Saturday, March 31, 2007

The Poll of Trust -- What Would You Do?

Today, in the parking lot of a grocery store, I was approached by a man who said he and his wife needed money. He had lost his wallet while driving from Effingham, IL, headed toward Branson, MO. He asked for $25 gas money.

His pitch seemed honest and yet smooth. He was dressed in crisp jeans and a plaid shirt, and claimed to be a carpenter back in southern MO. I was tempted to challenge him with some hardcore carpentry questions but that seemed to relish the power dynamic in the situation. And, despite working in a hardware store for several summers and helping many carpentry projects, I don't have any hardcore carpentry quizzes at hand.

What to do? A scam? He asked for my address so that he could repay me. So he would have $25, my name and address, and (possibly) my license plate info. He also gave me his address.

Sounds like a fun psych experiment to me (and a nice theme-of-the-week for CC dot com). But essentially, I tend to trust people until they give me reason not to.

I gave him the money. We'll see what happens..... Stay tuned.

What what you have done?

Talk Nerdy To Me

A fun parlour game among geeks is to compare the power of current gadgets to the toys of yore.

This thing is a USB drive. It is like a modern-day floppy disk, often called a thumb-drive (for its size), and, less frequently, a portable porn pendant.

This one in particular is $160 which is pretty crazy, but get this: it holds 8 Gigabytes. Yow.

In the tradition of the parlour game, I bought a computer in 1996 that had a cavernous, whatcha-gonna-do-with-all-that-space 6 GB hard-drive.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

My Girl's Gonna Play in the Big League

Taking a break from the nervous preps for the New Gig, I went to the St Louis Tri Club meeting the other night.

St Louisans, be proud: your own Sarah Haskins graduated from Parkway South and is now a pro ITU triathlete, ranked #2 in the US and #16 in the world. She spoke at the club meeting at the great Maplewood Bicycle. She was really cool and answered our questions way longer than the alloted time.

Factoid: Drafting on the bikes is illegal in triathlons, but it is impossible to enforce, and causes a lot of controversy. The ITU tri's reverse the problem and encourage drafting, making it a very different, bike-oriented event. ITU came out of the Olympics; the courses often have several "laps" to make the race more spectator friendly.


ps. The title is an allusion to a "cool" song by a Canadian artist. 1000 free CC points for anyone who nails it! Stay tuned for a new campaign on how to cash in your CC points! At CC, we provide "your portal to the Internet" and now "the CC point club".

CC dot com just appears to be all about me, but it's really all about you enjoying things about me.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Sudden Seismic Shift

Well, I still work for my pimp but I'm being put on a new "corner" / client soon... The start date is April 11.

Gah! We don't like massive, work-related change here at CC but have learned how to face it. This is probably good news since the gig is a high-profile challenge, and with some cool people, including a former colleague. Right now, though, it is an adjustment.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Motorin' through MO to MS

This weekend involved a fun road-trip to Memphis! The itinerary included two (2) stops at Lambert's, a down-home, country restaurant that serves up famous fixin's and is a landmark in the area.

It was cool to be back "down south" -- my first jaunt was with Jennifer a few years back. (There is a still a guy who does a stunning number of cartwheels and somersaults down the famous Beale street).

'Tis too late to recap right now... but everything was great and the weather was spectacular. 73 F at 10:30 pm on Sunday night (!)

Friday, March 23, 2007

Closin' the Place Down on a Friday Night

No, I didn't close down a dive-bar: I closed the gym.

A very rare Friday night workout... no fanfare, no witty blog narrative, no applause.

I ran 15 miles. This is the furthest I've ever run, and it's a big deal (for me).

The funny thing is that I knew all week I was going to do it, on Friday night. There was no doubt... I think this was due to the psychology of breaking the dreaded 11 mile (treadmill) block a couple of weeks ago.


A happy bday-weekend shout-out to the inimitable Eric B who is leading a posse to Sin City... Here's a poker quote for the tables in Vegas: "quit your whining and help me stack these chips"

And a happy bday-weekend to our guy Bry! BryGuy is solely responsible for my visits to Paris & Amsterdam, and co-responsible for the Big Island last year. He's a master co-ordinator/party logician and has the patience of a saint for those of us that aren't...

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Day The Solos Died

It's funny how music & film from the high school days eventually gets sorted out, over time, into various categories ranging from total embarrassment to the sublime.

This guy, Randy Rhoads, was sublime. He died in a tragic plane crash 25 years ago this week and is still a major influence on guitarists (including my brother-in-law and I: one of our first Christmases together was spent downloading Randy stuff). Yes, yes, we can roll our eyes: he played for Ozzy Osbourne. But if you were to pick the best, most influential guitarists of the 1980s, he would be right there with Eddie Van Halen, and yet Randy died in 1982.

