Friday, March 28, 2008

Friday Five

Another week down and another trip to Houston. What was nice, though, was that I did a side-trip to Vegas this weekend with my brother, his gf and a few of his friends. Was a great time as always.

What really rocked was our trip to see Penn & Teller. For those of you not familiar with the duo, they do a magic/comedy/pranks show. They "reveal" some of their tricks, and occasionally just mess with an audience member's head.

During one trick, they passed out a couple of joke books around the office, asking members to pass them to keep handing them around until Penn said "stop". When he did, the book was in the hands of my brother's gf. She was too nervous to actually participate, so she gave it to my brother. My brother was charged with finding a joke, and Penn guessed what the joke was.

On a less exciting note, they did their version of the "cups and balls", which is one of my favorites.

My travel note of the week has to do with my rental car. After being checked in, I walked out to the spot my car was in only to see someone already in it. Turned out we happened to both get the same car. We walked back to the building, they asked who wanted to keep the car, and I decided to just let the other guy drive off with it. They booked me in a new one, and the lady decided to give me a "upgrade" for being flexible.

The upgrade? A stinkin Kia Sportage. Thanks! (ugh)

As for the five, I have a friend turning 30 shortly, and a few friends turning 40 in the next couple of years. So here's the answer to the suggestion by anonymous - 5 things I'd like to do before I'm 40. Keep in mind I have less than 5 years left, so I need to keep them pretty straight forward.

  1. Skydive. It's something I've wanted to do since I can remember, and there's no reason I can't pull that off before I turn 40.
  2. Get off this continent. I so want to see both the Orient and Ireland. Heaven knows I'll have enough miles soon enough.
  3. Get a second tattoo. I have a concept of the design, I just need to get it worked out. Might be a good way to "ring in my 40's".
  4. Go to a NASCAR race. Yes, I'm a closet NASCAR fan.
  5. Play a World Series of Poker event. It doesn't have to be the Main Event - one of the smaller ones at the beginning would be just fine.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Friday Five

Strange being home during the week. But a good strange. It's always nice to be able to reconnect with friends and family, relax, and not have to worry about reminding myself what city I'm in.

Karin and I did dinner with a couple friend of ours the other night, and we got to talking about the blog and Five ideas. Ron suggested a list of my five favorite restaurants. Later in the week, there was discussion as to wether that was going to be just San Diego or all over. For this week I'm going to start with just San Diego and expand it in a future week.

The one note I would add is that these are in the order they popped into my brain.

  1. Urban Solace - This is a fairly recent discovery on our part. It's a very small restaurant with very good food, great wine, and affordable prices. They also do a brunch where they have a live blue grass band.
  2. The Linkery - They not only do their own sausages in house, they feature food that is from small, usually local, farms. Because their menu is dependent on what's available on a given week, it changes very frequently, so each visit is a new experience.
  3. Parkhouse Eatery - An old favorite of Karin and I. We go there for dinner on a fairly sporadic basis, but we go for breakfast quite often (it's my favorite breakfast spot - nothing better than eating breakfast outside, especially on a January morning).
  4. The Mission - Strictly a breakfast/lunch joint, this place features some of the best pancakes you will ever have. They also do a great roast beef hash. This is Karin's favorite breakfast spot.
  5. San Diego Brewing - They do great in-house beers, feature a very large selection beyond that, and do very good bar food. Their pulled pork sandwich (with cheddar and coleslaw) is not only a great way to plug your arteries, it's delicious.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Spring Training

IMG_2331 Karin and I went over to Phoenix this past weekend for Spring Training. For those of you who haven't made this trip in the past, it is one worth taking for every baseball fan. You get to see plenty of games, small ballparks (12,000 people or so), and if you like to collect signatures this is the place to be.

Karin flew out from San Diego and I of course came in from Houston. I had planned to meet her at the gate, but that plan was quickly dashed after I landed in a different terminal and the Phoenix airport doesn't have a way to go inter-terminal without going to the other side of security. Them's the breaks I guess. We wound up staying at the Crowne Plaza, which I got a very good deal for at Hotwire. Our goals for the weekend were to simply relax and watch some baseball. I can safely say - mission accomplished.

