Monday, May 30, 2005

moving like a tortoise, full of rigor mortis

So yesterday were the Mad City races, including a marathon, half-marathon (my event), 5 & 10K and a kids race as well. This was my first half-marathon race, ever, and only the second time I've ever run more than 12 miles (both of which were this month).

The half-marathon course was beautiful and relatively flat, and the weather was perfect. The City of Madison was very supportive of the event, and there were people cheering and encouraging all along the course. I had a great time.

Now that I'm back in the temperate wasteland and have had a day to recover, it's time to post the results.

I managed to finish below the overall average time and in the top half of all runners. My average mile pace was 8:53, and I finished under 2 hours. I also got a nifty medal for being a finisher (see below).

T minus 33.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

if I stay funky like this, I'm doin' damage...

I found out today that somehow this little blog came to the attention of MKE Online and was nominated for Blog of the Week in Wisconsin. Not sure how or why, but the honor of being nominated is appreciated. I'm guessing traffic will increase for the week, and any of you who came here from MKE Online, welcome, take a look around, enjoy yourself.

To my regular readers, click here to vote for me as Blog of the Week.

T minus 33.5

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

breathing fire doesn't look good on a resume

And may be illegal under a law in your state...from, laws that are still on the books in the Great State of Wisconsin. Some are dumb, some are bizarre, and some are just plain unenforceable...
- One may not camp in a wagon on any public highway or risk a fine of up to ten dollars.
- It is a class A misdemeanor to wave a burning torch around in the air.
- Livestock have the right-of-way on public roads.
- Butter substitutes are not allowed to be served in state prisons.
- Tattooing is illegal unless it is done for medical purposes. (Brookfield)
- Screens are required on all windows from May 1 to October 1. (Hudson)
- No male is allowed to be in a state of arousal in public. (Kenosha)
- It is illegal to play checkers in public. (La Crosse)
- You cannot "worry a squirrel." (La Crosse)
- No person may water his lawn in such a way as to annoy his or her neighbor. (Sheboygan)
- Nuclear weapons may not be manufactured in the city limits. (Sun Prairie)
- Cats are forbidden from entering cemeteries. (Sun Prairie)
- If a person shall fail to return books he/she has checked out from the library, that person should return their library card to the library until the books are returned. (Wauwatosa)
(As a side note, the City of Milwaukee just recently removed an ordinance barring drinking of alcoholic beverages in public parking lots during special events. This ordinance has been on the books since 1980, which means that for 25 years, anyone who tailgated at any Brewers or Packers game at either the old County Stadium or the new Miller Park was in violation. Apparently the County Sheriff's Dept doesn't enforce city ordinances.)

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

If we don’t we’re gonna blow a 50-amp fuse

Topic: Toys...

Toy #2: Garmin Forerunner 201

I may actually buy one of these sooner than later...especially if I decide to keep training for longer distances. Half marathon is Sunday, and this would a cool toy for it. Maybe next year.
The Forerunner 201 offers athletes an easy-to-read display, ergonomic wristband, and integrated GPS sensor that provides precise speed, distance, and pace data. It's a compact, lightweight, accurate training assistant with performance tracking, auto-lap, auto-pause and more. The Forerunner 201 is easy to use right out of the box and delivers the benefits of GPS technology at an affordable price.

Working out with the Forerunner 201 means you're never alone in your personal training, because the unit provides a Virtual Partner™. This unique feature allows you to set your training goal by configuring your Virtual Partner's pace and workout distance. You'll get a graphic perspective of your performance by viewing your pace in relation to your Virtual Partner's pace, so you can always see at a glance if you're keeping up or falling behind.

UPDATE: This toy has been ordered, along with a Camelbak Hydropak.

Monday, May 23, 2005

and it makes me feel so fine, I can't control my brain

Topic: Toys...

Toy #1: Solio Portable Solar Powered Charger (for iPod)

This one is just too cool...after all, who couldn't use unlimited power to their iPod?
The Solio is the most effective and compact solar charger on the market with its own fully integrated internal battery. Its patent pending Solar Blade ™ technology allows it to achieve maximum solar area at minimum size. Unlike other obtrusive portable chargers, Solio’s fan blade design allows it to be folded neatly to the size of a small mobile phone. This means Solio is highly portable, making it the perfect travelling partner wherever you are going.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

This is how Liberty dies...with thunderous applause.

