Friday, April 30, 2010
Yeeeeaahhhh... I'm going to have to go ahead and disagree with myself there.
But an notable nomination goes out to 4 hours from now when I'm having the first sip of my first of many drinks. Or perhaps it'll be during Nightmare on Elm Street when I kidney hit one of my friends during a tense scene and they yelp like I do every morning in my freezing shower.
Or maybe it'll be tomorrow. Maybe when I hit a nice golf shot in the late afternoon with a Stella waiting for me in the cart. Or afterwords bar hopping and watching playoff hockey/basketball. (when is it considered a drinking problem...??)
I suspect that the best part will be tomorrow afternoon, before golf and after I get back from running errands. My neighbor below me, the one that my floor is peeing on, called to check on the status of repairs. The conversation kinda dragged yesterday and I was in the middle of a few things. He was keeping me (he speaks a mile a minute) on the line for a reason so I decided to ride it out and see what was up. He stopped rambling about some water damage issue he had years ago and paused with a heavy sigh.
Do you play chess, checkers, or backgammon?
(in my head... I have no effing idea what backgammon is. I know it's a game. It sounds a demonic spell in the Legend of Zelda...) I do play chess occasionally.
Oh, good. Yes, that's a good game.
Well, I play chess and checkers and backgammon and I'm not very good.
But I like to play.
I used to play with my friend Charles, but he passed away. With my cancer I don't really get out and sometimes I get a little cabin fever...
I'd love to play.
I had a lot of thoughts running through my head. I sat on my balcony and took a photo.
First, it was obviously a nice gesture, especially since my place is currently unloading water on and around him. Second, I would definitely make time to hang out with him. I thought about what I know about him, how he's rather sick and company can do anyone some good. Third, I felt like **** for not making more of an effort before. I'm pretty polite with my neighbors. They all seem to like to talk to me when I come and go (it's very much an older community where I live), but I haven't made such an effort to really engage them. Since I'll probably be leaving in a few months I want to change that before I go.
And I'll probably really enjoy myself in the process which will make it harder to leave. Such is life. Wouldn't have it any other way.
Thursday, April 29, 2010
Learning by teaching is a powerful device. When you take the time to explain a concept to someone else you are forced to think about that concept from a different vantage point.
What examples can I think of to explain this?
What is the clearest way one should think about this concept?
It requires a greater understanding of a subject to explain it to someone else than it does to just know something.
My nieces are in/entering the "why" stage. You know what I mean, but here's an example:
You need to eat.
Because you haven't eaten all day. (and I'm freaking getting an ulcer thinking about you not eating and then you getting sick and me getting arrested for being a neglible prick)
Because you didn't want to eat earlier.
If I knew that, my job would be much easier.
Because I'm going to the store, stay with grandma.
Summer is here and as much as I dread it, there are some great aspects. Warm nights, cold beer, cheap golf, movie marathons while continuously cursing away the sun -- but I especially love our sunsets and I catch far more of them during the summer. Others will probably have a similar appreciation for the above and I put two and two together.
They are going to ask "why is the sky blue?". Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow. But soon.
I had a vague idea of why, something about the density of the atmosphere and the reflection/absorption of light, but I'm going to try to learn this and explain it here for my own edification and maybe yours too. :)
Why is the sky blue?
There are two main components at work here:
Light is made up of various colors. A rainbow is an example of the various colors that come from the sun's rays.
The Atmosphere contains mainly nitrogen and oxygen. Argon, Carbon Dioxide, and water are also present in small amounts. The Atmosphere also contains particles such as dust, ashes, pollen, etc. The Atmosphere is more dense with these particles the lower you are.
Light travels in a straight line, unless it is absorbed or reflected by an object. A gas molecule, when hit by sunlight, will absorb some of the light that tries to pass through it. When a molecule absorbs light, it will give off the color that was absorbed. Blue happens to be a smaller wavelength color, so it is more easily trapped by these gas molecules thus, giving off the blue light.
