Monday, September 29, 2008

Friday Five

The Excuse

Ok, so I typed this up on Friday. I thought I posted it when I was sitting in the airport bar but realized later that I hadn’t. This weekend was just simply living life and I didn’t get around to clicking on publish until now.

The Week

What a week it was.

I was in Houston this week. To answer the first question right up front – I didn’t see a lot of damage. Some windows knocked out; a good amount of debris from trees and the like; numerous billboards blown out. But the bulk of the damage came along the coast and I was on the NW side of Houston most of the time.

The biggest issues I had were traffic and hotel. I’m not sure which was worse.

Trying to find a hotel proved near impossible – between closures and people seeking shelter. I spent Sunday morning (the morning I was leaving) trying to find a hotel. After about an hour or so of calling hotels I found somewhere that I could get into for the first two nights. I took it figuring I at least had a place to stay and could work on the rest of the week later. After spending my free time on Monday and Tuesday hunting, I finally found somewhere for Tuesday night – just one night, and a smoking room at that. I made the decision that a smoking room was better than no room. By Wednesday, one of the people that works at the training center I was at took pity on me and let me crash at her and her husband’s place.

The freeway system ground to a halt this weekend. Roughly half of the traffic lights in the area were either sans power or flashing red. This meant that major side-streets that often serve as a relief valve for the freeways were rendered useless. As a result, the freeway system faced gridlock all week. I wound up staying far outside the city, and probably spent a good 2-3 hours per day in the car trying to get to and from work.

The Exercise

Yeah, about that…… Did not happen. What little free-time I did have after the commute was spent looking for a place to stay. Next week will be a make-up week.

The Restaurant

I did still manage to find a restaurant. I wound up at Lyndon’s Pit Bar-BQ (after discovering the place I wanted to go to didn’t have electricity yet). The place was a typical Texas cafeteria style BBQ joint. Nothing overly remarkable about it. But that’s always the thing with trying new restaurants – sometimes you win, and other times…

The Five

Let’s see if I can’t come up with another five just random things about me.

  1. My favorite season is fall. Now I must admit it’s easier to say that living a place that doesn’t suffer from winter, but fall has always been my favorite. I love the crisp cool air, Indian summers, and of course football.
  2. There is a part of me that likes a bitterly cold day. There’s something about the cold that makes you feel alive. Plus, the comfort of a blanket and couch is inversely proportional to the temperature outside.
  3. My favorite time of day is early morning just as the sun is rising. There’s a certain something about the start of a new day. Of course, I can’t ever get up early enough to enjoy it, so I only get to see it when I’ve stayed up the entire night before – which oddly enough makes that time of day more special to me.
  4. I worked graveyards for a little over a year of my life. Fastest way to suck your will to live – work a graveyard shift.
  5. There are few things better in life than a nap. It would be nice if we could roll out our sleeping bags in the middle of the day and catch 40 winks.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Yankee Stadium

I had been wanting to post something earlier about Yankee Stadium, but as you’ll read tomorrow (today?) it’s been a crazy week to say the least.

IMG_1034 In any event, this week baseball buried one of its most treasured possessions – Yankee Stadium. I’m not going to try to wax poetic about the stadium itself and what it means for baseball, many others have done that with a level of eloquence that I can’t hope to achieve. But what I can do is tell the story of the trip Karin and I had to Yankee Stadium.

The experience itself actually started at the hotel at breakfast. We were seated at a table next to a Japanese couple who were in town to watch Hideki Matsui who had just landed. We spoke a little bit with them, as they could speak some broken English – broken English that included the phrases “baseball”, “day game”, and, of course, “Yankee Stadium”. Something very cool when the small vernacular you have in English includes baseball terminology.

We knew enough to get to the stadium early to roam through Monument Park, but we didn’t realize how early we needed to be there. By the time we got to the line for the park it snaked up about 4 different ramps. As it turned out, we were the last group to be let in. Fortunately, you’re not rushed through the park, so we got to spend plenty of time checking out everything.

There is an aura to the stadium. You hear that a lot and it sounds cliché, but it’s true in this case. Those are the same grounds (if not the same configuration) that so many of the game’s best roamed.

The game itself was incredible, but that goes without saying – it was Yankees/Red Sox. While the rivalry is often overplayed, I can tell you it is as intense as advertised. The crowd was present, loud, and into it the entire 9 innings – all the way up to the Byung-Hyun Kim blown save.