So I saw Star Wars Episode III over the weekend...and I can honestly say that George Lucas finally got his head out of his ass and made a good movie again. As I wrote previously, I watched Episodes 1 & 2 as part of my Star Wars weekend and other than a few good moments, those movies stink...and I mean dog-meets-skunk stink.

Episode III finally came back into the vein of the original trilogy, and other than a few moments with some horribly cheesy dialogue, it was a great sci-fi film. If Lucas was intending for his "romantic" dialogue to be cheesy, corny or contrived, then he was immensely successful...otherwise, he failed miserably to write even plausable dialogue...even for a long time ago in a galaxy far away.

(As a side note, if you wanted to read into the film for parallels between the current administration and the rise of the Empire, I'm sure you could...but it wasn't blatant...and if you took offense to such "liberal" ideas...then you're probably on the wrong side now.)

T minus 38

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

they paved paradise and put up a parking lot

Wal-Mart is once again proving themselves to be an evil corporation...not that it's really a surprise. Currently the city of Flagstaff, Arizona is trying to pass a ban on big box grocery stores, and Wal-Mart felt it was necessary to step in with their billion dollar opinion.

For those of you who have never been to Flagstaff, you really should go. It's a beautiful city with an excellent climate. It is the home to Northern Arizona University. It also is a city that should preserve the natural beauty that surrounds it...which is what the informed, educated citizenry is attempting to accomplish.

Wal-Mart, on the other hand, decided to compare this ballot proposal to fascist censorship, and actually used an image of a Nazi book burning in an anti-ballot proposal print ad. (Follow the link to see the actual image.)

To protest a Flagstaff, Arizona ballot proposal that would restrict giant grocery stores, Wal-Mart ran a newspaper ad featuring a famous Nazi book-burning photo and the following text: "Should we let government tell us what we can read? Of course not....So why should we allow local government to limit where we shop?" Perhaps thinking the photo was from its own in-house files, from when it banned America (The Book), Wal-Mart says it didn't even realize the ad depicted Nazis. When people complained, the retailer apologized "for the use of the imagery." But the general idea of equating government censorship by force with a ballot item people can vote on? That Wal-Mart stands behind completely. "We will not back away from substance of the ads," exclaimed a Wal-Mart consultant, perhaps before advising his client to not be so shy about trumpeting its efforts to skimp on employee healthcare.

Monday, May 16, 2005

That's the sound of a thousand terrible things heading this way

The most important season of the year is upon us...

Nope, not spring...not even the transition into summer. Not baseball, football mini camps, none of the above.

It's the month of May, which can only mean Sweeps Month for television. It's that last gasp for the networks to pull out all the stops, air the specials, and show...gasp...could it episodes of shows that were in re-runs for the month of April.

The other thing May Sweeps means is the networks start unveiling their schlock and awe campaign to sell the upcoming fall season. NBC announced theirs today, and the new shit looks worse than the shit they're cancelling...just shinier.

The highlights lowlights of Fall 2005 on NBC:
NBC said Monday that it will introduce six new series in September, including only one comedy: "My Name is Earl," featuring Jason Lee ("Chasing Amy") as a downtrodden lottery winner.

NBC is canceling the fourth installment of the "Law & Order" series, "Trial By Jury," which lost star Jerry Orbach shortly after production began. The Mark Burnett/Sylvester Stallone boxing series "The Contender," "American Dreams" and "Third Watch" are also not returning.

NBC is moving the political drama "The West Wing" to Sunday nights, with the campaign to replace Martin Sheen as the mythical president continuing.

Despite losing ground to CBS on what was once its most popular night, NBC said it is returning its Thursday schedule intact: including the troubled "Friends" spinoff "Joey."

Stewart's starring role in "The Apprentice" will give NBC two versions of the boardroom game running this fall. The home improvement queen's show will air Wednesday night, with Donald Trump keeping his Thursday time slot.

Gospel singer Grant stars in "Three Wishes," a reality show where she travels across the country trying to transform lives by paying medical bills, making dreams come true and the like.

