Browse Month: May 2009

05/31/2009

The summer ultimate league starts next week, which is always a good time. The league draft is Tuesday, and for the sixth time I’ll be a captain. It’s always fun to captain a team, although it means quite a bit more work on and off the field. Last year I grabbed a co-captain for the first time– my friend Michael was gracious enough to help me– and it turned out well. Michael’s a great guy, and it was good to have someone who could help run practices, or just be at the practice when I couldn’t for some reason. Plus I felt like I didn’t have to make all of the decisions (white or dark? pull or receive? this endzone or that one? hard cap in five minutes or ten?).

So this summer I’ll be co-captaining with my longtime friend Brenda, who is not only a stellar ultimate player but also about three metric tons of fun mushed into a small woman’s body. I met her during my first official season in the Boulder league, ten years ago, and I’m really excited to work with her this time around.

One key component– often overlooked when drafting teams for the league– is the ability to write cheers. After every game, each team comes up with an original, spontaneous cheer to yell (or sometimes sing) to the other team. It’s a great way to promote spirit and fun after a hard-fought game, and a grand tradition. And Brenda is without a doubt the best cheer writer this county has ever seen. (I could easily find a hundred people who play in the league who would back me up on that statement.) The stuff she comes up with– mostly hilarious spoofs on well-known songs– is amazing. Since part of the overall scorekeeping for the league is “team spirit” we’ve already got a leg up on the competition.

So bring on those lazy summer nights, playing on nice warm grass as the sun sets over the mountains. I can’t wait.

05/25/2009

Today I ran the second annual Memorial Day Mixer for the Boulder ultimate league. Last year we had cold, drizzly rain all day; this year it threatened (and in fact we had about half an hour of rain) but overall the weather was great. Clouds rolled in over the foothills and the sky was grey all day, but that kept it cooler and there wasn’t much wind.

Earlier this morning Laralee and Alex ran the 10-km Bolder Boulder in a respectable time of 1:12. I played ultimate for four hours, and assuming I was only actually running roughly 60% of the time, that’s about two and a half hours of running– possibly the equivalent of 25 km. (In past years I always ran the Bolder Boulder in less than an hour.) Whew!

A good time for all, and a chance to see old friends from the Boulder ultimate crowd who I don’t usually see until summer league starts. And that’s in a couple of weeks, so I’m looking forward to it.

I suspect I’ll sleep pretty well tonight…

05/23/2009

Fourteen years ago I bought a used Pioneer receiver/cassette deck and a twelve-disc CD changer. I still remember the salesperson asking me if I wanted to extend my warranty, because the standard one-year deal probably wouldn’t be enough. Of course I refused (does anyone actually buy the extended warranties?) even though he gave me a bunch of reasons why I was being an idiot, such as “With a used unit like this, you’ll need to clean the CD player laser lens at least every six months, and the warranty will cover it.”

Fourteen years have passed with nary a problem. I’ve never cleaned the laser lens, and when I totaled the car the CD deck was actually torn from its mounting brackets in the trunk and thrown around a bit, but when I bought another car I had it installed again and it worked just fine. The only problem is it skips when I careen across a railroad track at fifty miles an hour, but I think that’s probably reasonable.

Kudos to Pioneer for making a CD player that could, apparently, weather Armageddon without much problem.

Still, stocking twelve CD’s in my trunk has grown tiresome, and I thought it might be time to join the Digital Age (which may be renamed to The iPod Age, from what I hear). I have my iPod Shuffle— which I love– and I figured I should hack my car stereo so I could play tunes from it.

Unfortunately when they built my stereo (1994) the iPod wasn’t even a hazy dream in Steve Jobs’ head, so there’s no nifty jack or plug or whatever. Taking a page from Thom’s playbook, I dug up my old cassette tape adapter. It was buried in the back of the closet in a box of old electronics; I suspect the last time it was actually used was when I had my trust Sony Discman in the Nissan (circa 1994). But hey presto, it still works! Kudos to Sony.

With a bit of creative disassembly of my dash, I was able to set up a place where I can mount my iPod above the deck (ahh, the magic of Velcro!) and run a wire to the tape.

The funny thing is there are three “buttons” on the top of my dash, but only one of them actually does anything (rear window defrost). One of them is for fog lamps– which I don’t have– and the other is for… well, I don’t actually know. Probably rocket boosters or an ejection seat. So it didn’t hurt anything to yank one of the buttons and replace it with the Shuffle, which just happens to be exactly the same size.

Ahh, now I can load up the iPod and jam in the car. Isn’t technology great?

05/22/2009

As I’m working today I’ve cranked a bunch of old 80’s rock, and a couple of classic Bon Jovi songs popped into my playlist. What a riot.

