Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Q: How many flower pots does it take to smoke a brisket?

A:  2


Plus 1 hot plate, a pie tin, the grate of a 13.5” tabletop grill, and some hickory chunks.  Don’t forget the thermometer and a couple of bricks to lift the contraption off the floor.  An extension cord wouldn’t hurt, either, nor would just a touch of fill dirt to get the hot plate level.


Yes, it works.  And it makes a fantastic tasting brisket and pork roast.  How do I know?  I did it for Memorial Day.

I stole the idea from Good Eats (hosted by Alton Brown) who made a smoker out of 2 terracotta pots.


The logic goes like this:

Metal smokers radiate most of the heat created by coals through the metal.  The best and most efficient way to smoke some grub is to dig a hole, throw some hot rocks and coals in the bottom, wrap your meat, toss it in the hole, and cover it for a few hours.  The earth around the hole not only retains the heat—placing it in the food where you want it—but also helps maintain the temperature at a more constant level.  Don’t have a big old hole?  Well, what’s a clay pot? 

That’s right, a big old dirt hole.

Take 2 of them (one upside down and placed on top of the other) and you have a big old covered dirt hole. 

The hot plate keeps a steady temperature as opposed to coals that you’ll have to baby sit, stir, tend and provide a constant stream of air.  Too few coals and it is “Hello salmonella!”  Too many coals and it gets too hot and the wood catches fire.  The hot plate never gets hot enough to burst the wood chunks into flame, only hot enough to smolder them which is exactly what you want them to do.  Bursting into flames means it’s too hot plus you get the char taste on your nicely smoked meat.  If you want barbeque, do barbeque.  If you want smoked meat, do it right.  There’s a reason that people who smoke food start the evening before and camp out with the smoker.

Speaking of having to camp out, because of the rain I was forced into my garage with the door open.  With a metal smoker—because of the radiant heat—my garage would have been about 200 degrees.  However, because of the insulative properties of clay the pots were hot, but not so hot you couldn’t actually touch them with your bare hands.  Being trapped inside of the garage with the smoker was actually a pleasant experience, not a sweltering hell.  That means it’ll be pretty safe on a balcony of an apartment and you don’t have to worry a lot about it burning your house down.

Since the heat stayed where it belonged the meat cooked pretty fast.  My cooker maintained a steady temperature in the range of 200-225 degrees and smoked a 3lb brisket in just about 4 hours.  The 5lb pork roast (tenderloin, yum) took 3 hours.

Plus it’s cheap.  A cheap smoker (metal Old Smokey) runs about $35 to $45 depending on where you find it.  On sale it’s probably $25 at some places.  My flower pots cost $15 and $10—14” terracotta pots.  The hot plate was $8, the grill grate was $5 (I had to buy a tabletop grill and steal the grating).  The pie plate was an additional $3.  The thermometer—a replacement unit for a traditional grill—cost $1.00.  Total cost for the contraption:  $42.00.  There was no babysitting required, only a glance out the window to make sure there was still smoke—no smoke means the wood burned off and it was time to replace or add wood.  Give between an hour and an hour and a half per pound and you know how long a nap (or run, you freaks) you can take.  (Personally I suggest taking a temperature reading of the meat at the start, then measuring again in 30 minutes to see how fast it’s heating, then do math to figure out when it’ll be done.)  Even a good coal/wood powered smoker won’t let you get away without babysitting the thing.

Finally, it’s portable.  It’s as big as 2 clay pots, pretty light, and works anywhere you’re within extension cord’s length of an electric outlet which includes just about every state park in the great state of by god Texas.


Benefits:  it’s cheap, efficient, worry free, portable, and produces excellent food.

Draw backs:  strange looks and a lot of MacGyver cracks at your expense.  They shut up fast with well cooked food in their mouth, though.


I’ll have pictures to prove it on Yahoo soon.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Webster Duathlon

Ok, so Jon hipped me to the Webster Du (sorry, I haven’t been perusing the boards lately).


The race is a 2/12/2 Duathlon.  That’s doable for me right now, I think.  Just so long I don’t blow the whole sha-bang on the bike portion.


The gears are turning…  quite literally.


More later.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Weekend trivia--1 day early

More Kenny Rogers trivia, because he is, quite simply, awesome.


Everyone knows part of The Gambler’s advice to the man on “the train bound for nowhere”:

Know when to hold them, know when to fold them.  Know when to walk away, know when to run.

You never count your money, when you’re sitting at the table.  There’s time enough for counting, when the dealin’s done.


What was the rest of his advice?


No fair Googling it.  You either know the song (Jon) or you don’t. 