NBC will air three new dramas: "E-Ring," a Jerry Bruckheimer production with Dennis Hopper and Benjamin Bratt, about life in the Pentagon; "Fathom," about a creepy new form of sea life; and "Inconceivable," a medical show set in a fertility clinic.

I think the only good coming out of this "pit of despair" is the West Wing's timeslot shift. Now it doesn't conflict with South Park won't get in the way of studying this fall.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

That's no moon, it's a space station!

Geek weekend has descended on my apartment in the still horribly damp wasteland. My non-functioning BetaMax VCR has arrived, and has already been gutted. The old circuit boards are a thing of beauty. This beast was created long before the days of printed circuit boards, and now it is a hollow shell of it's former self. Hopefully it will soon become a media center PC in disguise...stay tuned for future developments.

In other geeky news, Star Wars Episodes 4-6, 1 & 2 have been/will be shown in my living room over the weekend. These showings are in advance of the release of Episode 3 this week, which I should be seeing this coming weekend.

Finally, I believe I am ready for the rapidly approaching Mad City Half Marathon on Memorial Day Sunday. Today was my longest run ever (by about 2.4 miles), and I went 13.6 miles in 1:54:47. Now its time to relax and watch Star Wars.

Friday, May 13, 2005

hey where did we go, days when the rains came

It's time once again to start formulating the summer reading list, not that it appears summer will ever take hold here in the exceedingly damp wasteland...high in the upper 40s here today, and that cold evil rain sucking the warmth out of everything. Stupid thermodynamics.

Anyway (as a delightful preview to you) the following books (which do not yet appear in the sidebar) are likely to appear in said sidebar over the next few months:
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
Class: A Guide through the American Status System by Paul Fussell
The Gunslinger by Stephen King
The Drawing of the Three by Stephen King
The Waste Lands by Stephen King
Wizard and Glass by Stephen King
Wolves of the Calla by Stephen King
Song of Susannah by Stephen King
The Dark Tower by Stephen King
Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

Well, as that list seems to be rapidly approaching 10,000 pages, I'll leave it at that for now. You may also notice that the sidebar has once again been updated, reflecting my completion of The Great Gatsby, and my thanks go to LC for the reading recommendation and loan of the book.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

living isn't a simple one ever said it's supposed to be

So learned the Marquette University Board of Trustees yesterday, after meeting in emergency session. They reversed their decision to change the athletics mascot to the *awe inspiring, fearsome, terrifying* Gold, and have now opened the decision process to the stakeholders they should have consulted in the first place.

From my favorite source for the now-daily Marquette blunders, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:
On Wednesday, the Board of Trustees threw in the towel and put Gold in the New Coke bin. In a stunning about-face, the board announced the creation of a new nickname selection process with the aim of having a new and workable nickname in place by July 1, when the school joins the Big East Conference.

The new plan, which includes the creation of an advisory committee and a system in which members of the Marquette community can vote online for their favorite nickname, essentially takes the task of finding a nickname away from the board and puts it in the hands of the Marquette community. As many as 100,000 alumni worldwide, nearly 11,000 students and more than 2,000 employees potentially could be involved in the final decision.

"We say, and we really mean, that we regret what happened," Wild said at a news conference at the Alumni Memorial Union exactly one week after Gold was first unveiled.
University President Father Wild (who was previously rumored to have been in favor of reinstating the Warriors nickname with a different mascot) said:
"We were not winning hearts and minds."
The article continues:
But the backlash was fast and furious. Web sites and blogs devoted to Marquette athletics and politics were almost universal in their condemnation of the nickname, talk-show hosts were spending hours on the topic, and the university found itself constantly on the defensive.

On Friday, students organized a small protest and shouted at Wild. On Saturday, Wild and John F. Bergstrom, chairman of the board of trustees, met with students.

It wasn't enough. The board hastily called a meeting on Wednesday to find a way out of the public relations mess.

At the news conference, Wild said the issue of bringing back Warriors was "firmly off the table." Both he and Bergstrom reiterated comments they made last week that adopting a Warriors moniker violated the principle of respect for human dignity. Moreover, they said, American Indians found "Warriors" offensive.

