
___ Other:

3. Which of the following would you like to be near for free professional advice?
___ Doctor
___ Dentist
___ Nutritionist
___ Psychiatrist
___ Child psychiatrist
___ Mother in law
___ Podiatrist
___ Chiropractor
___ Stockbroker
___ Accountant
___ Attorney
___ Real estate agent
___ Architect
___ Plumber
___ Buyer (Specify store: _______________________ )
___ Sexologist
___ Golf pro
___ Other: ____________________________

4. I want a seat located (Indicate order of priority:) ___ On the aisle ___ Near the exit ___ Near the window
___ Near the bathroom
___ Near my in-laws
___ As far away from my in-laws as possible
___ As far away from my ex-in-laws as possible
___ Near the pulpit
___ Near single men
___ Near available women
___ Near anyone who's available; I'm bisexual or just not particular
___ Where no one will notice me sleeping during services
___ Where I can sleep during the sermon [additional charge]

5. Please do not place me anywhere near the following people:
(Limit of six; if you require more space, you may wish to consider joining another congregation.)

Your name: _________________________________

See what I mean? I know this is just a community thing, but whatever. I guess if I were picking a religion I would pick one that didn't lend itself to that type of thing so easily.

Although maybe that's more about people than religion.

I think I am getting off track. I don't think I have a specific answer to this question. However, I think I have a shopping list. Here's what I would be looking for:

  • something that makes no real judgment about your commitment to your own faith, either with your time or your money - and in a congregation where the other people do not make those judgments either.
  • something that does not glorify its divinity by teaching that other faiths are wrong, or less than.
  • something where you can make your expression either privately or in a congregation without a real difference - whatever you are comfortable with.
  • something that treats all races, sexes, and nationalities with respect.
  • something where the faith is obviously a celebration of the congregation and not of the religion or its leaders.

That's a rough outline. The interesting thing to me of course is I think that people of many faiths (maybe all faiths) could respond to this post saying I am describing their religion.

Who knows, maybe I am.

More Questions

I guess I ought to finish answering the first set. Here's the second. This set is from The Palmyra Sliver. The idea and the original post here are in this entry.

A. What other country would you willingly move to tomorrow, all things being equal?

B. If you could go back in time and visit your angst-ridden adolescent self, what would you say to him?

C. You can program an entire season -- five shows -- for your local regional theatre. What five plays or musicals (or operas or circuses or whatever) would you choose?

D. Choose someone who you feel is deserving of recognition in the form of a national monument. Who is that person? What would their monument look like? Where would it be?

E. You can visit the world of your favorite newspaper comic. Which comic would you visit? What would that comic-you look like?

As before, if you want in, leave a comment and I'll come up with five questions for you.

Another Day Another Bedspread

WANTED - New home for newly declared outdoor cat. Her name is RoLaren, and she would like to live in the country. Someplace where the whole world can be her bedspread.

If interested, respond to this site. Free! You haul away.


Message From Aerdin

Texted to the missus's phone (as mine is in a box on the way to TX)...

Avi Samuel,
Seven pounds thirteen ounces,
twenty-one inches,
born five forty-four PM


Monday, July 25, 2005

Squeaky Wheel

Just why is it that the squeaky wheel gets the oil? Or more specifically, why does our society reward crankiness?

It turns out that my whizbang phone has one problem: the people on the other end can't hear me speak. I can text, take pictures, surf the net, play games and music, and I can hear the people I call - I just can't speak.

So I call them:

"Hi, I love my new phone, but it turns out it is defective"

"Ok, we're sorry. Use this return code, ship us back the phone and we'll ship you out a replacement."

"Gee, that's going to leave me without a phone for like 10 days. That really won't do. Can we speed that up a little?"

"Well, we can overnight it, but we can't do it until we have the first phone back and you will have to pay for the overnight shipping."

"Right, but that's still going to be like 4-8 days, and I have to pay because you shipped me a defective phone. That's just a little bit ridiculous."

"Well sir, that's our policy, there's really nothing I can do about it."

"Oh. I see. ()*&}{:*_ ()*)(&*} {: ":" }{:> )(*(*& & :}{)(*& &*()&)*)( )(&*)*& {}":*&*^% (&^(* &}{: (&^&*^ (*^(* )(*&)( <>:}{}{ )(*:{)(+ _*()(&& ()*_)}{:")(&*%% )*& }{}:": *&*(^ }{()* &*& :":(*(*(^^% *(&&))()(*) & & ":}{::\][][;l_*--9(&)& )(*... Supervisor!"

"um, ok, I'll see if she's available."


"Hi. I need you to overnight me a replacement for the defective phone you shipped me."

"Ok. We can do that. You need to ship us the phone, email us the tracking number and we will overnight the new phone to you as soon as we can verify on the shipping site that the old phone is en route. We will have to authorize another purchase on your credit card, but you won't be charged."

"Thanks much. I'll get right on that."

"You're welcome, let us know if you need anything else."

Just why is it that I have to turn into the customer from hell before they will give me the service they clearly have a plan to offer anyway? They are obviously taking advantage of every person that just says "oh, ok I guess I will pay for the overnight shipping." That sucks.

Customer service reps often wonder why customers are so rude. I think its because the system is set up to reward it.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Humor Quiz

Dark. Well that was obvious.

the Cutting Edge

(60% dark, 43% spontaneous, 22% vulgar)

your humor style:

Your humor's mostly innocent and off-the-cuff, but somehow there's something slightly menacing about you. Part of your humor is making people a little uncomfortable, even if the things you say aren't in and of themselves confrontational. You probably have a very dry delivery, or are seriously over-the-top. Your type is the most likely to appreciate a good insult and/or broken bone and/or very very fat person dancing.

