28 February 2006

Olympic recap...

Here are my top five memories from the Torino games....
1. Joey Cheek and his philantropic donation to Right to Play
2. The Flying Tomato and how happy he was after he won and his family was there to see it
3. Curling….i got so bored, I started to enjoy it and couldn't turn it off.
4. Cross-country skiing....the men's relay and also the 50k.
5. The piece on Eugenio Monti, the champion sportsman.

Internet!.....I miss you!!!!

Not only was I without internet diversions, but my iPod batteries died at 2:12 in the afternoon, leaving me to trudge forward on my own through the last couple hours of my day.
I am really missing blogging! Not just posting stories, because, really, very little of what I post is world-class writing or ground-breaking personal revelations, but mainly the combing of other websites and news services for interesting tidbits to share. And I miss reading other people's blogs. After some thought, I have decided that it is the addition of classes that has really caused the snare. I did usually blog at work, mainly because I could and it freed up time in other parts of my day. But when I was in Chicago, I was on the go all day and rarely had an extended time of more than 5 minutes in front of a computer. The difference was, when I came home, I had no other responsibilities to restrain me from spending my evening blogging. Hopefully after I get done with these papers and tests that I have scheduled in the next ten days, my evenings will open up a bit. Plus I do have spring break coming up, so a week with no class will definitely be appreciated.

Annual review...

In my annual performance review, I not only found out that I got a decent (5%) raise but also that my manager is going to be taking a new position within the company. This is both good and bad. Her overall vision and knowledge leaves quite a bit to be desired. But she is very flexible in regards to working from home, working a compressed work week, internet usage, etc. I just have to hope that whoever we have to report to next will take a similar view, but will possess a wider and more comprehensive body of knowledge.

Dick Button...

What an aptly-named, crusty heckler! While watching the Olympic figure skating we have been subjected to his cutting, abrasive and relentless commentary. Stoppable compared him to Simon Cowell and pointed out, "dude, this isn't American Idol." Kid gloves?….Dick's never heard of them. If he wasn't impressed by your connection to your music (and chances are that he won't be), he won't pause a blink before letting the millions of viewers know that your performance left him unmoved and unimpressed. I don't know how many times he mentioned, "skating to the music, instead of just skating with music behind them." The lady commentator used an analogy that I found much more artistic and visual, "other skaters skate to "Romeo + Juliet", but Sasha is Juliet." Dick also seemed to have a special focus for his arsenal when it came to the quality of spirals, whether it was a lay-back, or a camel. He was always quick to strike down the skater's effort, "oh, that's not a really a true lay-back." or "oh, that wasn't a very good camel."
Other than that, I enjoyed the women's competition. I was happy that Sasha and Irena both got medals. I liked Sasha's comments in her interview later, as the reporter (of course) tried to focus on her falls, her injury and the pressure on her to win gold. Sasha seemed fine with her performance, of course she would've liked to skate a clean program, but he accepted her spills and she was most proud of how she got it back together to skate a great remaining portion and fight her way onto the medal podium.
Oh, and I read in People magazine, that a reporter had asked Sasha about the crush expressed by the Flying Tomato. She said she had never been snowboarding before but would love to try it sometime. She said, "I'm sure I'll see Sean around." Olympic Village romance! Yeah! I've dreamed of that ever since Lillehammer and dreaming of taking Oksana Baiul to my prom. (That was before the drunk driving accident and detox.)

BORSCHT! ! ! !

I just want to say a thanks you and a congratulations to Stoppable on the wonderful borscht he provided to all interested parties. Its flavor was distinctive and memorable. Thanks for sharing your wonderful creation. And the youghurt garnish was the perfect contrasting touch. Well enjoyed, spasibo! (russian for thank you)

Oscar advice...

Here is Roger Ebert's insight on the Oscar race, his predictions, and his preferences. I'm getting pumped up for Sunday!!!!

Berghoff's bids farewell...

To provide some closure for those Berghoff lovers, here is the ad they ran in today's Chicago Tribune. Your weiner schnitzel will be missed. By Emily in particular.

