Friday, December 31, 2004

Final thought of the year- Divergence

To wrap up the year, it's an appropriate time to ask "what if" about some of the logical breakpoints in my life. Mind you, I'm happy with the road followed. But simple, small decisions made can have major ramifications down the road. We're not talking decisions on the scale of "toast or cereal for breakfast"-type stuff. Here's a few of the questions I occasionally (especially on New Year's Eve) like to ask myself:

What if:

- The girl I dated the year before I met Jane had lived closer to Boston? She was in Milford - that was one of the reasons it didn't last long-term. I had no car, and she did. Would it have lasted longer?

- I hadn't decided to leave school at the beginning of 1987? I met Jane at the job I took after that decision.

- Some other computer store had offered me a job first? I was also trying to get a job with Businessland and the old Nynex computer store chain - BU offered me a job first, so that's where I went.

- I'd stuck with bicycle repair as a means to earn a living instead of computers? I know I'd weigh less, that's for sure.

- Jane had taken the job offer in Pittsburgh that she'd gotten instead of moving to Boston? Who'd she be with today, and who would I have eventually met (if anyone)?

- I never took the summer job at day camp that I did after my senior year in high school and my freshman year in college? As virtually all of you who read this know, I had a tough time making friends before then - and I met a whole different group of people and got a clean start out of it, socially.

- We didn't buy our house 12 years ago? Could we afford to even have a home now?

- The insurance company I worked for all those years had other suitors besides the company in Illinois that bought them (the second biggest insurance company in Bloomington!). What if they'd taken one of the other deals, or stayed independent?

- I had two colleges I was accepted by that I really was interested in going to: Northeastern and the University of Maine (I also tried for the University of Vermont - my first choice - but they ixnayed me). I picked Northeastern. What if I'd headed up to Orono instead?

There's others, too, but those are some of the more interesting ones. It's not something I generally dwell upon, but the end of a year is a neat time to think and ask yourself "I wonder what..." about your life. Breakpoints are generally not something you recognize at the time. A decision as mundane as "where to go to college" doesn't seem important at the time, but it turns out to have huge ramifications down the road. For instance, by going to college in Boston instead of Maine, I wound up making friends with many of the people who are my closest friends today, meeting my wife, and settling down close by. It also directed me into my profession, as I was influenced by winding up in a dorm with a bunch of engineers and computer science majors. Before college, I was focused on theater and what ultimately became known as "extreme sports" - I was a mountain biker and a rock climber before it was fashionable. Maybe my life would have stayed on that track if I'd gone to Maine.

You can never know the answer to these questions, of course - that's part of the fun. But the sheer randomness of life and the way things can turn up as a result of free will are the things that make life worthwhile. Sure, making different choices at some of these breakpoints would have given me a different life. But the cool thing is that I like this life. And after the ball drops in New York and I hit the sack, I'll wake up in the morning to just the life that's right for me. In 2005.

See you all next year.

End-of-year letter to the world

As I write this, there are just under 14 hours left in 2004. Whoa. This has been a year of total and utter change in my little world, most of it good. The rest of the world continued to suck, with the exception of two championships for the local pro sports teams - cool, but not the most significant things, cosmically speaking. Our president continues to suck, and to make things worse, this time a slim majority of my countrymen actually voted for the idiot. And I get the distinct impression that our planet has finally had it up to here with how stupid we are and is now actively trying to get rid of us.

(note to the planet - it's not my fault! I turn my thermostat down, recycle everything, wear natural fibers whenever practical, buy mostly organic foods, and I voted for the other guy. Please leave my house standing!)

When last New Year's came, I was chronically unemployed after a pretty successful career in IT management. Our son was just getting comfortable with his walking skills and starting to talk coherently, and my wife was starting to contemplate the possibility of a return to the workforce. Now, one year later, I run a company (of which I'm the sole full-time employee), and it's definitely shown enough promise to keep on going. I've made some money out of it, and in this week that I was supposed to be taking off I've signed up two more customers. January is starting to fill up now, and we'll see where this ride winds up. I'd really like to keep doing it. I have some good customers, and I have found some good people to partner with who we help with work together. And it turns out most of my customers pay their bills on time - even better!