PEOPLE LIKE YOU: David Letterman - John Belushi

My test tracked 3 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:

free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 99% on dark

free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 0% on spontaneous

free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 33% on vulgar
Link: The 3 Variable Funny Test written by jason_bateman on Ok Cupid

Question #3

3. What is the coolest technological advance/invention of the past hundred years?

Well, by the wording of this question there is really only one possible answer:

1902 - Willis Carrier invents the air conditioner.

Besides, I might have picked that one anyway. I am partial to my conditioned air. But there are also others I like as well.

The escalator, airplane, brassiere, zipper, PEZ, SCUBA, Oral Contraceptives, pong would all make some kind of list. Sure there are the obvious computers, internet, cell phones, but I think that all of those are really just refinements and improvements. Haven't seen too much real groundbreaking thinking lately.

All of these come from this page by the way: 20th Century Inventions.

I always thought my grandfather had really lived in one of the most explosive times in history. He saw the invention of the car, airplane, radio, television, rocketry, telephone, and space travel. Until we come up with beaming its going to be hard to compete with that.

So, air conditioning? The Pill? For this question I really do have only one choice:

1948 - The Frisbee® invented by Walter Frederick Morrison and Warren Franscioni.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Question #2

2. If you could be a girl for a day, just to see what it's like, would you?

Says the Etheridge fanclub member: "but of course." I think trying to be in anyone else's shoes for a day would likely be a worth while experience.

Besides, I'd like to know if crying really does get you out of speeding tickets. I would love to be able to sit out of swim class on my say so. It would have been fantastic to have been able to wear jeans while working at K-Mart. As Cookie always says, I would love to have the free chicken dinner. I might even take up golf if I could start off from the ladies' tees. I always enjoyed playing disc with the girls team more than the men anyway. People would stop thinking I was gay just because I like purple. I've always thought that the designers for women's Nikes were better than the men's designers. It would be a wonderful excuse for my somewhat volatile but unpredictable personality.

Sure. Why not?

One question. What if I liked it better?

Phone Winners & Losers

I got my new phone - Win
T-Mobile cell service near my house appears to be crappy - Lose
I can transfer data from my computer to my phone - Win
The transfer is v e r y s l o w - Lose
I can use my Plaxo database for phone numbers - Win
Not everyone updates their plaxo entry, and some people aren't in that database - Lose
The phone by the way is real cool - Win
Its a little smaller than I thought - Lose
The software comes with audio editing - Win
The audio editing isn't very good - Lose
Its good enough to get me a Melissa ring - Win

I guess the final say so will have to come when I leave the house and see if the other features actually work.

Friday, July 22, 2005

CSPAN Tonight


Testimony from CIA personell around the White House leaks, the run up to the war, and the apparent orchestrated smear campaign designed to discredit anyone against going to Iraq.

Watch and learn.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Question #1

1. You could be the drummer for a star rock band or a world-renowned neurosurgeon. Which do you pick?

It must mean something that my first impulse is to say I would rather manage the band. I think that given the choice between one or the other I would choose the doctor.

I've never much been into performance. When I used to be in shows I would always spend more time looking at the technical aspects than I did thinking about the performance I was supposed to be giving. I guess I have no real foundation to speculate about the adulation. Once in my life I played in an ultimate game with enough people to produce a cheer after a good play. That felt pretty good. Thousands of screaming fans must be cool too, and it must be something that really makes a difference on stage. Once at a Melissa concert when I was in the front row one of the techs spent a good chunk of time trying to get me to crash the front of the stage. I don't think he would have done that had it not mattered to her - she gave me a pick after the show too.

But I digress.

Would I be me in this scenario or would I morph into the person that could be one of these things?

Truth be told I don't think I have the wherewithal to be either of these. I spend too much time second guessing. It would be very hard for me to be in a no mistakes kind of scenario either in front of so many people or with such huge repercussions.

There's definitely a money angle here too, yes? The doctor does very well and probably wants for nothing while the drummer probably wants for only new ways to spend money. That's probably one in favor of rockstar.

Also, I think I could get over the confidence thing, but surgeons really have to be in early in the morning and I don't think I could conquer that. All that early morning surgery. The rockstar is much more compatible with my lifestyle.

OK, twist my arm, rockstar.

Game Time Again

The Interactive Internet Question Game

This is an Interactive Internet Question Game. I got it from Behind the Stove.

This is how it's played:
1. If you want to play, leave a comment below saying so.
2. I'll post five unique questions to the comments section of this post.
3. You answer them in your blog.
4. In your post, you include this explanation and an offer to interview others.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

Here are the questions I got from BabelBabe...

1. You could be the drummer for a star rock band or a world-renowned neurosurgeon. Which do you pick?

2. If you could be a girl for a day, just to see what it's like, would you?

3. What is the coolest technological advance/invention of the past hundred years?

4. If you could be any religion but the one you are/were raised in, which would it be and why?

5. You are given unlimited resources/money/staff to change three things about your job/workplace. What do you change?

Answers will come over the next couple posts. Let me know if you want in.

Team USA

I recently got my summer issue of the "Ultimate News." Its the publication of the Ultimate Players Association. By playing in Pittsburgh Summer League I am in a position of having to be a UPA member again. I had let my membership lapse between undergrad and being back here in Pittsburgh (or really between living in Pittsburgh and living in Pittsburgh). That's a little odd too considering I did play quite a bit of disc while I was living in Las Vegas.

For those of you who wonder what I am talking about when I mention Ultimate, you should check this out:

Its really been a great experience for me over the years.

I got started playing when I was in High School. This guy, Frank Revi, who had been my babysitter was really into the game at college and introduced it to me. When I got to college I can honestly say that I spent more time and effort on playing Ultimate than just about anything else. The college team went to nationals three years out of the four I was there, one time getting to the semi-finals.

So back to the magazine...

