mardi, août 30, 2005

And I'm Going to Win All the Monies...All the Monies

Cross posted to Pandyland...and with thanks to one of my favorite bloggers.

Modern, Cool Nerd
73 % Nerd, 56% Geek, 26% Dork
For The Record:

A Nerd is someone who is passionate about learning/being smart/academia.
A Geek is someone who is passionate about some particular area or subject, often an obscure or difficult one.
A Dork is someone who has difficulty with common social expectations/interactions.
You scored better than half in Nerd and Geek, earning you the title of: Modern, Cool Nerd.

Nerds didn't use to be cool, but in the 90's that all changed. It used to be that, if you were a computer expert, you had to wear plaid or a pocket protector or suspenders or something that announced to the world that you couldn't quite fit in. Not anymore. Now, the intelligent and geeky have eked out for themselves a modicum of respect at the very least, and "geek is chic." The Modern, Cool Nerd is intelligent, knowledgable and always the person to call in a crisis (needing computer advice/an arcane bit of trivia knowledge). They are the one you want as your lifeline in Who Wants to Be a Millionaire (or the one up there, winning the million bucks)!


Also, you might want to check out some of my other tests if you're interested in either of the following:

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Professional Wrestling

Love & Sexuality

Thanks Again! -- THE NERD? GEEK? OR DORK? TEST

My test tracked 3 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:

free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 76% on nerdiness

free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 76% on geekosity

free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 33% on dork points
Link: The Nerd? Geek? or Dork? Test written by donathos on Ok Cupid

lundi, août 29, 2005

Inspired by the Morning Paper

My thoughts and prayers are with everyone along the gulf coast. I'm hoping for the best and fearing the worst.

There was an interesting editorial in the pages of the Star Tribune (by far the best paper in the Twin Cities) today. It was written by Paul Mulshine, and argued that a trifecta of issues would further weaken President Bush's very weak approval ratings.

The big three:

(1) Iraq (increasingly like a quagmire - apparently Bush himself said that three things are needed when America uses force in the world: a just cause, clear goals and overwhelming victory. Only the most zealous advocate for Bush would argue that he is clicking on all three, and few of my readers will be surprised to read that I feel all three are missing. Mulshine says only beltway neocons and heartland dittoheads are still on board. I would add big oil.).

(2) Valerie Plame indictments (yes, remember Valerie? Coming soon to a newspaper near you, a couple of indictments for violating oaths regarding the treatment of classified information.).

(3) Oil and gas prices (if current prices persist through winter, it will be a tough time for those who use oil to heat their homes. It is already a tough time at the pump. For personal safety reasons, I won't go into my speech about how I think gas prices should be even higher.).

All three at the same time. Ouch. Well, at least "the gays" can't marry*.

Last, I liked this letter in our Op/Ed section so much, that I have to share it:

As a U.S. Marine currently deployed to Iraq, would like to respectfully disagree with a fellow Minnesotan who stated that people who protest the war hurt troops' morale.

Public debate and discussion are vital to the health of a democracy. It is a good thing when I see Americans exercising their right of freedom of speech.

Seeing people exercise freedoms that many in other countries don't have is something that we should all be thankful for - whether you agree with what is being said or not. Semper Fidelis!

James Haugerud
Camp Blue Diamond
Ar Ramadi, Iraq

Semper Fidelis, indeed!

*For any new readers, the author, a notorious supporter of same sex marriage, here makes an attempt at humor. The author intends to suggest that those who lined up to re-elect incompetence (on moral grounds) are getting exactly what they deserve: dishonest, treasonous, money-grubbing incompetence.

mardi, août 23, 2005

Eschewing Gaza and Roberts and Niger and Other Matters, ILIM Tackles the Really Tough Topic - Little League Baseball

So, I’ve written before about how I think boxing should be illegal. I would, of course, extend that to ultimate fighting, and kick boxing and cock fighting (it should be illegal in all 50 states). I have always abhorred cock fighting and bear baiting. I will forever abhor cock-fighting and bear baiting.

I will admit to a perverse thrill with the women's boxing. My therapy appointment is set for next week (they promise I'll be cured).