So why does the sky look bluer above you than off to the side? That's because the blue light above you (that has already been absorbed and radiated) is traveling straight down to you through the least amount of debris in the atmosphere. But light that is coming from around you is traveling through more of the dense atmosphere and that blue light is getting scattered and distributed.
Why is the sunset red?
As the sun nears the horizon the light from the sun must pass through the densest part of the atmosphere. The smaller waves are essentially decimated, scattered into a million other directions. The longer wave lengths (red, orange) are leftover and that consists of most of the light reaching you.
And there you have it.
I'm going back to the store.
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
So occasionally I'll step out of my price range to take a look at what's out there. I love architecture and it's fun to get some ideas about what I like and what I loathe. Here's a place that is almost perfect, for something not near the water and without a HUGE yard.
If we pool together a few hundred thou, we can totally secure a wing. :)
(did office space make my top 10? too many movies!!)
[this is going to be an especially long and boring post, really it's just something that I can direct people to it when they ask]
I get asked what I do all the time. Understandable. When people don't know who you are they can't really ask "WHO ARE YOU?" I think it's rare that a profession can accurately describe who you are (although "whore" is actually a profession AND noun AND adjective... the swiss army knife of professions), kinda like "what's your major?". But my job certainly does impact me and I'll explain that as it is a portion of who I am on a day-to-day basis. Well, no, I won't. I wrote a friend of mine an email talking about what I do, so I'm going to copy/paste/edit because typing this again might make me quit.
I'm a product manager for a small software company based in Scottsdale, AZ. The company is called (n)TORUS and we focus helping content providers effectively monetize their video content online, so How I Met Your Mother on CBS.com is an example.
Here's the gist about the industry:
With the advent of the DVR a massive restructuring of advertising supported content was destined to occur. Broadcast companies like FOX, NBC, CBS, etc. do get some incremental revenue from cable bills, but they make most of their money from advertising.
Well, with DVR's penetration into the market, fewer people are watching commercials yet still consuming professional content. Good for the consumers, I say; until you see how that impacts the market. Advertisers are unwilling to pay the same rates as before because people are skipping their ads. So as the "verifiable" tv audience shrinks, so do the ad dollars. Well, what pays for shows like "How I met your Mother"? Ad dollars. So now you're seeing a dramatic increase in reality tv. Why? No writers. No directors. No high-priced actors. It's cheap and people will watch it. This is why Leno moved to primetime. Even if he didn't do well the show would be more profitable than making a high-priced show to run during primetime.
So the wall at the end of the train tracks spells an end for professional content. TV would go the way of reality TV and user-generated videos while actors would go to movies or pay channels like HBO. Everyone loses a little (to a lot) in this scenario.
(long paragraph about the problem... basically TV is going online networks like CBS need to figure out how to make as much money online as they do on TV)
Enter (n)TORUS. (where I work)
Our ad model is akin to the magic bullet. We extract more value from each ad viewed, so the revenues are higher for networks and consumers need to watch less advertising per show. How? It's a bit technical, but we use targeting, market research, and volunteered user data to create greater relevance and higher engagement. All of our extraction methods are based on what a user does, not scanning their computer/cookies or anything.
(skipping long explanation of how the system works. my poor friend, i made her suffer through all of it)
(I run with this Pez example for a long time, but it doesn't make sense without the explanation of how the system works. So I'll just say that Pez is great. What were my favorite Pez characters, I wonder...)
(more how it works babble)
That's the quickest and dirtiest way to explain it.
You haven't answered the question.
Right. I'm responsible for the products we create. Here's one of them:
So if you went to the feedback form on this site and said, "I hate this and you" I'd get that email. I'd collect your feedback, determine if it's warranted (store it if it's bogus or crazy), and slot it against what needs to be executed right away. I then check our development cycle and break apart projects into smaller pieces. Then I solicit/propose ideas from our team. I'd then get with the business folks and try to get the greenlight on what things should be done in the order that I feel is most appropriate. I then meet with engineering and see what they'd need to get started.