One of the stories in this issue is about Team USA. I haven't been following the game to closely lately, but my impression is that this is a new thing. In previous years American club teams would go to worlds on their own rather than have a national team (had I hung around for the ubiquitous 5th year of college I likely would have gotten to go to worlds with the Pittsburgh club team - ah, the road not traveled).

I was really surprised how much seeing the national team stung. Even 10 years too late and 75 pounds too heavy I still feel this. There were times in the past, mostly just after undergrad where I legitimately felt that if there were a Team USA for Ultimate that I would have dropped everything to do the training required to play. I guess I am still a little wistful.

Truth be told this feeling is really unmerited. Even when I was my absolute best I was still maybe only the 5th or 6th best guy on my own team. Even looking at that team as one of the three best that year that still means that there were a minimum of 15 guys ahead of me - let alone the top guys from teams that didn't do as well - let alone all the great players that were playing open division instead of college.

So maybe, in the best possible light, I was one of the top 100 men's ultimate players in the US that year. This Team USA has six slots for men, maybe four alternates. So even in the best playing year of my life I would still be #90 on the waitlist.

Still, would have been nice to have been able to try out in my prime.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Link of the Day

A long time ago, we went for dinner at Soba in Shadyside and they had what they called "Desert Sushi." They were either slices of melon on rice crispy treats or chocolate candies made up to look like rolls. It was one of the coolest deserts I've ever had.

We kicked around the idea with our desert guys for the wedding but gave up. I'm not sure why we couldn't make it work, but we didn't.

I wish we'd have seen this:

Really, very cool. Although a little expensive. And that's your link of the day.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Wedding Pictures

The wedding pics are up.

You have to go here:

where you will get to see more photos than you ever thought were possible of the pre-nup and the wedding day. If it asks for an event code you need to enter: MarisaandDavid

Check it out.

Also, if you missed it, Jamaica photos are here:

such as they are.

Have fun.

High Tech Angst

Help me out?

My cell phone and cell plan are both more than two years old now. I am beginning to feel like I am paying for things my phone can't really do (or at least do well). The phone itself is still fairly sexy as far as form factor goes but things like internet and text messaging were not well implemented and that's beginning to bother me.

Today I looked at this phone online:

and this plan & provider:

Anyone out there got that phone? Or heard anything up or down? How about T-Mobile? Any insight? Buying phones & plans from Amazon? Any idea how to keep your number if you're changing providers and doing online?

I certainly have a lot of questions.

I've always thought this was sort of a damned if you do, damned if you don't kind of choice. Whatever you buy from whomever you buy it on some level you're always a little disappointed. I guess on balance over the years I've always been a little happier than not, but right now it might be time to move on.

Anyway. Anyone got any tips? I'd love to have them.

Soon to be TV Movie

From today's USAToday:

Without disputing the appropriateness of "16 will get you 20" I am stuck by this passage from the story:

Lafave's trial was set for Dec. 5 on four felony counts of lewd and lascivious battery and one count of lewd and lascivious exhibition. Each carries a maximum 15-year prison term.

We put people in jail for 15 years for just exposing themselves? 15 years? The penalty for battery is the same as for exhibition?

I know that we have to protect our children. And certainly they are right to prosecute this woman for having sex with a 14 year old. 14 year olds shouldn't be having sex. But this is a 75 year sentence. That seems bizarre. I guess I'll have to wait until I have a 14 year old to understand (wait, I mean until I am the parent of a 14 year old you crotch brains).

I wonder if the 14 year old gets to testify at sentencing?

Can't Sleep

It's official: I am nocturnal. I just spent a couple hours laying in bed trying to drop off to sleep with zero success. My brain is going 1000 miles an hour with no sign of slowing down. Since I already woke the wife up with terrible results I thought perhaps I would just share this time with the blog.

Here's where my head is...

I think I am going to shelve the Technical Direction book. After several months it is still hovering at 50 odd pages. I could get going on it again except for two things. First, while I have been writing this book, several people have mentioned to me that they would really like to have a Production Planning book. All things being equal I am just as close to being able to have that text and it has a wider market. So maybe that should be first. Except, I am actually attaining what could almost be called prominence with regard to Stage Rigging. I am an ETCP Rigging Subject Matter Expert and in fairly short order will be a certified Theatrical Rigger. For a very short time I will be one of very few certified people - like 1 of 10 for about three months. If I could put together a rigging manuscript in that time it might have a very good chance of being published. I have the outline already, it's titled "Rocky Says That's Not Rigging."

So there's that. The birds outside the window just started chirping, undeniable proof that one has stayed up too late.

I've been obsessing over the crazy scheme. We're trying this new idea for the leadership of the scenery department on our shows this coming year. Instead of using the TD-ATD-Master Carp regional model we're going to use the Unit Manager-Project Manager-Job Lead commercial model. For quite some time now I've thought that our students spend too much time on crew but don't do enough shows. The footprint for our productions has gotten longer and longer to accommodate an educationally sound design and preproduction period. The problem is the longer each individual show becomes, the less shows a given student is available for, which leads to more overall weeks of crew, and more uncomfortable overlaps. Also, having a student TD assigned for the entire length of a small studio is just wasteful. These shows have scenery budgets in the world of $75 and 16 hours. Why should someone be tied up by that for 6 weeks? Enter the crazy scheme. The idea being to embrace the overlaps and give each production only what it needs to get finished. This way a group of students can gang up on the small studios and what used to tie up one person for 6 weeks now ties up 3 or 4 people, but likely for less than 6 days total. If it works we get more projects per person while working less weeks. More experience with less commitment? I guess we'll see.