Truly a classic album, although back in the day it was Thom who listened to Bon Jovi, and I sort of tolerated him. Over time the songs grew on me, I guess, because even now, twenty years later, I still know all of the words.

A random comment from a site talking about Slippery When Wet:

This album has a sentimental value that defies all logic or taste. It’s like that scene in Ratatouille when the food critic takes a bite and is instantly transported back in time, in my case, to the locker room of my college hockey team, where we’d unabashedly belt out the lyrics to Livin’ on a Prayer like our lives depended on it. (Go ahead, laugh, I’m not ashamed.) A big, sticky thumbs up from the man in the Members Only jacket, the one with the loaded six-string on his back.

Yes, like this guy, I had a Members Only jacket. Rock on.

05/21/2009

Happy 57th birthday, Mr. T!

05/17/2009

Because it was such a gorgeous day today, we decided to head up to Rocky Mountain National Park for the afternoon. It turned out to be perfect weather for a couple of hikes in the mountains.

Up at altitude (around 9,500 feet) there was quite a bit of snow on the ground, but of course that meant snowballs and sliding on the ice.

Good times.

05/17/2009

I’m organizing some photos tonight and found this one, which struck me as funny for some reason.

I’m explaining how a rocket works to my second-grade science class. Notice the hydrogen and oxygen tanks (not entirely accurate, but oh well– these are second graders). Also notice the little astronaut standing in the capsule at the top of the rocket.

They were completely enthralled; I’m not sure if it’s because they were really interested in rocket propulsion, or because they were waiting for me to get to the part about the Diet Coke and Mentos.

05/16/2009

“Some say that power comes with responsibility, but this is incorrect. Freedom is responsibility, and if you fail to be responsible for your own freedom then those who claim ‘power’ will become responsible for your freedom, and both will be taken from you.”

— dyfet @ Slashdot

05/15/2009

Thom reminded me that today is National Bike to Work Day, which I’d completely spaced. I normally work at home on Fridays, but due to some meeting circumstances it turns out I have to be in the office today.

So I slept in a bit, finished a few small projects, and hopped on my bike for the ride. What a great day for it: gorgeous sunny blue sky with a few fluffy clouds and a fabulous 70 degrees. A little breeze behind me made it perfect.

05/12/2009

Courtesy of Craig. Hilarious.

05/11/2009

I’m doing some server administration and realized that one of the servers I manage has been running for quite a while…

21:32:23 up 1172 days, 23:33, 2 users, load average: 0.04, 0.02, 0.00
USER TTY LOGIN@ IDLE JCPU PCPU WHAT
root pts/0 21:32 0.00s 0.00s 0.00s w

Hmm, 1172 days is about three years and three months. That’s pretty impressive– humming along 24/7 and still handling requests without even breaking a sweat. Go Linux!

05/08/2009

Today was our last science enrichment class. Our topic was “propulsion” and we talked about how rockets work. Our experiments were a lot of fun.

First, balloon races where we show how the air (the propellant) pushes the balloon:

Then we couldn’t resist blowing up a few bottles of Diet Coke by dropping Mentos into them:

And finally each of the kids got to launch an air rocket that uses pressurized air to shoot about fifty feet into the air:

We had a lot of fun teaching the kids and getting them excited about science. Maybe one of these second-graders will end up being a world-famous biologist or astrophysicist!

05/05/2009

My latest desktop wallpaper: the Horsehead Nebula. It’s cool to program atop that.

05/02/2009

Mmm… bonbons.

I’ve had a hankerin’ for some homemade bonbons for a while, but they’re really tedious to make (compared to, say, chocolate-chip cookies). The other day I was at the grocery store and decided to pick up some Rice Krispies and Skippy, and finally commit to make them. And today I did. Kyra was a big help, although to be honest I think her motivation was more about licking the chocolate-covered spoon than actually doing any work.

Regardless, now I’ve got a couple containers full of them, and can enjoy them with my popcorn tonight when Laralee and I watch our next episode of Heroes.

05/02/2009

The library is having their annual book sale, which is a great opportunity to look through thousands of books– most in very good condition– and buy them really cheap. Hardcovers sell for two dollars, paperbacks for fifty cents. So Laralee and I headed over there at the start of the sale and spent a couple of hours wading through boxes and tables stacked high with books.

Of course you can get any John Grisham book you’d ever want, or Michael Crichton, or Robert Ludlum, even Danielle Steele. There always seem to be piles upon piles of those authors. But you can also get obscure stuff; I found a copy of Godel Escher Bach which I first read back in the late 80’s, and I figured what the heck. (I’m reading it now but it doesn’t seem as interesting as I remembered. Oh well.)

Anyway, our bookshelves continue to expand beyond capacity; we’ve got two-deep paperbacks and stacks of recently-purchased books (from the book fair or Amazon gift cards) just waiting to be read. I think we’re covered for a while.