Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween!

Well, I decided that Captain Jack Sparrow from Pirates (movies) had hit mainstream, especially when Matt Lauer of the Today Show dressed up as Capt Jack on the morning of Halloween.

With the new gig, and generally some stress in life, I decided to go to a party with a mimimalist approach this year: go easy and go lame.

I went with a toy snake and a pedestrian bagel on a plate. The theme was:

Snakes on a Plain Bagel!

It bombed, as expected. One person appreciated it. One. Kinda touching, actually

Monday, October 30, 2006

The Curator Went Down to Georgia

I saw this on Charlie Rose... Le Louvre in Paris is doing a major partnership with a museum in Atlanta over the next 3 years. Think of an exhibition on steroids...


Louvre Atlanta is the fruit of a groundbreaking alliance the High has created with the venerated Paris museum and will bring an array of artworks from the Paris palace's vaunted collection to Atlanta over the next three years.

See an article

ps. The episode of Charlie Rose may be available through his website and Google Video

The Gig

The new job is going ok... Here's some niceties:

1. The commute is trivial
2. People are friendly
3. The workplace is very multicultural
4. The cafeteria is subsidized for $3 a day: i.e. you can eat free if you keep it under 5. Note that the parent company is French. No word on "wine days" or "the new 30 hour work week"
6. My team lead reminds me of my beloved Aunt Millie, which is high praise indeed

There are downsides: mostly that the place is right out of the movie, Office Space, but c'est la vie!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

New Neighbours

I have been hearing some significant noises on the deck above me.

I was concerned that the raccoons were back (gah!). However, from the "thumps", I knew that if it was raccoons, then they had gained a lot of weight. Plus the noises seemed to be sync'ed to the opening/closing of the patio door.

Yesterday, I received confirmation: someone came to the door, asking if I would fetch a toy for his dogs, as it had fallen onto my deck.

I was happy to retrieve it. I was grateful that there weren't raccoons above me, and, hey, I like dogs as much as the next person. As I was on the deck, I asked the guy what breed he had. He said, "Pitbulls".

I looked up toward the deck above me. There stood two big, mean junkyard dogs who looked very territorial and not happy to see me down there.


Now, some 24 hours later, I can't believe how often those dogs are out on the deck, which is, essentially, my ceiling. It doesn't bother me as much as the raccoons (who lived inside the deck), but as I type here, there is a constant thumping of 2 large dogs playing.

Dog lovers, fair warning: there may be significant ranting on this blog in the days to come. Sadly, these rants will not be aimed at the dogs, per se, but rather their owners (or a small minority of them, at least).

I have been asked if I'm a "dog person". I'm not. I like dogs, and dearly loved some particular dogs from childhood (RIP, Brawley), but I'm definitely not a dog person. In fact, I don't understand most dog people (much like people don't understand triathletes -- there is nothing "wrong" with either dog people or triathletes, but.....)

ps. There is a chance that these dogs are just visiting. I couldn't tell from the conversation. One hopes....

pps. It is now 12:15 am. I heard the patio door swish open, then a dog running around, then another swish. Surely, SURELY, they aren't letting the dogs pee on the deck?!? Man, I don't want another jihad/holy war with this apartment


It is a lovely day in StL -- sunny and 70 F. The St Louis Cardinals are on parade through the streets downtown.

Some notes:

-- The Cardinals have won their 10th championship, 2nd only to the mighty Yankees (26) See a list here.

-- Tony LaRussa joins Sparky Anderson as the only managers to win the WS from both sides (American and National Leagues).

-- One radio reporter said he was stopped in traffic, downtown, when the final game was in the 9th inning. As the Cardinal closer struck out the last banner to win the Series, people ignored the lights, jumped out of their cars, and started embracing.

-- The only time I have seen that was similar was when I lived in Ottawa in 1993, and Toronto won their 2nd WS. People were embracing strangers even though Ottawa is 5 hours away from Toronto.

Friday, October 27, 2006

The Experts Are Idiots! Cards win! Cards win!

What a fantastic playoff run!

Very few people in this town gave the Redbirds a chance when they fell backwards into the post-season way back in the early fall... But people in this town started to believe as each team fell -- except for the baseball pundits.

A bonus -- I found this bet from Vegas last night. It is a bet, placed on July 5 that the Cards would win the "World" Series. I was too nervous to blog it last night, but it was a nice find! BryGuy has a similar ticket (neither will pay big money but it's a nice touch).

ps. I didn't think the Cards would win when the post-season started. I was just happy that Houston didn't beat us out for the division. But I had been to about 6 games in the new ball park so it was awesome to see the big win on TV, here in StL

pps. "The Experts are idiots" is from a sign spotted on TV during game 5.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Mazel Tov!

This was a big weekend for a circle of friends.... Stef and J had their respective "farewell single-hood" bashes on Friday night and tied the knot on Sunday evening.

I'm awaiting the inevitable flow of pics but for now:

1. The bachelor party was a hoot! We went to a high-end indoor go-kart track which was fantastic. Yours truly posted one of the faster laps but sadly not the fastest lap (which is driving our hero crazy). If you are in the area, check it out here. Also, if you are a serious carnivore, then check out Cafe Brasil

2. The ceremony was lovely. Everyone looked fantastic but the groom and esp. the bride stole the show. The service incorporated many friends and family with a charismatic Rabbi and thoughtful inserts that explained the events as they pertained to Judaic tradition. Afterwards, everyone was festive with dances, speeches, and merriment.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Ode to Yadier

O, Yadier Molina!
The cheers from the cantina!
The Mets are your senorita,
gracias, Yadier Molina!


ps. Yadier is the catcher for the StL Cardinals and will definitely not have to wait in line at any fine restaurant in this town. Along with Suppan and Wainwright, pitching aces.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Redbird Fever

The town is electric with the roller-coaster ride of the St Louis Cardinals! The team snuck into the playoffs, avoiding an epic collapse (magic number of 5 with 12 games apiece between the Cards and Astros). After a surprise victory against San Diego, they now lead the Mets 3 games to 2 and are a win away from the World Series.