And if you don’t own at least one of Mr. Rogers’ CDs, your collection is deficient.

This really bugs me

Ok, so Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling are guilty.  That doesn’t bug me.


This bugs me…


In the middle of the story online I see this:


  • Live Vote: Do you agree with verdict?

Whether or not I agree with the verdict is irrelevant.  That’s for me to discuss quietly with friends over coffee or loudly with strangers over a few empty pitchers of beer.  The facts are the news.  Opinions are like assholes—they’re usually loud at inopportune times.


Why is my opinion news?  Give me the facts without regard for my feelings toward the facts.  Why, oh why, don’t you people get it?

Another thing that bugs me...

I’m going swimming this weekend.  Jess, if you want to beat me into the pool, get there before noon Saturday.

I’ll probably run tomorrow.  I might even ride on Saturday.

An actual triathlon is looking less and less likely.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Weekend trivia bonus

Again, no fair googling this.

I just asked for the song/artist for a set of lyrics.  If you don’t know what I’m talking about scroll down a bit then come back.


From that same song, what’s the girl’s name?


Have a great weekend.

Weekend trivia

Ok, there’s a good reason behind this trivia.


I was pondering what advice I could give to my son that he could take with him forever.

I’ve come close to settling on this:


Don’t seek out things that will cause you pain.  Pain will seek you out.  Pain will find you.  Pain will come when you least expect it.  It will make a home and rip out your guts.  It will come on dark, stormy nights and glorious, sunny days.  It doesn’t care what kind of day you’re having.  It doesn’t care at all.  It will come.  Don’t seek it out.  There’s no need.

Rather, seek out the things that will bring you comfort.  Seek out things that will fill you up and leave you full, not things that will fill you and leave you washed out and empty.  Seek out the good and you will find it.  Reside in the good.  Guard it jealously but always share it with others and share it abundantly. 

Sharing never ever diminishes its value.  Sharing always makes it grow in part because the act itself is good, but also because it plants the seed that grows in another’s garden and bears fruit that will also be shared.

It’s far more profitable to pull from a vast reservoir of good and replicate those things than it is to pull from a vast reservoir of bad and figure out how to avoid it in the future.

Seek the good and you will find it.  The bad will seek you.  Use the good you find to defeat it.


That said the following lyrics are coursing through my brain on an endless loop:


“Promise me son

Not to do the things I’ve done.

Walk away from trouble when you can.


It don’t mean you’re weak

If you turn the other cheek.

I hope you’re old enough to understand.


Son, you don’t have to fight to be a man.”


This weekend’s trivia:  name that song and the artist.  No cheating, don’t Google it.

Prize for winning, as always, is a big pat on the back and a big bowl of respect and adoration from all your fellow geeks.


[Speaking of which, I think I’m going to auction off “respect” on e-bay and see how much it’s worth.  That’ll be fun.]


Of course, if you know the song you know that the irony in the lyrics is that sometimes you do have to fight to be a man.  But that’s where the artist has it wrong and why you shouldn’t live your life according to what the radio tells you.


You don’t have to fight to be a man.  But sometimes, after you’ve become a man (not a grown boy), you’re occasionally (very rarely) left with no option and a man (true man, not grown boy) will draw on that character to fight only when he has to and walk away when he does not.

A grown boy, on the other hand, will fight when he doesn’t have to and walk away when he shouldn’t.  The story referred to in the song, more so than the lyrics, explains that, but since the artist is one of the greatest singer/storytellers of all history, he gets a pass on that one.


I read a story recently about high school prom and the big productions guys are now putting on just to ask some girl to prom.

For the first time I’m really afraid for my boy.


Granted, prom’s a big deal for a high school kid.  But in the grand scheme of things, it’s not THAT big of a deal.  Both me and my wife went to prom with people we didn’t really like.  We both had a grand time, but in retrospect would have rather gone with each other—had we known each other at the time.  And neither one of us has talked to our prom date in nearly a decade.


But this story was suggesting that the boys are making the big productions because it’s what the girls want—spurred on by (of course) the media and MTV’s Laguna Beach (I’m so out of touch with pop culture today that I have no idea what that even is).  Honest to God quote “Some guys are so retarded…  they still ask over the phone.  That’s lame.”  Excuse me?  So it isn’t written in the sky… who do you think you are?  Is your shit made out of marshmallows?  Perspective would be appreciated.  There are boys who get so absolutely nervous that they get so tongue tied that they can’t speak to the girl they know likes them.  It’s just a dance, son.  Ask her, she wants to be asked and treated and respected like a person. 