22 February 2006

Like James Frey going thru withdrawal.....except real!

My manager brought each of the three people in our department in to talk about internet usage yesterday. Apparently someone has complained to HR about non-work related web sightings. (Who would that have been?!) Anyways, my manager is pretty cool about that kind of stuff. She said she really doesn't care as long as work gets done, but since HR has been notified they will probably run a report on our history or something so we should just stay completely off the internet for awhile. That makes sense and I agree with it, but NO INTERNET?!?!?!
Today was the first day with no access. I feel ignorant, disconnected and out of touch with out my constant stream of news from multiple sources. And the confiscation of my means of communication with the outside world has left me wondering if people are worried about me and if things are happening that I should know about!
I do have to concede that I got an obscene amount of work completed today and nearly all of my (work) emails replied to, deleted or filed. And, all is not lost, as I have conived a way to allow me to continue to compose my thoughts on work time. I simply type the text into a Word or Excel document and then save it to my thumb-drive and take it home and copy and paste it into my blog. Whew! .
So stick with us as we experience a blogging slowdown.

21 February 2006

this is an audio post - click to play

20 February 2006

Medal Count Statistics

I was telling Stoppable the other day that I sometimes don't want the American athletes to win the medal because I feel like we always win so many medals. I want other countries to win their share too.
This got me thinking about medal counts and then about how a medal count per capita would look. Some internet research quickly showed I'm not the only one wondering. Heck, even Rick Steves has looked into it! This website has a great detailed ranking of countries and their medal hauls since 1948. He evens weights different years to reflect the number of medals awarded. Plus he uses flags and I like flags.
Perhaps a more accurate, or maybe just more interesting statistic would be a medal count per GDP. Although, I would prefer to see medal count by amount spent on Olympic budget. That would be cool.

New nosh spot at the Food Court

When I arrived at my standard lunch desitination, Pablo's, I was greeted by a locked door and sign stating that it was closed due to family emergency for today and tomorrow. It is always frustrating and disappointing to walk the distance there, all the while thinking about how good that burrito will be, only to be turned away.
More than a little miffed, and uncertain about where to go to appease my hollow stomach, I headed to the food court to find something. I remembered reading that the Mid-Town Art Cafe had recently opened a location in the food court. I had wanted to try that place for quite a while and never succeeded in making it there, now was my chance. I headed there and as I mulled the menu options, the man behind the counter drew my attention to the blackboard with today's special. Chicken panini w/ choice of side & a drink. $6. "Looks good to me." The Russian potato salad emerged victorious from its duel with Tomato Basil soup to be my chosen side dish.
After a couple minutes I was presented with a wonderful panini, which was not crunchy but it's homemade bread had been lightly grilled and in between the bread and under a melting thin blanket of a strong white cheese was nestled large chunks of grilled chicken breast. Very nice and just the right size of portion, especially when paired with the Russian mountain next to it. The potato salad was delic. Over-sized chunks of soft potato and carrot, along with egg, peas, pickle and a light mayo/mustard based dressing made it quite a treat. The carrots were the piece de resistance something I don't think I've had before in potato salad, and were great.
Poor pop selection (Pepsi products) was the only negative to this food outing.

18 February 2006

The biggest money makers in soccer

I found this article from ESPN's Soccernet pretty interesting. I have always found the business side of sports to be full of interesting stuff. It looks at how "Until now conventional wisdom had it that success breeds success; which in turn, at the risk of getting a touch philosophical, breeds success..." Translated, winning games = more $$$ coming in which then = winning more games. Some of the soccer specific references may not interest you all but the premise that is explained is pretty interesting. Basically, Real Madrid is proving that a team can be champions in sales and marketing while not being champions on the pitch. They consistently buy the flashiest, most popular and marketable players and continue to expand their global following. Meanwhile, teams like Chelsea, Barcelona, and AC Milan have been winning the Champions League.
Sports have all became so intertwined with money and finances. If you don't have money, but are able to develop some good players, they will lured away from your team by bigger clubs that can pay more. If you have money, but don't have good players, you can buy them. But if you spend too much and can not produce the wins/income, your gamble will end with your club in bankruptcy, which is not uncommon in football.
It seems like a team's/club's success depends just as much on selling shirts, getting lucrative television rights contracts, global marketing partnerships, sponsorships (just look on the front of every football team's jersey!), selling tickets, winning enough games to qualify for the big-payout Champions League games.
If you would like to view the report you can go to Deloitte's website and download the full 28 pages. It does require registration though. Or check out it here on the Washington Post.