Jane's recovered from the holiday rush - her first one in years. She's only had to work two days since Christmas Eve, and won't be going back until mid-January. The job she wound up with pays remarkably well, with really good benefits and frills. The lifestyle adjustment is major, but seems to be OK.

As for David, he had the joy of having both parents at home full-time until I started up my business in March. And Jane stayed with him until she started working in September. So he got through almost two and a half years with one or both parents at home with him, and he's blossomed in that timeframe. The biggest change in him over the last 12 months has been self-awareness. He knows things that we're surprised by. He remembers things from months ago that seemed trivial at the time. He's become pretty articulate, can use startlingly complex grammar, and has become much more physically competent at everything. Last night, he even was able to use chopsticks - putting him way ahead of his mother in that regard. We'll probably get rid of the downstairs gate in a couple more months, and I don't see much more need for the other ones, either. And by his third birthday we'll probably let him leave his room at night if he wants to - once he's potty trained that's mandatory anyway. And I think he'll be potty trained before he turns three - the peer pressure of school is wonderful like that.

In technical news, there's nothing major. I bought some equipment to get this company off the ground, but that's no biggie. I am, however, hunting for the perfect Bluetooth mouse - if you can find a two-button scroll mouse that uses Bluetooth but has a power switch, please let me know. I want it.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Back to the mundane

I so want to see the Yankees get Randy Johnson. It almost hurts, I want it so bad. When the Yankees are so desperate as to be staking their future on a 41-year-old lefty with a bad back, that's got to be good. Especially when it drives up their payroll even higher and forces them to dump even more of the few prospects they have left in their farm system.

Honestly, I don't really think he'll hold up for a full season. I could be wrong, but that's one heck of a makeshift rotation they're putting together in the Bronx. The only starter they've got who I really worry about is Mike Mussina, and he can be had - the Sox have done so many times. Johnson had a good NL year, but now he's a year older (and 3 years older than Schilling), back in a league with a DH (adding at least half a run to his ERA), and with his back history. Jaret Wright is a joke who had a decent year in Atlanta. But he's still no better than mediocre. Kevin Brown is Kevin Brown - and a shadow of the old Kevin Brown (I can't believe I just used his name three times in a single sentence - that may be a record). They haven't really addressed any of their other issues, plus they still have A-Rod.

The Sox have holes, too - but I think they've got a potential wildcard in Wade Miller. If his rehab has worked OK, they get a pitcher who easily replaces Lowe in the rotation. Wells should be solid for another year, assuming his weight problems are really in the past. And Matt Clement may be ready to make The Leap. Then again, we all said that about Lowe a couple of years ago, and look where that got us (this post-season being the exception). Overall, I'd say a Schilling-Miller-Clement-Wells-Wakefield/Arroyo rotation holds up pretty well against the Yankees' Johnson-Pavano-Mussina-Wright-Brown combo. It's not as clear an advantage as we had on paper last year, but it's not really a big advantage for them, either.

And we've got the championship to show for it all. Neener, neener.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Addendum

There's a quote from a comic book - Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns (published in the mid-'80s, it was a graphic novel that re-defined the Batman character and pretty much set off the ensuing 15+ years of "edgy" superheroes) that I think about when I see news like I have recently. It's from a monologue that's running in Batman's mind as he battles Superman:

"You sold us out, Clark. You gave them the power that should have been ours. Just like your parents taught you to. My parents taught me a different lesson... lying on the street, shaking in deep shock, dying for no reason at all. They showed me that the world only makes sense when you force it to."

There's an interesting discussion of the Batman/Superman dichotomy at the Open Roleplaying website (I don't do roleplaying games, but I found the discussion whilst Googling) about this. The two heroes represent two archetypes: Superman the optimist (he even derives his powers from sunlight) and Batman the pessimist.

Where does this relate to what I've been saying? Well, about my life, and the things I hold closely and can personally affect, I remain a firm optimist. I believe that with good intentions I can render my part of the world a better place. However, when it comes to the world at large I am deeply pessimistic. Most people are too shallow, too uncaring, and yes, too stupid to try and make any impact of a positive kind whatsoever. Rather than engage the world as best they can, they settle for coasting along, never questioning, never thinking for themselves, and sealing themselves off from life. If you never reach, you can never succeed. And who knows? If you dig deep enough into that huge mound of horse poop, you just may find a pony. You won't know if you don't look. So what if you get dirty? There's plenty of time to wash up later.

