Wednesday, March 29, 2006


The "Four Things" List

Suzi Meehle tagged me with this email, so I thought I'd share it here:

I'm not really tagging all y'all, just sharing…

Four jobs you have had in your life:
1. Busboy at Mr. C's
2. Deli-man at Bruno's Grocery Store
3. Salesman at Castner Knots
4. Software Developer at Nichols Research Corp

Four Movies you would watch over and over (in no particular order):
1. The Sixth Sense
2. The Christmas Story
3. Raising Arizona
4. Animal House

Four Places you have lived:
1. Auburn, WA
2. Barnegat, NJ
3. Huntsville, AL
4. Hermitage, TN

Four TV shows you love to watch:
1. My Name is Earl
2. Most Extreme Challenge (on Spike TV)
3. Monster Machines
4. House

Four Places You want to visit 'before you die:
1. Ireland
2. Japan
3. Costa Rica
4. Hawaii

Four of your favorite books:
1. "Guns, Germs, and Steel" by Jared Diamond
2. "The Botany of Desire" by James Polland
3. "The Name of the Rose" by Umberto Eco
4. "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" by J.K. Rowling

Four places you have been on vacation: 1. Jamaica
2. Chicago
3. Sanibel Island
4. San Diego

Four websites I visit daily:

Four of my favorite foods:
1. Italian, especially good ol' spaghetti with marinara sauce
2. TexMex
3. Chiaroscuro – Brazilian/Argentine bar-b-que
4. Ice Cream

Four places I would rather be right now (in no particular order):
1. a pool in a warm sunny place
2. the Playboy mansion
3. in the yard planting flowers
4. at the batting cages

Four friends I am tagging that I think will respond.....
1. Steve
2. Kelly
3. Lisa
4. Jenn

It wasn't on the list, but here's a picture of one of my four favorite places that I've ever visited. In case you were wondering, it's Dubrovnik in Croatia.



Tuesday, March 28, 2006


Star Wars vs Star Trek

It funny how, at one time, I loved both the Star Wars movies and the Star Trek TV shows. But my how times have changed.

I officially hate all three "young Anakin" Star Wars movies which has in turn caused by opinion to go down on Star Wars overall. (As an aside, Natalie Portman is on my hottie list. So I'd watch the movies again just to see her. BUT I still don't like 'em.) I still love Episode IV - the original Star Wars movie. And I also like "The Empire Strikes Back" quite a lot. Even "Return of the Jedi" is pretty good, if you remove the Ewoks and bar-b-que them on a spit over open flame.

Now contrast this attitude with the Star Trek TV shows. I really enjoyed the original Star Trek and grew to really like Star Trek:The Next Generation after about three seasons. But after that, the new series just got wimpier and wussier. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was so-so. I enjoyed many of the episodes, but those always centered around someone outside of the human "Federation" like those big-eared Ferengi or the drug-addicted Gem-Hadare. But overall, I didn't like it that much. Then came Star Trek: Voyager. Sucked! And finally, there was that awful Star Trek show supposedly set before the Federation was established. That sucked big donkeys!

I think the thing that killed Star Trek for me was that everyone was so nice to each other. Now one of Gene Rodenberry's themes of Star Trek was that eventually humans would get over their urge to kill each other and would finally work out all of their problems. But let's be honest with ourselves here - that's what makes good drama. Without the conflict, ya got no story!

So anyway that long preamble comes before I recommend that you take a couple minutes and enjoy this Star Wars vs Star Trek mashup video. It's no wonder to me why YouTube is one of the most popular new websites to come along in a long time! Check it out:



Thursday, March 23, 2006


'Tis a pretty place

Well, I'm back at Microsoft again. I come to the Microsoft campus two to four times every year it seems. And this year will be no different. In fact, I already know that I'll be back here in November later this year.

The Microsoft campus is both impressive and, at the same time, unassuming. On the one hand, the buildings are very pretty. They don't build their buildings any taller than the treeline. So most buildings are no more than 4 floors high. An interesting cultural thing that dictates a lot about how they construct their campus of buildings is that every employee gets a real office - no cubes (unless you're a contractor). They're running short on room for all of their employees. So they recently lifted the 4 floors rule, though they haven't built any really tall buildings yet.

Here's a picture of the building across the street from where I was at today:

The buildings are also quite impressive, especially on the inside. They're all very nicely appointed. Most of the employees have 2 or even 3 PCs, if they're developers. Almost every building has one or more nice snack and drink areas with fully stocked deli-style refridgerators full of sodas, juices, milk, and chocolate milk. They also are equiped with very nice coffee (it's Seattle after all!), teas, cocoa, etc.

Another things that's really neat about the bigger buildings is that the bottom floor always has a really nicely furnished game rool. The one in Building 35, the SQL Server building, has pool tables, dart boards, ping pong tables, old arcade game consoles, pinball machines, the works! If you're interested, you can watch a video of my buddy, Euan Garden, giving a tour and talking to some of the SQL Server team members.

You also sometimes see funny or unusual things in the various buildings that were put there in support of some product launch or another. The picture below is of a complete driving console that was shipped out with the release of the XBox 360 launch:

Well, I've been gone for three nights and I really miss my kids - A LOT! I can't wait to get on that plane and see them tomorrow.




What kind of accent do you have?

I got this idea from my buddy, Steve. You can read his blog by clicking on the link for "Jethro's Journal of Madness". Steve has been one of my bestest friends since way back in the 5th grade at Weatherly Elementary School. Somehow, he managed to like be despite the fact that I was a jerk. Thanks Steve!

Ok - so I took the test and here are the results for me. This sounds about right to me.

