Saturday, March 29, 2008
As is tradition, I like to write a post on my birthday to kind of reflect on the last year or so.

The past year has seen some big changes for me. A year ago I was still with Microsoft and living in Seattle. I never thought then that I would end up back in California before my next birthday post. At that time, I was still cautiously optimistic that I would be able to make a career of it at Microsoft. Shortly after that birthday, I realized that was never going to happen and so I left the company.

As I wrote I should last year, I did take a big, yet calculated risk. I'm glad I didn't just sit on that one and not do anything about it. I quit my nice cushy Microsoft job for nothing. I didn't have any other prospects and to be honest didn't want to work for a while. Like I wrote, I just didn't feel on track with where I wanted to be. I felt behind when I like to run ahead.

It took me by surprise that I took a job as quickly as I did but it was an opportunity that put me back squarely where I wanted to be in terms of not only my career trajectory but location. Los Angeles is much nicer than Seattle, and I'm glad to be back. Early on, things are OK with the job. It isn't one big party, but I took this job knowing there were going to be some difficulties. I just thought the problems I would tackle would be slightly different. The opportunity is here to make a big quantum leap for me with a host of responsibilities that would have taken me a decade or so to get at a place like Microsoft.

Everything else is good in life. Bandit definitely enjoys being back where the sun is bright and he can lazily lounge by the window. Girlfriend hasn't moved back down with me yet from Seattle, but she is on her way shortly. Things are going great with her and we probably will take that next step before this post next year.

Not sure what 30 is going to bring or what I hope for it. It's a milestone year really. All my friends are married and most are having kids. Not sure I'm destined for the latter one any time soon. As I contemplated this birthday I realized that I'm a dozen years away from when I started college. A dozen years just doesn't seem like it can be that long ago. You know you are old when you start talking about how fast time goes by and how you remember back when ....

My Problem with Michael Clayton

Sunday, March 23, 2008

I saw Michael Clayton a few days ago. It is now the only move I have seen from the 2008 Best Picture Nominees. I thought the movie was OK. The story was somewhat interesting, and it had a few plot twist that kept it entertaining, but overall I wasn't that impressed. It just seemed like any other movie to me. I sometimes think that the academy over thinks things. They want to be sure that whatever movie they nominate for Best Picture is cerebral and thought provoking. You will never see a movie like SuperBad nominated for Best Picture. I guess if the masses like it, it can't be all that great. Kind of snobbish really.


So my problem with Michael Clayton lies with the villain, or more appropriately the people the villain hires to do her dirty work. They commit the near perfect murder when they kill Arthur, making it look like a clean suicide. There was little doubt by anybody that Arthur killed himself and that there was no foul play involved.

Now cut to Michael Clayton. He discovers the dirty secret and they decide to kill him too. So what do they do? Instead of killing him cleanly, they decide to do him in with a car bomb. What is more obvious that a murder took place than a car bomb? Don't you think that this second murder, a very obvious murder, arouse suspicion on the first death? How can criminals go from smart to stupid in the span of a few hours? If you want to kill him in the car fine, cause it to go off the road or something else like that. But a car bomb? Really?

Who Says Athletes are Greedy?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Tim Buss, strength coach for the Chicago Cubs, had a practical joke played on him. A group of players decided they were going to attack his car with a bunch of bats. They smashed it to bits and then left the bats by the car just so he knew what happened.

Of course Buss was dismayed to find his 1995 Nissan Sentra (the cubs clearly aren't paying this guy enough) in a complete mess. Imagine having a crappy car and then finding that car made even crappier by a bunch of vandals.

Of course, it was his players that had played the joke on him and, after letting him stew for a while, they handed him the keys to a new Nissan Xterra. A car which goes for somewhere in the neighborhood of $25,000. A big improvement over his Sentra that was probably worth $25

I wish I could afford to play jokes like this. Clearly it shows that Athletes are (not) Overpaid. I'm sure for my friends, I could come up with all sorts of crazy things to smash and break. My first thought would be to smash someone like Jenny's computer and then buy here a new Mac, but I think she beat me to it.

NCAA Play in Game

Monday, March 17, 2008
I really don't like the concept of the NCAA play in game.

A few years ago, the NCAA decided that it would let 65 teams into the tournament rather than the 64. The two worse teams play a game before the tournament actually begins. The winner of that game gets a #16 seed and gets to play a #1 seed. This year the honor belongs to Mt. Saint Marys and Coppin State.

They started this a few years ago when one of the conferences split up and created two. Since conference champions get an automatic bid, the NCAA decided to increase the number of teams that make the tournament rather than reduce the number of at large bids.

There is usually controversy every year about a team that doesn't quite make it in, so it might be understandable why the NCAA did what it did. But really, couldn't they just suck it up and make the hard decision. Why this bothers me is that I hate when people can't make hard choices and differentiate people. Telling a team that they aren't going to play in the tournament is hard. Letting them in is easy. If it really is so difficult, just let all 200 or schools in the tournament. It would just increase the number of games by one or two depending on how you structured it.