The decision to reject Warriors likely will not sit well with some die-hard Marquette fans who have accused university officials of acting in a politically correct way. Many fans of the Warriors nickname expressed frustration that the school ought to consider using a Warriors nickname without any American Indian references or imagery.
And what did the board come up with to solve the new mess they find themselves in?
The new plan will begin with the selection of a Marquette Nickname Advisory Committee, which will include students, alumni, faculty and staff. Those members will be announced soon.

In the next two weeks, a list of as many as 10 possible nicknames will be unveiled. The names, which will include such chestnuts as Blue and Gold, Golden Avalanche, Hilltoppers and Golden Eagles, will come from the names that sprang up during the 1994 and 2004 nickname debates.

Voting will be done online, and all students, alumni, faculty and staff will be asked to choose two nicknames from the list, or offer a write-in option.

Votes in favor of Warriors will be thrown out, officials said.

The two top options then will be subject to another round of online voting, expected to be sometime in mid-June. The nickname with the most support will be sent to Wild, who will announce the school's new athletics nickname.

The two rounds of voting will be binding. For those without access to the Internet, another method of voting will be provided.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

our noses have begun to rust

Maybe that's the result of all the egg on their collective faces...The Board of Trustees for Marquette University have announced they will be holding an emergency meeting today. The topic? The idiotic and rash decision to change the university athletics mascot to the "Gold". Or more precisely, the near 100% negative reaction that decision has generated. While I'm not holding my breath that they will admit to this slight oversight mistake colossal blunder of astronomic proportions, AND FIX IT...I would appreciate it nonetheless.

From the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:
The Marquette University Board of Trustees has scheduled an emergency meeting today to review the flood of angry e-mails, letters and phone calls from concerned alumni, faculty and students upset over last week's decision to adopt Gold as the school's nickname.

Rana Altenburg, Marquette's vice president for public affairs, confirmed the meeting. She said she did not know whether the trustees would consider dropping the Gold nickname and adopting a new one.

Rather, she said, the board is getting together "because they want to review the communications from students, alumni, faculty and other stakeholders regarding the decision."

"All of the individuals on our board have a very strong commitment to this institution," Altenburg said. "Our trustees feel very deeply about Marquette. As part of that commitment, they want to pay careful attention to the concerns of all Marquette stakeholders."
The news of the meeting came as some cracks started to appear among the board, at least one trustee. In that case, John J. Stollenwerk, president and CEO of the Allen-Edmonds Shoe Corp. and a prominent trustee, wrote an e-mail to a friend expressing his concern about the process the board took to adopt Gold.
In the e-mail to the unidentified friend, Stollenwerk said he hoped the board would rescind its decision regarding Gold in the context of his concern that the process did not include all members of the Marquette community.
But the reaction from students, faculty and alumni was immediate and nearly all negative. With Web sites exhorting students and alumni to protest, the university was bombarded by e-mails, calls and letters protesting the decision to adopt Gold. Many upset alumni argued that Marquette had become a national joke both for the nickname and the way the trustees decided the matter.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

you know all the right people, you play all the right games

The best government your special interest money can buy.

Congressman James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) seems to be taking a page out of the Tom Delay playbook. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports that he has amassed a whopping $111,000 travel bill over the past 14 months, most of which was paid for by private groups (i.e. special interests).

What is rather ironic about this $8,000 a month travel habit is that in the district he supposedly represents, his travel bill alone represents the annual median pre-tax income for 3 of his "constituents" combined. Good thing these "private groups" are willing to cover the tab.
F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., the state's senior Republican in Congress, visited New Orleans, Las Vegas and 11 foreign countries - some overseas destinations twice - in the 14 months ending in February.

Together with his wife and two aides, Sensenbrenner amassed more than $111,000 in travel bills then, often relying on private groups to pick up the tab, according to a Journal Sentinel review.

The Menomonee Falls lawmaker, who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, had travel bills three times as high than any other federal lawmaker from Wisconsin during that period.

The review of congressional travel came amid intense scrutiny on Capitol Hill involving travel by lawmakers who rely on outside sources to pay their way, often descending on famed, faraway places average Americans only dream of.

The Journal Sentinel's review, done routinely, is mirrored by probes by other news organizations and watchdog groups - scrutiny triggered largely by controversy over trips involving House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas).