Basically, I mean this. Try and do what you can to overcome your personal inertia and leave the world a better place than you found it. Worry about the here and now, instead of imagining some afterlife that'll make things all better. If I'm wrong, and there's an afterlife someday, deeds would probably matter far more than words. Af it makes you feel better to believe in something, great. But don't ignore the world because of it.

We may live in a Batman world, but there's no good reason we can't all try to be Superman.

Compelling argument

And now, a more serious topic:

I have occasionally had "debates" with friends and acquaintances who wonder how it is that I can be utterly non-religious. "How can you not believe in God?" they ask me. I generally try not to draw said debates out - I make no apologies or excuses for my position, but I'm not militant about it like your run-of-the-mill atheist might be. A Christmas display on the town common doesn't bug me - and I couldn't care less whether the Pledge had the words "under God" in it or not. But here's the "in a nutshell" reason why I don't believe in any "God-like" being with an interest in our lives:

1: Tsunami in the Indian Ocean. Over 44,000 dead so far and counting. People all over the region, even thousands of miles away from the event were killed by it. People of all ages and religions. Children. Parents. Only random luck determining who lived and who died.

2: 9/11. 3,000 people died in New York and Washington - all they did was go to work that day or get on a plane.

3: The Holocaust. Over Six Million Jews, Gypsies, and "undesirables" who only made the mistake of living in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Etc...

Death caused by events random and evil serves no "greater purpose". It's not part of anybody's "Plan". It just is, and it just sucks. Period. If someone wants to comfort themselves by believing better, fine. Enjoy. As for me, I expect that when I die (hopefully not for a long time), I simply cease to be. No heaven or hell or purgatory - no reincarnation or any of that. Simple non-existence. If I live on, it will be through the good deeds I tried to do, the memories of other people, and the genes I passed onwards through a wonderful son.

And should I be wrong about it, I'm not really worried about that. Based on what I've seen for behavior from most of the folks (not all of them) who are utterly convinced they'll wind up in heaven - if heaven would take those people then it's not a place I'd want to be.

Here's where I depart from the true atheist a little further, though. I do not believe that we are necessarily the highest forms of life. Just on this planet. It would be naive of me to assume that humans are the pinnacle of development across the entire Universe. Somewhere, somehow, there's a reasonable probability of beings existing that make us look like ants in comparison.

But if that's the case, they really don't give a hoot about anything as tiny and insignificant as us. Nor are we worth the effort to find, either.

Sorry to get so heavy on you all today. I'll go back to lighter fare tomorrow. Really.

Monday, December 27, 2004

As it worked out

The holiday itself was quite entertaining. David was up and banging on the door by about 7:15 - all eager to see what had happened. Jane and I hopped into sweats and headed down with him to let him open the presents. Santa had eaten the three Milanos we'd left for him, and drank the cup of water. Go figure! He left David a nice airplane toy which had it's electronics broken within two hours of the abuse beginning. He left a few more goodies, but the airplane was the keystone. Santa gave far fewer things to Jane and I, but that was by design.

After a while, we picked up Jane's folks at the hotel and went to the brunch at the Hawthorne. We always go to the brunch. Period. Quite frankly, I'm sick of it, but I go anyways, because her folks genuinely believe brunches are the highlight of cuisine, and they think the Hawthorne's is near the top of the list.

The last time I went there for a Christmas brunch, I had a 2-day case of Montezuma's from the hollandaise on their Eggs Benedict.

It's not actually a horrible brunch, my distaste for it is more based on the fact that I'm just not big on brunches, period. And I dislike repetition. The food in their restaurant at the hotel is actually quite good, and I like going there on occasion. I just am not a big one for habit. However, this year Eggs Benedict was not an offering. A plus.

Anyhow, after that we went home and David fought the idea of a nap for quite a long time - he was too excited to sleep. We won, eventually, and he finally went down for a few hours. The original plan was to go out for Chinese that night, but Jane and her folks couldn't wait for David to awaken and instead dove into the ham they'd bought the previous day. I abstained - I'm not a big ham guy (those who've seen my "acting" might beg to differ), and just improvised a supper later on.

