Sunday, September 30, 2007

Fun Weekend

Check out the tech blog for some fun pics from a recent Java conference.

I have no shame.

The 'models' include the conference organizer and 2 major speakers on the tour.

For geeks, this is awesome. And freaking funny.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Perspective, Yet Again

Several nights lately, I'll be driving home and miss my people back in Canada. (Since it is getting late in the year... I'm lucky enough to celebrate my StL people as I'm here.)

Then I'll drive into the parking lot at the apartment and see 2 or 3 dudes walking around, very late at night, talking on the phone.

I'm reasonably confident they are speaking Hindi or one of the languages of India. I believe they are leveraging either cheap long distance windows, or the time zones to call home.

Since grad school, I've met several people from India and China who haven't seen their families in years.

Christmas doesn't seem so far away.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Kinkos 1 Frustration 0

Big, big props to Kinko's, the "get office stuff done" company.

My first intro to Kinko's was at the University of Waterloo. There was one right next to campus, where they received a lot of business from the university.

They were a lean, efficient organization then, but now they are unbelievable.

I am having a problem with my USB ports on my computer, so I need to bum an upload link from people to get pics off my phone. Tonight, I tried Kinko's. It cost $2.80 and took 5 minutes. Fantastic....


ps. I scored some pics of big tech geeks with stickers (at the geek conference).

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Window of Vulnerability

I normally love September for a variety of reasons:
  • I was in school for 18 years and September was my New Year.
  • The weather.
  • The wonderful mix of hockey, baseball, and football.
Lately, Sept/Oct have been tough:
  • I am faced with fairly major decisions about staying in StL for another year and my career.
  • I haven't seen my family in 9+ months.
In many ways, January is easier, because I've seen everyone and I know The Island for what it is: the ups and downs. As time goes by into the year, it becomes easier to romanticize the good ol' days. By September, there are no bad days on The Island. It's all rosy.

Rose-coloured glasses about home. And new contracts/obligations in St Louis. A good life with great friends in StL. Small decisions that ultimately add up to The Big Picture. Not a fun combination.

One gets emotional.

Best of StL

The local rag, The Riverfront Times has announced the best of StL, 2007.

This is very cool for the locals! It does the following:
  • Gives props to the old classics which win year after year
  • Really provides hints/tips for new places (e.g. Best Sushi Bar)
  • Acts as a year in review of sorts
For one example of the latter, who knew that Mississippi Nights closed? When? Why?! That's pretty crazy.

Non Update on the Website

No, the new venture (website) isn't up yet.... Gah! I have not lost my spirit for it (any more than I've lost spirit in general). I'm still excited...

Thanks (yet again) to those who helped me sow the seeds of the domain name.

It shall be soon... This weekend will be a Java festival though (geek conference).

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Triathlete Magazine

Tonight is the StL Tri Club meeting, and it's a biggie... The club is getting its photo taken for Triathlete magazine. That's doubly cool since I have a subscription (as a gift from BryGuy and Miss C).

I don't think I'm going to make it, for a variety of reasons (one of which is a sense of punishment for the blow-up at the 1/3 Iron), but I'm excited for the club. They had a very successful year this year (including hosting their own tri in Kirkwood).

The other news on my end is a Java conference this weekend.... Woo-hoo! That's going to be fun. I'll be loaded with stickers but not sure if I'll use 'em.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Poker Post

I want to post this on my tech blog but it doesn't really belong.

Here's a fascinating tip from poker (Texas Hold Em):

Person A has less chips than Person B, and decides to go "all in" and bet all of his/her chips. This is win or lose bundled into one hand.

Person B asks Person A "how much do you have?". Ostensibly, this is to determine the match of the bet. But note that because Person B has more chips, s/he can actually afford to lose the bet and still continue the game.

So the question is: why would Person B ask about the amount of the bet?

Here's the delicious answer:

Person B asks because s/he wants to hear the voice inflection of Person A in his/her answer. The voice might tip off if it is a real threat or a big bluff.


Save 2nd Base

This is a brilliant marketing campaign by a charity for breast cancer.

