21
August
2014
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Today’s winning spam message:

toilet-paper-coupons

Clever copy: “Unroll Savings”… awesome! And hey, puppies!

21
August
2014
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Last night we had a Zing outing to the Rockies game. We started out with dinner at the Viewhouse, which is across the street from Coors Field and has a really cool rooftop area. The weather was beautiful, so it was fun to enjoy a summer evening eating and then head over to the game.

The Rockies pretty much suck this year, and I didn’t even know anyone on the roster (I guess several of the more well-known players are injured now). We got off to a rough start and fell behind 2-1 in the first few innings, but then in the sixth one of their new players, Matt McBride, stepped up to the plate. He’d been called up from the minors the day before and it was his fourth Major League at-bat. With a mighty swing, he sent a grand slam home run into the left field bleachers. Wow, that’s gotta make you feel pretty good.

A bit of rain gave us a beautiful double rainbow:

rockies-1
Double rainbow!

Here are a few of us watching the game intently while munching on some peanuts– and I guess Mike was checking whether it was past his bedtime. According to Therese, it’s not officially summer until you’ve been to a baseball game, and it’s not a baseball game unless you’ve bought peanuts from a vendor standing on the street corner outside the park.

rockies-2

Another great Zing activity. Thanks, guys.

19
August
2014
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Wow, here’s today’s front page from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, reporting on the civil unrest in Ferguson:

militarized-cops

Crazy. These are policemen facing a crowd at a Quiktrip convenience store, but it looks like a massive military operation. Does anyone still doubt police forces these days are over-zealous and over-equipped with military hardware?

18
August
2014
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So today Alex and Kyra both went out on their first dates. They had a good time watching a movie, bowling, eating pizza, and getting slushies at Sonic.

Nineteen years ago today, Laralee and I went out on our first date.

To Arby’s.

laralee-longago

She’s just as awesome as she was nineteen years ago. Maybe even more awesome.

16
August
2014
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Today was the much-anticipated Grass Roots Ultimate summer league tournament. All summer we’ve been playing double-headers every week, leading up to the tourney, so this was a big deal. Just like all major sports, the regular season is all about positioning for the final games.

Well, we finished in third place during the regular season, which is actually the most desirable spot in a fourteen-team pool. The top two seeds, both 15-3-1, skipped the first round. We were 15-4-0, so we were definitely contenders. We had a first-round game against the lowest-ranked team. It was actually kind of sad; we beat them handily 13-1 and the only reason they scored the one is because we were playing a lazy defense against them. That was pretty much how their entire season had gone, which can be pretty frustrating as a team.

Second round was definitely a tougher game, but we ran up the scoreboard early in the first half and expanded our lead in the second half to finish at time with a 12-6 win.

The third round was against the second-place team, who had barely beat us 8-7 during the regular season. They made a few questionable calls and tempers flared a bit on both sides. One thing I really enjoy about the Boulder ultimate league is the spirit of the game and how most of the players are there to have fun, not to win at all costs. So we generally just redid a questionable play, and did our best to shake it off. We took a commanding lead in the second half and finished 11-7.

Then came the finals. The top-seeded team had been bumped out in the semifinals, so we were playing a strong team coming off an upset victory. They were pumped. In a really cool move, the opposing captain suggested we start the game with a joint cheer, so we all whooped and hollered and hit the field. Both of our teams had played (and won) three hour-plus games, so we were starting to get tired. It didn’t help that it was almost 90 degrees and the sun was beating down.

We traded points, with a few of the points turning into grueling back-and-forth contests as the wind picked up a bit. At half we were in good position, leading 7-3. They came out strong and picked up a few points, but their captain (one of their best players) twisted his knee badly and had to sit. They were also missing another strong player. We, on the other hand, had almost our entire team (a couple players were out of town) and played good, solid ultimate all day.

The final game is always extra fun because many of the other teams stay to watch, so the sidelines are packed with people shouting and heckling. A bunch of the women were chanting “take off your shirt!” to one of the well-built guys on the other team. There were also a lot of calls for hammer throws– always a crowd pleaser. I threw a long hammer on the last point, hoping for the score, but it ended up just outside the endzone and the receiver then made a light toss to one of our cutters and we won the game 13-7.