Several newspapers have reported that some of DeLay's overseas trips might have been paid for by a Washington lobbyist entangled in criminal and congressional investigations.
Reforms expected
However, Norman J. Ornstein at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research predicts that the allegations against DeLay - who has denied any wrongdoing - will result in reform measures.

"People have cynically abused and misused the travel rules, and in my judgment that includes DeLay and others who foolishly, sloppily or wrongly didn't report trips - or reported a lobbying group paid for it because they didn't pay attention to what the rules are," said Ornstein, a political scientist who has studied Congress for 36 years.

Other watchdogs complain about the minimal disclosure about trips that is required of lawmakers. Larry Noble, at the Center for Responsive Politics in Washington, said the danger of involving outside sponsors is their opportunity to hold sway with lawmakers in settings, which, records show, often are both exclusive and exotic.

Who funds trips is one key issue. Who's along for the ride is another. "You don't know who went along on these trips," he said. "And they're a way for organizations to gain access and get the member in a situation where they're receptive to what the organization has to say."

Lobbyists tag along
Some lawmakers from Wisconsin acknowledge that lobbyists - and in one case a registered foreign agent - tagged along.

Consider a trip Paul Ryan (R-Janesville) took with his wife, Janna, to the Middle East in April 2004. The overseas trip, paid for by the Islamic Free Market Institute Foundation, cost more than $26,000.

Ryan, in an interview, said he learned Thursday that two people aboard his flight - Grover Norquist and Tanya Rahall, sister of House Democrat Nick J. Rahall II of West Virginia - are lobbyists. Ryan said he thinks they attended the same conference.

Rahall is a registered foreign agent for the country of Qatar, according to the Justice Department's Foreign Agent Registration Act Unit. Norquist, founder of Americans for Tax Reform, is a high-profile conservative activist.

Qatar, records show, was one of Ryan's stops. He said he attended a conference focused on the spread of democracy and free markets in the Middle East, which he called important and topical.

And Ryan said he makes it his practice to clear his so-called sponsored trips with the House Ethics Committee before taking them.

Referring to Norquist and Rahall, Ryan remembers them sitting in the back of the plane. He said they did not take part in panel discussions, nor did they attend meetings with him and Sensenbrenner, who also made the trip. "I never engaged with them," Ryan said.

Airfare costs
Airfare to and from the Middle East for Ryan and his spouse was more than $9,000 each. Ryan also brought along an aide, whose airfare of $5,800 and other expenses also were covered by the foundation, records show.

Sensenbrenner and his wife, Cheryl Warren Sensenbrenner, had airfare totaling more than $8,000 each on the Mideast trip.

When Sensenbrenner's press secretary, Raj Bharwani, was asked whether lobbyists were involved in any of Sensenbrenner's foreign trips, he said: "Lobbyists may have been in attendance at some of the foreign trips, but my boss did not travel with them, nor did he schedule any meetings with them."

The Journal Sentinel's review looked at foreign and domestic trips taken by members of Congress and their spouses or partner, and by aides to lawmakers only when they accompanied a lawmaker abroad. That Sensenbrenner landed in the top spot repeats a finding from a Journal Sentinel review of trips published in 2003.

Sensenbrenner's defense
Sensenbrenner, the only committee chairman among the eight Wisconsin House members, defended his travel.

"As chairman of the House Judiciary Committee in the post-September 11 world, I am responsible for numerous security issues, including border, visa and passport security, as well as intellectual property and developing technology issues that require international cooperation," he said in a statement. "The best way for the United States to encourage this necessary cooperation is to work directly with our foreign counterparts."

Sensenbrenner also is co-chair of the U.S.-Japan Legislative Exchange Program, according to the George Washington University professor who runs the exchange.

In his statement, Sensenbrenner also defended relying mainly on private groups to pay his way, saying: "Privately funded trips are an effective way for me to learn about these (security) issues and press for international cooperation without having taxpayers foot the bill."

But on the last point, watchdogs differ. Noble, formerly general counsel for the Federal Election Commission, said that if travel is critical to a lawmaker's work, taxpayers should pay. While some legislators maintain that they're saving taxpayers money by having outsiders pay, Noble is skeptical. If the trip results in persuasion, leading to a tax break or regulatory change favorable to an industry, it might cost taxpayers in the long run, he said.

Monday, May 09, 2005

tonight you could be my flamingo

Happy Orgasm Day! I hope you all know an appropriate way to join in the festivities...