Monday, October 16, 2006

New Gig Redux

I should have mentioned earlier that my new gig is still in the same town, doing pretty much the same thing. I will be a consultant now though which means I am pimped out to various clients. Interestingly, I will be joining many alumni from my current gig (though not at the first client site).

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Nobel Peace Prize

I saw a delightful news report on the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.

In a semi-accurate summary, an economic professor had the idea of a bank that lended "micro-loans" to the poor, in Bangladesh. It has been a major success for everyone involved. Some particulars:

-- The typical loan is $100
-- The usual borrower is a married female trying to pull her family from poverty
-- The default percentage is an astounding 2%, though the percentage of borrowers who improve their lot is approximately 50%
-- The phenomena is affecting social change for woman as they have more influence in the decision-making of the household

Very cool stuff... especially that the Nobel committee recognized the effort. Several pundits have noted that this grassroots effort is much more successful than any number of international-aid agencies.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Can I Have A Witness

by Alex St John, columnist in CPU magazine. Emphasis added.


Windows’ blue screen of death was annoying, but at least it was unpretentious. They improved on this in Windows XP, with a new dialog that gave you some false sense of control over your computer’s doomed state.

This dialog contained a much subtler set of insults to the user, but at least its creators had the decency to apologize before offering to run their spyware on your computer and pretending that you might be smart enough to make heads or tails out of the error report they were offering to send themselves. The presence of two buttons gave you the pleasant illusion that you had some choice in the situation. It did a good job of making you feel a little guilty for being annoyed with them if you were unwilling to help them out with the problem by hitting the Send Error Report button. I suspect that Microsoft hired a team of psychologists to help them design this dialog.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Na Na Naa Na, Hey Hey Goodbye

Canadians are very familiar with a song that fans of the Montreal Canadiens sing when a victory is at hand.

I am singing it today: I have given 2 weeks notice at my current employer.

It is a bittersweet farewell, though: 7+ years and a lot of personal growth, fun times, and memories. Sadly, many of the people are gone now.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

For Back Home

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

From Wikipedia:

The first and original Thanksgiving comes from Canada. In Canada, Thanksgiving is celebrated on the second Monday in October. Unlike the American tradition of remembering Pilgrims and settling in the New World, Canadians give thanks for a successful harvest.

The history of Thanksgiving in Canada goes back to an English explorer, Martin Frobisher, who had been trying to find a northern passage to the Orient. He did not succeed but he did establish a settlement in Canada. In the year 1578, he held a formal ceremony, in what is now the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, to give thanks for surviving the long journey. This is considered the first Canadian Thanksgiving, and the first Thanksgiving to have taken place in North America. Other settlers arrived and continued these ceremonies. He was later knighted and had an inlet of the Atlantic Ocean in northern Canada named after him - Frobisher Bay. (which is close to environs of Jennifer at North of Nain)

Monday, October 02, 2006

Crazy Train

Mental wounds, not healing: Driving me insane.
I'm going off the rails on a crazy train. -- Ozzy Osbourne

It's a gorgeous, warm late summer day out in a pastoral rural area. As one gazes along the horizon, the bucolic stillness of the corn fields is disturbed by a dust-devil twisting along a country road. Near its path, trees sway, corn stalks fold, birds flee....

Our hero bears down on the pedals of his trusty steed, Blackbird. True to proper form, he glides the pedals back and forth a la Nordic skiing, rather than the "bangers and mash" style of stomping on the downstroke. His elbows touch; his arms tucked in tight to the aerobars. With gritty grin, he leans into the upcoming turn, oblivious to the stop-sign bending in the wind.

It is the RecPlex triathlon; the last event of the season. He leads his nemesis, the dreaded Jim G, by several minutes. Even though his arch-rival had a 1 minute headstart, our hero came out of Transition 1 ahead. Jim G was spotted panting heavily at the turn-around of the bike, about 4 miles back.

Suddenly, our hero slows involuntarily. His jaw slackens. Schisse! The white planks of a railroad crossing are folding down, like the arms of some obstinate, foreboding giant. Red lights flash, bells clang. A train! Blackbird glides to a stop with about 4 other dismayed cyclists.

It's bad news: in many triathlons, trains are just a way of life. The judges cannot and will not account for their delay, no matter how unfair. Our hero looks back down the road. No sign of Jim G. Dozens of railcars streak by. 1 minute, 2 minutes... How many cars can be on a single train?

After an eternity, the giant unfolds his arms and a dozen cyclists dart out from the gate like the Kentucky Derby. In no time, they are back up to speed... But at what cost?

Much later... our hero spritely bounces along the park trail. About 1/4 mile to go. All is well: Jim G has not resurfaced, and if only one can press on, then one might break the 2 hour barrier, even with the wretched train delay. Focus!

And finally, with arms extended, our hero reaches the triumphant end of the race, the 2006 rivalry, and the season. Possibly as fit as ever, he crosses the line, with arms extended: 1 hour 59.04 seconds.

It's been a fine year. 9 triathlons. Countless miles. CC 2 Jim G 1. Bring on the pizza.....

ps. Last year, the same event pre-Blackbird (on Butterscotch), the time was 2:22