Monday, September 24, 2007

Turkey Day Drive

I'm thinking about going out to visit the wife's family for Thanksgiving. The gang in Kansas live about 1,200 miles away, something like 17 hours of driving time each way. We want to take the brother in laws with us and even with my miles its going to be something like $400 per person. I don't relish the idea of driving that far but 1) its alot cheaper and 2) it will be nice to have some time to hang out with the 2 knuckleheads.

I think we'd leave Tuesday night and plan on driving straight through. Theoretically we have 4 drivers but I would be shocked if I actually let any of them drive. I like the idea of driving through the night so that the kids are asleep for as much of the trip as possible.


Tucson 0:00 11/20/07 10:00 PM
Hatch 4:00 11/21/07 2:00 AM
Albuquerque 2:36 11/21/07 4:36 AM
Amarillo 4:00 11/21/07 8:36 AM
Oklahoma City 4:00 11/21/07 12:36 PM
Wichita 2:30 11/21/07 3:06 PM


Wichita 0:00 11/25/07 10:00 PM
Oklahoma City 2:30 11/26/07 12:30 AM
Amarillo 4:00 11/26/07 4:30 AM
Albuquerque 4:00 11/26/07 8:30 AM
Hatch 2:36 11/26/07 11:06 AM
Tucson 4:00 11/26/07 3:06 PM

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Fall TV

Last week my DirecTV HD got zapped during the rainstorm. It flipped on and off a couple times in the power outage and apparntly that made it forget all that it knew. So with the new fall season kicking off I thought it was an opportune time to start it all over and consciously pick the shows I am recording. Fortunately there is a history button that shows all the things you have recorded and deleted so the process wasn't as daunting as I'd expected. I first flipped through and got the season passes that I knew we wanted without having to think much.

The Office
Hell's Kitchen
Saturday Night Live
Friday Night Lights
Ken Burns 'The War' mini series
Prison Break (sooooo lame, probably won't finish the season this time)
The Contender (ff all the talky talky parts, the fighting is interesting)
Curb Your Enthusiasm
Dirty Sexy Money ( I don't even know what this is about, it just has a funny name)

Stuff not in HD right now:
Top Chef
No Reservations
Tim Gunn's Guide to Style (for the wife but I don't think she has watched an episode yet)
Los Ninos en su Casa (something in spanish for the wife)
Wildcat Rewind (cause I'm a glutton for punishment)

New Season stuff I am going to audition and will likely hate:

Bionic Woman
Kid Nation

Lick Myself

Its not what you think.

Or maybe it is. This weekend at the wedding in Prescott someone brought along a cd of Triumph the Insult Dog's greatest hits. 'Lick Myself' was the track that somehow became the sort of theme song for the weekend. Its foul and funny and you'll find yourself humming the polka tune relentlessly. Don't listen to it, save yourself.

The wedding was fun and we had a good time drinking all weekend with old friends. Prescott was a surprisingly cool place.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Dirty Knees, Look at These

Editors Note: There is a 100% chance you don't care about the first few paragraphs and a 4% chance you will find the last 2 paragraphs funny. As always, I recommend you read something else.

City League game last night down at El Rio ( I think thats the name, its the neighborhood center over by the rodeo grounds at Irvington and 6th). We moved up to the 'A' league this season after winning the 'double B' last season without much effort.

We won our first game against a team that was also in 'double B' last season and who we played like 4 times. I think we split with them in the regular season and then had them twice in the double elimination playoff. This time around they were missing their big guy and we were really on and wound up beating them by about 12.

The second game was against what looked like a very strong team that included Neal (he played at Sahuaro a few years behind me and has only gotten quicker over the years) and a couple of other guys I don't know but looked kinda good. They only had 3 guys show up so we won by forfeit but scrounged some extras that were standing around and played anyway. The lady running the clock actually ran the clock even though we had no refs. It was a fun game, close the whole way. We were down 2 with about 30 seconds to go and hit a tough 3 pointer to go up by one. They came down and got a quick 2 and nearly stole the inbounds pass, it got tipped around to Eric who hit what had to be the ugliest off balanced one handed layup of all time to win the game. For a game that wasn't actually real, it was a blast.

