Friday, November 30, 2007

Friday Five

Feels good to be back in my chair at home, even if it is short lived. I was up in Irvine this week (about 80 miles north), which was tantalizingly close to home, but still not quite San Diego. It did work well on Tuesday, as I got to meet up with Karin and a couple very good friends for dinner at Pizza Port in Solana Beach (about 2/3 of the way from Irvine, 1/3 from San Diego).

I also lucked out this week to be at the Wyndham (got the room through Priceline), which is a very nice place to stay (although their cable/satellite system needs upgrading). I was also blessed to have a trainer friend of mine who I hadn't seen in a few months teaching at the same location; we were able to go out to lunch every day and did dinner on Thursday evening. The drive home took about 3 hours due to rain (which does to SoCal freeways what snow does to most others). Fortunately, podcasts are a great way to pass the time.

While I was typing this out, I got a call from Green Mountain Energy, which features renewable energy. Since I was struggling for a Five, it now seems appropriate that I do Five things on the environment.

  1. I don't know how I feel about global warming. I simply don't have enough time to sit down, actually READ and STUDY the findings and come up with my own opinion.
  2. With that said, I don't see anything wrong with trying to focus on reducing use of fossil fuels and limiting emissions. Even if this isn't needed to stem global warming, it can't do any harm to work on cleaning things up.
  3. There are still several things I can improve in my own life when it comes to the environment. For starters, I'd like to start switching over to CFL lights.
  4. I do wish businesses would start doing little things to help with the problem. At the hotel this week I got a copy of the McPaper every morning. Not once did I actually read any of it. How about simply asking at check-in if I want one.
  5. It would be nice to see cities come together and make it easier to recycle batteries and other toxic items. How many batteries are thrown away simply because of the inconvenience of properly disposing of them?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Happy Birthday to me


Seems strange.

If you don't mind my waxing philosophic for a moment, being an adult still seems strange to me. I always expected as a kid that there would be some switch, some event, something, that would mark the end of childhood and the beginning of adulthood. I don't know what that would be, I just expected it. Instead, it's simply one continuous experience where one day you wake up and you're 35.

There's still a part of me that's the scrawny, maladjusted, self-esteem challenged 14 year old. There's still a part of my brain that will kick in when having a serious conversation with someone saying, "Wow, this is an adult conversation." There's still a part of me that wonders how my parents always seemed to have it so together, or at least able to handle what came at them.

I still can't figure out what being an adult is about. Obviously, I'm doing something right. I've been married to the greatest woman on the planet for just over 12 years. I'm very successful in my career.

But the fact still remains that I'm still waiting for the day when someone calls me out for being a fake and I find myself back in high school.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Friday Five

Just a tad delayed... Karin and I got back from Upstate New York/Vermont yesterday, and I was sans Internet access the entire trip (which was strange for me).

With this being 3 days after Thanksgiving, I figured the five things I'm thankful about this year sounds good:

  1. My family and friends. This is something I'm thankful for every year. From a great wife, to my family, my in-laws and our friends, I (and Karin) have been surrounded by great people.
  2. The chance to be a contractor again. Since I had to abandon being a contractor in the past, I've always yearned to get back to. It's certainly a lot of travel, but it's a great time.
  3. The adventure that 2007 was. The move to Houston, and subsequent move back, caught not only our friends but Karin and I off-guard. But in the end, we learned a lot about ourselves, a lot about each other, and left Houston wiser and stronger.
  4. Turning 35 soon. My 30's have been a blast thus far, and I'm ready to see what the 36th year of my life has to offer.
  5. Being back in San Diego. Moving back to San Diego certainly made the best "Plan B" ever.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Pre-Thanksgiving Dinner

For 4 or 5 years (Karin and I aren't sure) we have done a pre-Thanksgiving dinner. It's a way to get everyone together for a good meal, good company, and good wine. It's also nice to have a holiday meal with people we love before going off to spend time with others we love that are out of town.

IMG_2024 This year in particular was very special for us, not just because of the amount of fun everyone had, but also because our friends here played a large part in our decision making process that led us back to San Diego.