I consider myself very fortunate to have been able to attend any game there, let alone Yankees/Red Sox.

RIP, Yankee Stadium.

(Note – the link above (and here) is for an excellent SI article that eulogizes the Stadium. An absolute must read.)

Friday, September 19, 2008

Friday Five

The Excuse:

None needed!

The Week:

This was a bit of a reversal for me this week. I was still travelling (Dallas – Irving, more specifically), but I sat a SharePoint class this week. Was nice to be able to relax sort of, and not have to be “on” al week.

The rest of my week was pretty typical – I was at work, sleeping, working out, and spending my free time curled up in the fetal position crying over the Chargers loss.

The Exercise:

I certainly made up for lost time this week. I didn’t have a car this week (long story), so whenever I wanted dinner or the like, I had to walk a good mile or so to wherever I wanted to be. On top of that, I went running 3 days this week. Managed to go for 40 minutes on Thursday, my longest stretch yet. The one nice thing about the location of the Hotel was that there was a Verizon campus not to far away that offered some great paths that were perfect for jogging. I need to sign up for like a 10K or a half-marathon in the future (one that’s on a Saturday).

The Restaurant:

After my run on Tuesday I felt like a margarita. I found a “Fine Mexican Cuisine” place named La Joya. Normally, a place that advertises “Fine Mexican Cuisine” is still just the same Mexican food. Boy was I wrong on this place.

First up, the margaritas were ok. Nothing special. But the food was just as the sign advertised – it was Mexican cuisine, and not your normal fare. I started with a fruit salad – fresh fruit in a hollowed out pineapple half, doused with coconut rum and honey. Wow. I did want something quasi-traditional, so I did their lobster tacos, which were amazing.

A great find the whole way around.

The Five:

This is number 60. That means by the time you read this, you’ll have learned nearly 300 odd facts about jersey or thoughts jersey has. And as if that wasn’t enough, I’ve been tagged yet again, with a challenge to give up 6 blogger friends of mine (I don’t have 6) and 6 random facts about me. Right.

Thanks, Sarah.

I figure I’ll go with the normal five and call it good.

  1. I’ve never been to Maine. Or at least I don’t think I have. I have memories of being to every other state in New England, but I haven’t been to Maine where I was an age where I have some memory of it.
  2. I’d love to live in Manhattan. Even if it was for just a year. Of course, Karin would never join me.
  3. If Karin and I were to have ever had kids, the names we had picked out were Joshua Patrick and Chaela Wynn.
  4. My next tattoo will have a baby tiger and a couple of Kanji symbols. I’m not exactly sure how I want it to look yet, but there’s the foundation. I did some research on laughter in Japanese, and learned if you added another symbol it became “funny story”, which seems very appropriate for me. I just can’t commit to it yet, but that’s where I’m leaning.
  5. I think by far the greatest skill I ever learned was how to touch type. Ironically, I failed typing in high school. When I got into computers I forced myself to learn how to touch type.

Monday, September 15, 2008

How Are You Supposed To React?

I don't even know how to feel.

I don't even know what to say.

For the second straight week, the defense has surrendered more than 30 points. For the second straight week, the defense failed to put any real pressure on the QB for the majority of the game. For the second straight week, the defense failed to stop the run. Before the Chargers can go anywhere, the defense must be fixed.

With that said.....

Blown calls cost the Chargers the ball twice.

The first seemed obvious enough live and at full speed. Chris Chambers and Champ Bailey simultaneously caught a pass, when Chambers' arm hit the ground. By rule, that should a dead ball - Chargers' ball. But the officials on the field ruled it an interception. Norv Turner attempted to challenge the play. Alas, the replay equipment on the field was not functioning, and the officials waited for the requisite two minutes before announcing that the ruling on the field stands.

Bypassing the blown call, there's something that someone needs to clear up for me. The equipment in the booth was working, but the equipment on the field was not. Why is it that the backup plan for the equipment on the field not working is to simply wait an extra two minutes in case by some miracle that it works and then move on? Why not have someone in the booth rule on it? Or someone at the NFL offices, who are all watching the games, rule on it? The only recourse is simply waiting two minutes and then moving on. Completely unacceptable.

And then....... And then.........

The Chargers once again put together a stellar second half performance. Come back to take the lead 38-31. Jay Cutler leads his team down the field to the 4 yard line. Jay drops back to pass, starts putting his arm backwards and loses his grip of the ball. Fumble, and the Chargers recover.