Yesterday was a surprise. We woke up to about 3 inches of snow, with more on the way. I took out the electric shovel I'd bought last year, and cleared out enough of the driveway and deck to get out and pick her parents up. We came back to town, and went to Brujitos for lunch and to play - David had a blast there, as always. Highly recommended to all North Shore families with young kids. We're regulars. I cooked dinner last night - a huge pasta meal with my homemade from-scratch tomato sauce. I also baked brownies. The best argument for cooking is that it gets me out of cleanup duty.

Meanwhile, it kept snowing, so when we went to take her folks back to the hotel I needed another run with the shovel first. Slow going, but no real problems. This morning, though, we were so socked in that I broke the weatherstrip on the bottom of our storm door - I need to repair it when the snow melts. Which may be in May.

And I made an interesting discovery last night after everyone else had gone to bed. Turns out the reason we always heard the wind so loud in our chimney is that the damper has been open for - say - about the last 11 years of so (we never used the fireplace after the first winter in the house - I'm too paranoid about that sort of stuff, and the chimney needs more work than I want to bother with). So closing it should save some good money on our heating bill, I suspect. It made an immediate impact on the noise. But if I ever do want to start using the chimney again, I'll need to put a pull on the damper. It doesn't have one.

By the way, I heard that keeping Ty Law inactive was a game-time decision. Hopefully he can get a little time in next week to get the rust off, because without him in the lineup I doubt they get back to the Super Bowl. The bye week will help, though.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Festivus wishes

It's 11:30 on Christmas Eve. My cat is recovering from her second surgery (because the first one didn't work), and has now spent 11 days in an Elizabethan collar, eating mainly soft food and getting dosed with kitty Oxycontin several times daily until the stitches come out.

My toddler, after excitedly preparing for Santa's visit tonight, is now terrified of him. Getting him to sleep tonight took about an hour and a half, altogether, and the last time Jane went up to cuddle him (after we listened to him hollering "Mama, I scared!" over and over), she fell asleep in his toddler bed before he did. Her six-day weeks for the season finally ended with today's holiday rush.

I planned to take it easy over the next couple of weeks, but now I'm booked with at least one activity every day but Tuesday next week. I am, however, going to avoid regular office hours during that time, so at least I can spend a little more time at home.

My stuffiness is finally receding - I think I had picked up a little bit of Jane's cold before getting FluMisted last weekend, and that exacerbated the side effects. All in all, I still think I'll go back to the shot next year, anyway.

I just finished up a pair of wrestler autobiographies (both from the library) - Ric Flair's To Be The Man, and Adam (Edge) Copeland's On Edge. Flair tells some great stories, and he is truly still a master of his craft. But you can tell the difference between a ghostwritten book and one that was done first-hand - and Copeland's is far more interesting to read because you can tell he really did write it himself. He's no Mick Foley (the gold standard of wrestlers-turned-authors), but he's pretty good nonetheless. Wrestler books are fun because, except for Foley's books, they can generally be polished off in a day. I'm also reading several other books as well about more interesting topics - I just finished Right Nation, a book written by a couple of British writers who are long-time America watchers trying to explain just why the US is so much farther to the right than virtually every other civilized nation. And I just started on Robert Parker's latest detective novel.

But first, I have to finish putting out the presents and make sure the cookies left out for Santa don't go to waste. If he doesn't make it here soon, they're mine.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

One question

Last night's game was a Freaky Friday scenario if I ever saw it. Somebody switched Tom Brady and A.J. Feeley - that was obviously Feeley sitting in Brady's head making decisions, and Feeley was possessed by Brady. That's the only rational explanation as to why Feeley was so good, and why Brady sucked so bad.

Although if anyone has any better suggestions, I'm all ears. But right now, if I'm the Pats, I'm really bitter about Ty Poole being forced onto IR, and crossing my fingers taht Ty Law can get back into the lineup before the final week. Because the last few weeks have proven that although Romeo Crennel did a brilliant job patching together a secondary with duct tape and chicken wire, offenses are starting to figure it out. And that won't get you far come playoff time. What the Patriots lack right now is a true shutdown corner - a guy who can go man on the other team's top wideout and take him out of the game. A healthy Ty Law is that corner. Come back soon.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Why I'm not really a liberal, either

One of the websites I regularly read is AlterNet, a definitely left-of-center site that aggregates news from all over as well as their own content. There's a lot of really good and interesting stuff there, as well as Molly Ivins, who is terrific.