I document all this and then I work on making sure that when March XX rolls around that we're ready to hit the ground running. That means getting with design to mock changes, getting those approved, getting materials for engineering and mapping out their requirements... things like that. Then we hold a meeting to answer any questions and the team is off. I manage design and engineering along the way. I check their work as they go and close their requirements as they complete them. We don't have a QA person, so I do the bug checking/testing as well. We also cut our marketing guy, so I'm that too. I was hired as a technical writer, but after I finish my contract work they brought me on and I worked my way into this role. My unofficial job is to improve/maintain company morale. I do this with my Jon Secada videos and, kinda like Cole's singing bass, I plant a Halo helmet all over the office. Someone will run over it with their car (intentionally) in due time.
We have about twelve products that are live and we're developing new ones each month. So those are my babies.
I like the experience. I have my fingerprints on everything that goes out the door. In a small company environment I learn how to run things when I take my shot. But, like everything else, you learn plenty on what not to do by those around you.
So hopefully one day I can round up some people and start executing on some of these ideas I've had over the years, but I guess I'm still learning how to make it happen. Plus when you turn into a CEO you apparently turn into a huge douche nozzle.
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
I left this one up there awhile. I really love the Great Lake Swimmers right now.
Great Lake Swimmers - Moving Pictures, Silent Films
Lydia - Your Taste is My Attention
White Rabbits - The Plot
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c|
|Law & Border|
One of my most favorite individuals found this cool site that aggregates the words you use the most in your blog and makes a map of it. Mine is really sad. I've had a sneaking suspicion that I had become rather lazy and sluggish with my diction, and this map does little to disabuse that notion. Sadly work emails and notes don't engender elevated vocab...
Tho I'm super glad piglet made the list.
I'm currently reading "The Road", which is a fantastic book and I can lend it to anyone... however, the book is a little dangerous. It's definitely not a light or easy read, and I'm not referring to the level of difficulty. It must be the most solemn and foreboding novel I've ever read. But, in the face of horror, there is the opportunity to create and foster something amazing.
Basically it's an amalgamation of a post-apocalyptic future, holding on to humanity while surrounded by insanity, an arduous road trip, and other things that I haven't deciphered quite yet. But more than anything it's about the relationship between a father and son.
Their relationship is beyond moving and, while it seems the book isn't about happy endings (or beginnings or middles for that matter), it's been well worth the anxiety so far.
It is utterly hilarious. Here's the first episode from season one. Season two starts this summer.
Monday, April 26, 2010
It's like those puzzle games, how many wrong things can you find in this picture?
So this past Thursday I received a call on my phone from a number I didn't recognize. Check that, multiple calls. The reason why there were multiple calls is that I don't pick up the phone for numbers I don't recognize. Like ever. Say the car is in the shop and I KNOW they'll call me when they are done, I let it go to voicemail and assume they are done with the car. Amazingly enough this idiotic strategy hasn't really blown up in my face.
Back to Thursday.
So this person is blowing up my phone and I finally answer after the fifth consecutive call.
(P.S. don't ever call me like that from an unknown number unless there is a serious fire or they are bringing back The OC)
With a very curt tone I answer expecting some spanish jibberish (I get these freaking voicemails with what sounds like spanish telemarker blather... maybe my number is in a bathroom stall in Nogales??) and instead it's my HOA talking about my floor leaking water on the person underneath my condo.
The water heater in my unit is leaking and I have to turn it off and empty it. Okay, it's an old unit and I will be moving pretty soon, so I figured something would break on the way out -- not a big deal. Now, I know what water heaters do, but I wasn't fully appreciating the gravity of the situation.
For some reason, being the little piglet I am, I thought about food. Not a big deal, I have stove and microwave, so warm water is till accessible. I realize that I didn't really use my water heater for boiling water for cooking, but, again --> me = piglet. Then I thought about the dishwasher, but that was okay too, I don't mind doing dishes by hand. And all was right in the world.
The next morning I woke up happy to skip work and play golf all day. I started brushing and I got the water going in the shower so it'd be warm when I was done brushing. ... That would be a fantastically long wait.