But wait!

Ed "I'm Much More Interested In My Physique Than Officiating" Hochuli blew his whistle on the play. As a result - dead ball at the spot where it hit the ground, and the Broncos retain possession.

Two plays later - TD Broncos. Try for two - Good. Ball game.

What do you even say? How are you supposed to feel? If you've read my blog in the past, you know my feelings on officiating. The Chargers did near everything to win the game. But things were certainly made tougher by the two calls that cost the Chargers the ball.

No amount of complaining on my part is going to change the following reality - the Chargers are 0-2 and currently two games out of first place. The time to turn the season around is now.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Friday Five

The Excuse:

Laziness. That's basically it. Laziness. As I'll mention below I got stuck in Atlanta for an extra night, and just didn't feel like doing much of anything beyond watching football and playing The Sims when I got back to my room. To my loyal reader[s], I apologize.

The Week:

Atlanta this week. Always nice to have a little change of pace. Except for the part where I got stuck there an extra night. Due to hurricane Ike, the Houston airport closed on Friday at 2p. I was supposed to connect through Houston. Instead, it's a Saturday flight home for yours truly. Fun! I suppose I really shouldn't complain, though. At the end of the day this is nothing but a minor inconvenience. It would still be nice to be home, though. But I know that I still have a home at the moment.

For my Jewish mother - I was nowhere near Texas when Ike hit. Continental called me to let me know that even if the airport would have been open that I specifically wouldn't have been able to fly through Texas.

For my Houston peeps - I hope all is well for you. I will try and contact you some time next week when things settle down more.

I don't often post about a particular class, or a particular assignment, but I'm going to make an exception this time. This week was a big one for me as it was my first solo teach for Global Knowledge, a large training company I'd been trying to get hooked up with for quite a while. My class went very well, and I should be doing more work with them soon. (I'm actually rather jazzed about this...)

The Restaurant:

New feature. As I've mentioned many times before, I'm not much of a tourist when I travel. I'm just not big on going out to different sites by myself. Need my favorite travel companion (my wife) or a good friend or family with me. I like sharing experiences with others (probably part of the reason why I've managed to keep the blog up and running for so long). But at the very least, I have to eat. And I can easily make sure I visit one new restaurant per week.

For my first one, I'm going to review my favorite Atlanta area restaurant, which is Five Seasons. I visited the one before in Alpharetta, but this time I found my way over to the one in Atlanta as I was actually here. The place is in a shopping center that's undergoing a ton of construction, and was a tad tricky to find. The place is huge, but was empty the night I was there (Monday). Granted, I was there a tad early (5ish), but I think there were about 5 other tables collectively over the time that I was there.

In any event, the restaurant does some organic food as well as farm-to-market. They also do their own beer. This past time I tried their IPA (good, but not hoppy enough for this San Diego hophead) and their Strong Ale, which was a maltier version of their IPA (again, good, but not great). I had their pork chop special, which was a pork chop, on a bed of cheddar risotto with some mixed veggies. Outstanding. Highly recommended.

The Exercise:

Must get back into the swing of things still. I got in two workouts. One of those was a good 30 minute run, followed by a 30 minute walk back up the rest of the hills. Note to self: That hill that you run down when leaving the hotel is going to suck rocks going back up.

The Travel Note:

I guess sometimes life does circle back around on some level. When I landed in Atlanta (after being delayed) I made a beeline to the Hooters that was by my hotel (just needed a known sports bar that would have NFL Sunday Ticket and I knew they would). I wound up roaming around trying to find a TV with the Chargers game on, and wound up sitting at a long table next to the only Chargers fan in the place. When sitting down at a restaurant bar for dinner later I wound up sitting next to a Carolina fan.

The Five:

This week I want to try and answer five questions I commonly get asked.