But the left-liberal perspective is one I have a lot of issues with, and some of AlterNet's content really makes that stand out. This is why I'd be a charter member of the Moderate Party and happily abandon the Democrats if the opportunity arose.

First off, there's a definite anti-consumer bias among the left. Malls exist as something to ridicule, mass merchandisers are the scourge of America, owning a car is evil (but if you must own a car it should be tiny), and your media consumption must be politically correct. The only acceptable sport to watch is baseball (because it's the pride of intellectuals who analyze it to death), and you'd be better off going to see some little independent film with subtitles instead of watching a game.

Okay...

I happen to take exception to most of that, but here's a few specifics. First of all, I don't like malls that much. Because they're too crowded. But they don't bother me, and if the store I want to go to is there, I go there. I also don't mind consumerism. If you want to have the newest little bauble, that's fine. Just don't go into debt over it, OK? Heck, I've got a near-compulsive need to own the latest cool Apple gizmo. I just keep it in check, letting it out every couple of years to upgrade.

Mass merchandizers are useful. They provide a place to buy the goods a family wants, at a reasonable price. I have problems with Wal-Mart, mainly because they drive their suppliers into bankruptcy (see Vlasic and Huffy for good examples of how success can be deadly), and they don't pay decent wages or benefits to most of their workforce. The rest are generally better than that - and wholesale clubs don't encourage over-consumption, they encourage stocking up on the goods you actually use. If you buy more, you've got issues with impulse control, but that's not a societal problem.

As for cars - if you want to live and work outside the city core, you need them. Period. And you should get whatever you're happy owning, can afford to keep, and you have room to park. If you really want a Ford Excursion instead of a Honda Insight, fine - it's your gas bill. I've got a minivan, but before that my last two vehicles were midsize SUV's (a Chevy Blazer and then an Olds Bravada). They did what I wanted them to do, and I was darn happy with them. Nowadays the minivan is more practical, and I'm not bitter about that at all (OK, maybe I'm a little bitter...). If I lived in the city and had a job there, I might own a smaller vehicle. But I don't. Get what suits you, not what you think is PC to own.

And I don't see the fuss about sports. I, for one, like 'em a lot, and I'm both a baseball and football nut (oh no - that militaristic American game of football!). I play golf, I go candlepin bowling (how proletariat of me), and I love to watch pro wrestling. I'm not a big auto racing fan, but when I went to a race this summer I had a good time there - and I occasionally watch it on TV if I'm bored on a Sunday afternoon and football's not on. I don't mind trashy TV, though I don't watch that much of it, either. I don't see many movies at all, but I'm just as likely to watch a schlock Hollywood comedy as a "high-minded" film when I do. I go to the movies to be entertained, not educated.

Even when it comes to reading, I'm not a PC lefty-type. I read some books on culture and politics. But I also read trashy novels, celebrity autobiographies, and generally eclectic stuff.

Now if I were a real lefty sort, I'd either disavow all that or I'd make some quip about how it's all "ironic" of me. But I actually like all that stuff. Which excludes me from the hyper-intellectual left as much as my utter lack of religious belief and distaste for mindlessly accepting authority make me an outcast from the right.

There must be more people like this out there somewhere, but dammed if I can find very many of 'em.

Setback

Jane took Gracie to the vet's this morning for a somewhat urgent visit - her repaired ear had puffed up again. Turns out that two things had gone wrong - first off, even though we were regularly cleaning the discharge as instructed, a scab still formed and kept it from draining right. So that was fixed. Secondly, apparently the incision should be widened a little. That's really minor, but they'll have to knock her loopy to fix it. So that can't be done until tomorrow, after we keep her away from food for a night. But it's a minor fix.

Also, I'm now recovering from my FluMist side effects - the stuff works, I'm told, but it can cause a major runny nose for a day or two, and that's what it did to me. A regular flu shot doesn't do that to me, but it does leave me feeling kind of run down for a few days, so it's a toss-up as to which I prefer.

Either alternative is better than getting the flu, though.