Eddie was an (awesome) grinning pixie, with tons of flash and funk. Randy was more studious and cerebral: he doped up standard rock with a heavy influence of classical theory. Though it became an overblown parody, the virtuoso, neo-classical rock of the 1980s spawned from Randy's 2 studio albums. Legions of guitarists read up on weird, esoteric scales and theory, just to emulate his style. (Two of my favorite current guitarists, Joe Satriani and Steve Vai, have enormous respect for Rhoads and knowingly hint at his style on occasion.)

And yet no one could touch him. It is a sports-stadium cliche' now but listen closely to Crazy Train next time you hear it on radio. It's a great rock song with a solo that is quite inspired and yet was meticulously crafted. It's a composition onto itself.

The doubly sad fact for the rock community was that Randy was a quiet, super-nice guy. His dad died young and he supported his mom and family by teaching guitar at her music store. He wrote an instrumental, Dee, in her name (yes, it is in the key of D).

American pie, indeed.

ps. I don't like the weird shrine/religious overtones of visiting a rock-star's grave but when I was at BryGuy's in California, I was well-aware that I was only about 100 miles from the gravesite and the little music store. I'd like to visit one day.

Monday, March 19, 2007


It is well-documented that the Captaineers here at CC HQ are working 24x7 (or at least 8x5) to keep you coming back.

A fascinating bonus is that my tech blog keeps the Captaineers engaged as well. I have given a lot of thought lately to social engineering and the marketing of an online brand.

We, at CC, don't have time to implement all of the great ideas, so here are some freebies... Veritable crumbs from the table for y'all to fight over.

(1) Imagine a blog where author test-drives a different car every weekend. (Minor news: Herbie's heat gauge spiked over the weekend. No coolant = radiator/tube failure)

(2) If only I were younger: a blog where a guy talks to a new girl every day (at bar, grocery store, library, etc) and reports back. Actually, Wired reported that a shy nerd starting blogging about meeting a girl on the subway during their daily commute. The blog became a nationwide sensation. (Yes, he asked her out and she said yes.)

(3) Exposure dot com: some of the entry ideas (for CC and the tech) are so good, that perhaps they should be blogs in their own right. This could be big: one author, many blogs. Very cool.....

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Geeks Gone Mild

I'm not 100% sure that I have found my "calling" in computer science, but it is a damn good gig. Here's proof:

1. If I won the big lottery, I wouldn't quit my job in the forseeable future.

2. I have spent almost every waking hour since noon Friday couped up in a hotel with other Java geeks, listening to higher-ranking geeks. And loved it... 5th year in a row for this conference.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Weirdness from Physics

I'm not a big follower of the emerging (and seemingly vast) taxonomy of sub-atomic particles, but this caught my eye.

From Wired (emphasis added):

One of the zanier notions in the world of quantum mechanics is that a pair of subatomic particles can sometimes (ed: when?) become "entangled". This means that the fate of one instantly affects the other, no matter how far apart they are. It's such a bizarre phenomenon that Einstein dissed the idea in the 1930s as "spooky action at a distance".

But it turns out that the universe is spooky after all. In 1997, scientists separated a pair of entangled photons by shooting them through fiber-optic cables to two villages 6 miles apart. Tipping one into a particular quantum state forced the other into the opposite state at a rate that is 7 million times faster than the speed of light. Of course, according to relativity, nothing travels faster than the speed of light -- not even info between particles.

Even the best theories to explain how entanglement gets around this problem seem preposterous. Ultimately, the answer is bound to be unnerving: according to a famous doctrine called Bell's Inequality, for entanglement to square with relativity, either we have no free will or reality is an illusion.

(Ed: Though perhaps it will explain why paper is strongest at the perforations)

Friday, March 16, 2007

Lyric Appreciation #2

Oh Celine Dion, you soft-rock my world
Won't you please be mine Celine
I would do anything, if you'd be my girl
Oh, be my girl Celine
I sent you cards and letters, but you don't respond
You play hard to get, but my heart goes on and on (and on and on)
I just wanna say, je aimerez
And i can see your house from my van

-- Celine Dion, The Arrogant Worms

(a soft, acoustic ballad by a band now available on iTunes!!!)

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Corporate Gamble

Our hero participates in a standup meeting, with staff ranging from peons to top-brass. Many have worked long hours, and look disheveled. Deadlines are slipping; bugs are found; inter-departmental relations are strained.

As the group leader wraps up the dire situation, our hero sees opportunity:

"Well, there is good news," he says as the group turns toward him.

"I just saved a bunch of money on my car insurance by switching to Geico."