Here is another item from the world of sport where I may fall out of the mainstream. You ready? It’s hard hitting.

I don’t think the Little League World Series should be on television. Sorry to just spring that on ya like that.

Here are my reasons:

The boys who are on television are just boys, and they are too young for all the attention/pressure/impact/glory/humiliation of the experience.

There is no comparable opportunity for girls to be on television and to receive the glory attendant to appearing on television. [Closed circuit to all the logicians in the hizzy: yes, I know that I started by saying television is bad for kids, and now I’m complaining that girls should get to be a part of it too. My arguments here are visceral, and I have given myself permission to be ridiculous.]

No other sports for young people are on television – nor should they be. I would not broadcast the AAU national championship basketball game either. I would not broadcast young track stars, and under no circumstances would I broadcast young darters.

Television adds a corrupting glare to all things, especially sports. Children’s sports are more sensitive to the corruption and there for merit heightened protection. The potential for sponsorship, for cheating, for overuse of young pitching arms, for showboating and poor sportspersonship increases when you add the spectacle of television. It bothers me to see a young infielder make an error on Sportscenter. It bothers me to see a young pitcher give up 6 runs in a late inning and then look dejected. It really bothers me to see a young boy hit a grand slam and have his name gleefully announced by Stuart Scott or Linda Cohn. It's wrong to me. Wrong.

Who among us would wish for the Little League Baseball the same fate that has befallen College sports where it's all just and industry, and most of the fun has been sucked right out of it?

Who among us would wish for the Little League Baseball the same fate that has befallen high school basketball where elite kids are extracted, sent to Nike and Addidas camps and put into the limelight, often years before they are ready for it?

Who would argue that for college athletes and for high school hoop heroes, sometimes, all the wrong things are prioritized in their lives?

Anyway, those are my main reasons.

Yes, I know that select kids are on television for sports. The world of women’s tennis has had its share of teen phenoms. LeBron James had lots of coverage (and – IMHO it did him much damage). Michelle Wie seems to bask in media attention. It’s just that in my view, this should be the exception, and not the rule. And even applied to select kids, it always seems to have a Capriatian potential for ruin (and for redemption - God bless her). As a father, an avid sportsman and a hack blogger, I think the risk of ruin is not worth the rewards (if any there are).

Please weigh in on this most important topic! Slap me on the back or set me straight.

lundi, août 22, 2005

Ten Observations from a Vacation in South Carolina and Georgia


Did you miss me? I was on vacation and meant to post that I would be gone, but it was an absolute mad dash to the finish line. Also, don't fly Northwest right now. We sat on the runway for 3.75 hours yesterday waiting to take off. 3.75 hours on a plane with a toddler is no joke, my friends, it is NO joke.

Here are ten observations from our little vacation:

August is a hot month in South Carolina. White hot. Africa hot.

One could do well selling American flags in coastal Georgia. Really well. Few people in coastal Georgia have one flag. Very few. Also, when it comes to flags - the bigger the better.

When hitting out of the rough on those Southern courses, take a higher angle on your back swing and explode down on the ball – it’ll pop right out…you might get a flier, but you’ll prefer it to a dribbler.

You may see a motel or two with the words “American owned” on the marquis.

It’s a good idea to wear a hat.

When in Claxton, Georgia (suburb of Savannah), ya’ll should go to Cilantro’s for Mexican food. Highly recommended; man oh man was it good. Get guacamole and I can recommend the Vegetarian combo dinner A. Also, the pizza at Giuseppe’s on Hilton Head Island ain’t too shabby. Ain’t too shabby atall.

When golfing in the afternoon, drink copious amounts of fluid. Drink until you’re bloated because in about 30 seconds, you’ll be thirsty again. If you get a low grade headache – stop. Seek air conditioning.

Hillary Clinton will not win one state in the South, not even Arkansas (and it won’t be close); were I managing her campaign, I would advise her to not even visit. She might get shot. Spend all your time in Ohio, etc.

It’s 20 degrees cooler at the ocean. Stay close to the ocean.