Save 2nd Base (click here)

'Tis based on ye olde baseball analogy, and given some recent press by Newsweek.


ps. It is great to have a sense of humour like the above (because it leads to $ and ultimately, a cure). Yet we remember that my extended family has been struck by breast cancer. With a sober heart, I mourn and remember.

pps. As always, I have to note that I learned in a bioethics class that more women die each year from lung cancer than breast cancer. For whatever reason (probably the residual strength of the cigarette lobby), most people just don't care to do anything about it.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Smooth as Silk

I have frequented a unisex hair salon for years. They know me pretty well. One woman, in particular, broke up with her BF some months ago. In the back of my mind, I have thought about asking her out sometime.

Tonight, I dropped in just before closing after a long day and a long commute from The Middle of Nowhere, MO. The woman was minding the store, sweeping up. I asked her if there was time for a quick beard trim. She said yes, if I could pay first.

The trim is $5. I usually tip $2 so I handed her a ten-spot and said that $3 back is fine.

Surprised, she said, "Are you sure? It's just a beard trim."

I smiled and said, "Sure.... consider it a 'pre-tip'. I know that the trim will be good."

A few minutes later I left, all trimmed up. 1/2 hour later, I went to pay for something at a gas station and opened my wallet.

To my dismay, I quickly did an audit of the bills within.

Yikes. It wasn't a ten-spot. I had used a $20 bill and just tipped a woman $12 for a beard trim saying "consider it a pre-tip" and probably looked like some arrogant ass trying to buy a date.

Perfect. Perfect!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Thanks Traci

It wouldn't be a tri weekend without a run to the hospital!

I was feeling very unwell this morning. After Mattoon and the grace of BryGuy, I will now bolt to the ER on a moment's notice. In fact, I may drop by later tonight just to say hello.

The divine Traci dropped everything to come pick me up. She was great about the whole thing, especially my revelation, at the door of the ER, that, hey, I was feeling better. The OTC meds had kicked in.

I had been in pretty intense pain but I knew at this point that it was no longer an emergency. I'm fine now.

Merci, Traci!

I don't ask for help often: when I do, I need help. I just wrote a brief list of people who have helped me with medical situations or with "stranded with Herbie" situations. The list kept getting longer and longer. I fear that I'll forget someone or a given episode. My thanks to you all.

ps. Recall the ER visit in Mattoon, IL. The insurance paid for most of it but the bill was $1600. A grocery list of blood tests and other charges.

Fight Back

(My apologies for the un-inspired writing. This entry has straight prose and reads like an online diary, which is not acceptable. The CC Nation has come to expect better from this blog -- fear not, loyal readers! We'll be back to the A-game soon.)

My major in undergrad was math. I pursued the degree rather intensely. Once, I was writing a 4 hour Calculus exam, and halfway through, I assessed the situation: I had skipped over some problems and lazily attempted some others. I told myself:

You have a 65% right now, bud. 2 hours to go.... let's fight back

I pored over the exam and got back into the game. I don't remember the exact result but I received a mark for the class that was probably mid-90s %.

That's the tale of the tri, though on a less successful note.

The Pre-Race

The 1/4 Ironman was out at Innsbrook, MO. I haven't mentioned it but it's the same site where a guy died (IMHO from heart attack, and drowned) back in June. They had a word from the race director and the man's father. Standing there, mostly naked, with 600 other competitors in the morning fog, listening to the dedication was pretty powerful stuff.

A congregation of people on a beautiful lake on a clear Sunday morning, bowing their heads.

The Swim

The worst was just before the swim, standing in 70 F water and 60 F air temps. Most people had wetsuits. I did not.

12 minutes later, I'm at the half way mark. And then this surge of pink swim caps: the elite ladies from the next wave had caught me. I had a 5 minute headstart. Admittedly, they were excellent swimmers but it was still demoralizing to get caught so soon.

At some point, I think I took in some water with a bit of fuel from a jetski. Yum! They had oodles of them, and canoes, and kayaks. The most dangerous part of the tri was that if you did have trouble in the water, you'd be run over by a dozen nervous lifeguards on jetskis, as they sped to your rescue.

The Bike

Coming out of the swim was tough.... It was pretty chilly. I was nauseous and there were some pretty weird things going on (let's just end that thread there).