I also need to thank everyone who helped make all of this work - Karin doing all of the shopping and helping clean, Abram for helping cook and clean up afterwards, Ron for helping clean, and Brent for being the "Mom" during dinner. (And if I forgot anyone, thanks to you as well.)

The menu:IMG_2025

Brined Turkey - We have done this recipe up every year we've held the dinner, and have had a great bird every time. This year it was a tad drier than normal as I left it in the oven a bit longer than I should have, but still a great bird.
Bourbon Mashed Sweet Potatoes (towards the bottom on the link) - Easily the hit of the dinner. I would recommend doing these up earlier and re-heating to give some of the alcohol a chance to burn off.
Wild Mushroom Stuffing - Still the only stuffing I'll eat and enjoy that wasn't actually in the bird.

Fresh Cranberry Compote - Came out very well, and even this person who doesn't like cranberries liked this dish.
Green Beans and Almonds - This was originally supposed to be my father's green beans done up in bacon. Unfortunately, by the time we got around to the green beans, I really didn't have time to start rendering bacon. So I did the almonds up in the butter, and then threw in the green beans. Add plenty of salt and pepper, and I wound up with some of the best beans we've served up.
(Edit) I forgot to list Mashed Potatoes - The secret is to season first, then start mashing, so you mash the seasoning right into the potatoes. Then add butter and half-n-half.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Friday Five

So I'm (again) sitting in the Phoenix airport waiting for my connection to San Diego. Pretty straight forward trip this week - class went very well. Looking forward to our traditional Pre-Thanksgiving dinner.

As for the Five, nothing really came to mind, so I went back to the site with the questions and found this:

  1. Are you a dog or a cat person?
    I don't think I really have to answer that.
  2. Do you have a dog? Have you ever had a dog?
    I had a few dogs growing up as a kid. About 3 years ago (right about now) Karin and I were blessed with the chance to add Roscoe to our family.
  3. What is your favorite breed of dog?
    Pugs, labs, Irish setters, and of course the border collie/lab mix (which is what Roscoe is).
  4. Do you believe that dogs are truly man's best friend?
    Well, judging by Roscoe, dogs are woman's best friend.
  5. If you could come back to life as a dog, would you?
    I insist this is actually one of the questions on the site. If you've seen how Karin spoils Roscoe, the answer is obviously "YES!"

Thursday, November 15, 2007

What did we get ourselves into?

Karin and I have signed up to do the 3-day breast cancer walk in San Diego. 20 miles/day, 3 days. The walk isn't until November, so I have until then to get into some sort of shape (other than pear, that is).

As part of this, Karin and I need to raise a collective $4,400 between now and the walk in November. Expect to be begged for donations in the future. ;-)

Friday, November 9, 2007

Friday Five

Well, another week, another class, another 5 days in Houston. Fortunately this trip I got to go out to dinner with a couple of friends 3 of the nights I was here, including a trip to the Alamo Drafthouse to watch Heroes on the big screen. I also managed to get on an earlier flight out, so all in all it was about as good of a trip as I could have asked for.

As for the 5, I found these questions back on the same site as before and thought they were kind of interesting.

1. If you're only as old as you feel, how old are you?
16. I don't know that many males progress beyond that point.

2. What habits, traits, or behaviors to you engage in that might be considered too young for you? Which might be considered a trait of someone older than you?
As for being younger, I do still play a lot of video games, and I do still get a thrill out of things I thought were cool when I was a kid, like watching planes take off and land. As for older, well, Karin and I did take 3rd place in the shuffle board tournament on the last cruise we were on together.

3. Do you ever wish you were a different age than you are now? Why?
Not at all. I'm thouroghly enjoying my 30's.

4. Do you deliberately behave or dress a certain way to appear or feel younger than you are? How about older?
Not that I know of.

5. What is your *real* age?
In 18 days, it will be 35.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Is AI that far off?

This may only interest me....

In case you didn't already know, I'm a bit of a geek. Ok, well, I'm a huge geek. I've had a computer in front of me in some form or fashion pretty much since I can remember. As a result, I'm fascinated with human interaction with anything artificial, if it's a computer or a robot. I wanted to buy an AIBO for the longest time (until Sony discontinued it) simply because I wanted to play with the AI built into the machine.