Fire ants ain’t no joke. They ain’t NO joke.

One cool bonus thing: if you have not seen “Mad Hot Ballroom,” see it. Anyway, on vacation, my daughter, TinyE (who turns four today) played with children whose mother is the principal at the school where the Washington Heights 5th graders will attend next year when they 6th graders. She was so freakin’ cool too. I hate to brag and all, but…I did kinda had brush with fame, didn’t I? Didn’t I?

vendredi, août 12, 2005

With Arms Bent (Sometimes), Concentrating on Circles (Mostly)

With apologies to bike town...

Last night, as we slept, the percussive splashes of acorns, descended from our oak tree, danced across our roof and invaded our dreams. For an hour or so, I dwelt in a semi-conscious state and made mental notes for a poem, working title: Our First Acorn Autumn.

I woke at 5:18 without alarm and walked around the bed to kiss my wife good morning. I grabbed my bike shorts and just before I made my way downstairs, stretched my right foot. My Achilles was locked as tight as a drum – as it so often is these days.

While I watched a few minutes of Sportscenter, I brushed my teeth and engaged in familiar human rituals. If I hurried, I could ride the Fairview loop to B2, but, as always, I tarried. Eventually, I filled my water bottle and went to the basement to feed our hungry cats and retrieve my bicycle. I vowed to keep my elbows bent and to pedal in circles.

Just after five thirty, I departed under moderate darkness and cloudy skies. I was convinced it would rain, something that would usually compel me to put my bike away and go for a walk around the lake. But today, I pedaled on.

I pedaled on…south to the lake, then wrapped around a part of it – north for a moment, then west, then south a spell to Huron where I headed due west to where it becomes Como, and straight into a wind that kissed my whole face hard, just like my daughter would.

I unlocked my arms and reminded myself to keep my elbows bent; I traveled west for a mile or so up the slightest incline to one of my favorite points in my morning loop. A place, just at the top of this gradual rise, where the skyline of downtown Minneapolis, bathed in the first orange notions of dawn, is plainly visible (even from St. Paul) and is, quite frankly, magestic and splendid. I once read that skyscrapers are meant to inspire us.

Then down a too slight hill and past the State Fairgrounds, where I startled a large white rabbit with soft brown ears just as I entered the desirable St. Anthony Park neighborhood. Lately, St. Anthony Park makes me think of my friend who lives there and who makes a splendid salsa. But today and everyday, whatever thoughts I entered St. Anthony with were quickly followed by thoughts of the most challenging part of my ride, an uphill stretch, never terribly steep, but always terribly long and always up – sometimes slightly, sometimes not - north on Cleveland Avenue.

As I worked my way up this hill (and oh, dear readers, if you could hear my labored breathing!) I made my way past one of the University’s fraternity and sorority rows, where 13 or 14 coeds were on a porch drinking and smoking. By all appearances, their exercises did not begin at 5:18 this morning - more likely at 5:18 last night. But they looked like they could go on for miles and miles - more than I could say for myself. It occurred to me, as I worked my way up this hill, thankful that my knee did not hurt today, that these are two of the stages in the life cycle of western Homo sapiens: youth and middle age. It occurred to me, as it does too frequently, that in two and a half years I’ll be forty.

But I soldiered on and concentrated on keeping my elbows bent (so that my hands wouldn’t hurt) and pedaling circles (circles, circles) north past Larpenteur and the agriculture school and past an youngish, brown bunny who seemed not at all surprised to see me.

I rode north a mile or so along a golf course I’ve played many times (and a par 5, dogleg left that I’ve never played well) turned east (wind aided!) and traveled along bumpy County Road B to Victoria, where I turned south and rode amid a wooded residential stretch with wonderful and horrible rolling hills that I finished with a sprint, the fastest point of my ride. I arrived at last to the street where we live and made my way slowly west one block to where my wife was found, watering the flowers and preparing for a day at work where she will do more of the same.