There are the girls that get so anxious that they panic and ask some other guy than the one they like.  How stupid is that?  You like boy 1, so you ask boy 2.  Um… that doesn’t accomplish anything.  Somewhere, somehow, and to some people, that makes perfect sense.  Not to me.  I don’t get girls at all.

There is so very much to get on the soapbox about with this.  There’s something to say about the culture of youth-worship where the best years of your life happen before you turn 20.  That’s not true, not in the least.

There’s something to say about socialization—or lack thereof.  How is it that you can’t speak to someone you eat lunch with every day?  How is it that you can’t look at the person you like and say “I like you, you’re good people”?

There’s something to say about heightened expectations beyond realistic borders.  A limo will not show up to collect you (and should not show up) when you are merely a child.

There’s so much to say about the mixed signals of what we expect from the youth today and the stimuli that we provide.  The inputs do not equal the expected outputs.  We put in garbage and expect gold, and things just don’t work that way.

There’s so much to say.  So many symptoms of a general and pervasive societal sickness.  There’s so much to say, and so few who will listen.


I can’t change the world.  I can change my little corner of it, though.


The best years are ahead of you.  There is no such thing as the “good old days”.  Today is the day and it is only a shadow of what tomorrow holds.  Tomorrow holds the one thing that yesterday can never have—hope.  Yesterday is done and gone.  Today is a product of yesterday.  But tomorrow is not yet revealed.  Tomorrow has promise.  Tomorrow not only has the chance, but the promise of being better than a thousand yesterdays combined.  Most importantly, you can shape tomorrow, but only if you look towards it.  You live in today, but you live for tomorrow.  But there are so many symptoms that suggest people are living for today with their eyes cast toward yesterday rather than living in today with their eyes cast toward all of the wonderful and fantastic tomorrows yet to come.


It’s sad that hope is dying in today’s youth.  It’s very sad indeed.  It’s even sadder that we’re killing that hope day by day, one stone at a time.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Excuse log number 051806

Today there is a high ozone warning, so I’m not going to workout.


Normally that would merely be a reason to not workout rather than a mere excuse.  However, this morning I had already decided that I didn’t feel like working out when I found out there was a high ozone warning, so the high ozone didn’t prevent me from working out, it merely validated my initial laziness.  Therefore, the “reason” for not working out has been busted down to a mere excuse for not working out.


Sure, it’s not as creative as “Had I not woken up early and noticed that my alarm wasn’t turned on I would have overslept; therefore, despite being awake 5 minutes before my alarm is about to go off, I will not turn my alarm on in order to ensure that I wake up in 5 minutes—on time—but rather I’ll just go back to sleep and decide that I overslept (even though I actually woke up early).” 


But it’ll still do in a pinch.


Enjoy your Thursday.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Damn, damn, and damn again!!!

Ok, Tuesdays are exceptionally bad for me to workout.
Tuesday's workout consisted of me oversleeping and forgetting to pack my gear, then blowing off working out in the evening.
Today's workout consisted of me just blowing off working out.  I didn't forget to pack the gear--I consciously chose not to.
Tomorrow I have a very special guest coming into town, so I won't be working out.
I might work out Friday.  And, of course, I say that with the same amount of certainty that I say "Jupiter might smash into the Earth on Friday."
Saturday holds real promise of a workout...  as does my chances of making it big at Carnegie Hall.
This might be a lost week.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Weekend workout recap

Saturday I slept in, ate some pizza for breakfast, cleaned the cat litter, took a nap, then went and played paintball.

I “killed” 4, was “killed” twice.

I still have a couple of bruises to show for it, too.

Tomorrow I’ll hit the pool for the first time and maybe spend some quality time on a treadmill.  I hate treadmills.  All that running and you never go anywhere.  Of course, I ran 26.2 miles back in January and ended up at the same place I took off from, so there’s really got to be another, better, reason that I hate the treadmill.




Remember I said gas prices weren’t too high yet?  http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12777854/site/newsweek/


Apparently America agrees and only the newsreaders are complaining.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Day after

No soreness.  I feel pretty ok.  Tomorrow will be the true test, though.  Since I’m playing paintball in the afternoon the morning workout will be pretty light.  I may only run rather than double up with the biking.  Of course, I may only sleep in and do neither.


I drank a smoothie for lunch.  What’s wrong with me?