17 February 2006

What song was #1...

On the day you were born...
If You Leave Me Now - Chicago

On the day you turned 18...
I'll Make Love to You - Boyz II Men

Can't say that I'm a big fan of either song. I don't know the first one.Check out the link and add yours in comments.

15 February 2006

Fun time waster for this afternoon...

MyHeritage.com

You upload pictures of yourself (or anyone) and it produces lists of famous people that look similarly. It is in Beta testing so it is pretty random (Lawrence Fishburne, Martina Hingis), but still fun. I did three pictures and here are my results. (I am only listing those greater than 45% similar.)

Picture 1 - Rajiv Gahndi 68%, Martina Hingis (61%), Lou Reed (54%), Benicio del Toro (52%), Nadia Comenici (49%), Randy Newman (49%), Carl Jung (48%), John D. Rockefeller (48%), Natalie Wood (48%), Cliff Burton (47%).

Picture 2 - Orlando Bloom (61%), Jeff Goldblum (57%), Renee Zellweger (49%), Lawrence Fishburne (47%), Sam Cooke (44%)

Picture 3 - Christian Slater (50%), Colin Farrell (45%)

Bode DQ'd

These articles on MSNBC.com, one from an AP writer, just made me shake my head. Who is this guy to say that Bode is wasting a world of talent. By what standards is he judging his use of talent? I really did not care for these articles. If you check out Bode's accomplishments, I think he has been pretty successful. The guy is a World Champion! The article even later states, "The recklessness that makes him the most dangerous skier on the planet is the same thing that makes Miller his own worst enemy. The genius that enabled him to survive one close call after another is the same thing that lures him out onto the edge again and again." Yes! Exactly, so what is so difficult to understand. His skiing style is loose, extreme, and pushing the envelope. That is how he wins. And, yes, that is why he loses. How can that be classified as wasting talent? Because he doesn't follow the same path as the typical skier? Now that he had a slow run in the downhill and missed a gate (which are coming at you every 0.6 seconds as you are going 45 mph) by an inch or less (did you see the footage? the flag hit the wrong side of the tip of his ski!), you are going to judge him a waste of talent? He didn't win the truckload of gold medals that we wanted him to, so let's say he's a waste and condemn his lifestyle. "It was all the beers in all the months leading up to the Olympics and all the years of living his life as recklessly as he skis his races." Gimme a break.
I am not defending or judging Bode's off-slope actions or comments, but I think these articles are out of line.

Best in Show

Congrats to Rufus and his handler Kathy.
But, after watching that movie, it is all I can think of whenever I see or hear something about the Westminster show.
What a spectacle it must be. I love watching it on TV.

"No, that's a bear in a, in a bee costume!"

True Olympian

You can tell a lot about someone from how those close to them talk about them. Joey Cheek's teammate's comments sound like they are right on. I saw Cheek on the medal stand last night, he was very happy and emotional. Bob Costas shared the skater's plans for the medal award from the USOC and gave the name of the organization and you could tell he was pleased. Everyone likes to see humanitarian action like that, especially when done by a normal guy. The LA Times has 2 articles on it, both are good. But the best read is just to read the transcript of his post-race interview with the press. I like that he is asking his sponsors to match his donation. I looked around a bit and couldn't find any news release from Nike or Oakley yet about their plans to match. And the part about applying for colleges is funny. I wonder if Harvard is regretting that rejection letter now!
So check out the Right to Play website. Hey, Martina Hingis is a team member!