Last night's game was against a very strong press team and we didn't have a true point guard to handle the ball for us. They were all good athletes and had played together quite a bit and though we were up as much as 11 in the first half as we wore down our turnovers increased. Even though they missed a bunch of free throws down the stretch to give us a chance we turned the ball over on 2 of our last 3 possessions. Down 3 with 1.7 seconds to go we managed to get a long baseball pass off to Krump who (amazingly) managed to jump about 30 feet in the air and tip it to a wide open Adam (who had hit a huge 3 just a few minutes ago). Unfortunately he missed the shot so we didn't get OT but it was a great game.

There was a weird moment mid-way through the 2nd half. They had this skinny white guy that could really leap. He had thrown down 2-handed on a dead play and tipped in a pretty nice alley oop from their point guard(conspicuosly wearing his Tucson Summer Pro League jersey, come on serious) but he wasn't very strong. I posted him up every chance I got and he had 4 fouls by halftime. This play I had the whole side cleared out and Jason was coming to me with the entry pass. When playing post defense from behind, you are taught to never square up completely, it gives the offensive player all the leverage. Instead you are supposed to either get around to the side of his body (usually the lane side to keep him from the middle) or to put your outside knee sort of between his legs so that you get the leverage advantage back and can move him around. It also forces his hips forward so that he can't get a good base to push off from.

ANYWAY...this guy tried the knee trick because I was actually physically restraining him from coming around the side. I don't know if it was because he was extra skinny or what but when he pushed his knee at me, instead of it knocking me off balance it sort of pushed between my ass cheeks. I jumped like I'd been hit with a cattle prod and the ref immediately called a foul thinking the guy had shoved or punched me. Me and the defender both kind of recoiled and I think silently agreed to never speak of it. He didn't argue the call and I went home to check WebMd and make sure that knee to ass contact doesn't put me at risk for any kind of disease. I still feel kind of violated.

No exercise today, I'll be taking 30 showers and trying to forget what happened.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Marathon Heroes

I've been watching the Heroes show on the DVD and its not bad all in all. It has its soap opera moments of bad writing and general cheesiness but it has a cool look to it and I think the Japanese guy Hiro (Snowcrash?) is hilarious.

I actually signed up for the actual Vegas marathon today so I'm actually $90 worth of committed now. God help me.

Edit: I forgot to mention about the Heroes show that whenever one of the people uses their powers they make the "i'm pushing out an uncomfortably large turd" face. Its annoying to look at after the 100th time.

10 Miles = Success!!!

Garmin Data

It irked me that I couldn't finish my run this weekend so I decided to move my off day from Monday to Sunday and redo the long run on Monday. This might turn out badly because I have basketball games Tuesday and Thursday and my buddy Hal says I'm supposed to lay off basketball for the duration. Apparently its bad on the joints or something.

Preparations for the long run included taking 3 Cliff Blok Shots (Lemon/Lime), Tina's phone (mine is about 20# and thick as a brick) and a 1/2 water 1/2 gatorade bottle in one of those SUPER cool fanny (not the British 'fanny' you dirty bird) packs. I also recently got some new shoes GT-2120 to replace my old GT-2110s. The people at Fleet Feet over by Sakura on Tanque Verde are incredibly helpful and spent alot of time with Tina on the treadmill etc. figuring out her arches and making recommendations. I highly recommend them and you should support your friendly local whenever possible. But ANYWAY...........I loaded up some podcasts (Allen I hope your eyes are not bleeding because despite that fact that its in fact an .mp3 I calls it a podcast cause its a thing I subsribe to and magically shows up in Itunes everyday) from Bill Simmons and This American Life and took off.

I mapped out a route consisting of a loop around my house and then working down the long jogging trail following Old Spanish Trail to where it meets Broadway. I live on a high ridge so its pretty much all downhill no matter which way I go. When possible I try to set it up so that I do some up hill in the early part of the run and save the downhill for later. The only problem with this particular run was that I started late and so it was very dark with almost no moon. Running down Freeman was a little nervy, I only saw 3 cars but they all tried to run me over and I couldn't see the shoulder well enough to get over much ahead of time. I think I nearly fell in a few holes but in the end no harm done.

The loop was fine and by the time I got to the downhill section I was cruising and felt fine. I changed the route a little and ran by the house my parents lived in while I was in high school. This took me a back way to Jessie Owens park along a road being chip-sealed which was smelly, gravelly and annoying. Made the turn on Broadway and did another mile and half back up OST where Tina picked me up.