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Run update

3 miles.
1.  10:07
2.  10:31
3.  11:10
Ave: 10:36
Good grouping of the time.  I'm a little annoyed that I got progressively slower.
I'm less annoyed that after I passed a certain runner early in the first mile this runner blew by me shortly after the mile marker and I just couldn't hang.  Most everyone else I passed in the first mile stayed good and behind me, but not this runner.  And then I started the slow fade.  That bugged me.  But for the 1/4 mile or so that I came close to hanging there was hope (and far worse places to be on the trail), but alas, it wasn't to be.  I faded.  Then faded some more.
All in all it was a FAR better run than last week.  I feel a lot better now than I did after last week's run.  One of the goals will be to actually finish with the same time that I start with.  The slow second miles annoy me, but if I can rally in the last mile to match or beat the first one I can deal with the slow middle mile.  If I'm ever going to chase down the 25 minute 5k I'll have to get that middle mile under control, but I suspect that'll come with time.
In summay, the run sucked less, but it still sucked.
I took a swing past the YMCA to see if the pool was open.  Mega bonus:  it's open Tuesday, Thursday, and on the weekend.  So, I can start my swimming immediately with a run and swim on Thursdays and maybe Tuesdays, but Tuesdays are notoriously bad workout days for me.

Ahh... that explains it

I was reminded yesterday that it’s sweeps month.

That explains the horrific programming and abominable news coverage, but it doesn’t excuse it.  You’re still not welcome in my living room, but I may let you back in-on probation-in June.



It was downright chilly this morning.  I’ve assembled my gear and I’m going to assault the park again this evening.  I’ve got to get my running legs back underneath me in the next 2 weeks so that I can focus a good chunk of my attention on swimming.  Monday and Tuesday are almost always bad days for me to do any kind of workout, but I should be able to pull a little treadmill time on the days that I choose to hit the pool—maybe a mile or so, of all the kinds of running I hate (all of them), treadmill running is the kind I hate the most.  If I can get a minimum of 2 days during the week in at the gym with the swimming and running, then I can spend time in the park on the weekends biking and running.  If I can sneak in a 4th workout day in the week—likely at the gym—then I’ll feel pretty good about my “program”.  3 days of working out is just about adequate—especially if I make them intense days—but 4 would be better and I could slack off on a workout or two. 


5 or more is just plain unreasonable unless I significantly adjust some priorities.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

That's it. You're not welcome in my living room any more.

Tonight I’m busy.  Tomorrow I run.  Riding will have to wait until the weekend.  Weekend warrior bonus:  paintball and barbeque!


Rant mode, “on”.



I’m not scared about the avian flu.

I’m not scared about terrorists living under every rock.

I’m not scared about identity thieves.

I’m not scared about carbon monoxide leaks.

I’m not scared about radon poisoning.

I’m not scared about catching AIDS.

I’m not scared about masked gangs of thugs roaming the streets and stealing my house.

I’m not scared about the sun exploding.

I’m not scared about global warming.

I’m not scared about a nuclear holocaust.

I’m not scared about planes falling out of the sky with or without me in them.

I’m not scared about computer hackers.

I’m not scared about spyware.

I’m not scared about growing old.

I’m not scared about dying young.

I’m not scared about nuclear reactors being built to power our nation.

I’m not scared about inflation.

I’m not scared about deflation.

I’m not scared about a bust in the housing market.

I’m not scared about a boom in the housing market.

I’m not scared about oil prices.

I’m not scared about gas prices.

I’m not scared about the cost of my property taxes.

I’m not scared about sexual predators who may or may not be in my neighborhood.

I’m not scared about rouge cops.

I’m not scared about thieves pretending to be rouge cops.

I’m not scared about thieves pretending to be anything.

I’m not scared about kidnappers.

I’m not scared of mold.

I’m not scared of lead paint.

I’m not scared of asbestos.

I’m not scared that my breast implants are going to strangle me or whatever.


Did I mention that I’m not scared of nonexistent bird flu epidemic?


I think that covers all of the stuff the idiot newsreaders want me to be scared of over the past several years.


Just stop trying to scare the hell out everybody all the time and get back to reporting the $%(*&$ news!!!!!

There’s a reason nobody is watching.  There’s a reason nobody cares what you have to say.

It’s because you don’t say anything anymore, you just try to scare the hell out of everyone all the time.

You have created a vacuous and vapid world where people are afraid to let their children play in the street with their friends.  You’ve created a world where people are afraid to walk to their friends’ houses to enjoy a night together because they’re afraid of…  of…  everything.  The boogie man or some such.  “They” will shoot you without even blinking.  Who are “they” you ask?  You tell me.  You’ve created a world where people worry and fret for no reason whatsoever.


Is my ice machine killing me?  No.

Is my air conditioner killing me?  No.

Is my coffee maker killing me?  No.

Is the air in the plane killing me?  No.

What about my home’s shingles.  Are they killing me?  Not them, either.

Am I eating tainted meat?  Probably not.