In ten years as a captain, I’ve never won the tournament. This was a huge day, and a ton of fun. I really enjoyed this season, and the strong players we had. We also had a really good time together, finishing with one of the top spirit scores in the league as well as the most points scored in all. Interestingly enough, on average we were also the oldest team and the tallest team. Tall and experienced: a great combination.

Here are a few pictures from today’s games.

First, the team photo before we started. Everyone is fresh, happy, and not at all sweaty:
d-tour-01

Raj tosses a nice backhand past his defender:
d-tour-02

Here’s an amazing catch by Tessa, who left her feet and landed right at the back corner of the endzone:
d-tour-03

This guy isn’t on our team, but it was an awesome catch.
d-tour-04

Writing a cheer for the opposing team is a very important part of the league. Here Brenda (the cheer master) writes while Peter and Tessa look up the words to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”. Yes, it was an amazing cheer to that tune.
d-tour-05

Cameron does some kind of monkey leap to catch a point in the endzone:
d-tour-06

Here’s Tessa with a tough mark on Barb:
d-tour-07

And here we are after our victory, holding our awards. Yep, that’s right: we won flip-flops with the GRU logo on them. I’ve won the championship three times in fifteen years, and this is the second time I won footwear. Don’t they realize I’m Shoeless Jeff?
d-tour-08

It was a great time and a great season. I’m looking forward to the fall season, which will be in Longmont under the lights. And I’m running the league. We’ll see how that goes…

13
August
2014
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Yesterday Kyra was asked on her first date by a guy named Ricky. It’s been a long time coming… about a year ago, he approached me to get permission to ask out Kyra when she turned 16 (our kids aren’t allowed to date until 16). Ricky is 16 and a good kid, so of course I said it was fine. He’s literally been waiting almost a year for her sweet sixteen birthday, and all of his friends– as well as Kyra– were well aware of his little crush.

Now that the deed is done and he has a date secured, Ricky asked Alex about going out on a group date. Why? Because Alex can drive, of course. At first Alex was willing to just be the chauffeur for Ricky, Kyra, and another couple, but I told him he wasn’t going to be the “fifth wheel” and he needed to get a date.

Of course Alex is a year and a half older than Kyra and hasn’t ever been on a date, so this is a pretty big deal. He pretended to really think about all of the girls he could ask, but everyone knew all along that it would be Brianna.

alex-babes
(Brianna is the pretty blond on the left.)

There are now two other boys in the posse, and today one of them asked out Kelsey, Brianna’s younger sister (and the girl to the right of Alex in the photo). Apparently when he was over at her house talking to her about it, Brianna said she was still waiting for Alex to ask. It’s funny that even she knows it’s coming.

Anyway, tonight Alex was brainstorming about how to ask her out in a funny and creative way. I tossed out a few ideas– it’ll be fun to see what he decides to do. Even more fun is the fact that Alex and Kyra will be on the same group date…

5
August
2014
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Kyra and I competed to see who has the most chins.

jeff-kyra-chins

From what I can tell, she only has two. Amateur.

5
August
2014
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Zack got a shirt from Kyra for his birthday… it’s one of the crazy purple minions.

zack-minion

Somehow, it suits him.

31
July
2014
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Last week Zack was at Scout Camp. He and a dozen other boys went to a local lake and spent the week camping, hiking, and learning to wakeboard, kayak, and surf. He had a lot of fun. Heck, I was there for a day and I had a lot of fun too.

The day after he came home, he complained that his legs hurt. We peeked beneath his shorts and discovered that he had a ton of little bites. Laralee actually counted 46 of them, mostly on the back of his legs but also on the front. Here’s a photo of the back of his right thigh:

zack-chiggers

Yikes.

Strangely, they actually got worse over the next couple of days. They were very painful– so much that he couldn’t sit, and had to spend the day on his stomach reading books and such.