  1. What is it that you do for a living?
    This is probably the question I get asked most often, and by far the most challenging to answer. It's like trying to explain Chandler's job (Friends reference). I am a technical trainer. I teach people how to do databases, program things like websites, etc. Basically, my job is to teach the people that make sites like Blogspot and the like work.
  2. How can you travel full time?
    This one is pretty easy - no kids. If we had kids then it flat wouldn't work. Karin and I are rather resilient, so we get along just fine. We've actually had many periods in our marriage where we wouldn't see each other, so we've got the system pretty well down. I'm not going to lie and say that there aren't times where it's a tad tougher on the relationship or me personally (such as on weeks where I get stuck in a city for an extra night), but you fall into a routine pretty easily.
  3. Will you ever leave the travel behind?
    Maybe at some point. Right now being an indie (independent contractor, but all the cool kids say "indie") gives me quite a bit of freedom and opportunity to do things I normally wouldn't have been able to do. I appreciate that freedom and flexibility, so right now I'm very happy doing what I'm doing. That may change in the future, but for right now I'm going to keep on doing what I'm doing.
  4. Have you ever contributed to Wikipedia?
    I have. Not much, but I've updated a couple of little things, corrected a couple of things, but that's about it. I've never created an article on my own, mostly because I find that idea rather intimidating. And your bit of "jersey trivia" for the day is the first article I ever updated was for the Double IPA, which has since been morphed and combined into the IPA section. (The reference to the San Diego IPA was my contribution.)
  5. Why haven't you e-mailed me back?
    This one is just a mental block on my part. If I don't reply to an e-mail right away, it will take me days weeks months millennia to reply. It's something I need to work on. I try hard to reply right away - I really do. It just doesn't always happen.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

A Sign of the Times

I've long since derided the age of the 24 hour news networks. There are no less than 5 on my cable at home, and I'm sure there are more that I don't know about. The problem isn't just that there isn't enough news that merits 120+ hours per day of coverage. It's the fact that each one of these channels are on the air for one reason - to make their parent companies money. It's not about being fair nor balanced, it's about getting viewers and billing advertisers. This is why people like Keith Olbermann, Glenn Beck, and the deplorable Nancy Grace all have jobs.

Over the course of the last 4 years, the Internet has become more pervasive in people's lives. It provides anyone with a mouthpiece, regardless of their actual qualifications. And, unfortunately, because people have a tendency to give anything in print additional credence sites like The Drudge Report and The Huffington Post garner some level of merit for the general populous.

When combined, the Internet and the 24 hour news networks have created a rather disgusting combination that political campaigns have now feed upon. Take one recent incident when John McCain was asked how many houses he owned. I'm going to set aside why how many houses someone owns has anything to do with their abilities to run the nation. Instead I just want to focus on the answer and the reaction.

The answer was, "I think — I'll have my staff get to you. It's condominiums where — I'll have them get to you." Again, I'm not going to defend or attack McCain's answer.[1] But Barack Obama's camp sure went to town on it, releasing an ad that day. That same day. Not the following week. Not a couple days later. Later that afternoon. And as if that wasn't crazy enough, McCain's camp had a rebuttal out by close of business that same day as well.

This election has devolved into the following steps:

  1. Wait for your opponent's camp to say something that can easily be misconstrued or can be taken as a personal attack
  2. Release an ad attacking the opponent
  3. Send someone to every news station to talk about how bad the opponent is for saying such a thing
  4. (Optional) Talk about how offended you are and wait for an apology
  5. Accuse the opponent of dirty politics and throw around phrases like "Swift boat attacks" if desired
  6. Accuse the opponent of distracting America from the real issues
  7. Opponent will respond by using the same tactics starting with Step 2
  8. Lather, rinse, repeat

Today, every underling of each camp has a microphone in their face at all times, where every comment is made public, and every single slight misstatement, regardless of how true the statement might be when actually taken in context (and remember - context is everything), is used as fodder for attack. The campaigns then make a huge deal out of this, which the media (traditional and Internet) feeds off of and helps fan the flames of, because stories like this are sensationalistic. And outside of sex, nothing else sells like a sensationalized story.

The general population also feeds off of this. In today's society, we don't seem to have time for explanation or nuance. I remember being at dinner with friends just after the McCain story broke, and a friend mentioned to me, "Hey - did you hear McCain say he doesn't know how many houses he has?" Sigh. That's not what he said. But alas, that's not important. All that matters is the spin, getting it down to one sentence, putting it out in the media, and getting the public talking about that.

And this is where we are. Gotcha politics.

The problem of course is we as a nation are facing some serious crises. I don't know if this is the most pivotal time ever, but I have to think it ranks up there. But when I flip on CNN, I don't hear discussion about energy policy. Or health care. Or technology. Or education. Or terrorism. Or national security. Or our two wars. Or the economy.


Because which sounds better in a 10 second sound bite:

McCain doesn't know how many houses he owns


John McCain is calling for National Commission on Workplace Flexibility and Choice. This Commission would bring together a bi-partisan set of leaders representing workers, small and large employers, labor, and academics.  The Commission would make recommendations to the President on how modernizing our nation’s labor laws and training programs can help workers better balance the demands of their job with family life and to enable workers to more easily transition between jobs.