It’s hot outside?  No shit.  It gets that way just about every 12 month in Houston and stays that way for about 6 or 8 months.  It’s called the changing of the seasons.  I’ve got a 2nd grade science book that’ll tell you all about it.

Thieves on the prowl?  Will I be next?  Likely not.  Howabout you just tell me where I should pay attention and who I should be looking for rather than run a story from a neighborhood where they’re not even prowling (“home intruders in a neighborhood just like this”) just to scare the pasty white frightened suburbanites?  Huh?  Would that be too much to ask?  Huh?!?

The government is wasting my money?  Really?  Hey, look, the sky is blue, too!  Maybe you should run an expose’ on gravity while you’re at it.

There was a murder?  In Houston?  Nooooo….   I’m astonished.  You know, I heard there was gambling going on in Casablanca.  Maybe the story isn’t that there’s a murder but what’s going on to stop them from happening (or what’s not going on).  Maybe put pressure on the establishment of both government and society, the way a free press is supposed to work rather than merely scare the hell out of the citizenry.  But that would take work.  That would take effort.  Something beyond putting one of the “pretty people” in front of an intersection, feigning concern, and acting as if it were a great horrific tragedy when the actual tragedy is that every time a gun goes off dollar signs light up in the eyes of the news director.  If it bleeds, it leads, right?


Here’s a thought:  if there’s not 30 minutes of news to report, cut your program short.  I dare you.  Quit inventing stories.  Run real news stories for 10 minutes, then look right into the camera and say “That’s all the news.  Seriously, we’re at the bottom of the pile.  Read a book for the next 20 minutes, then tune in to Nightline.  Or talk to your family.  Whatever, we’re just not going to treat you like stupid little emotional idiots anymore.  We’re switching to the test pattern in 5, 4, 3, 2…”  That’s a helluva lot better than 20 minutes informing us how we’re about to die from a disease that isn’t even happening.  I dare you.  I double dare you.  I double dog dare you.  I triple yellow dog under the front porch with a ham bone dare you!  But you won’t, because you’ve lost your way.


Bunch of freakin’ morons.  You’re not welcome in my living room any more until you shape up.


Rant mode “off”.

Monday, May 08, 2006

My legs still hurt

Yup, 5 days after last Thursday’s run my legs still hurt.  My calves hurt so much Saturday that I could barely walk and the pain hasn’t quite gone away.


It seems I’m starting all over from square 1 again.

Getting into shape to complete a triathlon seems so very, very far away.  Getting into any kind of shape at all seems so very far away.


My, but I hate running so very much.

Discouraged, I think, is the appropriate word.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

The slow get slower...

Lord, I'm sorry for cussing so much.  It's just that I hate running.
Today's run:
3 miles
Time:  32:27.3 (!)
Average:  10:49.1
Mile 1:  09:28.2
Mile 2:  11:22.9 (!)
Mile 3:  11:36.1 (!)
I got to the park after the weather, so it was dry and relatively cool.  But man did this run suck.  Suck suck suck.
It was miserable.
No fun.
And it got progressively slower...
and slower...
and...  slo...wer...
a...n...d....  s...l...o...w...e...r...
The "final kick" was merely me desperately attempting to not walk the last stretch in front of the stretching benches.
I think I'll do it again Saturday.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The Graduation Present

I read this somewhere once…



“I won’t condescend to you and ask you to listen.  What I know that you don’t know is that try (and/or lie) as you might, you won’t actually listen right now—you’re probably a few years and a couple of good, hard failures away from truly listening.  That’s not a value judgment against you, that’s simply a stating of the facts like ‘the sky is blue’.  The fact is, simply, that you’re not ready to listen.  You may think you are.  You might even say you are.  But you’re not.  And that’s ok, because you will be.  Hopefully it’ll be a soft landing when you are.  But if it’s not, remember that we’re here for you.


So all I’m going to ask is that you hear this.  That’s all, nothing more.  Simply hear it.  Then, when you’re really, truly ready to listen, you’ll remember it and really, truly listen to not just what the words are saying, but what they’re meaning as well.


So here it is. 


You’re not ready.  You’re not even close to ready.  The world you’re about to step in to is bigger even than you think it is.  You don’t have all the tools, yet.  Those will be found along the way.  You don’t have all the answers, yet.  Some of those will be found along the way, too.  All will be revealed in time.  By and by, all will be clear.


Also, it’s almost never what you think it is.  There’s almost always something more to the story.


Again, this isn’t a value judgment against you.  Simply because you’re not ready does not mean you’re not good enough to become ready.  In fact, you’re prepared (or as prepared as you’re going to get) to become ready, but the only way you’re can be ready is by stepping across the stage. 