Now I just have to figure out how to explain it to the people that will be doing it. I need a base list of tasks to go after each title in the scheme. The idea is that it's flexible, but if it is too flexible nobody will know what they are doing. There's also another wrinkle. There are sort of primary crazy scheme members and secondary crazy scheme members. Expectations for participation from each group are different. We also have to figure out how the build crews work as the organization wants a general pool of labor for assignment, but the way the rest of the school runs will want to give each show its own crew. So I've got that to reconcile. I don't know. I am sure it will be fabulous. There might even be an article out there "Integrating Commercial Structures into Educational Theatre Production."

Sounds kinda dry.

Kevin mentioned to me I might be teaching his class tomorrow (ie in a few hours). I hope since he didn't call that I'm not doing it.

With one thought leading to another while my head was spinning I started thinking about updating my RTP binder. I don't come up for more than a year, but I was still turning it over in my head. The submissions all need to be done electronically now. They burn CD's for the review committee. I can't figure that out. How do you put D-Sheet drawings in an electronic form that looks like anything? I spent a real long time the last time composing these portfolio pages as kinda collages and they'll all be useless this time around. How do you convey that kind of composition in an electronic document? I mean, I could paste them up electronically and then do a .pdf of the portfolio page size, but it won't read properly on a screen and the committee members won't likely be able to print them actual size. I wonder what they were thinking we'd do when they made that policy.

The sun is coming up. Maybe I could get to sleep now. I tend to sleep better during the day. I guess I'll go try.

Sunday, July 17, 2005


When did it become ok to wear headphones to school? Ok so I guess maybe at high school and middle school this hasn't become a problem as of yet, but here in the world of higher education it is a smallish plague.

I remember when I was a student at this august institution that there was a time when the shop guys had decided they wanted to wear headphones while they were working. The shop manager raised holy hell and put a stop to that.

We could use him now.

The success of the iPod has made this somewhat worse. I love my iPod. The idea that I can put every CD I own onto a device smaller than a pack of cigarettes is very appealing. But just having the music available doesn't mean you have to listen to it every second of every day.

Take when you are in class, or working in the shop. This isn't only distracting to others, and potentially unsafe for the wearer, but really its just rude. And taking the phones off your head and wearing them around your neck is not an improvement.

I can only think this is going to get worse as Bluetooth becomes more integrated.

I even have students who come to class on exam days and wear their headphones. "The music helps me think." Fine. The answer is still no. And by the way how in the world did you think that someone would be allowed to access a 40gig random access information storage device when the test is closed book.

I think you're probably cheating.

The other day I left people some on their own time in class for work. They had the boom box going. That's ok I guess. Along with that, three other people had the headphones on. Whatever floats your boat I guess.

But if I'm speaking, if you're taking a test, if you're supposed to be collaborating, or you are in an environment where safety is an issue do us all a favor and leave the headphones at home.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

A Higher Standard

What with all the conversation of late about the President and his Deputy Chief of staff I've been wondering quite a bit about our standards. My recollection is that once upon a time there was this thing that was known as "the mere appearance of impropriety." The idea was that even though nothing was proven, even without an investigation that there were positions and organizations where you could not even have the taint of "maybe" about you, and that if somehow you got in that situation you stepped down.

I can recall Senate confirmation hearings where even petty things would come up and the nominee would step aside. Someone who had hired an illegal to babysit their children, things like that.

The other day, the President said that "if someone in my administration has broken the law..." I found myself thinking "Why would they have had to break the law?" and for that matter why would they even have to be caught, and why would he have to wait for an official investigation? The guy they are looking at is on his personal staff. He can't just walk down the hall and ask him?

Didn't it used to be that someone would do something, the boss would find out, and then the transgressor would quietly step aside to avoid there even being an investigation?

Now it seems like people are just itching to step right up and say "Oh, yeah? Prove it!"

That's not very statesmanlike, not too distinguished. Actually it's sort of embarrassing.

So what happened to the higher standard? I actually believe that the crumbling foundation here did not begin with the people I've begun this looking at. Rather I think its from the people that habitually do the accusing. See my recollection is that WAY back in the day someone would have said

"Sir, you've taken our country to war without reason!"

and then the other guy would say

"Sir, you forget yourself sir, I demand an apology!"

and then if he didn't get the apology, he'd shoot the guy. Doesn't really work that way now. Now this doesn't mean that there aren't weasels in the world anymore, but really, accusations have become so cheap I think that public figures can't help but demand proof. Otherwise every elected official would have to be stepping down every day.

There is now an entire business of people who make their living spinning the facts and basically accusing their opposition of untoward things. I would have liked to have seen how Rush Limbaugh and Randi Rhodes would have faired back in the era of dueling.

Maybe we should bring back dueling?

So while we piss and moan about the secrecy and underhandedness, and mostly the boldface lying of today's public figures let's at least in some little way acknowledge that we are in part responsible. As a group we've cried wolf. The present culture of accusations has given our permission to people to ignore the mere appearance of impropriety.

Although they are taking advantage of it, we're all the ones that lowered the standard.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Emmy Awards Not Kind to David's Shows

It is probably real American of me to take time out to talk about the Emmy Awards while they are still sifting through wreckage in London or while the mob of Lefties carrying torches has Karl Rove on the run but you know what they say. "If we change the way we live our lives then the terrorists have already won."

The nominations fot the Emmy Awards were announced recently. All in all it was a pretty lousy year for David's pet shows. Although most of them did walk away with some recognition, on the whole they are still fairly significantly under the radar.

I should start with a surprise. The Showtime show "Huff" did very well. I became hooked on this thing last year and really can't wait for the next season. Hank Azaria got a nomination for lead actor. With all the work he's done on other really good shows from the background it is very nice to see him get some recognition. Even better is the nomination for supporting actor that went to Oliver Platt. For some of the things he has had to do in that role he deserves some kudos (I saw him on an interview show and he says that people he meets that only know him from this role can't help but think he's a pervert).