12 February 2006

The Flying Tomato...

I've found my first special hero of the Torino Games...
"Il Pomodoro Volante"
Shaun White...yes, he was the favorite for gold coming in to the games, but he needed an excellent run to make the finals, then he took care of business. The little bio piece NBC ran on him was very cool, and highlighted the importance of his family in his development as a skateboarder/snowboarder.
He was assured the gold just as he was getting ready to do his second and final run and he had his goggles & helmet on so you couldn't see his face, but he grabbed his head and dropped to his knees when he heard it. And after throwing a fun-filled, care-free second run, the interview at the end epitomized why I LOVE the Olympics. He was so happy to have won a gold medal. His interview was true, heart-felt and great. "I told myself I wasn't gonna get all teary, but...seeing family...."
NBC had him in the studio later and he spoke with Bob Costas. Bob brought it up that Shawn had apparently said that he wanted to win a medal to help him with the ladies and that he had made some comments to his buddies that maybe he could meet Sasha Cohen, who we both have an attraction for. Shawn was embarrased, but had a laugh and said, hey it can't hurt, maybe she digs gold medals. He seemed like a nice guy with a good supportive family and I was happy to see him succeed. And I like how he says they are going to celebrate, "We are going to get crazy. We're gonna party with the family."

"In the line of fire..."

Cheney shoots partner. It really is the wild west down there in Texas (and in the White House.)
Conspiracy theorists unite! I say this was a message sent loud and clear from the VP.

I have a personal rule to never go hunting with anyone famous. (In addition to my other rule to never go hunting)

09 February 2006

Olympic flag-bearer

Here is a short bio on the flag-bearer for the United States.
And here is one on the flag-bearer for Ireland. The Opening ceremonies are tomorrow night at 7 pm.
Although I prefer the summer games, I am a fan of all Olympics. The first ones I remember are the 1984 games in Los Angeles. I was 8. Laying on the floor at the old farm house, watching the opening ceremonies. Carl Lewis. Florence Griffith-Joyner. Mary Lou Retton. That planted my deep fondness for the Olympics.
Bring on the Games!

08 February 2006

Colbert Report

I am probably behind the times here, but I am totally and completely hooked on the Colbert Report. I enjoy it more than the Daily Show! It always sends me to bed with a smile.
There are so many funny parts! I love 'The WORD' in particular. I never saw him when he was on the Daily Show, but I'm loving it now!

07 February 2006

McCain unloads on Obama

Heard about this last night on the news. Barack Obama had met with John McCain about reform on lobbying & ethics. McCain thought Obama had communicated that he would like to work on McCain's bipartisan "task force" on that matter. Obama stated in a public letter on Feb 2, that he would be working with the Democrats on getting thier Honest Leadership Act bill passed. McCain seems to feel there was some double-talk going on and proceeded to flip his lid. Check out the Sun-Times story here, or a less formal article in the Chicagoist.
Read the full letters here on Obama's website.

U.S. Budget

I really turns my stomach to even read the budget. What a erroneous, misguided, disappointing, predictable, and irresponsible financial plan. Can we please get someone with some financial responsibility to lead our country?
We don't give any worries to the size of the deficit. They want to make the tax cuts enacted in '01 and '03 permanent. I don't pretend to be a budgetary expert but Table S-7 looks like it shows the permanent tax cuts would result in ~$1.5 trillion dollars of lost revenue through 2016. And we will continue to pour billions into a war on terror in the Middle East where a victory seems doubtful and the stable democracy Bush wants so dearly seems nearly as unlikely.
If you look at Tables S-3 and S-4, which show discretionary funding by major agency and by Appropriations Committee. Who gets the big increases? Defense, of course, 24%, yee-haww! Giddy-up, cowboy! Veterans Affairs, Military Quality of Life, 7.3%, Foreign Operations, 3%. On Table S-4, those are the only committees with more than 1% growth. Who are the big losers? Well of course, it is education! And look at Table S-3. The TOTAL requested by the 2007 budget for discretionary funding by major agency is $870 billion. Just over half of that is for Defense ($439B). The next largest agency...Health & Human Services with $67B. Incredible.
Or let's look at the converse, who is not doing their part in money-saving reforms? Table S-6 shows reforms resulting in savings. Which area has the least? Well, it was the Treasury, but who has the second-least? You guessed it, Defense. What reason do they have to come up with reform and savings when the President keeps increasing their funding?
I'll stop now before I get out of hand...