A good image for where you are right now is a guy standing in front of a closed door.  On the other side is a lion.  You’ve seen the lion.  You’ve had it described to you.  You have the gun to shoot it with.  You’ve practiced with the gun.  You’ve seen others go through the door and shoot the lion.  You’ve studied what they did right.  You’ve seen others get eaten.  You know what they did wrong.  You’re prepared. 


Now you have to open the door and face the lion and everything that’s been described and everything that you’ve seen and everything that you’ve practiced will take on a whole new dimension.  It’ll be everything they said it would be—and more.  It’ll be just like you saw before, but different.

That’s where you are.  You’re standing in front of that door.


You’ve been taught both in the classroom and outside of the classroom with some of the best resources the schools and world can throw at you.  But they’re not enough.  It’s all going to be different when it’s your apartment, your car, your insurance, your bills, your responsibility.  They are enough to prepare you, but they won’t open the door for you.  Hard decisions and hard days will come (and right now you’re thinking ‘no they won’t’; but you’re wrong and now you’re not simply hearing because you’re talking back and you can’t do both at the same time). 


Yes, they will come.


But just think about it.  You certainly have an idea of what the real world is like.  You certainly have an idea of what it means to sacrifice family time for work.  You certainly have an idea of what it means to have to make a decision based on limited resources.  You’ve had to do all of those things.  But you just have to trust me that it’s totally different after you cross that stage.  That’s not to say that it’s harder, or easier, or that you can’t do it.  It’s just different.  Just like you can read all about what it’s like for someone to see their sister in a coma, but it’s totally and completely different when it’s you doing the seeing and your sister doing the lying there.  So I’m not going to tell you what it’s like.  Besides, even if it’s the same for you as it is for everyone else, you’ll experience it differently than me, so I’m only going to tell you that it’s different.  And you’re just going to have to trust me—and everyone else who has said it—that we’re not lying to you because like it or not, we love you and we’re not going to deceive you or tell you that you’re not good enough.


We might say “I told you so”, though.


The tools you’ve been given will get you close to “there”.  But that’s all the tools will do for you.  The tools and experience you’ve earned and learned will only get you close.  The “something else” that’s inside of you is what will actually be the platform for you to stand on to get you over the top.  Everything you do and every role you play will help you to grow and get “bigger” as you get closer and closer to reaching the top.  Chances are pretty good that you’ll never get to the top—few people ever do.  Chances are also pretty good that you don’t really want to be there—few people ever really do.


You’re good, but you’re not the best.  You know a lot, but you don’t know enough.  You’ve got some of the skills and the tools, but they won’t get you over the top.  You think you know what it’ll be like, but you don’t.  You have an idea, but there is so, so, so much more than you can even imagine after you cross that stage.  You can do it.  You really can.  But the most important thing that you can possibly know right now at this crucial time in your life is that you don’t know the most important thing—that’ll be found somewhere along the way.


The greatest knowledge you can posses is the knowledge—the absolute unwavering knowledge—that there is so much more you don’t know about what you think you know than you can possibly imagine. 


The world has a way of making you feel small sometimes.  Don’t let that get you down.  After all, if the world wasn’t such a big place there wouldn’t be any room to grow, and as long as we’re growing there’s no risk of simply fading away.


But the best way to grow is to be small to begin with, and not hesitate to get big when the opportunity presents itself.


Consider this your graduation present.”



It’s probably not a verbatim recreation, but it’s pretty damn close.


My whacked out sleep schedule is on the verge of driving me completely nuts.

I’m exhausted and up ‘till 2:00am every morning—even if I go to bed at 10:00pm.  It’s beginning to make me crazy.


I know what part of the problem is—I’m obsessing over the last level or the last campaign in Command and Conquer, Generals.  Even when the computer goes off before the nightly news, I find my thoughts drifting to that last campaign that I have yet to beat.  I’m almost there… just not quite yet.


As a consequence of the whacked out sleep schedule, I’m not going to make it to the park today because I didn’t have time to get my gear together this morning and didn’t think about it last night.

Instead, I’m going to make an honest attempt to head to the gym and get in a good workout.  Maybe that’ll wear me out enough to get me to sleep early.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

A few things I'd like to get on my soapbox about...

With the MS150 fully behind me, it’s time to get back in the saddle and on the trails.

I’ll probably be riding and running in the park tomorrow.  The goal will be 6 miles by bike and 3 miles by foot, but I’m going to keep that loose just to see how things shake out.

In just a few days I’ll begin the swimming half of my routine.  What fun.



That said, it’s time to climb up on my soapbox.  If you don’t want a crazy rant today, please turn the page.