I felt great throughout the run, my knee was still a little sore but nothing too bad. I'm due for a 12 miler this weekend but am going to be at a wedding full of drunken bad influences so I'll have to try for another Monday evening run next week.

By the way, I like Adam Corolla's appearances on the Simmons podcasts. He gives plot rundowns on fake movies and in particular this week he presented 'Snapper' the story of Blitz Rusher who is the fallen world's greatest long-snapper seeking redepmtion etc. I also listened to a This American Life about a Iraq war vet who had PTSD and couldn't stand being around brown looking people. He eventually joined a Muslim student association and everything worked out. Its actually better than it sounds.

Monday, September 17, 2007

10 Miles = FAIL!

I only did 4 miles of a planned 10.

I got a late start which meant it was hot but that wasn't the problem. The first 5 miles were pretty much all up hill but that wasn't the problem. I was running on a road w/ 4,000 road bikes constantly flying at me but that wasn't the problem. I forgot to slather my sensitive chest areas w/ goo but that wasn't the problem.

The problem was my knee. I fell on Thursday afternoon and bruised my knee on some asphalt. There was a kid w/ a 60 year old truck (that is roughly true) stuck on the uphill driveway to McDonald park. The high volume of cars coming down Harrison meant that for him to simply roll back into traffic (esp. w/ no power steering) would have been dangerous so me and a couple of other guys pushed it up the hill for him. This satisfied my good deed for the week but also cost me a nice long run. The knee felt fine when I played basketball Thursday night, in fact I kind of forgot that it happened. It was (and is) a little sore to the touch but not a big deal.

Around the 2nd mile when the hills/grade really started to get intense I think maybe the swelling started and in any case the bastard really started to hurt. I tried mixing in some walking with the running but to no avail. Everytime I tried running again, he started up. I bailed and will add some more miles to a run hopefully today.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Allen, I'm in your RSS reader writing LOLcat-isms

Interesting lunch discussion today that I thought I'd spend a minute fleshing out. Allen pointed out that cause we are not co-located (we being people that work together for this company for which be both work for (?!?)) we need to find a way to get the synergy back formerly realized from working co-located. After first delivering a roundhouse kick to the skull for using the word 'synergy' we talked about what some of the elements of a meta-chat (if you will) or meta-forum (if you still will) would be to improve communication in a distributed team.

A couple of definitions up front. A distributed team can mean just about anything, I've been in a chat were 90% of the group was physically sitting in the same room. Fundamentally this is about capturing the conversation that goes on when people are working together on something and actually being together. The right analogy for the conversation is probably something like a river, the river flows on and people (people are the boats? or are the ideas the boats? this is getting pretty thin either way) can join or leave as necessary. In the river or not, an observer can look from the outside at the river, the boats or especially the topless sunbathers on the shore. Lets abandon this paragraph now because I'm either going to use the word meta too many times or the metaphor is going to be extended to the point that the fish in the river will be the ideas and the boats have dudes fishing from the great river of of conversation for some scaly truth. As I said, moving on.

What I want is an IRQ style interface for my team. I want this to be an extension of the IM client we use now for no real reason other than we are using it now. The key though is that its basically just a kick-ass chat machine. I'm using the IRQ model because I don't like the fundamentally asynchronous mode that is a forum. Plus I just have this suspicion that weird people hang out on forums.

  • A history of the chat should be maintained so that someone not logged in for any particular session will still have the full history of the conversation . This could apply even to a new team member, as soon as they join the group they instantly have access to all 'tribal knowledge' (I hear this phrase often, I wonder if its offensive...and if so to whom?) of the group. I guess its incorrect to say 'all' the knowledge but certainly all that was present in chat.
  • The client needs to have a strong filter compoenent to both highlight and ignore posts as necessary. For example, I would want the word 'late' or 'delay' to be in giant red/bold letters. If my team is talking about being delayed or late, I want to know. Conversely if the thread heads off to the plot intricacies of CSI:Desperate Housewives I want to either actively ignore that or mark it in fuscia so I know its likely skippable. It is important to note however that the 'off topic' conversations are just as (possibly more) important than the direct work stuff. The piece that really is missing when a team is spread out is the bonds/relationships that grow intra-team. I have found that people who on projects for me are more likely to work late, take on tough assignments etc. if I have had some off topic time with them. We could call it the Beer to Work index, the more beers we have shared the more work I can expect.
  • We'll need a couple of levels of alerts included: if I am not paying attention to the stream and someone needs me to perk back up there should be a yahoo style . The Buzz can go to an individual or a selected group.