I also should be happy about James Spader and William Shatner both getting nominations for Boston Legal. I'm not sure what happened to that show. ABC wound up with a real power lead in from Extreme Home Makeover and Desperate Housewives and must have used that 10pm slot for a half dozen other programs. That's too bad as I really have missed Boston Legal.

Deadwood also did very well, which is good, because it like some of the other show recognized this time around really requires one to watch multiple episodes to have any kind of idea what is going on. I actually was expecting many more nominations for this show. It would have been nice to have seen something for Timothy Olyphant, Brad Dourif, Paula Malcomson, Kim Dickens, and William Sanderson - maybe even something for Kieth Carradine even though he left the series fairly early.

The overlooked? I really would like to have seen some recognition for "The Wire." I continue to believe it is the single best show on television, hands down. The third season of this show dealt with the fallout from the decision to control drug use rather than trying to stop it. The writing, directing, and acting here are all first rate, and unlike some of the other shows this one also provides direct and contemporary social commentary. The show, like "Homicide, Life on the Street" before it did get a nomination for writing, but it is far better than that. If there's any consolation here, many of the faces involved with this show were also involved with "Homicide" and with "Oz" so they ought to be used to doing good work without much recognition.

I just hope the powers that be give them the slack to keep working without the celebration that other shows are receiving.

My other beef? Well this one is more in the left field area - well off the beaten track. Someone should really say something positive about SciFi's Friday night lineup. All three shows: SG-1, Atlantis, and Galactica got nominations for effects, but they are really all better than that. This season I could see overlooking the Stargate shows. SG-1 was not at its best, and they really haven't found the series with Atlantis. "Battlestar Galactica" really hit the nail squarely on the head though and deserves much more ceremony.

Typically science fiction shows do not do well at the Emmys. Pretty much as a group they get overlooked when it comes to writing, performance, or show wide recognition. They get their share of effects, technical, and editing notices but they are much more than that.

Getting its launch from last year's miniseries, Galactica had almost a "preseason" to help sort out the kinks before season one. Add to that the entire pre-existing mythology, and some class-A cast members (Edward James Olmos, Mary McDonnell) and they had a very solid foundation right from the outset. And the show has not disappointed. NBC reran the last three episodes of season one in HD last weekend and the cliffhanger ending was absolutely as impressive the second time even though I knew exactly what was going to happen - it was extrordinarily crafted and should have gotten people's attention as television rather than science fiction television. I cannot wait for season two to begin Friday.

Even though I am a huge fan of The West Wing, I would have been thrilled to have seen either "The Wire" or "Battlestar Galactica" get that slot for Best Drama Series.

Who Are These People?

I have a thing on my AIM profile that remembers who checks my AIM profile. Does anybody want to claim these Screen Names:

AdrienneLDG, Purple Jypsy, mipowfour, Dantes Icebox, LadyAliria, & PunkyPicc?

I'm just curious as they've all hit my info more than once but are not on my list.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Peeing Machine

For Peeing on New Sheets

Hefty Reward for Anyone With a Working Solution

Ro Laren is at it again. Left alone with access to the bed today she befouled not just the bed, but the brand new down comforter, brand new featherbed, and brand new sheets.

I mean when she does a job, she does a job.

Popular wisdom is that she does this when her box is unacceptable to her. Once a week cleaning seems to be enough, but that would have made today like 12 hours late, so I'm not sure that's all there is to it.

Us being gone for so long, then all the boxes and everything in the house, plus we had three guests for a few days, and then - new bedding. All of that I believe contributes to the syndrome.

But knowing why it is happening does not tell us how to stop it, and there is an outside possibility we will have people over again.

The vet told us the last time we talked that when this happens we should confine her with her box. So she's in kitty jail today, the guest bathroom all day, all by herself. She has not been a model prisoner. Originally I had thought this would be an overnight sentence, but I am not a hanging judge and I am wavering. Do cats perceive time like we do anyway? Will she know the difference between 12 hours and 24? Somehow I think she won't.

In the meantime I think I will finally break down and buy an automatic litter box. We've been getting by by adding a box each time we add a cat and then sticking to the normal cleaning schedule. That seems to be failing and I don't seem to be capable of a more rigorous schedule.

Today I looked at the LitterMaid, PurrformaPlus, and the LitterRobot. I think I am partial to the Litter Robot. The online reviews of the others all featured about an equal number of happy and unhappy customers whereas the robot was almost all positive. One would hope it would be, the thing costs an arm and a leg.

Anyone got any experience with any of these? Or a solution to the problem we haven't thought of? I am serious about the reward.

Ok. Time to parole the pussy.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Is the "War on Terror" the New Cold War?

Aside from the problem with the "War on Terror" being undeclared, dishonestly targeted, and unfocused beyond any possible conclusion, I think perhaps there's another problem with the mentality.

Really it seems like there is a block of people that would like this to be the new cold war (terror, its the new red). There was a certain galvanizing property of the cold war, very good for government getting to do what it wants without much oversite, extremely good for defense contractors, good way to keep people afraid just enough - like you were fairly certain the Russians would never launch, but in the back of your mind it was always there.

This seems to be what the current state of things in the US is about. It's systemic right down to the color code. Today is yellow, which means "do whatever you were going to do anyway but be a little bit more afraid."

If this is the new cold war I think we're missing some things. We're missing the bits that gave it some sexiness. Where's the war on terror "red phone," and who is on the other end? Part of the tension of the cold war was that there was this open line of communication open all the time ostensibly for preventing mistakes. Where's the war on terror NORAD or SAC? Why haven't we seem pictures of a high tech command center that looks like the bridge of the Enterprise with some General (or better yet VP Dick Cheney) sitting in the Captain's chair with officers all around him pouring over screens representing Customs, Immigration, Intelligence, Military, Air Traffic Control, Transportation, with each of those consoles connected to 100 other consoles being monitored all around the country? Where's the Situation Room where the General commanding the war on terror sends the bombers to fail safe? These were images that both inspired fear and confidence in US citizens.