1.If you haven’t noticed, the news media sucks.  ESPECIALLY the local mouth breathers who desperately attempt to create news.

Case in point #1—A few days back one of the idiot locals was slumming around attempting to invent the story that gas prices are “SO HIGH” that people are pawning their stuff to buy gas.  The idiot even went so far as to go to a pawn shop and interview the owner who said (not surprisingly) that NOBODY has pawned anything to pay for gas.  Here’s a hint, people, GAS PRICES ARE NOT HIGH.  WE ARE EASILY $2 AWAY FROM GAS BEING EXPENSIVE.  You are simply paying for your choice to live in McMansions on the outskirts of town so that you can drive you 12mpg SUV (that you couldn’t afford and are still making payments on so you can’t sell it to get a sensible car) 80 miles to and from work every day.  Enjoy.  You made you bed, now sleep tight.  Maybe you’ll begin to prepare to consider to start thinking about not crapping on our planet every day.  My personal vote is for $10/gallon gas.  Then maybe we’ll start getting realistic about alternative fuels and REAL fuel economy in cars.  The American Auto Industry is not in trouble.  GM and Ford are in trouble because they build cars that not only suck but also suck gas.  Toyota and Honda don’t.  They build good cars that people (gasp) want to buy and that get pretty decent fuel economy.  Surprise of all surprises, they’re also expanding their plants and their sales each year.  Get a clue, live with your decisions, and quit your bitching.

Case in point #2—Hurricane Rita last year.  You could almost hear the disappointment in the voice of the weather-reader when the storm veered off.  Hell, when it was circling around New Jersey he was still trying to convince us that we might get some weather from it.  Don’t be stupid and quit rooting for the hurricane.

Case in point #3—Last night Channel 11 Defenders gave a butcher job of a story on the City of Houston’s housing department.  Apparently a whopping $100,000 was given out as bonuses and the director (who they were certain to inform you made $94,000 annually) “gave himself” a $23,000 bonus while employees that made 1/3 of what he made “only” got $2000 bonuses (that all had to be approved by the board, mind you).  “Money that could have gone to help the homeless”, allegedly.  Then they interviewed a “victim of the fury of Katrina” who was in Houston and still homeless—nearly a full year after the storm, mind you (and conveniently wandering the streets on a day when thousands of illegal immigrants were volunteering to not work, apparently construction work or landscaping or kitchen work is too demeaning for someone who is scrounging around dumpsters and begging for food).  In summary, a rich fat cat gave himself more of your tax dollars than he really needed/deserved at the expense of the poor and (not at all lazy) homeless.  What wasn’t mentioned is what portion of the budget that actually goes to services versus the portion that goes to payroll or administrative expenses.  What wasn’t mentioned is the number of houses/apartments built during the last fiscal year.  What wasn’t mentioned is the revenue that these facilities brought in versus what was budgeted.  What wasn’t mentioned was the expenses actually paid versus what was budgeted.  What wasn’t mentioned was the profit that this department made versus what was budgeted.  No, the only thing that was mentioned was “so and so gave himself a bonus that could have gone to the poor” in the high and mighty tone that the Channel 11 defenders likes to use.  No, don’t worry about the facts, channel 11.  No, don’t worry about those at all.  Just try and foment class warfare.  You don’t have an agenda at all.


2.Something I’ve heard a lot lately is “the immigration debate” and the sides being labeled as “pro immigration” and “anti immigration”.  This is a flat out lie.  Sure, there are “anti immigrant” folks, but they are few and far between and they’re generally labeled as kooks and their rants answered with a “yea…  um, anyway”.  No, the debate is “pro ILLEGAL immigration” and “anti ILLEGAL immigration”.  The question isn’t whether or not foreigners are welcome in this country.  The question is whether or not they should follow the same rules and regulations that EVERYBODY ELSE SHOULD FOLLOW.  Get a freakin’ grip, people.  Mad respect to Mr. Sanchez who walked across a desert in the middle of the summer in order to mow my yard in August.  That’s a helluva physical feat.  And to think, you did all that just so you can be exploited because you can’t talk back or get sick or you’ll get your ass deported or dead.  Yippee do for you.  In fact, if you’d have crossed the border legally and gotten a job legally you’d be afforded all the rights in the workplace as I am—minimum wage, 40 hour weeks, overtime, workers’ comp, protection under harassment and discrimination laws, the full 9.  But no, you had to go cross the desert and then get crapped on by every employer trying to save a buck.  Sure, they could drive their white truck to the Texas Workforce Commission and hire some unemployed people (who aren’t too lazy to work), but no, they’d rather pay you slave wages because you can’t talk back.  Congratulations, stupid.  Enjoy getting exploited.  And no, I’m not going to pay you more to mow my yard or paint my house.  If you raise your prices past what I want to pay you I’ll find someone else to exploit—either a teenager, or a homeless guy, or I’ll do it myself.  In a few years I’ll even be able to force my kid to do it.  You made your bed, now sleep in it.