  • I would want a piece of the filter to hav ethe ability to select dates. If I am out Friday, I want to come in Monday and quickly review just the Friday conversation to see what I missed.

  • There needs to be a way to tie entries together. Often in a multiperson chat, multiple unrelated questions are asked and the answer I give could apply to any of them individually. Its important to maintain the overall flow of the chat (not a recursive kind of thread system) so I am imaging a very messy, ugly arrow system where I click on the question I'm answering.

  • A billboard should be in a sizeable window that keeps all the links refernced in the chat. So often the information/answer/shared experience is a link out to a website that drives conversation. The team lead should have the ability to make some 'sticky' as in keep them on top for . Otherwise they need to be indexable by date and frequency of use. Its possible that files could also be stored in somethign like that but I think that might be one of those add-ons that ends up sucking due to permissions/version control/packrat-edness.

  • I've mentioned filters but we also need the general search functions (think google desktop here?)

  • It is axiomatic that screen caps and animated gifs are a part of this tool.

  • Private conversations of course will go on and there needs to be a way for a section of private text to be added to the big conversation. You'd probably want to make both parties click ok to allow it or something.

  • Most people are on multiple teams and have various private chats going all the time. I personally like the tabbed interface we have in the current chat client which lines up along the left of the window all the chats I currently have open as opposed to managing multiple windows. Its a stylistic difference of course and we'll need it to accommodate either.

  • Not sure its needed but the tool should be sort of self aware and do things like automatically build glossaries and keep stats (top five pies, common phrases, blabbermouth award).

  • Polls and Voting
Again the goal on all of this is to do something to capture the sort of watercooler effect and not to add more work. I spend all my day chatting on IM with my team (some on conference calls as well) and I suspect that many people do too. Its not a hardship necessarily to type the same (ro cut/paste) information from one place to another but its possible there is some synergy to be realized from a long conversation.

By the way, if this plants a seed that grows into a piece of software that you make a botilion dollars on, remember the little people.

Didn't Have to Use My AK...

Pretty heavy exercise load this week. Starting with the Sunday ride that really wiped me out, Monday for recovery, Tuesday for basketball in a new city league, Wednesday a nice relaxed 5 mile run in the cool evening, more basketball tonight, off Friday and a 10 mile run Saturday.

Last night's run was good, but slow. I still can't manage what my percived vs. actual pace is. I really thought I was going faster than normal for the first 2 miles and didn't even look at the watch to confirm. Turns out I did the whole thing averaging 11:20 pace but finished a little faster than I had started. My heart rate stayed in the nice 150 zone the whole way and was back under 100 about 7 minutes after I ended the run and was walking to cool down. I feel great for the 10 miler this weekend but will definitely not try to go any faster pace doing that distance.

Actually it was a great day overall, I finished some work stuff up that is getting me closer to being able to move on to do another project, made > $200 playing online poker, took my son out for lunch to a Mongolian BBQ place my wife hates, made a simple but great dinner (sautéed a whole cut up chicken and made a red wine reduction from the brown bits plus some roasted vegetables) and had a good run listening to Bill Simmons interview Steve Kerr (easily UA's best alum). I even ate a bowl of ice cream which I never do. The point is, its one of those days when you get to the end and think...the only thing missing from today was beer.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Tom Waits Analytics

On Sunday's ride Tom and I got to talking about Tom Waits and how totally awesome he is. I think we also touched on how people that like Tom Waits are also totally awesome which I guess is axiomatic but the point is that everyone I know who likes Tom Waits is a good person. You don't have to be Waits-ian to be good, but you get the picture.

