Sunday, December 31, 2006

More Pics

And here are a few photos I took with Réní Mamurd's camera after mine ran out of juice.

It's well below freezing. Are you cold?
HaywardCold

Slow-mo sledding. . .
HaywardSled
They say they got the run going fast by the end, but at that time, Chunlin and I had retreated into the car to wait. . . with the dog.

Hayward
We were on Hayward Hill, you see? The sun sets in the south.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Yesterday or the Day Before

The days are blurring together. . . But that's what vacation is all about, right?

Si

Heading eastward, over the mountains.

Denny
From the driver's seat of my car on the interstate. . .

Ellensburg
Near Grammy's nursing home.

ThorpDriveway
My grandparents' driveway (past the house to the barn).

ThorpField
Ask my dad to reminisce about this field.

ThorpEave
Outside the back door. Don't stand underneath!!

ThorpIcicles

But all in all, a fun Christmasy time with family.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Eight

Eight trips to load my car. And there's still a little room left over for Chunlin and her stuff.

But only just a little. . .

Happy Christmas Eve!!

You bought be lots of cool stuff, right? Right??

Gimme gimme gimme gimme gimme!!!!

. . .

Ahem.

'Tis the season of giving. I shouldn't worry about what I'm getting.

But still . . . What'd ya get me?

Friday, December 22, 2006

There's always next year

So tell me, how did the Rice football team ever win a single game?

Oh, I know. The C-USA is full of medocrity.

The defense needs to retake tackling class. . .

Watch the New Orleans Bowl!!

You'd better be watching the New Orleans Bowl today! It starts at 7 p.m. Central Time, which is also 5 p.m. Pacific Time. But since it's in New Orleans, which is in Central Time Zone, . . . you get the idea.

GO RICE!!

I had scheduled today as vacation/"personal time", but I had to go in to work to finish off a few things due this year. I'm taking all of next week off. Yay!

Christmas, here we come!

But first, a football game. Watch it! GO RICE!!

So. . .

Is it winter yet, or what? 'Cause it looks a lot more like autumn than autumn did.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

The End of the Rainbow Is at the Transit Center

But that's probably not how they see it.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Mt Hood



From Tom McMahon.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Allo-aloha-hola!

Howdy howdy howdy!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Done!

I finally finished wrapping all my Christmas gifts. Here they are, neatly arranged "under" my tree.

ChristmasTree

I think I need a bigger tree. . .

Hmmm. I bought even more stuff than last year:

TreeGifts

Last Monday

Stuck in traffic, getting on I-90, I sit. So I pull out my camera, of course!

SeattleTraffic

Friday, December 15, 2006

Seahawks Cause Bad Weather

The last two times the Seahawks have hosted a nationally televised game, we've had big storms come through.

Last night, their special Thursday-night game caused gale-force winds and massive power outages. A few weeks ago, their Monday Night Football game blanketed the region in snow and ice.

If Seattle hosts a playoff game, pray we don't have an earthquake!

If You're Reading This, You Have Electricity

As do I, at work. Not at home, though. A million customers without power in Western Washington, they say, all due to a few fast-moving molecules last night.

Chunlin took the bus over to Bellevue, but her office is without power.

But I have to get back to work now. As do you, if you can read this. You have more important things to do, surely!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Two

During the hour between one and two, time slows down. CDs finish quicker, the clock doesn't change as often, and work just isn't as interesting.

It doesn't matter if my lunch is 11-12 or 12-1, it's still the 1-2 hour that's the worst.

Only ten minutes to go.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Home Is Good

Familiar surroundings are nice, but the real reason is the people. Family and family-to-be.

Saw my parents today, went tree-hunting with my dad. We caught a fourteen-footer! But the farm had lopped the branches off the bottom four feet, so now it's only ten feet tall.

Every available moment with Chunlin.

And since today is Réní Mamurd's birthday, all five of us will be getting together for dinner. Racha Thai!

Happy birthday, Réní Mamurd!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

The wind chill is 5 below. This must be Buffalo.

A 4.8-hour drive down old I-90 from Albany to Buffalo. No direct flights. Snow showers blinding us. Salt accumulating on the car, coating it an eighth-inch thick. I put my sunglasses on and could still see everything just fine.

This business travel thing ain't so bad. You just have to put the rest of your life on hold and go with the flow. I'm quite sanguine today. But maybe that's because I'll be back in Seattle tomorrow night! I just printed out my boarding pass.

This 80-hour work week is only temporary for me, but it's normal for my boss. In fact, he probably works 120 hours a week, if not more. 24/7/52. He'll probably work Christmas morning.

I may or may not have to come back to the East Coast next week. I still don't know. Leave Sunday? Leave Monday? Return Wednesday night? Return Thursday night, after the company Christmas party? No news is good news, but I'm preparing for the worst. Just put the rest of my life on hold for a few more days. . .

This too shall end.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Perhaps this is Albany. . . ?

Or maybe East Greenbush, over the river and through the woods from Albany.

Today's our off day, time to prepare for tomorrow and Friday, catch up on everything else.

I didn't get up till after 10:00. I should probably get my work done first before I go back to sleeping. . .

My hotel room has a kitchen. This place is for long-stay guests. Two days isn't really a long stay, now is it?

It's very cold and windy outside.

I'm not sure I'm fully awake yet.

Monday, December 04, 2006

I think I'm in Philadelphia.

Business trip. Sorry I haven't replied to all of your wonderful comments. Thanks to all!

I don't like business trips. Very tiring. My coworkers and boss are now going to go out to dinner. I'm not hungry and I have plenty of other stuff I want to get done in the next couple hours before I pass out from exhaustion.

But maybe I should go out with them. See Philly. I saw plenty of the Monday Night Football traffic getting here from Delaware.

The Wilmington airport is tiny. Only a hundred yards from the plane to the taxicab. But you have to wait a half hour for the cab to show up. . .

I want to go home and be with Chunlin!

And for those of you who wondered how I proposed, well. . . it was at the Medina police station. Cops were involved. Bye-bye!

Friday, December 01, 2006

She said yes.

Ring

Cut and Run Now!!

I approve of the immediate withdrawl of American forces from Iraq, just so long as we allow the military to topple one or more neighboring dictatorships on their way home.

The two biggest problems with retreating from Iraq are the incredible chaos that will ensue and the worldwide view that the United States is weak.

But, if we destroy the Iranian, Saudi, and Syrian governments (this should only take a week or two, maybe a month), and then bring all the troops back to America, at least the second problem would be alleviated.

The US military isn't made for peacekeeping and nation-building. It's designed for killing and destroying. Do you use a steak knife to feed a cow? No. So let's use the military for its intended purpose.

As for the first problem mentioned above, