Thursday, May 31, 2007

2007 Spelling Bee

Some people write about sports and celebrities. Others write about world events. I write about the annual spelling bee. Here are some of my reactions from this year's bee.






  • I said it last year and I'll say it again. These kids are some of the sweetest, most kind hearted people you'll ever see on TV. We could all learn a lot from their good hearted competitive nature. Especially the way they applaud some of the top, most experienced competitors as they are eliminated, recognizing a job well done. The high fiving after someone gets a word correct is also great.



  • I'm by no means picking on Samir Patel. But does his failure to make the finals (again) rank in the pantheon of overhype? I mean, he's the only person you heard about before it began. Like he's Tiger Woods against the field and you'd be stupid to bet on the field. Is he the Tony Mandarich of the spelling world? The Heath Schuler? Dennis Hopson? Michael Olowokandi? The 1986 Chicago Bears? The 2007 Dallas Mavericks? Feel free to add your own obscure overhyped reference.



  • After 5 hours of "May I have the language of origin?" - Just once would I like the guy to respond, "No".



  • Speaking of the language of origin or etymology (as the smarty pants kids call it), there are two answers that made me laugh. One was "unknown". These kids study their asses off, learning how to put pieces of the puzzle together. They learn how certain sounds are spelled based on the language of origin. You can see the disappointment in their faces when they hear "unknown". Adding the "unknown" language of origin words just seems like a dick move. The second answer that was funny came from the preliminary round and went something like this - "Part of the word is Latin to Serbian to Hungarian. The other part is Latin to Greek to Italian". Great - I'm sure that's way more confusing than it is helpful.


  • The word I've gotten most wrong so far sounded like "Sill - us" - sort of like "syllabus" without the middle part. (I don't know how that international phonetic thing works, but hopefully that makes sense). My guess was "psyllus". Which is retarded since 'psy' normally sounds like "Sai" as in psychology. I guess I was thinking of "psyllium" as in the fiber. I was off by every letter. It's spelled "cilice".

  • Last year, the final 3 contestants were all female. This year, Isabel Jacobson was the only female left with about 7 contestants remaining. We try and convince ourselves that men and women are generally on an even playing field. But there aren't a whole lot of competitions where men and women tend to do equally well. This is one of the few where it's true.

  • The 15 finalists visited the White House just before the competition. You'd think they would have met with the president, right? Instead they had to send someone who was almost as smart as they are - so Laura Bush met them instead.

  • The Canadian kid has a pretty hot mom. Like in the Cinemax, she's the librarian who takes off her glasses and lets her hair down kind of way.

  • Aniseikonia - "A defect of binocular vision in which the two retinal images of the same object are of unequal size." That would suck to have.

  • Isabel Jacobson was just eliminated in 3rd. I somehow found myself pulling for her and Evan O'Dorney. As the last female, I thought it would be cool if she could overcome the odds and outlast all of the guys. And Evan O'Dorney? He's the number and music whiz who composes his own stuff. We're down to Evan and the Canadian with the hot mom. I guess I'm happy with either one winning. And I guess I'm sad since I really find myself with rooting interest in the Spelling Bee.

  • I didn't think the competition was live. So I didn't think to extend my DVR beyond the 2 hours. I didn't get to see the end. This is the most disappointing moment of my day thus far. Damnit.

  • Evan O'Dorney wins. Every so often you hear that the spelling bee kids never amount to anything. I truly hope that one day, one of them becomes really famous. And I think Evan, with all of his musical and mathematical talent, might be the one to do it.

5/31/07 18 Seconds

Here's something easy you can do to save energy and costs - Change a light bulb. By using an Energy Star CFL light bulb, you can add to the 5,000,000,000 pounds of coal already saved.

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I'm watching the Scripps National Spelling Bee. I'm still on the preliminary rounds. But I plan on watching it in its entirety. If you didn't read last year's commentary, it's here. I may do another commentary this year if I can find my creative juices.

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The "Street View" in Google Maps is really taking off. Google Nicki is always a few steps ahead of the rest of us. And she sends Street View "sightings". Like a guy taking a leak in the bushes, people sunbathing and the Google Van that took all of the pictures.

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Nobody has tried to solve the Hat Problem from a couple of weeks ago. Here's a hint - there's no "sure fire" answer that gives you 100% chance of winning. You can only improve your chances by choosing certain strategies.

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As if watching Beavis and Butthead in recent months isn't enough evidence that my emotional IQ is somewhere around a 12 year old. I'm going to give you this headline - "If Wanting To See Vaginas Is A Crime, Then I, Your Honor, Am Guilty".

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No Longer Neighbor Natalie sends a fun story told on Letterman:




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Mike sends the sweetest coffee table you'll see today:



Wednesday, May 30, 2007

5/30/07 We Found Him

They found me. I've been hiding. They found me using Google Maps. Which is now awesomer than ever. With live traffic updates. And Street level views of certain cities (New York, San Francisco, Denver and a few others). Just click the button and try it. It's fantastic.

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The impending oil crisis brings some more tragic news. The ethanol boom is causing a severe tequila shortage.

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The site www.meetup.com has been has been mentioned to me twice in as many days. Mike sends a neat side by side of why working at Meetup is better than Google.

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For those of you who are as distrusting of the media as I am - Here are the top 25 censored stories of 2007.

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There are many things that cause me unease in my life. I could start a list, but I'm sure Blogger has a character limit that I would far exceed. Actually, I don't have the desire or the patience to go into any sort of detail. On that note, I have some good news. One particular event from my childhood caused me agony into my adult life. And, as of yesterday I came to, what I would consider, a resolution. The event was the scene in The Neverending Story where Bastian has to say the princess' name to save Fantasia. During the intense scene with rain and thunder and lightening in the background, Bastian yells - "All right, I'll do it. I'll save you. I will do what I dream! " He then runs to the window and screams "MAA NAA CHHAAAA NAAAAA!!!" What? What did he say? I watched that movie at least a dozen times as a kid hoping to catch what in the hell he said. Thanks to the miracle of free information on the internet, I finally have an answer. Twenty something years of anguish and mental torture is finally over. Her name is Moonchild. (Although, if memory serves me correctly, he rattled off 6 or 7 syllables. So I'm not completely at ease.)





Friday, May 25, 2007

5/24/07 The Following Post is Brought to You By

The following post is brought to you by the Nacho Expert. He sends the following fantastic videos:

We'll save the best for first - The Goonies Spoof:



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Star Wars Dad:



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Aaargh:

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

5/22/07 Time is Going By Really, Really, Really, Really Slow

I've been interviewing a lot lately. Mostly over the phone. I try to keep this personal side of my life pretty private. But some of these interview stories are starting to become worth sharing. So, two real quick stories from today.

1) A guy was giving me a quick overview of his company - "We're a multi-billion dollar corporation. Around 1.2 to 1.3 billion to be exact." When he later asked me how long I've been out of work, I responded, "Just a few days. 162 to be exact."

2) Some guy calls out of the blue from a big company you've surely heard of. It rhymes with Rotorhola. "Hi. I got your resume from Dave Moon who got it from Chad Wong who got it from... (point being, I don't have a clue who these people are)." He then asks the overly important question about my phone area code. You've got to love people who can get right to the point.

We talk for, oh, 25 minutes about my experience and their two-way radio business. Eventually I start talking about how to proceed. To which he responds, "We don't have any openings right now." Uhh. What? "We might have some future business in your area." Thanks dude. Thanks.

And I wonder why I had to increase my cell phone minute plan last month.

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Charlotte Dan sends the headline of the day: "Royals To Get A Taste Of Angels' Colon".

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This just in: Bat found in Newport Beach tests positive for rabies.

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Poker Jason sends a double dose today. First an article about Mount Everest. Towards the bottom, it reads - "Other daredevils on the mountain include Wim "Iceman" Hof, a Dutchman attempting to scale the peak wearing just shorts, boots, gloves and a cap."

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Also courtesy of Poker Jason:

5/21/07 More Guitar Hero

Apparently my life is becoming extra stale lately. So, all I do is talk about the same 3 or 4 things over and over again. Today will be no different. We're talking more Guitar Hero. Mike sends an article about some cool cats who are using the Guitar Hero controller and making real guitar sounds.

Once again, I am going to remind you about the next generation - Rock Band.

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Ever since I've started using Windows Vista, my Internet Explorer crashes at least 5 times per day. I'm just saying.

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NILF Hunter:


Sunday, May 20, 2007

5/20/07 TV Links

I have some good news and some bad news. Remember all of that talk about not watching as much TV this summer? Uh, yeah. I found some British site called TV Links. I'm sure it'll be taken down soon enough. But, for now, you can watch backlogged episodes of just about every TV show, cartoon and even movies and music videos. Enjoy.

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Do you think Antonio Alfonseca had a hard time in grammar school? What did his teachers think of his hand turkey drawings?

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The Nacho Expert mentioned that I should check out "Ninja Warrior". So I did.



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Saturday, May 19, 2007

5/18/07 Wasting Time Times Two

Just about everyone I know watches one or two TV shows on a regular basis. I usually say that "Lost" and "24" are "my shows". However, if I'm going to go into full disclosure mode, I checked my DVR settings. And there are 20 shows that are set to record. The "B List" includes, 2 versions of "PTI" (in case some sporting event messes up one recording), The Simpsons, Family Guy (on 3 channels), "Scrubs", "The Office", The 2006 World Series of Poker, "Numb3rs", and, well, that's enough disclosure.

Which means I waste a lot of time watching TV. As do most people I know. This week, however, we have the series finales. Many of them are twice as long as the normal episodes. I already watched the hour long finale of "Scrubs" last night. And the extended episode of "The Office". But next week is worse - 2 hours of "24" and 2 hours of "Lost". I know all of you have another show to recommend - Like "Grey's Anatomy" or backlogged episodes of "The Larry Sanders Show" on DVD/YouTube. I just don't have the time anymore. I'm an addict and I need help. My couch cushions are already complaining and there's still a week to go.

Welcome to the resolution stage of the TV addict help line. For those of you whose first language was not English or are not familiar with any Romance Language, the word "finale" is a noun that means:

1. the last piece, division, or movement of a concert, opera, or composition.
2. the concluding part of any performance, course of proceedings, etc.; end.


Ta Da... There will be no more of those episodes until the fall. As an added bonus, the networks are giving us a summer full of just unrelenting crap. If you happened to watch the premiere of National Bingo Night tonight, do us all a favor and don't tell us. We don't want to know. And for your own sake, you don't want to reveal your identity. If I really had the time and inclination, I would do some sort of review on the most anticipated show of the summer - Pirate Master. Really? People still think that the Disney version of pirates is how it really happened? Dude. Seriously?

It's almost as if the networks are finally saying - "Listen. I know you sit on your ass a good portion of the day. But for God's sake, it's summer. Go outside. Live a little. Get a tan. We've done just fine for ourselves since September. Just go. Please. You need to give your brain a break from the rotting."

I, for one, can't wait for the cold turkey TV addiction breaking to begin.

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Let's just say that I'm no longer interested in NBA basketball this season. The reason? If you had the choice between the four teams that are in the conference finals and the four teams that just lost, which would you choose? You're telling me that you wouldn't prefer games that would end 142-137 with Phoenix and Golden State? That's way more enjoyable to watch than the cheap shot Spurs and Mormon friendly Jazz in their battle of "Who can be lamer". And the east? Well, nobody really cares about the east. But the young Bulls would have been a lot more fun to watch than the Pistons. I'm Bulls biased. But it's still true. And Cleveland or New Jersey? Whatever. Nobody watched that series anyways.

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Poker Jason sends an article about Pick Up Basketball and the people who play. He asked, Which one are you? If you play pick up basketball I'll let you decide for yourself who you are. And, in return, you'll get my answer. (Hint: I'm not the guy who's better than everybody).

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From the "I can't believe I still don't have a job" files - The National Weather Service announces that there's a 50% chance that temperatures will be above normal. And a 50% chance that temperatures will below normal. Thanks.

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

5/17/07 It's Fantastic

A few sports thoughts:

  • Unless you're related to Tim Duncan or you're Eva Longoria, how could you possibly root for the Spurs and their cheap shots to beat the Suns?
  • Along those same lines, unless you're a fan of Ivan Drago or former Illini guards, how could you not be pulling for Golden State the other night? Their fans are still awesome. I hope they come back big next year.
  • Historically, the Utah Jazz team has been very Mormon friendly. Even back in the day, Karl Malone was a truck driving Louisiana boy. Check out their roster - Three white European guys - Andrei Kirilenko, Mehmet Okur (Cousin Danny is the founding member of his fan club) and Gordan Giricek. Even their black starters (Boozer and Williams) are cornrow free and could pass for very tan. And you wonder why Dee Brown is riding the pine.
  • During the Suns/Spurs game, they said that Tony "don't call me Peter" Parker turns 25 today. He's engaged to Eva Longoria. While I understand the fascination with older women, I say it's not going to last.
  • Why is "The World's Fastest Man", Michael Johnson, doing ads for Coors Light? You really think he comes home from a long day of cross training and kicks back with a tall frosty one? Me neither.
  • Does anybody really like the Pistons?
  • Is baseball less interesting this year? Or is it just me?

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You've probably seen these before. But it's always worth another visit... Demotivators.

"Quitters never win, winners never quit, but those who never win AND never quit are idiots."

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I'm becoming a fan of the new Old Spice commercials





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Cousin Eric sends a fun game to play in the office - Hide and Go Poop.


Wednesday, May 16, 2007

5/16/07 Trend Spotting

Ever since I can remember, retro trends have come back into style. I haven't really done any kind of official study, but there's some sort of 21-23 year lag period before retro is cool again. In the early 90's, the tie-dye, hippie, 1969 Woodstock trend came back. For a while there, bell bottoms were fashionable again too. A few years ago, the early 80's decal t-shirts started coming back. And now for a trend I can actually sort of remember. The mid 80's Nintendo trend. Except people aren't playing the games. They're performing them on stage. I'm sure out parents had no idea how these games would affect our lives. Check these out:

Super Mario Brothers:




Tetris:




Mike Tyson's Punchout:




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I'm probably going on Larry King / Ric Romero on you here. But here's a link to LiveLeak.com. It's like YouTube. Except it has videos that the mainstream media would normally avoid. Like war footage. A few of you have said that you'd be interested in getting your news from another source. Well, here's another source.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

5/15/07 Hat Problem

This ain't your grandma's logic problem. Here's a new twist on a hat problem. Can you give an optimal solution?

Three players enter a room and a red or blue hat is placed on each person's head. The color of each hat is determined by a coin toss, with the outcome of one coin toss having no effect on the others. Each person can see the other players' hats but not his own.

No communication of any sort is allowed, except for an initial strategy session before the game begins. Once they have had a chance to look at the other hats, the players must simultaneously guess the color of their own hats or pass. The group shares a hypothetical $3 million prize if at least one player guesses correctly and no players guess incorrectly.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

5/13/07 Word to Your Mother

Happy Mother's Day. To all mothers... thank you and congratulations. After millions of years and thousands of generations of reproduction that ultimately led to you, you have passed along your gift of life to humanity and the world. I guess what I'm trying to say is this... every so often I think about the biological game of reproductive chance that leads to a child. That, the fact that each of us are alive is a near statistical impossibility. The chance that your parents met and the chance that you got the one in 9.9 x 10^30,000 or so unique genetic pairings is something short of miraculous. (I have no idea if that number is right. I could be off by a factor of a trillion and consider myself close - I used a number that some freshman year high school biology teacher told the class and am sticking with it until I hear otherwise). So, the fact that you're here reading this, is the result of millions upon millions of years of very exact, mind-blowing statistical improbabilities that all combined just right. And, thanks to our mothers, the sense of wonder and awe continues.

Alright, I've twice tried to explain why I'm sending my congratulations and thank you's to moms across the planet. And have twice not really gotten the point across. So here, here's a video instead. Happy Mother's Day.



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From the Julia Gulia files - Mullah Dadullah has been killed.

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How long has Rip Hamilton's nose been broken?

Have you been getting those Outback Steakhouse commercials for Mother's Day? Is your mom really craving a juicy steak and a bloomin' onion?

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Friday, May 11, 2007

5/11/07 TV Spoilers

Mister Abrams is my source for all things "Lost". I finally got the courage to ask him where he finds all of his vast information. He says SpoilerFix.com. Pretty much no matter what show you're hooked on, you can get good information there.

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My dishwasher washes to the beat of "We Will Rock You".

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About once a year I post a link to the animation of Yellow Ledbetter. It's about that time again.

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In Rocky III, if Apollo Creed was, by far, the better athlete before the training montage... why didn't he fight for the title? Have times changed or was the end of the training montage considered uncomfortable back in the 80's too? And can they put "Gonna Fly Now" on the next version of Guitar Hero? I bet the squedlies and meadlies towards the end would be tough.


Thursday, May 10, 2007

5/10/07 Pandora

Mike sends a link to Pandora. A radio station that plays more of what you want and less of what you don't. Thanks to the Music Genome Project.

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Charlotte Dan is asking for your help. Out of all of the non-sensical things I write and post, the video from the other day is the only thing he's confused about. I hope somebody can explain the song played by "The Advantage".

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I went on a game show kick. So here are some more....



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5/9/07 That Sucks

Sorry I haven't written much for a few days. I really haven't had much to say. And sorry to the dial up folks who can't watch the YouTube clips. I'm still going to post them. At least for a while.

What I'm about to tell you, you will either love or hate. In fact, I'm nearly certain that women will love it and men, well, you're going to be really pissed at me. From the "As if she needed another reason" files: Oral sex is linked to throat cancer.

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Brightest. Supernova. Ever.

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Why is Charles Shaw wine so cheap?

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Sunday, May 06, 2007

5/6/07 Rock Band






I have a very important announcement to make. It has come to my attention that Guitar Hero is child's play compared to what's next. What's next, you ask? What's next is Rock Band. A game for four players. Lead guitar, bass guitar, a singer and a drummer. Why am I so excited? A guy's got to get excited about something, I suppose. And this is it.

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Saturday, May 05, 2007

5/5/07 Sox and the City

I tailgated today. Honestly, I'm not sure I've really tailgated since college. I somehow met up with a bunch of very cool White Sox fans here in Southern California. Included in the bunch are the owners of a White Sox Message Board called Sox and the City. So, for the handful of White Sox fans who read this, I'd highly recommend this message board.


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If you're into Rube Goldberg machines, this is for you. And if you're unfamiliar with the concept of a Rube Goldberg machine, that's what Wikipedia is for.


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And by request from the cool kids in Farmville, Virginia.... Cutting Crew's "(I Just) Died in Your Arms Tonight".


Friday, May 04, 2007

5/4/07 May the 4th Be With You




"With great expectations comes great disappointment." I overheard someone say exactly that at 2:30am as we were walking out of the midnight showing of Spiderman 3. The theater was filled with 3 kinds of people - high school kids, college kids, and the comic book guy from the Simpsons. I obviously don't fit the first two categories. So by default, I suppose that makes me... you know what.... I could've gone to see Tool play in San Diego last night and now this is making me super depressed.

I know nothing about comic book heroes. I've seen the other two Spiderman movies and wasn't overly impressed with either one. Yet somehow I managed to get talked into going to see this one. At the midnight premiere. Despite brewing up come coffee at 9:45pm in preparation, my buddy said afterwards, "Now I can add midnight movie premieres as things I'm not still old to do." Inside the theater, there was a couple dressed up at the two Spidermans (Spidermen? - the red and the black costumes.) Some of the teenagers brought beach balls and started throwing tortillas. And all I could think was - Don't they have school tomorrow? And when did I become the old guy?

This is a long winded way of getting to the point. Which is about the Police Captain in the movie. He's played by James Cromwell. Louis Skolnick's father in "Revenge of the Nerds". And Jack Bauer's father in the latest season on "24". And now the father of some traditional-comic-book-hot blond chick. Imagine having a nerd, an action hero and a little hottie all in the same household.

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(Thanks to Mike for the title of the post, celebrating Star Wars Day.)

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This is one of my favorite sketch comedy clips. The Little Donny Foundation. (This video is brought to you by... ah Christ, I can't get it to work. Between Google Video and Blogger (another Google tool), I'm beginning to doubt their quality standards.) If you really care to see it, it's here. I hope.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

5/3/07 The Horse Before the Cart

I have this problem. (I have very many problems, but for the sake of brevity and privacy, we're going to focus on this one for today). I like to think of myself as somebody who thinks a few steps ahead, like some sort of champion chess player of life. Without congratulating myself too much, I tend to make decent decisions based on that premise. However, in recent months I've found myself making little spur of the moment decisions at inopportune times.

For example, I have this habit of returning home from wherever I am and wanting to make a phone call. So I'll pull out my phone and dial someone - right at the moment I'm heading onto the freeway. Merging into traffic isn't exactly Guitar Hero on expert mode... but I still could have waited an extra 30 seconds to get up to speed and then make the call. My phone calls tend to sound like, "Hey... uh... hey. How's it going? Umm.... I'm... I'm... I'm good. How are you?" At which point, whoever is on the receiving end starts to wonder what in the hell is wrong with me.

Same goes with instant messaging. I'll think to myself... man, I need to drop a deuy. Then I'll send an IM to a friend to say hello. Or I'll fire up an online game of poker. Where's the logic in that? I'm creating my own horse and cart problem. It's the point where I had to bring my wireless connection into the bathroom yesterday.

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Since we're in week 2 of 9 weeks of NBA playoffs, there are a couple of things worth noting:
  • Nobody's saying it. But, post 1980, you never, ever, ever thought that an MVP vote would come down to two white guys.
  • The Golden State Warriors have the absolute best fans. (I'm writing this with the score of 7-3 Golden State... make that 10-3... And for those fans alone, I want Golden State to win this game.) 12-3.

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Dapper Dan sends a video called The Landlord. It's from a site called Funny or Die, where, it appears that the public votes on videos and only the funny ones survive.

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Thanks to Northwestern Nicole for sending this music video. If you're female. Or you know a female, you may be able to relate...







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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

5/2/07 Eephus Pitch

Question: What do the following numbers represent? 343/355/367/769?

You may be inclined to think it has to do with baseball. That it's the top batting averages or OPS or something like that. They're not. Nor are they solutions to the Riemann Hypothesis (although two of the numbers are prime). They are the price per gallon I saw today of 1) regular unleaded gas 2) plus unleaded gas 3) premium unleaded gas and 4) orange juice at Trader Joe's. Why the fourth? I guess I was surprised that my once tasty, organic and freshly squeezed $4 gallon on Trader Joe's orange juice has now crossed the threshold where I can no longer, in good conscience, buy it.

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I once saw an Eephus pitch. On September 4th, 2004. I would like to see another one.

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Did you happen to catch the democratic debates the other day? With Obama, Hillary Clinton, some other people you sort of recognize and... wait... is that my friend's crazy grandpa going on another tirade?




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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

5/1/07 Happy May

Not only is the final Harry Potter book coming out this summer... AND, not only is the 5th movie coming out too... BUT, if you watch the movie on IMAX, the final 20 minutes will be in 3D.

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You can see Roller Derby in Orange County, CA. Who wants to go?

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Poker Player Chris Ferguson took on a challenge to start playing poker online with no money and turn it into $10,000. The premise is that he'd have to play some free tournaments and win a couple of dollars. Then he'd have to parlay that money into more and start working his way up the ranks. If you're interested in the entire story, it's here.

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Report: 70 Percent Of All Praise Sarcastic


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In honor of combining two videos that don't belong together - Jack Bauer interrogates Chunk.





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Continuing in the tradition of some more of my favorite things - Tool and Saved by the Bell. (Sure, it isn't Pink Floyd and The Wizard of Oz. But heck, what is?)