I haven't hear much about civil defense strategies, or about grade schools doing terrorism drills. Where's the war on terror "duck and cover?" Why haven't we seen millions of gas masks and radiation detectors being shipped to schools all over the country? How come we each haven't gotten a letter in the mail instructing us what we are supposed to do in the event of a terrorist attack?

Oh wait, they did tell us: plastic sheet and duct tape. That never would have flown in the 50s or in the 80s.

Could it be that the population of today is just too cynical to buy any of this crap? All things being equal, duck and cover wasn't going to save any lives. You were fairly likely to starve in your personal fallout shelter or be killed for your supplies. Is it possible the reason that there's no SAC to speak of because there would be nothing to strike? That there's no NORAD analog because you simply would have to watch everything? That there's no Red Phone because there's nobody to be on the other end of the line?

Could it be that the little bit of comfort we had knowing that the Russian's wouldn't launch because they could count on being pounded in response just doesn't exist when the adversaries have so little to lose and so much to gain?

This isn't the new Cold War at all. The government should stop trying to spin it that way. These are problems that will have to be solved, not outlasted or outspent. Fear is not a weapon here for us, the enemy will not be afraid of our arsenal. Really weapons are not a weapon here for us because they have a seemingly inexhaustible force, and almost nothing in the way of hard targets. This fight will have to be waged in a very different way, through outreach, education, pop culture, and development aid - and likely through some hard choices about governments we've been allied with for a very long time. We need to change our footing to be able to wage this war. We don't need more weapons, we need to stop being dependent on that part of the world. We don't need to kill people, we need to make them understand that they don't really want to die. We don't need to convert people to western capitalist democracies, we need them to come to the conclusion that we are the way of the future.

As long as we keep trying to resolve this conflict in the ways we've used in our past we will be wasting our time. We need some New Jack Cops to take down a New Jack Gangsta. Or something like that. Mario Van Peebles for President, Judd Nelson for Secretary of State, Ice-T for Secretary of Defense, and Chris Rock for Chairman of the Joint Chiefs.

It might not work, but at least you could be sure it would be different.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Baseball, Mom, & Apple Pie

Did you catch the news? Last week the IOC voted to drop both Baseball and Softball from the summer Olympics starting with the 2012 games in London. Nice.

The coverage says that the sports were dropped for a couple of reasons. Principally, softball was dropped because the USA was too dominant and because there wasn't as much growth in participation from other parts of the world as they thought there should have been. Baseball was dropped because the US MLB would not make their players available to the games, and because the sport has a cloud over it because of doping.


Along with this story we find that in the entire history of the modern Olympics only one other sport has ever been dropped - and no, it wasn't team handball. The only sport dropped to date was polo, at least that's what NPR said. The Olympics site says there were more, including:

  • Cricket
  • Power boating
  • Croquet
  • Rackets
  • Golf
  • Rink-hockey
  • Jeu de paume
  • Roque
  • Lacrosse
  • Rugby
  • Pelote basque
  • Tug of war
  • Polo
  • Water skiing
Quite a list. My understanding is that many of these were not really recurring sports in the first place, and others were part of a bigger sport. Tug of War was part of Track and Field (I always thought it was "tug-o-war." Learn something new every day). Bonus points for anyone who can explain all of those sports without looking them up.

Olympic power boating. Let's not draw too much attention to that or the NASCAR people will start angling for a stock car medal.

Supposedly the vote was part of a new vetting process whereby they will make every sport clear this hurdle every four years to continue to be in the games. Again, I direct you to sports not dropped this year like badminton, team handball, field hockey, modern pentathlon, and ping pong.

Along with the dropping of these two sports, the IOC also decided not to recognize squash, rugby, golf, karate and roller sports. While upset about the first action, the Ultimate player in me is just fine with the second.

Here's the rub though. I personally think this had nothing to do with sports, and even less to do with the Olympic Summer Games. The reasons they give fall apart too easily.

So what if the US team was dominant in Softball? Does anyone remember the Russian Hockey team - the one who's loss elicited the quote "Do you believe in miracles?" How about Dream Team 1? Nobody clambered to eliminate Basketball when Charles Barkley spent the entire tournament hanging from the rim and Chuck Daly never even called a single time out. Dominance has never been a factor in the past, why would it be now?

There aren't enough other teams? A sport has to be played in a specified number of countries before it is even considered as a demonstration sport. Its not as if bunches of countries have stopped playing since Atlanta. Besides, just having a sport in the Olympics is probably the biggest possible boost to its play around the world. Need we look farther than the Jamaican Bobsled Team for confirmation of that? Nobody ever considers canceling the entire Winter Olympic Games because it never even snows in a boatload of countries.

Didn't have the best players? Since when has this been a criteria? For most of my life I always thought that the best players turned pro, and that if you were pro you couldn't compete in the Olympics. I know this has been changing over the last four or five games, but it is certainly not the rule. Even with the NBA and other federations allowing their players to go most of the very top echelon pass up the opportunity in the same way they pass up the all-star game. They're either afraid of getting injured or they have to film a commercial that week. NHL players would rather go to the Canada Cup than to the Olympics. The top pro tennis players don't go routinely. This is a sham.

There's a cloud of impropriety over American Baseball because of performance enhancing drugs? And this is a reason for canceling baseball in the Olympics? I can't think of a better reason to have Baseball in the Olympics. Give the players that aren't juicing a stage to excel on under IOC anti-doping regulations that MLB won't enforce. See who shows up.

The decisions to drop these sports were just stupid. They were anti-development, anti-progressive, and anti-sportsmanship. What on Earth would make them do such a thing?

Here's what I think...