Your Linguistic Profile:

55% General American English

35% Dixie

5% Midwestern

5% Yankee

0% Upper Midwestern

What Kind of American English Do You Speak?

Why don't you give it a try and see how you come out?



Wednesday, March 22, 2006


Open-air markets

I love open air markets. I love open air markets in Europe most of all. I've decided that I'm going to go to more of them. In fact, I'm going to go to the biggest and most bustling open air markets in every Euro city I visit. One thing that you notice in European open air markets is that the vendors take placement and color very seriously. The market booths are really much prettier than what you'd find at the Farmer's Market back in the States.

I was fortunate enough to spend some time in the St Joseph Mercad in Barcelona - and it's just way too much fun. The little girls had put in an order for some pistacios. So here's a picture of me "going nuts".

There were lots of other neat things to see and investigate. The fruit stands were colorful and symmetric with their stacks of oranges, clementines, figs, apricots, and apples.

The olive vendors had more sizes, shapes, and colors of olives than I ever knew existed. They were grown and flown in from all over Spain and, in fact, all over the Mediterrainean. Their flavors ran the gamut from tart & tangy to sweet to bitter.

The cured meat stalls had more kinds and types of meat than you'd ever expect. In the States, we have got lots of chicken, turkey, pork, and beef. But they also have things like goat & kid, mutton & lamb, rabbit, and then varieties of smoked meats that are either impossible to find or impossibly expensive.

Of course, there were also plenty of wide-open, full-service butcher shops in the Mercad. Whenever you have butchers at work, you've got a chance to see the entire animal. In the USA, we tend to forget that meat comes from an animal - that an animal actually has to die to become our meal.

You don't forget about those things in an open-air market. Not only are plenty of animals sold with the heads still attached, but you also get to see (and buy) all the nasty parts that sort'a disappear (probably into hotdogs and bologna) in the USA.

Sing with me now! "Tongues and stomachs and brains, oh my! Tongues and stomachs and brains, oh my!"

Europeans also tend to shop much more frequently, say, every other day, and to buy a lot LESS stuff when they go shopping. Costco is not a household word here. And because so many of them actually walk from their apartments to the Mercad, the bring their own grocery carts that look a lot like pullman luggage. They're really cute and came in a multitude of colors and patterns, but only one size!

Well - I tried to post the pic of the grocery carts around 5 or 6 ties and it died each time. So I'm hangin' it up and callin' it a night.



Monday, March 20, 2006


'Membrance Monday - March 21, 2006

It's been a long time since I've done a Remembrance Monday. So it's time to do another one.

I'm on another fricken business trip, this time to Seattle, for meetings with the big-M. (Big-M is a euphemism for the world's largest software company, headquartered in the Pacific Northwest.) Now don't get me wrong, I like the Big-M and like trips up here. But I'm just worn out from too much travel. On top of the fatigue and travel, I'm suffering from a nasty case of poison ivy. Oh joy!

So anyway, I'd like to talk about a few things I'm thankful for today.

1. I'm thankful for an incredible King Salmon dinner I had at McCormick & Schmick's in Bellevue, WA this evening. It was de-vine!

2. I'm thankful for my big beautiful backyard which brings me so much pleasure. The kids didn't like our new place quite so much as the old when we first moved in. But they really are growing to love the creek. And Dylan and Emily have made two really cute vine swings in the backyard that everybody loves.

3. I'm incredibly thankful for my son, Dylan. He's the mud-master lately. He made the biggest vine swing in the backyard and also the launch stand. It is such a blast!

4. I'm incredibly thankful for my girls: Emily, Anna Lynn, and Katie Jo. They're so much fun and such a joy to me. They're always comforting and sweet. And Emily in particular is such a big help around the house so much.

Well, those are my main joys in life right now.

More in a day or two....


Friday, March 17, 2006


The Lyttle Foxes

I had a chance to help my friends from my church at Grace United Methodist with their new and improved physical therapy clinic. The picture at left is of Sharon Lyttle (of the Lyttle Fox's Clinic) and Tim Cochran, another friend from church who was also helping that day.

I don't have a picture of Niki Fox, the other partner in the clinic. Niki was there in the morning and had to leave just as I was arriving. But it was good to see her and to let her know that we were thinking about her.

A pretty large number of people came by that weekend to help Niki and Sharon get set up in their new space. Most of us spent time painting. I, personally, didn't make too big of a dent in their list of things to do. But I did paint some of the harder to reach areas where the wall and ceiling come together.

Their old offices had grown too small and, with their growing business, they needed more room and the ability to see more clients at a time. I very happy for them that their business is growing and prospering. I also really like the bright pretty colors of their new space.

I wish I could've done more to help out. But there's never enough time in the day to get my own stuff done, let alone helping your friends. So I'm just glad I could be there at all.

You know, I think it's grown a little bit outside of the "normal" American attitude to ask for help. But I believe that when you do, both the helper and the person being helped are bettered by it. It builds positive relationships and a sense of community. And in our very disconnected world, it's great to feel a sense of connection with other people who have the same values you do.

That's all for now.


Wednesday, March 08, 2006


An Amazing Website

As the father of three daughters, I constantly worry about the threat posed by other human "predators". The statistics aren't good. Something like 20-25% of women in the USA will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. That number terrifies me because, if true, it virtually assures that one of my girls will come under assault at some point.

So this website is just amazing. Enter your address, city, state and zip code and a map will appear that will show you if & where there are registered sex offenders living near you. There is a color-coded legend that shows you what type of offender they are. What's really creepy is if you click on a colored square, it will pull up the person's mug shot, name, offense and where they live! You can also sign up to be alerted as to when a sex offender moves near you. Good to know!


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