ANYWAY..... Tom asked me what my favorite TW album is and this always makes me scratch my head. I own a bunch of albums and more partial albums so its tough for me to say which I like best. Further when I first found out about TW I was in High School and several people gave me mix tapes that I listened to all through college. The problem of course is that they formed a sort of meta-album in my head that does not in fact actually exist. I stole a bunch of random stuff during the Napster days, which as I have said many times is bad and clearly stealing. I think the only physical CD I ever bought was Mule Variations sometime after I got married but I think it got stolen at some point. Once Itunes came around I began slowly filling in (legally mind you) my collection and I think I have something from every album (discography) but only full albums for: Alice, Bastards, Bawlers, Brawlers, The Early Years Vol. 1 &2, Frank's Wild Years, Mule Variations, Rain Dogs, Real Gone, Swordfishtrombones.

To try and figure out what is my favorite album that actually existed, I decided to make a playlist from each album of my favorite songs based generally on what I listen most to from each. There are bound to be other undiscovered nuggets in what I already own and even more when I get around to completing all of the albums but for now I'd have to say that Mule Variations is my favorite album based on the stats. Fortunately this confirms my subjective hunch but Bawlers and Frank's Wild Years are up there and on a given day could easily take the top spot.


Heigh Ho
Home I'll Never Be
The Pontiac

You Can Never Hold Back Spring
Long Way Home
Tell It to Me
Fannin Street
If I Have to Go
Down There By the Train
Danny Says

Blue Valentine:
Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis

Bone Machine:
Goin' Out West

Lie to Me
Bottom of the World
Rains on Me

Closing Time:
Ice Cream Man

The Early Years Vol. 1:
Goin' Down Slow
I'm Your Late Night Evening Prostitute
Rockin' Chair
Looks Like I'm Up Shit Creek Again

The Early Years Vol. 2:
Hope I Don't Fall in Love with You

Foreign Affairs:
Barber Shop

Frank's Wild Years:
Hang on St. Christopher
Straight to the Top (Rhumba)
Blow Wind Blow
Innocent When you Dream
I'll Be Gone
Yesterday is Here
Way Down in the Hole

The Heart of Saturday Night:
Diamonds on My Windshield
The Heart of Saturday Night
Please Call Me Baby

Heartattack and Vine:
Til the Money Runs Out
On the Nickel

Mule Variations:
Big in Japan
Hold On
Get Behind the Mule
House Where Nobody Lives
Cold Water
Eyeball Kid
Picture in a Frame
Chocolate Jesus
Come on Up to the House

Nightwaks At The Diner:
Better Off Without A Wife
Warm Beer and Cold Women
Big Joe and Phantom 309

Rain Dogs:
Tango till They're Sore
Downtown Train
Anywhere I Lay My Head

Real Gone:
Top of the Hill
Hoist That Rag
How's It Gonna End
Day After Tomorrow

Small Change:
Tom Traubert's Blues (Four Sheets to the Wind in Copenhagen)
The Piano Has Been Drinking
Pasties And A G-String
Step Right Up

In the Neighborhood
Frank's Wild Years
Down, Down, Down
Soldier's Things
Gin Soaked Boy
Trouble's Braids

Long Way Home

Garmin Data

We rode 46.68 miles on Sunday. For well conditioned bike dudes this is no big deal. For me it was nearly fatal. I got home around 10 AM, ate about 4,000 calories of breakfast and went to sleep for 3.5 hours. Waking up I felt like dog shit the rest of the day. No doubt I wasn't hydrated enough going in and probably barely had enough to drink during the ride.

Dan and I met up at Old Spanish Trail and Houghton around 6 and rolled up to Collier's. Short rest there while Tom, who started late caught up and we rode with just a few short regroup stops up Tanque Verde to Sabino Canyon to Sunrise and stopped at the Dan and Tom's parents place to refill water. Ice water in the bike bottle on a hot day is really one of the underrated pleasures. After a 10-15 minute rest stop we headed back the way we came skipping Houghton and cruising through Tanque Verde (the community I mean). Tom blew a tire at Ridgeside and Speedway and I left him there while he did repairs because the heat was really wiping me out and I figured if I didn't get inside and cool off soon I'd die of heatstroke. Even from there I punked out and made Tina come pick me up at Broadway barely a mile from home.

That was a tough ride and particularly hot. I have now finally conceded that there is no reason to do the full 109 mile El Tour. I think I'll sign up for the 60 and do the full bit after I lose 30 pounds and get in better bike shape.