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Blog 1 Pain 0 (OT)

Our hero steps off the treadmill, panting, and hobbles toward the fountain.

Over 2 hours before, he set out to run "long": a slow, endurance run. Today there would be no swim, no racing against others on nearby treads.

Now, he stands at a crossroad. On the one hand, he has just completed mile 11, tying a personal best for indoor distance. He has tied this record several times, but has never been able to surpass it. On the other hand, all is not well: strange knee cramps at mile 8 were the first symptom in a serious decline of running enjoyment. While other exercisers happily chatted, our hero descended into his own personal hell, running a mile at a time, then stopping to drink and stretch. With each additional mile, the onset of pain began ever sooner.

He bites his lip as he debates the situation. "Injury is completely unacceptable, but where is the line between sore and injured? And yet things gets are getting pretty freaky on that thing.", he muses.

Finally, he steps back on the treadmill and revs up the speed. His thighs feel like jelly, and now the dreaded "chills" have come to visit.

He grimaces and through gritted teeth, mutters, "well, it'll make a good blog entry".

Result: 12 miles and new indoor PR for distance.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Laundry Experiment

I finally performed one of the last, great (if obvious) physics experiments, and am expecting to score a publication in a leading academic journal.

I put a lone sock into a dryer and stood watch over the appliance for 40 minutes, chatting casually with the other tenants of the apartment.

When the machine whirred to stop, I opened the door: empty. From a nearby room, the theme to "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly" played in the background. In the lint trap, a tiny tumbleweed wafted into the air and onto the floor.

I'm still working out the equations (Rich, send your phone number)...

Attack-Cat Returns!

Chicago, the feral feline who generally approaches like a streak of black lightning, is alive and well. I was getting worried after the cold snaps of January and February. I don't know what the little bugger is doing but he is clearly resourceful.

And vocal. Friday night, I was walking in my parking lot and heard the familiar mournful howl. I sometimes suspect that Chicago is a "she" and in heat (seriously). Maybe the fiesty fireball imprinted on me as a kitten, and is doomed to some vain, unrequited love. That would be a perfect reversal of my high-school years.

Anyway, I brought out the good stuff -- a tin of Fancy Feast (salmon). Chicago was skittish at first but as I backed away, the power of seafood took over.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Lyric Appreciation #1

I guess I should've known
By the way you parked your car sideways
That it wouldn't last

-- Prince, Little Red Corvette

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Feelin' the Bang

Was at work Sunday, Monday until 1 am, and Tuesday until 8 pm.

I once read that for an Islander, there is no greater compliment than to be called a "good worker". No doubt this harkens back to the days of fishing and farming.

True that, whether it be running the "cook crew" at a lobster plant, or displaying Japanese characters correctly on a computer.


Friday, March 02, 2007

CC Skunkworks: New Themes

At CC, our staff remain committed to innovation and design. During long workouts and meetings, we dream up new ways to slake your thirst for all things "Captain". Hell, we write blog entries on Friday nights.

Keen, longtime readers know that there are certain recurring themes: the Calvin-n-Hobbes triathlon reviews, the rare poems, and Chicago-The-Attack-Cat's escapades.

Here's some more ideas that our "Captaineers" are dreaming up:

-- More polls! The ring poll was a smashing success. The only surprise here is that it took 14 months to do one (polling in bars is a 2nd career).

-- The Picasso book has inspired a new "Enigmatic Art Theme". This will be a post with some work of art, with nary any text and no comments. Intended to present an edgy side of CC, the interpretation will be left to you, dear reader. (This is in stark contrast to issues of politics and taste, where your opinion will be left to me.) There has already been one such posting on this theme. Are these personal comments? Political comments? Who knows?

-- The Confessional: stay tuned for the occasional blog entry where a previously unspoken thought/fear/hope is revealed...

-- The Reality Romance: for some reason, this one may be to much for CC dot com. We are entertaining the thought of documenting interaction with a potential new flame. It gives me the creeps to post such things, for a variety of reasons, but this could be a big lode of material.

As always, feedback is welcome, though possibly ignored or corrected! Please use these themes for your own blogs... they are a good way to inspire entries.

To the Critics: Bring It to the Gym

Lately, and yet again last night, I have received several greetings from people where the first thing they say is "OMG you are so thin". With ultra-short hair these days (compared to the long mane of yore), some people even speculate that I'm on chemo. What a pleasant way to catch up with someone.

I also regularly receive unsolicited dieting and hydration advice with respect to working out.

I realize that most of these comments come from those who care, but I assure you that if you plucked a random person from a bar and compared our respective health or fitness levels: chances are good that I win.

I generally have an open-offer to anyone -- who thinks I'm weak or sickly -- to come to the gym and work out with me. We'll have a good old time.... :-)