I returned my bike to its station and checked my vital statistics:

Ride time: 43’05”
Distance: 10.17 miles
Average speed: 14.7 mph
Maximum speed: 30.0 mph
Total odometer: 178.6 miles

Upstairs in the kitchen, I made notes for the poem about acorns, having considered some ideas while I rode, and noticed (not for the first time) that the clouds had broken and that, at least since 5:18, there had not been a drop of rain in St. Paul.

lundi, août 08, 2005

Hello Again Hello/An Emotional Night

Forgive the Neil Diamond reference as the Title of this post.

I'm essentially apologizing for being gone so long. On Tuesday we hosted a VIP in our office which meant that Monday was spent preparing for the visit. On Wednesday, I left for a business trip and returned late on Friday. I meant to write this weekend, but fatherhood and its joyful obligations intervened (as well they should).

So much is on my mind right now. For example: I have reached the stunning conclusion that blogging is difficult. It is especially difficult to do it everyday. And it is especially difficult to do when life/work is busy. I am in awe of those who find a way to write something everyday.

I'm also thinking about foreign policy a lot these days and plan to write on it more. Faithful readers of this web log (if any there are) may note a focus on domestic issues. It's really not so imbalanced in my mind. I think about foreign affairs all the time.

But mainly, I want to talk about my trip to San Diego last week, and, in particular, the wonderful and provocative dinner I had with two friends who, for purposes of this post, I will call Kevin and Dana.

A few months earlier, Kevin and Dana were kind enough to host me for dinner in their beautiful home in the Point Loma section of San Diego. Kevin works for one of our sister companies, and he and I work on a project together. I thought of him as a good colleague.

As a business traveler, my typical routine is go to a destination, eat well, but stay close to my hotel. I also tend to tuck in early or spend most of my free time in my hotel room working or watching ESPN.

Sometimes, wearing only my underwear, I'll get drunk on whiskey and punch the mirror in my room. Then I usually smear my blood on my face and cry myself to sleep. Thinking of the horrors, the horrors.

[closed circuit to my mother-in-law: that's a reference to the hit film Apocalypse Now - the whole last preceding paragraph is a joke - well except this one time in Muncie.]

So, for me, a home cooked meal was a refreshing and a welcomed change of pace.

During that first dinner, I got to know Kevin as a friend, and also got to meet Dana, his amazing wife, who is an absolutely wonderful person - top 5 % worldwide.

On this visit, we went out to dinner right on the water (guh-or-geous - gorgeous). But first, we stopped at Kevin and Dana's house to pick up some non-work clothes for Dana to wear. We ended up forgetting the clothes.

Long story longer, Dana is an artist, and she had three wonderful paintings that she's completed since last I saw her (well four - the fourth piece was a painting of her grandmother that absolutely slayed me). I hope anonymity will allow me to say that the three paintings were a depiction of her miscarriage. They were amazing and honest and technically precise and I had a very emotional response to them. I'm still thinking about them, and they still inspire strong feelings - a testament (methinks) to the power of her expression.

But also, my reaction is so strong because Mrs. Duf and I have had our own sad history with miscarriages.

I was able to talk to Dana, the artist, about the work and get all the insights into what she intended to express and her process and (not quite as much but also) her story. I shared our/my story too, and it was a powerful and amazing night.

During that night, I think for the first time, I accepted that we probably won't have another child. Long ago I accepted it intellectually, but I accepted it emotionally in San Diego, at the edge of the water, listening to Dana tell her story and describe her artistic process...sharing tiny bits of my story and part of my artistic process too.

I leave it all open to the possibility of a miracle, but I guess I'm kind of hoping against it. The risk is too great for my wife - and it is great for me as well. The prudent course is for us to avoid even the possibility of a pregnancy. And if we do that, well...then we're not really open to a miracle, now are we? (Or perhaps we're open to a really, really grand miracle).

I realized that in San Diego.

But most of all, I realized (as I often do - I'm lucky in that way) that I'm so fortunate, so blessed, and so rich already. To seek more is to betray my present contentment and my current happiness. I realized that it would be great to have another child, but that...well, I'm completely okay that we probably won't. Now my daughter on the other hand...

[Closed circuit to bike town...have fun at Fringe on Thursday...and good luck]