I think in a purely democratic process, with secret balloting, in a high profile environment, with almost zero international repercussions the rest of the world took what must have seemed like a once in a lifetime opportunity to tell the United States of America to go fuck itself.

There is almost nothing as identifiably American than Baseball. What does James Earl Jones say in Field of Dreams?

"The rest of the world has gone by like an army of steamrollers It's been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time."

Right up there with Mom and apple pie as a symbol of the USA is Baseball. And starting in 2012 it will no longer be part of the Olympics - Men's or Women's. Let's do see the decision for what it really is: a show of force from a group of countries we typically trample without thinking about it.

It's going to backfire though, not enough to get them re-instated, but there will be significant collateral damage.

Dropping Women's Softball will be a real kick in the teeth to the continuing building up of women's sports, and frankly women's rights around the world. The women playing that game were spectacular. They were healthy, athletic, good looking, smart, and succeeding at sports. The image was undeniably one of women's success, strength, and independence, and one that was staggeringly good TV. Around the world, men trying to keep structures in place that keep women down would have to watch and shake their heads. Certainly women's soccer has a similar effect, except in that case men can feel safe that the men's team would undoubtedly whomp the women's team head to head. With softball, there always was this bit of wonder if it really mattered who was standing at the plate, the pitching is just unhitable. This is a terrible blow to the development of women's sports. Often times there are dominos that fall as far as recognition by other bodies that defer to Olympic status. This gives other organizations to marginalize the sport as well.

There aren't enough teams from other parts of the world? That's because in many of those places they are too busy mutilating girls genitals, keeping them out of site in beekeeper suits, or pitching them into the river before they can walk. And the decision to drop this sport is just one more small reinforcement of what they are doing. Congratulations.

The Baseball backfire? The US didn't even qualify for Baseball in the last Olympics. They lost to Mexico in the final qualifying round. American Baseball has historically been dominated by Cuba. So by taking Baseball out of the Olympics the IOC pulled the rug out from under several Latin American and Asian teams that took real national pride in their performance in that sport on the world stage. Well done.

Plus, this was a real opportunity for the IOC to help wear away some of the tarnish on its own reputation. If the IOC had continued to support Baseball, but insist on IOC doping rules they really would have had the high ground. Cutting the sport almost makes it look like a solution to the drug problem in the sport is impossible like "well if they can't take drugs we won't see the best baseball." What kind of crap is that? There was a chance to force real change and they passed it up. Good show.

So good for you, IOC, you gave the world's only remaining superpower a black eye. We'll likely wear it with our normal level of whining. Baseball will continue to mark the time. A vote like this can't possibly impede an army of steamrollers. Being dropped from the Olympics will only make MLB's upcoming world cup that much more important. Softball will take a hit, but maybe this will be enough to get some money behind a professional league here in the US. And as far as the drug reform and the building of women's sports, well I hope making us feel bad was worth it.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Long Haired Hippy Freaks

Summer league, second Saturday out...

I finally got back to play at summer league. If you haven't noticed I've had some conflicts over the last two weeks. In that time the team had played five games. We started the day 4-3 and in fourth place in our pool. Two games today. The first was against the team currently in last place in our pool and the second was against the team one spot ahead of us. So the first game was looking like a cakewalk and the second game a real challenge.

We finished the day 2-0. We've moved up to second place in the standings. Good disc was played by all and the games did not turn out to be what we thought they would be.

We won game one 12-4 at cap. It took forever to get to halftime. Neither team played all that well, so there were lots of turnovers, and both teams played a lot of zone, so the game went slowly to begin with. I played a couple of points, actually made more blocks than goals and didn't expose myself as a liability on defense. In most ways the best play I could hope for. One of the blocks was a layout that I just barely got with the very tips of my fingers. The other block, I must have been using some old man invisibility powers because the guy basically threw it right into me. This happened over 5 hours ago and my arm still has a disc shaped red mark where I got the block.

We won game two 15-8 with quite a bit of time left before the cap. It really wasn't even that close as I believe it was 14-4 at one point before we let them run off four straight goals. Actually its not like we let them - they did it to us. I think we might have gotten a little cocky at like 11-3 when it started to look like we were really going to walk over them. I guess we did in the end get the walkover, but not without a little bit of comeuppance. This team played zone too. Why the zone is so popular in summer league is a mystery to me. One point where I was in I think every yard gained was off of one of my throws. I kept getting this flat backhand, 20-30 yards into the middle of the field from my spot on the left side. The receiver would swing to the right, that person would dump in the middle, the middle would swing to me on the left and then I would cram another flat backhand 20-30 yards into the middle. It cycled exactly like that four times. I was beginning to feel a little silly.

The point that took us to 14 was also really cool. We got a complete hack, with every player on the offense touching the disc exactly one time and ending with a goal. I'd had that happen before in practice, although each time I think it was something we were trying to do. I can't remember it ever happening that way in a competitive game. Just like you'd draw it up on the board.

At the end of the day I would evaluate my performance as good, although I really didn't play that much. We had a lot of men out today and most of them are younger and faster than I am. I've gotten in the habit of sitting until we get scored on and then going in to play offense for one point before sitting out again. That of course means that if we're playing well I don't play much because we will stay on defense. I like it though, and it encourages people who might be proud, but tired, to take a sub and makes for a nice change of pace in our play. Although, if we keep seeing so much zone I think I will try to get more PT. With the playoffs coming up though I think we'll be seeing less and less zone. Good teams win playing hard man, not zone.

So at the end of pool play we sit in second place. More importantly I did manage to play in 25% of the games so I am eligible to play in the finals tournament in a couple of weeks. And I get to play it on a good team at that.

Friday, July 08, 2005


Today I heard on the radio that PA lawmakers gave themselves and the governor an annual salary increase - some as much as 34%.

Anyone out there ever gotten a 34% increase in pay for the same job in a single year?