On the bike, for some reason, it felt sluggish. I might have had "lead legs" or perhaps there was a problem with Blackbird. Dunno. It felt like the brakes were touching slightly. Gah!

About 4 miles in, I was ready to quit. This was seriously not fun. Ironically, in a mere 4 weeks after Mattoon, I was freezing on the bike and was in a massive spat with Blackbird.

Fight Back

I remembered the Calc exam and decided I'd fight back..... Not for a great time, as that would be impossible with an irritated steed. I decided to just enjoy the race. The rest of the bike was pleasant, if not fun. Thankfully I warmed up ok after a couple more miles.

The Run

Keen members of the CC Nation know that the Prime Directive is: Thou Shalt Not Walk. In that regard, the tri was a success! I hammered out 6.5 miles at a decent pace.

The Sprint

This was a major tri that serves as the primary race for many of the triathlon clubs in the midwest. So there was a lot of people there, and the MC had a microphone to track the action.

One part of the excitement was announcing the people (by name, via the bib #) as they ran onto the final chute -- a sprint of about 200 metres/yards.

My legs were burning and I was pretty much done with this event, but I decided to have some fun. I knew I could light the afterburners, and I found it pretty ironic given my horrendous time.

So I lit 'em. Bingo, the MC yelled out that "these people from the StL Tri Club have a major kick at the end". With a lift of my arms into the air, I egged the crowd on to cheering a mediocre finish. Ah, the simple pleasures in life.

The Result

3 hours 20 minutes. Missed the arbitrary goal. The bike average was 15 mph, which is from the Butterscotch era (Ed's note: A rare reference to the 1st bike. see CC April 06.), and certainly strange for Blackbird. The run, which seemed good, was a glacial 9 minute pace.

But at least I didn't quit, as utterly seductive as that thought was....

I fought back.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

T Minus 10 Hours

This is the hardest part: the waiting. And packing. And waiting.

There is always apprehension that I'll forgot something for the triathlon, but there is a definite lack of intensity: my arch-rival won't be in this one. In fact, he may be done for the year as he is somewhat injured and yet focusing on the Chicago marathon.

Humanity thrives on competition:

The astronauts needed the cosmonauts.
The Montreal Canadians need the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Yankees need the Red Sox.
Batman needs the Joker.
And I need the dreaded Jim G.

Ah well.... onward. Onward! I would have merely crushed him anyway, the big lug.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Für Laura M

And now my bitter hands cradle broken glass
Of what was everything.
All the pictures have all been washed in black, tattooed everything...

All the love gone bad, turned my world to black
Tattooed all I see, all that I am, all I'll be.

I know someday you'll have a beautiful life,
I know you'll be a sun -- in somebody else's sky, but why
Why, why can't it be, why can't it be mine?
-- Black, Pearl Jam

Here's to 6 years of wondering what went wrong and a tribute to a wonderfully dark song.

The Target: 3 hours 15 minutes

The 1/4 Ironman is Sunday. It is a strange comparison to the Olympic distance that I did last year: the swim is shorter, but the bike and run are slightly longer.

I did the Olympic in about 3:15. All 3 legs were very good, but the transitions were weak.

So, I guess I'll shoot for that this year, for a lack of anything better. I am nowhere as fit this year though, I fear. The 1/3 DehydrationMan just wiped me out.

The thing is, up until the 1/3, I _was_ more fit. Generally, it has been a good year.

Hard to say.... A nice bonus is that a lot of people from the StL Tri Club will be out there. We are forming mini teams for a competition.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Black Panther

I awoke the other night to unholy moans and wails. It was like a work by Dante at 3 am.

Some cats were out on my patio deck. I think one of them was in heat or something. I've heard (and blogged) that caterwauling is quite a racket but good grief. It was crazy.

Bleary-eyed, I arose to check things out and turned on the outside light for the deck. One cat was up on the roofing and another was just sitting there, oblivious to the light.

Slowly, it stood up and stalked off. It crossed the deck slowly as though on the hunt, its massive shoulders swaying from side to side with each feline step.

One tidbit: it was black.

Chicago! The attack-cat has returned, and possibly after a trans-gender operation of some kind. (Editor's note: ultra keen members of the CC Nation will recall that we suspected Chicago as being female last year, with no confirmation).