One of the biggest challenges besides mobility in creating robots that will become a part of everyday life is human interaction with the machine; will we as sentient beings treat a machine that is simply programmed to act sentient the same as we would another human?

According to at least this study, we will. What the researches did was placed a robot programmed to behave similar to a human into a daycare center to study how the children reacted to the robot. While at first they treated it as a normal toy, in the latter sessions they began to treat it more as a peer. When the reprogrammed the robot to act more predictable or robot like, that interaction decreased dramatically.

I'm not sure exactly what this study indicates. Does this indicate that we as humans can accept something that is designed to act as a human? Or are toddlers, whose perception of reality is still being formed, willing to accept anything that interacts with them? It's a great question, and personally I find it fascinating.

(Discovered via SciGuy's blog)

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

In defense of Shula

Recently, Don Shula told the Daily News he thinks if the Patriots go 19-0 there should be an asterisk placed next to their record. That of course opened up two cans of worms - the cheating scandal of the Patriots with the NFL is desperately hoping goes away, and Shula and his cheating.

Let's go in reverse order here.

In 1969, while Shula was still coaching the then Baltimore Colts, the Miami Dolphins signed him to a contract. When this was discovered, the NFL penalized the Dolphins their first round pick in the 1971 draft. There's the full story.

Then, of course, there's the Patriots. I wish I could explain exactly what happened with the Patriots. Unfortunately, Roger Goodell, the commissioner of the NFL, has made that impossible.

Quick history lesson:

The Patriots play the Jets on opening Sunday, the same Jets whose head coach used to be a member of the Patriots staff. The Jets find someone taping defensive signals being sent in, a clear violation of NFL rules. NFL security detains the man, and confiscates the tape.

Goodell, who until this point was great at laying down the law, promised to get to the bottom of this. He was quick to act, fining Bill Belichick, the coach of the Patriots, $500,000, and fining the team $250,000 and stripping them of a draft pick.

Goodell then went on national television the following Sunday, and told Bob Costas that he had sent word to the Patriots demanding all related tapes and materials, and that this case was still open.

The following Thursday, the NFL announced the Patriots had complied with their request and all materials received had been destroyed. Case closed.


Case closed?

What was on the tapes? Don't know.

What did the Patriots send in? Don't know.

Does this date back to their first Super Bowl? Do the Patriots still have tapes? Did they make copies? Don't know.

And that was Shula's biggest point. We simply don't know.

Goodell won't answer questions, saying the case is closed. Belechick took the cowardly way out, saying before the penalty from the league, "I don't want to talk until the NFL finishes their investigation", and then refusing to "talk about the past" after the NFL levied their fines.

In my mind, and the minds of many NFL fans, questions still exist. If Goodell had handled this properly, completing a full and public investigation, there would be no question. We'd know all the facts and be able to make informed opinions. Or at least just tell us what was on the tapes that were destroyed.

Instead, we're left with uncertainty.

And asterisks, I guess.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Friday Five

I've been a tad out of touch from the blog recently. I apologize for that and intend to work harder on that. I do plan on doing "trip reviews" every week, hopefully starting later today when I get to the airport.

In the mean time, I felt like being a tad seasonal, so here are 5 things that scare me:

  1. Snakes. I hesitated putting this out there, because I know some of my friends who read this like to play jokes - this is not funny. Don't do it. Snakes petrify me. Almost dehabilitatingly so.
  2. Horror movies. I just don't do them. I used to a bit as a kid, but not any more.
  3. I'm rather squeamish about my fingers. I've had a good amount done to them - lost a couple of fingernails, sliced one in a paper cutter, had a lovely compound separation. So anything that involves getting fingers caught in something...
  4. I'm a tad claustrophobic. Not much, but I get a little uneasy in certain situations, including sitting in the window seat (which oddly is something I used to love.)
  5. Heights. But it's not a bad scare, more of a good scare; a rush. I love being able to look over a high ledge, rollercoasters, and pretty much anything else. It frightens me, but it's a high that I rather enjoy.