I love showers. I don't like them searing, peeling back skin hot like some people do, but I like it warmer than cold. I have my routine and it's soothing, it's something I need each day to get going.
I had to get my day started and I figure the body adjusts to water temperature pretty fast, so just jump in. I think I yelped. I haven't yelped before, so I can't be entirely sure, but I have a sneaking suspicion that's what occurred. I kept jumping up and down in the shower trying to get my body to warm up. My ears were burning in that they were so frigid. My routine turned into "empty all products all over me as fast as possible and get the f out".
It's like going from this:
I'm going on four terrible showers in a row now. I went to my parents house last night and found myself leaving my hands under the warm water when washing my hands before dinner.
A reminder for us all to appreciate the little things.
So when you pop in the shower next and you think about taking what you have for granted, think of me. ... I believe I just asked whomever to think of me in the shower. Awkward... :P
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
I finally had the opportunity to see (500) Days of Summer and it was better than advertised. (don't continue if you haven't seen it yet!) The setting, the acting, the lighting, the dialog, the method of storytelling... Loved it.
Isn't there something becoming of a guy pining in misery over a girl? The tormented thoughts, the drunken stupor, the melodramatic conversations... it's amusing to me in the same way that biffing on ice skates horribly makes me smile... wasn't fun or funny at the time - not even a little while after it - but time passed, as it always does, and perspective sets in.
My first job out of college was notable in two ways:
a. I met some utterly amazing friends
b. I learned a very valuable concept
Here's an example:
Say you get this really great job offer in another state and you're wondering what to do. You obsess over the decision and wear yourself out. You decide to pick up dinner at the local Chinese restaurant and in a brash moment you decide to let fate set your course. You open the fortune cookie and you see this:
A little disheartening. Managing expectations could have been implemented like the Chinese restaurant being called, "Literally Devoid of All Spiritually Chinese Food".
Giving someone additional information to adjust what they might anticipate to occur is a powerful notion. Incidentally, my boss, whom bestowed this upon me, was terrible at using this skill himself. More credence to the saying those that can't do, teach.
To manage expectations you have to have an idea of how a person is thinking and, more importantly, care about how they are feeling. That was a fascinating disconnect in (500) Days of Summer. The girl (who should be slugged in the face) stood on the ground rules that she established when they first started talking. He instead evaluated their relationship based on their dynamic. A spin of a popular theory we hear about... the girl in this story was clear with her wants and intentions and the guy felt that he could be enough to change her.
The girl didn't care enough about the guy to manage his expectations and felt fine leading him on. He felt that she cared for him enough that she clearly wouldn't be so careless with his emotions. Again, she's a twat.
But, ultimately, it's up to ourselves to manage our own expectations. To temper our fantasies. To be pragmatic. And in the face of what he has been through, in the wake of having his heart obliterated, he finally does manage his own expectations... by not adjusting them at all and carries on with the same recklessness as before.
Friday, April 16, 2010
Going to a 3-song standard for now.
I don't write nearly enough to keep people entertained for five songs.
William Fitzsimmons - After Afterall
Tori Amos - Siren
Nick Drake - Northern Sky
American Football - The Summer Ends
William Fitzsimmons - Afterall
This particular playlist could have lasted quite a while longer, but the Great Lake Swimmers song has been speaking to me so I was compelled to make a change.
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
I'm that guy.
My buddy at work is deciding between an Xbox 360 and PS3 and I'm not respecting his intelligence and I'm absolutely baiting him into an Xbox. I've been sending him all types of propaganda to sway him. When he comes back from the main office area he's sure to have some print out or new wallpaper on his computer about something Xbox related.
(side note) The main office is pretty slick. Lots of glass meeting rooms, pretty swanky space, all-around, very nice. The office has XM radio being pumped throughout the building. Nice touch. However, the choice of the station is up to... I don't know who... but someone who clearly hates me. EZ listening non-stop. So Gloria Estaphan, Chicago, Peter Cetera, whatever... well, the music is also pumped into the attached gym and a Jon Secada song started blaring through the speakers and I lost it and just about created a dumbbell sized hole in my face.