Quieter week this week. I may be meeting with a prospective new customer sometime this week, and I also have to go in to Cambridge one day. Other than that, it's mainly pre-Xmas loose ends to deal with. And I'll prepare to close the books on my first fiscal year (I'm going with Calendar years, even though I didn't open my doors until March 1). Hopefully I'll remain solidly in the black.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

The answer

The best way to solve our electoral problem is by splitting the parties up. Let the Republicans have the South and the moralist conservatives. Take the Democrats, and make their wooly-headed, PC liberals the core of the party.

Then, we take the centrists from both parties - the Patakis, Snowes, Schwartzeneggers, Kerrys (yes, despite what the Bush campaign tried to tell you, he's basically a moderate), Chafees, and darn near everyone in the Upper Midwest except for Feingold and Norm Coleman. We form a third party - the Moderate party. The party platform is basically this:

- Abortion should be legal, but with increasing restrictions over time.
- Deficit spending is bad.
- So are taxes.
- Ergo, government size should be restricted.
- Foreign entanglements should be minimal, and undertaken only when absolutely necessary.
- Ergo, we should concentrate on getting out of Iraq ASAP.
- Gay marriage might not be ideal to all, but let people alone. Pass a federal civil unions bill to take steam out of the argument on both sides.
- Discrimination is bad, but so are set-asides. Both should be eliminated.
- Social Security remains federal.
- More Supreme Court justices should be like David Souter (a true moderate, not really beholden to either side). Not fewer.

(note: Not all of these are positions I agree with, though many are)

With this sort of platform, the Moderate Party should be able to take the White House within another election cycle or two. And they'd initially form a big swing bloc that would keep both major parties fairly honest - they'd have to moderate themselves enough to convince the center party to join a coalition. Much like in parliamentary systems.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Just so you know

It's been "one of those weeks".

But that's good. I've been busy virtually every day, billable hours galore, and this is being written during the brief interlude before I have to leave for Cambridge to do an OS X server migration. See you later!

Monday, December 13, 2004

Sports talk

First off - I'm going to miss the "Tough Enough" segments on Smackdown. Not because I liked them, but it was 15-20 minutes of a 2-hour show I could safely fast-forward through - combined with commercial skipping and recaps, I could watch the whole show in about an hour. And that even sometimes would include a slo-mo through a Torrie Wilson or Jackie Gayda ring entrance. Pretty good TV watching, if I do say so myself.

However, I did vote last night for the Tough Enough winner, even though I avoided it entirely. I voted for The Miz - in what little I saw of it, he showed a lot more personality than Dan Puder offered. Plus Dan was a little too intense nutcase-ish for my liking. As for other events from yesterday's PPV, the Charlie Haas heel turn seems like a dumb idea. And I'm sick of JBL - he's been OK as a heel - better than I expected - but he's held the strap for nearly six months now, and come out on top in feuds with Eddie Guererro, Booker T, and Taker. That makes no sense at all. Though it was inevitable, since he's just added the Bashams and Amy Weber to his stable. Expect him to keep the title until at least the Rumble next month, and if he gets through that, then to go right up to Mania. JBL headlining Wrestlemania. My goodness, what depths this business has sunk to...

As for other (real) sports, if Pedro can get a four-year deal from the Mets, more power to him. This'll be a typical Mets signing - big name, shaky health, huge money. Granted, the Dominican connection will put plenty of butts in the ugly Shea seats, but it's still a bad move for them. Heck, I wouldn't guarantee him three years even - I was kinda surprised the Sox were willing to. If Pedro goes to New York for the money, more power to him. Nobody here will be bitter - we got a World Series win out of him. Hey - at least we've got David Wells now!

(silence)

From what's been reported, the Wells signing is a good move. Really. Not a lot of guaranteed money, and when Wells is serious about his game, he's still pretty darned tough to hit, even at his age. Plus he's a lefty, which certainly helps. Wells will slide into Derek Lowe's spot in the rotation, most likely, if Pedro does wind up here again. I'm not sure how it'll play out without Pedro, but Bronson Arroyo appears almost ready to make The Leap, and he's cheap to have around.

In other sporting news, hooray for Charley Weis. I'm not sure he's going to like it at Notre Dame, but he's getting $2 mil per year to suck it up. But from what I've heard of the Willingham fallout, the alumni there have a recurring fantasy that an independent team with high academic standards can also be a BCS contender every year. Keep dreaming, folks.