Saturday morning we found the Black Bear Diner for breakfast, which was good homey diner food. game out at Surprise Stadium for the Rockies vs Rangers. Our seats were good, which is one of the great things about spring training - cheap tickets. Dinner was Famous Dave's (of course).

Sunday was proof that Karin married an idiot. I bought all the tickets, and I thought I had bought tickets to the split squad Padres game (with the bulk of the players being out in Beijing). When we arrived, we discovered that I had actually purchased tickets to Saturday's game. Since we were already at the park, the Peoria Sports Complex, we decided to just get tickets for the game that was actually being played - Mariners vs Brewers. We wound up with bleacher seats, but there's no such thing as a bad seat at a spring training park. The Brewers played terrible defense, but the Mariners couldn't capitalize (Ichiro was 0-3) and lost.

We did find a great little place for dinner called Papago Brewing, which boasts "No crap on tap". Actually, they had no yellow-fizzy beer, about 15 taps, and about a hundred beers by the bottle. We sat at the bar, ordered a pizza, and enjoyed their house IPA. Very tasty. We got to talking with a couple of regulars next to us, and one of them took it upon himself to get Karin to try a beer. He bought her a raspberry Lambic, which she really enjoyed.

Monday brought us down to Tucson Electric Park for the Padres against the Diamondbacks. We wound up with great tickets (two off of the dugout on the Padres side). During the middle of the game, Jeff DaVanon cracked his bat. When he was walking back to the dugout, the crowd started chanting for him to toss us the bat. Sure enough, he tossed it up on the dugout and it rolled into the arms of an old guy sitting right at the dugout. With a little prodding, he gave the bat to a kid.

We got back late on Monday, but fortunately it was in time for me to get together with Abram and get Reubens at The Linkery, which is a local restaurant that prides itself in getting food from small farms and doing almost everything in house. So the Reubens they do are with a house cured corned beef, a house made sauerkraut and Russian dressing, topped with local gouda and served open faced on house-baked bread. A great way to cap a very fun weekend.

If you want to see all the pictures, they can be found here.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Friday Five

Another week, another trip to Houston. The flight back last Friday was cool for one reason - there were power outlets in my row! In all the planes I've been on, I've never seen that in coach. It was great to be able to get work done (and I got quite a bit done I might add).

The travel this week was very uneventful. No crazy women or the like.

The one personal note I would add is that Roscoe will turn 4 this weekend. Since Karin and I won't have kids (sorry Mom), Roscoe is a great surrogate. And Karin certainly spoils him as if he was a child. It seems amazing that we've had him for about 3 and a half years now. He'll also be approaching 30 in dog years this year, but he seems to be approaching it without any noticeable neuroses.

As for the five, I'm going with another anonymous suggestion - my 5 worst jobs (in reverse chronological order)

  1. Full time developer. I got into programming because it's fun. I quickly realized that programming for a living sucks. I tend to be opinionated, and I have discovered that programming teams loathe change, even if it's for the better. I take pride in my code, but found out that most people don't care what it looks like, or even if it works, just is it up on the server yet.
  2. Tech support. [Tech sup-port (n): A job where people call someone up and yell, scream and complain, as if the person answering the phone was the cause of their problems.] Two years I did this. There are few jobs that can induce more stress in one's life than one where you're screamed at every single day.
  3. Copy room at a law firm. I know - you'd think this would be a great job, with lawyers being renowned for being fun-loving people. But strangely enough, it wasn't.
  4. Telemarketing. Whenever I mention to people that I did telemarketing, they immediately give me this look like I was trying to fund my crack habit. I was a poor college student trying to make ends meet. You do what you have to do. I still have the scar from selling plasma.
  5. Food service. I "did time" for many years. And I hated every minute of it. It's why I'm so generous when it comes to tipping. I grok what they go through in a day.