That's what I thought. And if anyone is interested, the latter was taken from John McCain's website, and not from a transcript on MSNBC.

I wish I could say that I see this getting better. But alas, US politics has a rich tradition of personal attacks. Even the 1828 election between Andrew Jackson and John Quincy Adams reached amazing levels, with Adams accusing Jackson of being an adulterer (and his wife of being a bigamist), and Jackson accusing Adams of being a pimp.

But there is one thing we can do. Don't buy into gotcha politics. Remember what's important. It's not misstatements or personal attacks. It's actual policy ideas and where one of these two men are going to lead this nation.

Focus on that. You may have to dig a little harder. The media certainly isn't going to make it easy to find it, but the information is out there. Watch the debates. And do yourself (and your country) a favor - make an informed decision about who you think will best lead this country, and not who can make the best sound bites.

[1]- Before anyone comments with their opinion on McCain and his 3,627 houses (or however many he owns), save your breath fingers. I really don't care. And, frankly, if that's what your left with out of reading the above then you've completely missed my point. I'm not defending John McCain. I could have just as easily used Barack's lipstick on a pig comment to make my point. The McCain house comment was just the first one that came to my mind.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Miscellaneous NFL Thoughts

Tom Brady

I need to set the record straight right away here, as I may have given the wrong impression (and probably said the exact wrong thing). I loathe Tom Brady. I loathe the entire Patriots organization from top to bottom. I think they are the most classless organization, even worse than the Raiders. And I, as do many of my friends, want Tom Brady's head on a stick.

However, I am not rejoicing over Brady's likely season ending knee injury. While football is a collision sport, and injuries are certainly common, they are not something to be celebrated. I'm not going to feel sorry for the Patriots much in the same way that nobody felt sorry for the Chargers when we limped into the AFC Championship game last season. But I'm not going to rejoice.

If anything, I'm disappointed because I wanted the chance to beat the Patriots A-squad; to watch our front 7 punish Brady all day long. I wanted to see them hurt Brady - bruised, slow to get up at times, and feeling the effects for the rest of the week. But not this.

The Chargers


First, an open letter to Shawne Merriman:

Dear Shawne,

I heard that you were going to be playing the season with two torn ligaments in your knee. That's a level of grittiness seldom seen these days.

However, I must express a concern. You simply were unable to perform yesterday. In fact, about the only time I remember seeing you on camera is when you headed to the locker room before halftime - with the defense still on the field.

While nobody can question your heart, it's now time to question if what you are doing is best for the team. You are unable to perform to your normal high level, and preventing us from sending in a healthy player. The performance yesterday was not worth risking the rest of your career over, and was a detriment to the team.

For yourself, and, more importantly, for the team, please go get the surgery done so you can start the healing and rehab process now. This will assure you will be ready for the 2009 season and give us the best chance to win in both 2008 and 2009.


A Concerned Fan

To look for the silver lining in the cloud here, outside of a couple of fluke plays, we really turned it around the second half. That Rivers pass to Gates when he was rolling to his left was a thing of beauty. The biggest problem I see still the porous rush defense. We made the Panthers look like they had Walter Payton and Marshall Faulk in the backfield.

Quote of the Year

Proof positive that we should never let players talk. Here is Randy Moss's quote after the game regarding the Brady hit:

Like I said, I really didn't see anything because I was running down the field, but it looked dirty to me. I've never been a dirty player. I honestly don't even know how to play dirty. I just play the game. Anytime you see something like that that looks foul, that looks dirty, it opens your eyes.

Just read that for a minute and let it sink in. That first sentence is a thing of beauty. He says he didn't see anything but it looked dirty. If you didn't see anything, how can you say how anything looked? Next time he should worry about hanging on to the football, which he fumbled on that play.

The Ground Can in Fact Cause a Fumble

That Randy Moss play was a perfect example of this. Randy fell to the ground, and the ball popped out. Randy was not touched nor forced to the ground, and as such the ball was still live. It was the ground that caused the fumble.

There is no rule that says the ground can't cause a fumble. If a player his tackled, and upon hitting the ground the ball comes out, that is not a fumble. But it's not because of the ground, it's because the play was over the moment that the player was tackled. The ball coming out happened after the play was killed.