Meanwhile, the Pats keep rolling along. I like their chances to wind up with the #1 seed, but the #2 isn't the worst fate. Come January, Pittsburgh and New England are probably the only two teams with a serious shot at winning the Super Bowl. Indy will not win two road games in January. Period. Nobody else is a serious contender. And Philly may be the best in the NFC, but they have no chance against either of the best two AFC teams. Unless there's a serious letdown (and I know Belichick wouldn't allow that to happen - probably not Cowher either), the NFC gets crushed this year.

Does anybody at all miss the NHL? Does anybody in the NHLPA realize that if they don't cave and accept a cap, the sport is gone forever? It's very possible to win the battle and lose the war, and what good is no cap if there's no league?

This IBM/Lenova deal may seem like a total capitulation to many, but if I were Dell, I'd be scared. Really scared. IBM just sold out to the one operation that may be able to out-cheap Dell, and now they can make all the deals they want with PowerPC processors and not have to worry about the impact on their PC unit. Which may also have the effect of helping drive Apple costs down a little, too. Intel is probably a little nervous, too.

Interesting stuff

I went to a developers' meeting on MacOS X 10.4 "Tiger" this morning. Getting there was an adventure - I was about 20 minutes late which sucked because I was supposed to help out on the registration desk. I'd forgotten just how awful Wellington Circle is during rush hour. I still was useful, but I bummed myself out some by not being there from moment 1. I pride myself on punctuality.

That said, I saw a lot of really interesting stuff and got the inside skinny on much of the new technology that will be under the hood. However, I can't tell you anything about it because I'm under an NDA, so nyah nyah. But if you have a Mac that meets Apple's published hardware specs for Tiger, you should be starting to drool about now.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Still busy

I've been working a lot over the last week - and I'm booked every day this coming week with one activity or another. On top of that, David and I both nearly came down with a cold (we both had runny noses that didn't turn into anything more) the previous week - but Jane actually got the cold, full-force. So I've had to take care of her a lot this week, too.

The good news is that I've actually managed to cook meals from scratch a couple of times, actually making things up based on sound cooking principles as gleaned from Good Eats, and had them come out well. Last night, I sweated some onions and garlic in a little butter, added some broccoli and carrots to the pan along with a pinch of salt, then served it all up over some pasta with oil and dried basil flakes. It was pretty darned tasty, even if the whole house still smells like garlic.

Meanwhile, Jane's still working full-tilt through the cold - I think her reasoning is "there's plenty of time to rest in January".

I'm also finishing up a presentation for a seminar I'm doing on Thursday - see the Beverly Chamber of Commerce website for details. And right now I'm watching the Pats game. I'm impressed by the Bengals in a sense, because they just don't seem to quit. Right now it's 28-14, Pats, though, and the Pats just scored with just under 2 minutes in the half.

And Gracie has minor surgery scheduled tomorrow to deal with a hematoma in her right ear.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Goodbye to a friend

Today, WBZ announced that long-time talk show host David Brudnoy was near death, and tonight's show would feature an interview taped at his bedside in Mass. General in the last day or so. I didn't know him personally, but everybody in New England knew him anyways.

To describe Brudnoy as "a talk show host", though, is like describing Godzilla as "a lizard". Brudnoy was the rarest of creatures: a civil voice on airwaves that carry far too much hate, vitriol, and shock. He actually read books before inviting authors on to discuss them. Though a moderate libertarian (much like myself), he never kept opposing views off his show, never shouted people down, and let his intellect do the defending, rather than rely on empty rhetoric.

Health problems over the last decade (beginning with a near-fatal bout of AIDS in 1993) forced him to cut back his broadcasting schedule in recent years, and he moved his studio to his Back Bay apartment (where he'd serve cocktails to his in-studio guests) as well. Last winter, he developed Merkel cell carcinoma, a fairly rare form of the disease, and was able to drive it into remission for a time. Unfortunately, late last month the disease again got the better of him, and he signed off for what turned out to be the last time a couple of weeks ago.