Now don't get me wrong - I don't regret the time I spent at any of these jobs. I'm not a big "believer" in regrets. They are part of my past and a part of who I am today. But I would never go back and do those jobs again unless absolutely necessary.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


Vaporware is a term in the computer industry for a piece of hardware or software that is announced, touted, but never completed or released to market.  It's often used to distract competitors or to generate good publicity for a company.

Recently Chevy has been airing commercials touting cars that run on fuel cells, hydrogen, and longer running batteries. Sounds revolutionary. And it is.

But read the fine print. The fine print that's normally reserved to telling you it's a driver on a closed course, or not to spin your truck in a centrifuge. This time around it, it says the cars don't actually exist.

Chevy is marketing cars that don't exist with technologies that haven't been invented. I suppose next month they'll start showing off flying cars. Chevy is trying to take credit for something they haven't even done yet.

Don't get me wrong - I'm all for investing in technologies that will reduce carbon emissions. But just have something done first.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Friday Five

Another week, another trip to Houston. This week I mostly sat on my thumbs due to a scheduling issue, but it was a nice break - even if I wasn't at home. The part that does stink is being back in an area that doesn't drink good beer. Being in Denver, which is a microbrew mecca (though not as good as San Diego), and finding 5 Seasons in Atlanta, being stuck with Shiner Bock as the best available beer is disappointing to say the least.

My airport adventure was at security in San Diego this week. My external hard drive caused issues for the X-ray guys which got me pulled over for special treatment. After clearing that, I was walking away and I hear "SIR! SIR!" Figuring I forgot something I stop, and...

Crazy lady: "That's my bag!" (at the top of her lungs in the middle of the food court)
Me (after double checking to make sure I haven't lost my mind): "Ummm, no."
Crazy lady: "Yes - that's my bag!!!" becoming more incredulous
Me: "Ummm, no."

At this point I bend down to pull something out of my computer bag with my name on it, when she finally realizes it isn't hears. Very meekly:

Crazy lady: "Oh, that's not my bag. I didn't see mine come out of the X-ray machine and I thought that was mine."

Then she walks away. Would have been nice if she would have devoted as much energy to apologizing as she did creating a scene.

As for me - I walked over to get my breakfast pizza.

The five this week is by request. I had to think for quite a while on this, and while I took a couple of small liberties, knowing the person who asked for the list I think I'm OK. The list is the 5 things smaller than my fist that I can't live without. I spent most of the week pondering it, making a fist and comparing different things to it. Here's what I've come up with.

  1. My heart. It's smaller than my fist, and by definition I can't live without it.
  2. My cell phone. It's a Cingular 8525, a combo phone and PDA. It's got my contacts and calendar, and I'd have no idea where I was going without it.
  3. My Zune. I have a good number of videos on it making it the best boredom reliever I can think of.
  4. My webcam. With me traveling so often, it's nice to be able to see my wife and dog during the week.
  5. My memories with friends and family. I know this is a bit bigger than my fist, but they're in my brain, and the typical brain is the size of both of your fists. I don't know how to quantify the size of my memories, but it is the thing that's most important to me. And it's the little things:
    "Grow nuts"
    Learning the proper way to drink a Heineken and peppermint Schnapps
    Karin's hug
    A certain someone dropping a perfect pass
    My father's best joke
    "All riight"
    And I could go on and on. Each one of these, and many, many more, may mean nothing to you, but they mean the world to me. Every person that has come into my life has had an impact on it, and I treasure the memories, laughs, and tears I share with each one of them.

The GM: The Inside Story of a Dream Job and the Nightmares that Go with It

I don't read books for pleasure all that often. In order for me to make it through a book it has to be very good. This one was great.

The author Tom Callahan was granted full access to Ernie Arcossi's last season as Giants GM. This book is about the Ernie's past, the Giants in general, and the 2006 season. You get a great look at the kind of person that Ernie is, the great people that the Mara's are, what a snot Eli is, and how much Shockey loves the game of football.

As someone who will always have some connection to the Giants (my father and a brother are Giants fans), it was great being able to take a glimpse behind the curtain at the wizard. If you're a football fan, it's worth read. And if you're a Giants fan, it's required reading.