Now, the right way to solve the problem, of course, is to come up with a 3rd option.  You’re not going to deport all these people.  You’re not going to stop them from coming over here.  The problem is that they’re coming over here and getting exploited and harassed and generally treated like crap by unscrupulous employers.  So, the right thing to do is figure out a way to have them documented so that they can be protected by the same laws that protect you and me.  Maybe accept Mexico’s version of the driver’s license or social security number as valid employment documentation.  Simply get the NAFTA folks together and say “Any citizen of a NAFTA country, with legal home documentation, is hereby allowed to legally work in any NAFTA country and will be subject to whatever domestic employment laws and benefits are present.”  Without the free flow of labor free trade is not truly equitable.  Done and done.  That won’t help the day laborer who gets paid at the end of the day in cash and finds a new job tomorrow, but it’ll help the kitchen worker, the nanny, and scores of other workers who are employed long-term.  Hell, even throw in a “transient/foreign worker wage” to compliment the other 2 minimum wages we have—tipped and regular worker.  But as it is the whole debate is sound and fury signifying nothing—nothing will be accomplished and nothing will come of it except more noise.


3.Speaking of the immigration debate, something else I’ve heard too much of recently is “this is a nation of immigrants” and “the first Americans were illegal immigrants”.  Wrong and wrong.  I’m a native born US citizen.  I was born in Ohio and have lived nearly all my life in Texas.  My parents were born in Louisiana AFTER it was made a state by the US.  Their parents were born in Louisiana AFTER it was a state.  Their parents were born in Louisiana AFTER it was a state.  Not ‘till you get back to THEIR parents do you find someone who is an actual immigrant—who CAME HERE LEGALLY!!!  So don’t give me this crap about “we’re all immigrants”.  I’m as native to this land as the Apaches and I didn’t steal any land from anyone else.  If you want to feel guilty for some historical misdeed, feel free.  I’ve got better things to do with my time.  If you seriously don’t think you “belong” here, then sigh-oh-nora.  Enjoy your new life in a nation you’re really not welcome in, whatever nation that might be.  And if you go there illegally, maybe you’ll get a real appreciation for what kind of exploitation our fine fair friends from the south have to deal with.  And the first Americans weren’t illegal immigrants—there were no immigration laws to break.  Sure, they weren’t welcome, but they weren’t illegal.  Maybe if the injuns had better control of their borders, blah, blah…  hm?


Ok, that’s about all for now.  Rand mode is off and the soapbox is safely stowed away.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Draft Day

I don’t watch the draft.  I think it’s some of the worst TV programming ever.  The fact that the NFL can convince people to watch 15 minutes of action crammed into 4 hours or more of a television program is a genuine testament to the league’s ability to draw viewers or a testament to American’s willingness to watch ANYTHING on television (also see American Idol, Wife Swap, Desperate Housewives, and Will and Grace).


I think I said a few months back that picking a Heisman winner in the draft rarely, if ever, makes you a Superbowl team—even after a few years in the league a team rarely grows up around the trophy-boy into a bona-fide champion.  Several factors go into that phenomenon—Heisman winners usually go in the top 3 slots, good organizations win Superbowls, good organizations rarely pick in the top 3; the primadonna athlete syndrome; 1 player rarely makes a football team great (even Super Joe had Super Jerry).  So with that said, way back in January I suggested in conversations that the Texans should either pick someone else or trade the pick for a handful of other guys.  They chose to pick someone else.  I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad personnel decision, but it very likely was a bad financial decision—they’re paying #1 money to a #3 or #4 guy AND they’re not getting the Saints, Titans, or Jets first round pick next year (bad organizations like to trade next year’s first pick for this year’s first pick because they think they won’t be picking at the top of the first round next year—they’re usually wrong).

So, I guess after all is said and done, I give the Texans ½ credit for their handling of their #1 pick.  I’m sure it’s the guy they wanted (they had the whole damn field of draftees to choose from) and hopefully it’ll work out for them.  However, they could have gotten more. 

Bottom line is that if you’re going to be a SuperBowl contender you have to draft like a SuperBowl contender.  If you want to be the Saints and the Jets, you draft like the Saints and the Jets.  This year the Texans were half Saints, half SuperBowl contender.