Good to know the bugger is still alive. Though s/he never writes or calls and could have picked a better time to start wailing on my deck.


I'm as enthusiastic as ever about some new website ventures.... It has been slow going lately though.

I don't know what is happening but I'm in a rut where I come home and nap until 8 pm and then do a little project until about 10 pm.... Then off to bed. Have a relatively frustrating day at work and repeat.

No workouts, no piano, no socializing. Hopefully the tri on Sunday will jolt me out of this rut.

I can't believe last year, where I was doing a tri every other weekend and dating someone. Crazy! Though last year I was very comfortable with my work situation and was excelling at it. That's probably the key right there.

We do not like average performance.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Wild Man Part One

I have a cousin known as "the wild man" (Jeff). He deserves a much longer post but for now let's just say he lives life to the fullest and hates to lose even more than me.

For any endeavour, there is a mode of competition known as "I'll see you in hell": essentially, that one will sacrifice anything to win. I have it in good measure but Jeff has it in spades.

Within weeks of my attaining the Miracle Mile of 6 minutes, he matched me.

Today he wrote to me with these little tidbits:

(a) He ran a mile in 5:50 (which is exponentially more difficult than 6 minutes).
(b) He plans to quit smoking really soon now.

*sigh*. I've been outrun by a wheezing chimney. That's Jeff in a nutshell.

Sunday, September 09, 2007


(American humour ahead -- it's hard to please everyone with one quote)

Today, Fred Thompson, of Law and Order fame, began his long-awaited candidacy for president in Iowa aboard his campaign bus. After spending a day in Iowa on a bus, he said "Screw this" and returned to television. -- Conan O'Brien

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Suddenly I'm Not Half the Man I Used To Be

Editor's Note: Legions of the CC Nation have been wondering why things are quiet on here. To be honest, I have been exhausted and bummed out about picking a name for a new venture. However, things are underway on that front! Stay tuned.

The big news coming out of the weekend is that I tried to bike 40+ miles. No good. I don't know what is wrong but my knee gets sore at about 25 miles. Even after having another "bike fit" to make sure that things are ok.

I don't think it is serious, but it is a no-brainer regarding the 1/2 Iron. I'm out.

Thankfully, they have shorter distances so I'm in the 1/4 Ironman, which is known, I believe, as the Pewterman (not really). I have done this distance (approximately) last year and naturally the 1/3 Iron in August.

I had the knee pain prior to the 1/3 Iron but hammered out 38 miles. It might have been the adrenalin or possibly dementia from the (well-documented) dehydration. Also, I had the foresight to fill a water-bottle with gin prior to the race.

Anyway, I'm not really disappointed. If anything, the 1/4 seems so easy in comparison that I have slacked off this week -- to the point that the 1/4 is going to be tough. LOL.

But no worries... we've been there before and it will be in the 80s at worst. That's chilly around here.

(Do you know it is so hot in the summer here that the grass turns brown? It just dies.)

Monday, September 03, 2007

Guitar Lessons From The Real Deal

If you're into guitar, check this out... Here are some online guitar lessons from my bro-in-law

click here

You can login as "guest" if you have cookies enabled.

This is cool stuff because it brings back memories of seeing him play every Christmas. Some of these intro lessons don't do justice, but my bro can play like a mojo mofo, man....

He plays Randy Rhoads' stuff and it sounds like Randy. I play it and it sounds like me trying to play Randy.....

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Writer's Block

I'm planning another website based on the recent successes of the tech blog.

The name is of paramount importance. Unfortunately, I am paralyzed with indecision.

When writing quickly, I have some wit and creativity. Alas, now that I'm at the plate in the big leagues, my mojo is not strong. Gah!

Well... I do have several fine ideas but I'm waiting for The One.

Some people have kindly offered "non-compete assistance" where I can confide ideas in privacy. Thank you!

Here is a general question for readers.... Do you like website names that are more exotic (and do not relate to the content, per se) or website names that are minimalist and to the point?

An example of the former is Google or Amazon. An example of the latter is YouTube or Hotmail. Though perhaps these are poor examples because they are so popular. e.g. we tend to forget, now, how strange 'Google' seemed back in 1999.