Other Thoughts

I'm so very over those stupid Oreo commercials. But I do dig the Sony commercials with the San Diego Chicken.

Winning your first fantasy game of the season is always a great thing. You wait all season for that first game - nice to start off with a W.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Friday Five

The Excuse:

I recently tried to install IE 8 (Beta 2), only to discover that something with my Automatic Updates was pooched. After some research, I found that about the only way to do this was to do a “repair” on Windows. I thought I had done it correctly, only to find out that what I had really done was re-install Windows from scratch. Not really what I wanted to accomplish. (If you’re interested, the correct way to accomplish the feat is to boot from the CD and *not* launch the setup program from inside Windows.) I figured at this point that I may as well just go all out at this point and just format the drive and start all over again, which is what I did. In putting a positive spin on it, I am happy with the final result, as I wind up doing quite a bit to my computer over the course of time since I am a geek. It’s nice to be able to start from scratch every now and then. Or at least that’s what I’m going to continue to tell myself.

As a side note, Karin and I had purchased a Home Server a few months back, which does automatic backups. Because of that, I lost next to nothing data-wise. (I will have to do a posting on backups at some point.)

The Week:

And what a week it was. I wound up meeting Karin in Houston at the airport (there’s still something rather depressing about that) to fly up to Minneapolis for the 14th Annual NNFFL Auction. This works as a great way to see family and friends each year as well. To answer the question I always get asked – I think I’m pleased with who I wound up with on my team. I did basically zero preparation, but all things considered I’ll take what I’ve got. The real answer will come in about 5 weeks when I can actually assess where I stand.

Every year Karin and I have to balance trying to see friends/family as well as spending a little time with each other, which always poses a challenge. On Friday night and Saturday we got to spend a good amount of time with the other people in the league – it still amazes me that we’ve been at this for 14 years, and outside of a couple of small little things like children being born we still all manage to get everyone together every year. Sunday featured afternoon drinks with B (as she posts here) and then dinner at Karin’s parents. Monday was a very nice little gathering at one of Karin’s uncle’s/aunt’s house, which turned out to be a great chance for Karin to see cousins that she hadn’t seen in years. (I apparently had met most everyone there, but unfortunately I didn’t remember meeting a handful – but then I can’t always remember meeting everyone in my own family either (although the latter may be attributable to a selective amnesia).) After one last breakfast with Karin’s parents on Tuesday, we were off to San Diego.

Yup – that’s right. I had a few days at home. Alas, it wasn’t nearly as peaceful as one would have hoped. For starters, our water heater finally decided to kick the bucket. We had been fighting with it for a good while, and had no less than 3 different plumbers come out and look at it to no avail. We had no hot water until Friday when we had a tankless water heater installed – a tad more expensive than we had hoped, but we figure it will help the value (once the market finally turns around) and help keep energy costs down.

Wednesday saw me helping my middle brother move. Although that night I did get to partake in one of my absolute favorite things in the world – a Rueben at The Linkery. Couple notes about The Linkery (which I need to do a posting about) – they do farm-to-table food, meaning they work on relationships with different farms and make food out of whatever it is they can get their hands on. This means that the menu changes basically every week outside of a few staple items. They also do nearly everything in-house, including their own sausage (thus the name The Linkery). On occasion they will do up a Rueben, which featured (this time – the items change a little each time) a house-made beer bread, house-made corned beef, house-made sauerkraut, house-made thousand island and a local Gouda cheese. Yeah, it’s not really on the diet, but it is easily one of the greatest things on the planet.

Thursday was supposed to be a day of me trying to get some stuff done around the house and trying my hand at making ribs for the opening of football season. Instead, it wound up being me working on getting my laptop “back to life” so to speak and heading off to Hooters to watch the game. I suppose there are worse things in life.

Friday turned out to be a pretty typical day with Jumbo – we went out to Dave & Buster’s to get some lunch and play a few video games there, and then found our way over to a Toys-R-Us to buy a Nerf dart gun to use to shoot Nerf darts at his bald head (long story that I’ll hopefully be able to explain later). Karin, Jumbo and I spent that night playing Wii. I must admit I did not thing it was going to be nearly as much fun as it is. What’s great is that Karin, who’s not a video game player by any stretch, is able to do well with the Wii – she’s this amazing knack for hitting the turbo serve on Wii Tennis with dangerous frequency. If you haven’t tried it, the trick shot bowling in the Training section is quite fun.