I think he hung around this long just so he could anchor the Election Night coverage one last time. Farewell, David - you will be truly missed.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Mindless TV reviewed

I decided to take the plunge into mediocrity and watch "The Real Gilligan's Island". It's horrible. And I mean that in a good way. So far I've watched three of the eight episodes, and the only true highlight was watching the amazingly red-state Millionaires get tossed out. That was nice. Otherwise, the challenges are stupid, the plot opportunities nonexistent, and with the Beavens' ejection (Donna Beavens would have been an Omarosa-esque reality show villainess but she's just too crass and stupid for even that), virtually all the cattiness has been extinguished.

The pluses of the show: other than the Beavens, it's a pretty likable bunch of folks doing their best in an excessively contrived setting. The two Gilligans are both nice "regular guy" types, the Maryanns were both pretty girls with nice personalities, the other Millionaires (the Stearns, an LA couple) seem like fun sorts (and Mindy Stearns is quite a hottie), and I liked both Professors - though the gay professor (of Sociology) was a little overbearing. But he's gone already. I even like the Gingers (Rachel Hunter and Nicole Eggert) - Nicole is a little New-Agey, but not unbearably so. I haven't really got much of an impression from either Skipper - partly because one of them collapsed early with a cardiac scare and left the game (he's OK, and doing the publicity tour), so they haven't really had to focus on the other one at all.

It's a show I'll keep watching to the end, but It's going into the category of "shows I watch while I'm doing something else". So don't ask me about the plotline - I'm not paying enough attention. Except when either Rachel or Mindy puts a bikini on (Nicole and the remaining Maryann are both way too skinny for my liking). Then I'll pay more attention...

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Birthday thoughts

Jane turns the big 4-0 today. Still looks great, though. Unfortunately, she's spent most of the day cooped up in her basement office calling accounts, since her company just started a big sales promo/contest. It's better than Plan A, though - that was for her to go out to Holyoke today. This is a step up.

While she does that, I've been doing stuff with David, and we went out for a little while. I had to go to the office to pick some stuff up for a data recovery job I'm still working on - I'm getting back all the customer's old Exchange data by building a replica of the server and then using Exmerge to extract their old data I saved. I refused to try it on their production server as I felt strongly that it would be a Bad Idea. I won't lose data on my watch. Period. So I'm setting up the new server while David takes a nap.

Yesterday I did the round trip to Nashua twice - once to drop Jane off in the morning, and then the second time to pick her up and go to a birthday party for Rob and Brenda's son Christopher - he's six months older than David. They live near the mall there, so I figured I was better off doing the drive twice than having each of us take a car.

Unrelated thought of the day: I've been watching TNA Wrestling's "Impact" (Fridays on FSN - I TiVo it), and the in-ring product is pretty good. But they've been recycling every failed idea in the history of WCW - including bringing the Outsiders (Kevin Nash and Scott Hall) back to work with Jeff (my daddy runs the company so I get the belt even though I'm a career midcarder) Jarrett. The angle sucks. Nash has lost what little bit of athleticism he had left in his last run a year ago with WWE, and he can't cut a decent promo anymore, either. Hall looks like he managed to give up the booze, but discovered food instead - he's a few cheeseburgers away from giving Viscera a run. It's just sad.

The nice thing TNA's had going for them is wrestling, not this bizarro WCW crud. Get back to wrestling, and leave the soap opera junk to WWE. They've got the people, writers, and production values to get away with some of it at least. And give the darned strap to someone useful and build up some legit heavyweight heels. Jeff Jarrett can always wrestle a decent match and put other guys over just fine. But he won't. Pity. Even Triple H drops his belt once in a while.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Battered

I've been working on a job most of this week trying to save a really messed-up Windows server that I was handed through a referral. Tuesday night I worked on-site for 11 hours straight - from 2PM to 1AM the next morning. I've almost caught up on the sleep deficit, though. I've done a lot of the work remotely - once I get the rescue drive sent over here I'm going to recover the last thing they lost, which is their Exchange Public Folders.

Yesterday, both our December-due pregnant friends delivered - they both had their babies yesterday morning, about two hours apart. I've seen pics of one (Woodge's) so far, but not the other.

I heard a new Joke from Steven Wright today - he's touring again, which is a good thing for society. The line (I may be misquoting it slightly) is "I have H.D.A.D.D - High Definition Attention Deficit Disorder. I don't remember much, but what I do remember is amazing".

At some point, I may look into building another Shuttle box. I probably should get a little more hands-on time with AMD-based gear.

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