Getting to the tournament should be special. To make it special, that means there has to be a cutoff point and some teams just aren't going to make it in. 64 is a natural cutoff point and it should remain there. Of course that will never happen because the game has actually become somewhat popular and it allows the NCAA to make a few more bucks.

Flying - Not So Fun Anymore

Sunday, March 16, 2008
I used to be a great airplane traveller. It wouldn't bother me like most people. As a former consultant I would fly all the time to various parts of the country and I was always one of the most relaxed and easy going passengers.

I'm still pretty easy going about the whole thing, I don't let things get to me very easily, but I've gone from tolerating one of the most painful experiences that any ordinary person might regularly do to getting pretty frustrated by the whole thing.

One of the reasons things have gone downhill from just a few years ago is that planes are much more crowded than they used to be. It used to be that I very rarely sat next to somebody on a plane. Not only would the middle seat almost always be empty, very often times the entire row would be. When you don't have to sit next to someone and you have a little more space, things are a lot more tolerable.

But now, airlines are starting to make sure their flights are full. This is partially due to just better planning on their part, but also due to less and less competition in the space. You see, airlines were money losers. They have been for a while. While this was bad for them, it was great for consumers. Competition forced them to offer a great many flights on a great many routes. But this killed off a lot of the regional and even major carriers. With less competition the surviving airlines aren't offering as many flights meaning the ones that still exist are more crowded.

Oh well. I hope one day, when the airlines become profitable again this will encourage more people to enter the space and once again give us the empty seats and frequent flights that marked the high point of travel for the consumers.

Anti-Gravity Treadmill

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Andrew Bynum of the Los Angeles Lakers hurt his knew a few months ago. He is on his way to recovery, and one of the things that they have him doing is running on an anti-gravity treadmill. I didn't know what the heck it was so I looked it up and found the preceding link.

This thing is not cheap. It cost about $75,000. For an organization like the Lakers, it is chump change to protect a player like Andrew Bynum who will eventually be paid by them in excess of $100 million. A couple of things crossed my mind though.

How the heck does Andrew Bynum fit in that thing? The guy is 7' 1" and 280 lbs. They must have to retrofit something on this machine for him because I don't see how something could be designed to fit a man of his size.

Why haven't I heard of this thing before? Supposedly it is fast becoming something that is used by a lot of athletes to not only rehabilitate but to train as you can run for longer periods of time without putting additional strain on ones knees and joints.

Where can I try one? I'm assuming I'm not going to find this thing at my regular 24 hour fitness but I would love to hop on this thing just to give it a whirl.

Noisy Upstairs Neighbors

Monday, March 10, 2008
What to do, what to do. My upstairs neighbors are pretty loud. It hasn't really bothered me very much until recently but I swear they must have taken up wrestling because that's what it sounds like.

I swear this is the last time I live in a downstairs apartment. Actually, I'm pretty sure this is the last apartment/condo I'm going to live in at all. Neighbors suck. It really is that simple. Most people just are not considerate. They either run around all night on hardwood floors or have dogs that bark at all times of the night.

I just don't quite get it I guess. My last apartment was a middle apartment and I can tell you that my girlfriend and I were very aware of the noise we made and when we made it. In the middle of the day, it's understandable, but later in the night, when people are just trying to relax, it is just downright rude.

Speaking of Treating Animals like People

Sunday, March 09, 2008
Last post, I had talked about how we anthropomorphize our pets. I was reading through various news reports and came across a story about how a man took his dog paragliding and ended up getting stuck in a tree.

Seriously, what the heck? Why on earth would anyone take their pet paragliding? Is their some belief that because humans enjoy the activity, the pet will too? Is it the thought that you love your pet, you love paragliding, and the two would go great together? Is this person trying to treat his beloved dog by giving him the thrill of a lifetime?

I actually think the opposite. I think taking your pet on any sort of dangerous activity like this is going to scare the crap out of it. It scares people too but people are able to translate that fear into excitement, the same can not be said for pets. There is no way I can see how a pet would actually enjoy this activity. Does anyone actually think otherwise?

What do Cats Think About All Day

Thursday, March 06, 2008
My cat is pretty lazy. He sits around most of the day and just stares at things. He often is in the window looking out and trying to find a bird or a squirrel, but that's about it. As I type this he is sitting about 3 feet at me just looking at me for no particular reason. He will probably look away in a minute and then just stare at the wall.

I constantly have thoughts going through my mind all the time, but I'm sure that cats don't think like humans. So what goes through my cat's brain all the time. I doubt its blank, it must be thinking of something, I just don't know what. I think we humans tend to anthropomorphize our pets way too much, so I wouldn't even know where to begin in terms of thinking about what my cat thinks about.

Do you have cats? What do you think they think about?

The Clock is Ticking

Sunday, March 02, 2008
Today, about a month before I turn 30, I threw out my back brushing my teeth. I don't know what I did while brushing my teeth, but suddenly I had a very sharp pain in my lower left back which basically incapacitated me and forced me to lay down.

So sad. When did I get this old?