A bit of research indicated that they’re probably chigger bites. None of the other boys at camp had any problems like this, so the best we can figure is that Zack either had a bunch of them in his sleeping bag, or he sat down somewhere in the forest and managed to stir up a bunch of the little buggers.

It’s almost a week later and they’re finally subsiding, but it was pretty crazy for a while. Hopefully this isn’t all he remembers about Scout Camp years from now…

31
July
2014
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Here are a few artsy photos from the latest download from my camera…

Blinkenlights at my hosting facility:

blinkenlights

Peering into the guts of a server:

server-guts

And Skittles!

skittles

31
July
2014
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Over the past few months I’ve made a lot of progress trimming the amount of spam I receive. Every now and then something still manages to sneak through, but it’s nowhere near the flood I used to endure.

Today’s awesome sneak-through message? Toenail fungus cure!

toenail-fungus

I can’t imagine the sorts of people who click through on this. But I suspect it got through the filters simply because I wasn’t filtering for “toenail fungus”. Until now. Mwah ha haaaaa!

30
July
2014
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Today we had a conference call scheduled with a client. The purpose of the call was to decide how many opportunities the client’s customers (end users) would have to install a software license before the system told them they’d exhausted their attempts and would need to contact customer support.

Generally you don’t want to give customers just a single attempt, because something might go wrong during the installation process, or they might get a new computer and want to continue using the same license, and so forth. On the other hand, you don’t want to give them tens or hundreds of attempts because that opens the door for rampant piracy. So we knew going into it that the number would probably be in the neighborhood of 3 to 5.

Prior to the call, Ben commented that there really wasn’t any need for us (the development team) to even be a part of the call because in the end, it was a business decision for our client. We could save a lot of time– that’s billable time from us– if the client had this conversation internally and then spent two seconds telling us the number they decided to use. Unfortunately, they insisted we join the call so Ben and Josh spent 55 minutes listening on the conference line (not really even offering input) as about a dozen people at the client site debated the merits of 3 versus 4 and so forth.

I felt kind of bad that Ben and Josh had to endure that, because I came up to them after the call had ended and asked for the two-second summary. Ben said the number they chose was…

here it comes…

wait for it…

3

Ahh, meetings.

19
July
2014
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Pawel Kuczynski is a Polish artist who has just released a series of paintings with clever social commentary. Two of my favorites are these:

tear-down-erect-another

(Especially apropos given the situation in the Ukraine and other places.)

facebook-periscope

19
July
2014
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It’s a sad commentary on today’s world that so many countries and groups of people dislike each other we need some kind of “friendship chart” to understand the relationships. Not surprisingly, the Middle East is a prime example of this.

Slate just published this helpful friendship chart:

friendship-chart

Note the legend in the top right: friends, enemies, and “it’s complicated”. I also can’t help but smile (in a sad way) about the correction at the bottom of the chart: the editors mistakenly thought two countries were friends, but alas they are not.

From experience with Kyra, I think this friendship-chart technology could also be used to help junior-high girls map their relationships with each other. So I suppose I’m saying, in the end, that the countries and groups in the Middle East are somewhat like a bunch of junior-high girls…

16
July
2014
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A few weeks ago we noticed we had some ants crawling around our countertops now and then. We keep a pretty clean kitchen, so it didn’t seem like there was a bunch of food laying around attracting them. Growing up, I remember that ants would occasionally migrate through our house; you’d see a line of them from one end of the house to the other, and after a few days they’d apparently finish their little trek and that was that.

We found that spraying them with vinegar is pretty potent and kills them nicely, but they kept coming back. Laralee did a little research about how to kill ants without the need for nuclear bug spray from a professional exterminator. She learned that ants hate cinnamon, so it forms an effective “wall” to stop them from spreading. She mixed some cinnamon with water and made a little barrier around the area on the countertop where they crawl.

ants2

That seemed to stop them up on the countertop, but we noticed they were also on the floor outside the kitchen. A closer look revealed that they’re apparently living inside the wall. Laralee discovered that one way to kill them is to feed them dry Cream of Wheat cereal. They love it, and take it back to their nest where they all eat it and explode. I guess whatever magic ingredients are in Cream of Wheat react with their little stomachs to produce a bunch of gas (yeast?) and blow up the little buggers.