So I'll annoy people in the office by sending them this or have it playing on their computer repeatedly when they come back from lunch:
(this will have relevance later)
I like synergy and I quickly threw together two images hoping to seal the deal on the Xbox 360 for my buddy.
After I sent this I got a message back from him right away asking if I knew what I sent. I asked him what he meant and he asked me if that picture looked like anyone I knew.
What. The. F. I don't see it. Or I don't want to see it. But the office consensus is that I look like... check that... that Jon Secada looks like me in that picture.
And there you have it. So now anyone that reads this can find me less physically attractive... which is okay, I feel the same way about myself. ... but I do find Jon Secada is a bit more dashing than before.... =P
- Breakfast is the first to go if I'm running late
- Mini-workout is next to go
- Shaving (more like a beard trim)
- Leisure route into work on side streets
So today was a level-3, I skipped everything but the nice drive in, which I try to enjoy between mentally chastising people drinking their morning coffee while they try to merge into my car.
While brushing I was starting to feel the monotony of the last couple of work weeks. Wake up around the same time. Leave work, same deal. Working on the same project, seeing the same people during the 9 to 5. I thought about April 14th and tried to find any sort of significance about it. Surely there was something that made the day memorable. At the very least someone out there is having a birthday, or maybe a first kiss, or perhaps finishing a life-changing novel, or even celebrating an anniversary... so while today seemingly had no additional meaning to me, someone out there is relishing every instant of this day. And that knowledge alone holds some meaning for me.
So, of course, as I stroll into work late I hear my good buddy on the phone getting a happy birthday call and furtively slink back out to pick up muffins and croissants. While we found a quiet corner and devoured our breakfast (my other coworkers aren't as cool)
I was rewarded for my gesture with this factoid: April 14th is the day that the Titanic sunk.
(As if the event wasn't tragic enough, most people will think of this when they hear "Titanic") =P
Friday, April 9, 2010
Sufjan Stevens - For the widow in paradise
Jeff Buckley - Hallelujah
Drake (ft. Peter Bjorn) - Let's call it off
Taken by Trees - Sweet Child of Mine
Keane - A Bad Dream
1,2,5 are some of my favorite songs. I never seem to tire of them. They are pretty closely tied to a woman from my past, but I think I've successfully recovered each of them...
Thursday, April 8, 2010
Who are those happy people?? I have no idea who those girls are but that up there, in the middle, that's me. To be more specific, that's me well on my way to being drunk. It had the setup of one of those nights. I planned ahead. My car was already at my buddy's place. We had a number and cash for a cab. It was Friday night and we hadn't been to a clubby bar in ages.
So I met these two girls and I thought about the following rules for wingmen:
Smile! You'll have more fun that way and you'll attract others that are having fun too.
Wallow over your failed project/test/relationship/shuttle launch/life.
Have good vision. Genetics and environment can raise hurdles, but contacts and flood lighting should help.
Direct your friend to the easiest catch possible so you can stop being a wingman, selfish prick...
Jump on that grenade. Divide and conquer - one of the oldest military strategies in existence. You gotta entertain the girlfriend to free your buddy up for some QT.
Jump on the cake. It's not your night! Or you have a wife or girlfriend, so you're not making moves anyhow. See the following for further assistance:
Dennis Rodman the space. Defense is the key to a good offense. You have to box out and block the other d-bags in the water.
Get suckered into inviting said d-bags into the fray. They don't really want to buy you a shot. Fail on this one and you should be shot.
Let your buddy shine. Hey, not everyone is a starter. They have a 6th man award for a reason.
Decide that it's time to dazzle the crowd with your unbelievable magic skills. ... actually, that's the perfectly lame, self-deprecating set up that we need more of.
And we're back to my night out. My buddies weren't hanging out to play wingmen, we were simply having a good time. Drinks were flowing and I was being sociable, good times. I spent a bit of time with those girls talking about things like the brilliance of the moon (no idea who they are or what their names were) and that's because a new Don't was added to my list.