Sex rarely makes the news in Brazil's conservative Northeast - until a small town declared an official Orgasm Day on Monday.

Espertantina Mayor Felipe Santolia endorsed the May 9 holiday, which he said was intended to improve relationships between married couples.

"We're celebrating orgasm in all its senses. There's even a panel discussion on premature ejaculation. But from what I've seen, women have more trouble achieving orgasm than men, especially in marriage," Santolia said by telephone from Esperantina, 1,300 miles north of Rio de Janeiro.

Santolia said the remote town of 38,000 people has been unofficially celebrating orgasm day for years, but that the town's former mayor had vetoed a bill making it an official municipal holiday.

The city council passed a law Saturday creating the holiday. Santolia, who took office earlier this year, said he would sign the bill later Monday.

"I'm 32, single and I have an open mind. Beside the theme is very much of the moment," he said.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

I love to feel that warm Southern rain, just to hear it fall is the sweetest sounding thing

Well, its currently raining here in the temperate wasteland. It's humid and wonderful...winter has finally lost, and spring is quickly developing into summer. Now I just have to resolve the apartment situation for this fall. I toured several places on Friday, and while I really liked one particular apartment, they apparently don't have any parking available onsite...which just won't work for me.

Other than that, the long weekend in Madison was great, and I did come across another apartment rentals guide. This one seems to be more along the lines of what I'm looking for, so I'll be hitting the phones during lunch at work this week...and probably making another trek down to Madison in the near future as well.

Speaking of trips to Madison, I'm going to have to get serious about running as the half-marathon is quickly approaching, and a quick glance at the calendar indicates a mere three weeks to go.

As the days tick down (see sidebar), I'm really starting to look forward to my last day of work...

T minus 58.

a bit of light update

The reading list on the sidebar has experienced a minor shakeup as of late. Over the weekend, I finished off The Handmaid's Tale, which is an indication that there's never going to be a review of American Gods. I'm also not sure if I'm going to write an opinion of The Handmaid's Tale. I did enjoy it, but I'm not really sure what, if anything, I might have in the way of commentary.

Additionally, I was just provided with a few new books that need to be incorporated into the reading list. The Great Gatsby is now the current read, and the other books will be making their sidebar debut shortly as well...stay tuned.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

and with no lifesaver you try your best to float

While I realize I don't disclose much on this blog (other than my cat, apparently), my undergrad alma mater has just made a decision I really am puzzled by.

Some of you may already know that Marquette University (Milwaukee, WI) is moving to the Big East Conference this fall, and as a result, they decided to revisit the athletic nickname issue again. After all, they've made brilliant decisions in the past, so why not take another bite at this apple?

The Marquette Golden Avalanche Hilltoppers Warriors Golden Eagles (and others, I'm sure) are now the "Gold". From the official press release:
“Gold” boldly represents Marquette’s proud athletics traditions such as Golden Avalanche, Golden Eagles and Gold Rush, the current student fan section for basketball games. It has also become the signature color for Marquette athletics worn proudly around the country by Marquette students, alumni and fans. In athletics, the mark of a champion is often a gold medal or trophy.

Not quite sure what that may entail for a mascot, but I guess the powers that be will come up with something equally clever. After all, here's the new athletic monogram:

this ain't no jam, the jam can scram

Reading this post over at BTQ yesterday made my mouth water...and also made me curse the fact that my grill is in storage (and has been since November of 2003). Stupid rules about charcoal grills on second story wooden decks...stupid stupid stupid.

To quote a little:
The Santa Maria-style tri-tip is considered northern California barbeque. The main difference being that tri-tip is cooked over direct medium-high heat and for only about 30-40 minutes, while true barbeque is cooked for a long time at a low temperature over indirect heat. The tri-tip is so good that I won't quibble with the Californians over the proper use of the word "barbeque."

Needless to say, the recipe sounds delicious, and hopefully I'll be able to fire up the grill on many an occasion once my relocation is completed.

Mmm...barbeque [/homer simpson]

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

I believe in Santa Claus. I believe in the Tooth Fairy. I do not believe in you.