So she sprinkled a pile of Cream of Wheat at the two points along the baseboard where they apparently live. They went crazy and started coming out of the woodwork (literally!).

ants1

It’s pretty fascinating to watch them. Each ant grabs a tiny grain of Cream of Wheat and carries it back under the wall, presumably presenting it as a prize to the queen. There are hundreds of ants, all very organized and industrious. Within a few hours, a pile this size is completely gone. Laralee has replenished it a few times now.

I think she’s getting Stockholm Syndrome, though, because now she’s intrigued by these little guys and talks about how cool it is that they work tirelessly carting these little grains around, and how interesting this group is. I hope she doesn’t get too attached and start naming them.

Anyway, hopefully in a few days they’ll all blow up and we won’t see them any more. On the other hand, I warned Laralee that we have no idea if this is for real or if it’s just a clever prank by someone on the internet (I heard somewhere that not everything on the internet is true). We’ll see.

9
July
2014
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Last night we had another Zing company activity… we went out to a local bar for trivia night. I’ve never been to a trivia night, but Josh is a seasoned veteran so he went in with confidence and poise.

First they took our picture for the official blog:

trivia-team

Then we had to come up with a clever team name. After discarding a few ideas including the amazingly original “Jeff’s Team”, we settled on “Team Germany” to celebrate their stunning victory over Brazil in the World Cup that day.

Then we went to work. Trevor, the MC, called out questions or played song mash-ups and cheesy movie lines, and we did our best to answer. Six other teams were there, and competition was fierce. We held steady in third place most of the evening, but in the last round we surged ahead and tied for first.

I have to give a shout-out to Nick, who correctly figured out a question whose answers were “eclair” and “Eau Claire, WI” and put us over the top.

There was a tie-breaker question for all the marbles (and a valuable gift card). It was in Family Feud style, where we had to answer with a number and the closest team– without going over– would win. The question: how long is the Hoover Dam? Both Josh and I have been there, and we agreed it was probably around half a mile across. We guessed 2,501 feet and it turned out we were too high, as was the other team. We were closer to the correct answer of 1,244 feet, so we won the night. Awesome!

trivia-scores

It was a lot of fun, and I hope we do it again.

1
July
2014
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So today I had one of my molars yanked.

I had a root canal on it a few years ago, and about a week and a half ago I noticed a bump beside the tooth. Some quick research on Wikipedia, the Fount of All Knowledge, informed me that it was most likely an abscess: an infection deep within my gums. It didn’t hurt, but apparently an abscess can flare up within a day and become a massive, painful lump that makes you look like you have a tennis ball in your cheek. Some of the photos are pretty scary.

So I went to a dentist, who charged me $85 to poke at it and tell me, “Yep, it’s an abscess.” Since it was related to my root canal work, he sent me to an endodontist. Until that day I didn’t even know there was such a thing as an endodontist– evidently they specialize in root canals.

I headed over there a few days later, and he told me the tooth had cracked. Apparently that’s not uncommon with root canals, because there isn’t much tooth left after it’s been ground down, rooted, and capped. Also, I occasionally grind my teeth while I’m sleeping, which probably put enough pressure on this particular molar over the years to crack it. That leads to infection, which leads to an abscess. Whee. Anyway, the endodontist charged me $115 to tell he couldn’t help, and I needed to see an oral surgeon.

As I’ve taken this exciting journey over the past week, I’ve learned two things:

1) There’s a surprising number of people who specialize in different areas of the mouth: orthodontists, endodontists, periodontists, prosthodontists, dentists, oral surgeons, and probably a few other -ontists I didn’t have to visit.

2) All of them charge a lot of money for their work.

We don’t have dental insurance, so the dollar signs were racking up as I talked to the oral surgeon about extractions and bone grafts and implants and (eventually) crowns. I could easily buy a decent used car for the cost of handling this one tooth.