It always amazes me how legislatures can cut programs with one hand while quietly raising their pay with the other. Makes it kind of difficult taking all the budget crunching rhetoric at face value.

3% cost of living, sure. 10% "salary adjustment," ok. 34%? How can anyone in public office give themselves a 34% raise and not feel dirty?

I used to have this idea that salary for a government official ought to be tied to what the people they represent make - and not the mean, the median. So it wouldn't matter nearly as much how many zillionairres there are pulling the rate up as how many blue collar people and unemployed people there were providing ballast.

Median household income in the US last year was about $42,000. That's what the President of the United States ought to make. Median household income for the state of Pennsylvania is something like $47,000. That'd be the salary for a PA Senator. $28,588 - Mayor of Pittsburgh.

Using a system like this does a few things. First, there would be none of this voting themselves a raise crap. Second, for them to get a raise, they would have to improve the overall economic condition of their electorate. Obviously this would have to be paired with some kind of campaign finance legislation otherwise the payola would likely get out of hand. This would also tend to make the representative of an area more representative of the people in that area. One would hope that dynamic might help to more closely align the priorities of the governors to the governed.

Which is I guess just a long way of saying: "34%? Y'all can bite me."

Pics from friends

Some pictures from friends are trickling in. We're hanging onto them for the time being, but here's an example with some people this readership may recognize:


Where does the money go?.. One week can really make a difference in the weather for your Jamaica vacation... Kittens really do miss you when you're gone... If Christianity (or any other accepted religion for that matter) had been invented in the 1950's, would it seem any less ridiculous than people make Scientology out to be?.. Do all crabs look inherently angry?.. One is never too old, or too young to decide that a life in the theatre is not for them... Precollege is a curious combination between summer camp and college... Even paint designed to come off easily is still pretty stubborn... If you want to SCUBA you shouldn't pass out while fitting the mask... The folks a Crate & Barrel really know how to pack up glass... When we decided to "take the war to the terrorists" I don't believe we were thinking we'd do it in London... I don't believe that the people trading oil futures have any idea what the future demand for oil is going to be and that they are making us all miserable for nothing... If other airport baggage screening is like Montego Bay, Jamaica then then the folks at the Kansas City airport can probably relax a little... After the same book makes trips to three cities in a bag, unread, it might just be time to pitch it... You don't have to live like a refugee... Some people are just bad snorkel buddies... Does not having seen any of Live8 make one a bad person?.. I'd barely gotten used to fiance... You'll be happy you have sunscreen until you find yourself buying the $17 bottle of bug spray... Just when did Tom Cruise lose it?.. I don't like Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn as a couple... Wouldn't it be fun if Karl Rove went to jail?.. Why exactly were they celebrating July 4th in Jamaica?.. It's nice when someone appreciates the size of your television... CMU IT made me change my password, I liked my password dammit...

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Guest Blog


"How My Honeymoon Was Almost Longer Than My Marriage!"

a photo reenactment...

On our second full day at San Souci, the Jewel of Jamaica, David and I decided to go scuba diving.

We wanted to do a resort dive, where you trained for about 2 hours and then did a short dive. No problem, mon.

So, we set the alarm for 7am, and had breakfast delivered to our room at 7:30.

Then we strolled down to the water sports area around 8:30 for the beginning of our class. After signing waivers, we jumped in the pool, along with two other couples for our swim test. Four laps, no stopping, no problem mon.

After our swim test, David seemed pretty tired, but it was obviously going to be the most strenuous thing all day, so whatever.

Then we headed back to the water sports building to get fins, masks, BCs, weight belts, etc. It was only a little past nine, but it was already sweltering outside, and standing there in the sun with all of that equipment seemed to go on forever.

Next, we sat in some chairs to learn a little bit about scuba. We talked about what the acronym "SCUBA" means, and about certification. Then, we started talking about breathing. Now, breathing in scuba is pretty simple. Just keep doing it, and don't do it through your nose. No problem, mon. Then we talked about our masks and how to clear them and how to make sure they fit. Pretty simple, yeah mon.

But David wasn't feeling too well. He said he was going to go get some water from our bag.

When he came back, he drank it all very quickly, but was still looking at little woozy. Our scuba instructor asked him if he was ok, and he wavered for a moment before responding. The instructor said, "well maybe you should go see the nurse. I'll go call the van." and David surprisingly agreed. This should have been my first clue all was not well.

Within mere moments of the instructor walking away, David suddenly pitched forward out of his chair. One of the other guys caught him, and when he propped him back up, David's lips were blue and he did not seem to be breathing well. (At this moment, it is possible I panicked. However, this is kind of a scary thing to have happen, especially rather suddenly, and for no particular reason.)

The guys laid David down on a lounge chair and he quickly came to.

We all agreed that David should go to the nurse now.

The van came screaming on to the beach, and we piled in and headed for the nurse's office.

The nurse, a fascinating character study, listened carefully to our explanation of the events. She nodded a lot, but said very little and seemed to ask very few questions. She took David's pulse and blood pressure and announced that David should see a doctor. First she called the doctor to have him come to the hotel, but while on the phone with him, he suggested it might be better if we came to him. This idea did not appeal to us, as the doctor was more than 30 minutes away on an uncomfortable drive, and David was feeling much better at this point. So, the nurse calls the doctor back and gets him to agree to come to the hotel. We head to our room, where David rests on the bed until the doctor arrives.

The doctor comes in a checks all the important things. He pokes and prods and asks questions and takes measurements. Finally, he declares David "perfectly normal" (no jokes, please). And bills us.

All in all, it was an exciting adventure. Diagnosed with heat stroke, aggravated by very cold air conditioning followed by a cold pool, a vigorous swim and then a hot day, David seemed fine for the rest of our trip.

Oh well, no scuba. But we snorkeled the same spot two days later. No problem, mon.

The End.