Pennywise, pound foolish would likely be the best way to describe yet another series of actions the State of Wisconsin recently undertook. In their zeal to cut costs, they decided to remove approximately 1000 vehicles (cars, trucks, vans, boats, planes, etc) from the state vehicle fleet. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports on the results of a legislative audit recently completed regarding these vehicle sales.
State officials did not consider the full cost ramifications last year of slashing the number of state-owned vehicles, according to a legislative audit released this morning.
The state Department of Administration is wrapping up the sale of 1,000 state vehicles ordered last year by Gov. Jim Doyle after problems with the state’s vehicle fleet were identified. But the decision to sell those cars and trucks did not take into account increased costs for renting and leasing vehicles and for reimbursing employees who use their personal vehicles to conduct state business, the Legislative Audit Bureau reported.

It also never identified the best way to sell excess vehicles, whether by public auctions, online auctions, sales to salvage yards or sales to municipalities.

Sounds like the taxpayers really keep getting their money's worth out of these elected officials.

UPDATE: More on the growing problem with state-owned vehicles.
Somehow, I feel like this should come as a surprise...but I guess my cynical side choked that feeling into submission.
Up to 88 state employees with recent drunken-driving infractions and as many as 149 without valid Wisconsin driver's licenses were allowed to use state vehicles, according to an audit released Wednesday.

The Legislative Audit Bureau report also revealed that the Department of Corrections has not adhered to the state rules for driver eligibility, allowing employees with up to three drunken-driving convictions to continue to drive state cars, as long as the workers obtain occupational licenses.

And it gets the whole article for the full nauseating effect.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

everything will be all right, this won't hurt at all...

Time Magazine has provided a "family tree" of sorts for the "sextology" of films that is the Star Wars universe. It's quite likely that this was created for those out there that have never seen any of the films (and there are people like that out there), so the real geeks may find it pointless and dumb. Nonetheless, click here to check it out.

work all day, be all that I can be...

Just a quick update from my desk at work...

Back inside after a very cold last week out in the field. Windchills in the 30s are not welcome in April, nor now in May. Yesterday morning I awoke to snow falling, but fortunately it was a bit nicer today. If the weather forecast holds, it will be a great weekend.

Speaking of this weekend, I'll be heading back down to Madison to look at apartments on Friday (I'm taking a well-deserved day off), and enjoying a beautiful weekend downtown. I found a building I like, in a good location, and at a great price with on-site parking, and they don't charge extra for cats...sounds perfect, so I'm checking it out.

Last weekend in Madison was great as well, busy but very fun. The Crazylegs Classic was quite an experience. Mostly an experience in running around dipshits slow-moving individuals who clearly failed to understand the concept (or actual length) of a 5-mile run. Needless to say, if I run this again next year, I won't be lining up honestly where I did this time. Passing 1000+ people really sucks. Official time: 44:32, 3040th place. (First two miles were 10 & 9 minutes respectively...which pretty much hosed the rest of the run, pacewise). The run up Observatory Drive really wasn't bad at all, and the course was fine. It did serve it's overall purpose of a nice Madtown warmup for the Mad City Half Marathon at the end of this month.

T minus 61.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Some are dying for a cause, but that don't make it yours.

Another reason to have faith in the United States Government's ability to keep secrets. From this post at (Click the link to the post for screen shots, etc):
Last Friday an official report was released by the Pentagon and the American authorities claiming basically that the murder of the Italian secret agent Calipari in Bagdad was a consequence not of the American soldiers mishandling of the situation but due to the wrong behaviour of the Italians and the car carrying the agent and the hostage on the way to the airport.

The document was produced in Acrobat PDF format and most of important information was hidden as confidential. The Italian government (the minister of foreign affairs) made a lot of noise as they disagreed with the conclusions and refused to sign the document. No names were released from the Americans and many important details wiped out from above document.

This morning Gianluca Neri, an Italian blogger from Milano, had a look at the document which was published on the net and ridiculized the whole American secret services. With a simple cut and paste from the Acrobat document into a word processor, he was able to disclose all details to the public: names, places, the name of the soldier who fired, everything...

It is actually pretty simple to recover that information. Open this PDF, select all text, copy to clipboard and paste into a regular text editor. if your version of Arcobot does not let you select the text, find the Microsoft Word document here.

I feel much safer now knowing that our security is handled by experts.