This morning I went to the oral surgeon, who took care of business. He did a great job with the local anesthesia, because I only felt little pricks and tugs as he reached into my mouth with a scalpel (yikes!), those silvery pointed things, a drill, and eventually a huge pair of specialized pliers. The tooth came out, and he proceeded to do a bone graft.

Being the curious guy I am, I asked about the bone graft: specifically, where does the bone come from? I had visions of him scraping it off some other place in my jaw, or maybe doing something with my femur or whatever. It turns out that a bone graft is really just powdered bone that’s packed into the holes left by the massive roots of my molar. Although he danced around it a bit with terms like “bone donor material”, in the end I asked him directly if the material came from a cadaver. Of course it does, but he finds that most patients aren’t all that comfortable knowing some dead person’s ground-up bones are being jammed into their jaws. I got to see the little vial of bone powder, and it was even labeled with the donor’s name: Betty. Yep, I now have little bits of Betty in my mandible.

Anyway, a few stitches finished the job and he sent me on my way with a big wad of gauze clenched in my mouth and instructions to fill the four prescriptions for drugs. Peridex is a special (meaning expensive) mouthwash; vicodin is a powerful painkiller, decadron is for swelling, and amoxicillin is for infection. Wow. I asked if I could just take some ibuprofin and gargle warm saltwater, and he agreed that would be fine too.

So far it’s been five hours. The painkillers have definitely worn off because I can feel my lips again, but I’m still waiting for the excruciating pain that should require four drugs to handle. Although it definitely hurts, it’s not even bad enough that I’ve popped any “Vitamin I”. Maybe I’m lucky, or I have a high pain tolerance, or maybe it’s going to hit later tonight with a vengeance that’s going to make me wish I could crank up on vicodin. I don’t know.

So, three or four months from now, everything should be healed up and I can decide if I want to spend another used-car’s worth of money to get an implant and a crown. Maybe I’ll find that missing a back molar isn’t a big deal, and I can go on living my life without it. We’ll see.

To finish this post, I figured I should really include a photo of me with my bloody tooth.

me-and-my-tooth

This kind of stuff makes me appreciate my teeth a little more. Maybe I’ll even floss a little.

25
June
2014
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For reasons beyond my ken, Alex and Zack enjoy sitting in front of a laptop reading online comics to one another. They pull up Dilbert or Get Fuzzy or a few others, and just page through one strip after another.

reading-comics

The strangest part is they read them out loud to one another, even though they can both see the strip and probably read it faster in their head. Then they laugh together, move on to the next strip, and read it aloud.

What a pair of goofs.

21
June
2014
Permalink

Rep. Steve Stockman of Texas has introduced an awesome bill at the House. It’s known colloquially as the Dog Ate My Tax Receipts Resolution and allows American citizens to use “flimsy, obviously made-up excuses” if they’re asked to provide documentation to the IRS.

The actual language of the bill is:

Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) must allow taxpayers the same lame excuses for missing documentation that the IRS itself is currently proffering

Whereas, the IRS claims that convenient, unexplained, miscellaneous computer malfunction is sufficient justification not to produce specific, critical documentation; and,

Whereas, fairness and Due Process demand that the American taxpayer be granted no less latitude than we afford the bureaucrats employed presently at the IRS;

Now, therefore, be it resolved that it is the sense of the House of Representatives that unless and until the Internal Revenue Service produces all documentation demanded by subpoena or otherwise by the House of Representatives, or produces an excuse that passes the red face test,

All taxpayers shall be given the benefit of the doubt when not producing critical documentation, so long as the taxpayer’s excuse therefore falls into one of the following categories:

1. The dog ate my tax receipts
2. Convenient, unexplained, miscellaneous computer malfunction
3. Traded documents for five terrorists
4. Burned for warmth while lost in the Yukon
5. Left on table in Hillary’s Book Room
6. Received water damage in the trunk of Ted Kennedy’s car
7. Forgot in gun case sold to Mexican drug lords
8. Forced to recycle by municipal Green Czar
9. Was short on toilet paper while camping
10. At this point, what difference does it make?

Go, Steve!