Don't... (emphasis Do Not)... throw-up on (and all over) the bar.
I, (and I do mean) thankfully, was not standing between my buddy and the bar. Instead he was hunched over the bar and ... blaaaaaaaaaah... spread like a freaking bounty paper towel commercial on the bar top. After a considerable recoil (the girls screaming and running away), I grabbed him and dragged him outside. We were obviously not allowed back in. BUT I did manage to get my buddy's credit card on the way out (bringing my wingman score to a very healthy quotient.) The downside was that my card was still open (-1 for the wingmen)... and let's also throw out a +1 to american express customer service for sending me yet another card.
One of my favorite movies from the last few years is Adventureland. If you haven't seen it, it's definitely a good watch. It captures that reckless, staving off the dawn, having conversations with friends into the odd hours of the night feeling that seems too long ago.
There are some great movies that didn't make the cut... America's Sweethearts, Just Friends, Tombstone, Last Samurai... but the plaque for the alternates is in the ladies room.
5. Fight Club
The ability to let that which does not matter truly slide.
A movie about disenfranchised guys in their 20s and 30s who grew up under the guise of the American Dream, made to believe they could be actors or astronauts, and coming to terms with who they are. And this is about how they deal with that. One of the most comical movies I've ever seen.
4. Top Gun
The entire freaking movie is a line.
3. Great Expectations
I knew I'd love this movie. I think it came out the same weekend the Wedding Singer came out (which I love as well.) There's not much more poetic about boy wants girl, boy can't have girl. The acting, the lighting, the soundtrack... and it has one of the most intensely passionate scenes I've ever witnessed.
2. Grosse Point Blank
This used to be the Matrix, but the sequels took off quite a bit of luster. Quirky and hilarious. It took a couple of watches before I really recognized how amazing this movie is.
This is the only perfect movie I've ever seen. The atmosphere, the soundtrack, the cinematography... all of it. It's not for everyone, which helps lock it in as my favorite movie of all-time.
Monday, April 5, 2010
You know the worst thing about opening day?
Alright, well, maybe being at work during it. Yeah, that'd definitely qualify. I've resisted the urge to rattle on about sports on my little blog, but I'll make an exception today. Anyone who knows me knows I'm FAR more into Football than Baseball, but there is a particular purity about Baseball that is so welcoming. It's a comfort sport.
You can't really lounge at a football game. There's too much going on. There's a big play developing and the guy in front of you stands, so you stand, (she'll stand up... it'll be anarchy, sir) and beer is spilled all to just see Matt Leinart overthrow another pass.
Baseball is a great time to sit and watch something casually with friends. Catch up on things. Enjoy spending time with someone instead of trying to look through your friend's head at the play.
So I'll be celebrating today, even though opening day is one more reminder of the Arizona summer that is on its way. I'll grill some dogs and toss a burger on as well. I'll bring extra RELISH (haters...) with all the other fixings, open a beer, turn on the game, and probably fall asleep in the 6th inning.
One of the best days of the year.
Friday, April 2, 2010
When Paul Fischer checked his bank account Friday night, he had a happy surprise. His balance had exploded to $88,888,888,888.88. A very lucky number indeed, and close to $89 billion.
"You say, 'Eighty-eight billion, what can I do with that?'" said Mr. Fischer, who owns a jewelry concessionaire for Florida theme parks. "Maybe a handful of us could have brought down SunTrust Bank."
Mr. Fischer had other ideas as well. Before the problem was fixed, he asked a SunTrust rep if he could move the money to an interest-bearing account until it was reclaimed and donate the interest to charity. Total interest: more than $7.3 million.
The bank said no.
The money was stripped out of his account by Saturday morning.
"It's all gone. I'm poor again," he said. "I was a billionaire for five hours."
This kind of bank error happens frequently. But Mr. Fischer raises an interesting question: What if, for five hours, you truly did have $89 billion?
What would you do with the money? The ground rules are that you would have to give the money back — and whatever you bought or invested with it — after five hours.