Here are some links to check out.
Tables from the 2007 Proposed Budget.
Main page for 2007 Proposed Budget.
The Dept of Education budget info

5 blade razors!

I found this article completely hilarious and nearly had a couple laughing outbursts here at work. It is from The Onion and is a piece about the thought process by management at Gillette as they developed the new razor with five blades that debuted during the Super Bowl.
My favorite line "put a couple in the handle if you have to."

04 February 2006

Lance and Crow split

They called off the engagement.

Looptopia!!!

I think this sounds like a great time. I'm IN, who's with me?

02 February 2006

Groundhog Day

I am not a fan of the groundhog, his day or his role is predicting the weather. I never have been. I find it completely stupid. Why would we not expect another six weeks of winter at the start of February? Check out this website, what a bunch of whack-jobs!
When I read today that he had seen his shadow, my first thought was, "He always sees his shadow!" So I decided to get some stats on that. Phil has seen his shadow the last seven years running! And that isn't even close to the most pessimistic stretch as I looked further back. From 1951-1969 he delivered 19 'shadow' verdicts and from 1903-1933 it was 31 in a row! In total, he has foretold an early spring 13 times in the 108 recorded judgements.
Why do we listen to this cruel rodent?

01 February 2006

Greenspan

I've started watching the Daily Show and the Colbert Report the last few nights and have been enjoying them. Last night Jon Stewart did a bunch of stuff on Alan Greenspan since it was his last day at the Fed after 19 years. The best was at the end, they did a 'highlight reel' of Greenspan moments and put it to the music of "One Shining Moment". I was laughing out loud. Great stuff.

Onions!

8:57 AM and the co-worker in the cube next to me has incredibly bad pungent B.O. :( It is a normal occurance with her, but this early in the day?! Good thing I have a fan at my desk.
Sorry, I just had to share.

Coffeshop studies

I have gone to the local coffeeshop the last couple nights, to do some studying and try some of their teas. While I was there, I found out what a great place coffeeshops are for observing human behavior and enjoying some voyeuristic/eavesdropping fun. Monday night I watched a group of six adults, ranging from upper 20's to upper 40's engaged in a spirited (and loud) game of UNO. And not just normal UNO, UNO Attack!, which if you are unfamiliar is when you use the battery-operated card shooter to deliver a surprise number of cards (along with much beeping and noise). It was definitely a weekly event for this group and I found it odd and interesting to watch.
Last night I was back and as I was studying, a young mother and father came in with their five year old daughter. What at first appeared to just be a normal stop for an evening coffee quickly showed itself to be a thought-out & planned interrogation. For at least thirty minutes the mother sought to get some real answers from the girl, in regards to her recent behavior. The in-home babysitter, Margaret, had been put through the ringer by the young miss, including some punching, kicking, hitting, etc. The mother was not happy and informed her daughter that Margaret had cried the last few days after watching her. None of this had much of an effect on the girl. She was wound up tighter than a new spring and was happily rabbit-hopping from her dad's lap to the fireplace, off the ledge, onto a chair, etc. Undaunted, the mother continued and laid down the boom. Margaret would not be coming any more if the behavior continued. Is that what she wanted? What does she want to do? Finally, the girl says that she would rather be in school all day. Mom tries to talk about it more, but the girl has said her one sentence for the night and is ignoring her again. The mom takes her best "OK, this is what you want, I hope you like it" tone and says that it will take a few days but she will get her in all day school. With that, they left.
I love getting a peak into other people's lives.
Oh, and about the teas.....Both were herbals. Wu Wei - VERY good. Red Spice - Not good. Too syrupy and heavy flavored.