Saturday was finally the day at home that I had been lusting for all week. After a breakfast at Parkhouse Eatery, I was back at home, relaxing, poking around at different things on my network and laptop, and watching college football. (Memo to SDSU – how about actually finishing a game? You had Notre Dame dead to rights and you let them slip away. Just sad.) Dinner was at Oggi’s (good little brewery/restaurant) and more college football, and the night was some extra Wii time. (BTW – my right arm is admittedly a tad sore.)

All-in-all, a fun week.

The Exercise:

Ugh. Well, the first problem I had was that a trip to Minnesota means a trip to Famous Dave’s (have I mentioned my affinity for Famous Dave’s before?) as well as a trip to White Castle. On top of that, we were so busy with everything else that I really didn’t get much of a chance to get in exercise in Minnesota. I did go for a run on Monday morning only to discover that Karin’s parents’ neighborhood was built by M. C. Escher and that no matter what direction you go you’re always going uphill. I did manage to get out to the gym on Thursday in San Diego, but that was about it. Ugh. Time to get back in the swing of things.

The Travel Note:

This is a combination travel note/self realization.

We were in the Twin Cities area over Labor Day Weekend, which of course was the weekend before the Republican National Convention. I had some slight trepidation emotions that could be described as bordering on extreme paranoia regarding the impact it was going to have on the weekend. I did relax quite a bit when I realized that the convention didn’t actually start until Monday, and that day was of course quasi-cancelled due to Gustav. But either way, it turned out for Karin and I anyway to be a complete non-event.

And then there was Gustav which was supposed to make landfall originally on Tuesday – which was the day Karin and I were due to fly out. I was convinced that we were never going to be able to make it out as we were connecting through Houston. As it turned out, the hurricane not only didn’t touch Houston, it landed on Monday.

I know that this is a learned response, but I think I’ve become a pretty big pessimist. I need to work on this.

The Five:

With Lynn Johnston putting For Better, For Worse in enhanced reruns (whatever that means, but it is causing the San Diego Fish Wrap Union Tribune to drop it from its collection) and Opus hinting that the end may be near, this week’s five is dedicated to entertainment things that I miss.

  1. Calvin & Hobbes – Quite possibly the greatest comic strip ever created that was taken away from us way too soon. Bill Watterson was very protective of his strip, everything from the formatting to no merchandising[1]. His 10th anniversary book was not only an exploration of the strip itself but of the world of newspaper comic strips, as well as portending the end of the strip. Nothing has ever replaced it.
  2. Sports Night – Where to start on this wonderful series that lasted only 2 very short seasons on ABC who didn’t realize the hit they had on their hands. The single biggest problem was the lack of marketing of the show – many people assumed that due to the name of the show that it was about sports, which it wasn’t – it was a show about putting on a show about sports. Actually, it was, like most Sorkin shows (this was the show he did just before The West Wing), very character driven. And you couldn’t help but love the characters. I love watching the shows again on DVD, although it is bittersweet – it always bums me out knowing in the back of my mind that there aren’t any more episodes after the end of the second season.
  3. Mad About You (pre-Mabel) – One of the things that bugs me about many sitcoms that feature married couples is that the plot-line is pretty much the same every week – the slovenly husband has done something insanely stupid that has upset his ridiculously hot wife. While I’m the first to admit that I am prone to making many dumb mistakes and that I married way out of my league, is there anyone in the world that can really buy that Leah Remini would actually marry Kevin James (King of Queens)? What I loved about Mad About You was that it featured two people roughly in the same league and explored the neurosis of both characters and this thing that is marriage. My only wish is that they ended the show when Jamie got pregnant and not carry on for the extra two seasons with the kid, which killed the show.
  4. John Cusack making non-war movies – John Cusack used to have a gift for playing the everyman that was very easy to connect to, as well as making romantic comedies that are more guy-centric than most (High Fidelity is still my favorite movie of all time). But recently he’s focused on making anti-WarInIraq movies. Which is fine – he’s in a position where he can do that. I’m just not overly interested in having that message beat into my head for two hours of my life.
  5. Heroes – I know this is coming back in 15 days, but I don’t know if I can make it that long. Easily one of the best shows to hit the airwaves in recent memory.

[1]Every single shirt, bumper sticker or image of Calvin peeing on something (which disgusts me to levels I can’t even describe) are all illegal and not licensed. It was one of the reasons that Bill eventually gave up writing the strip.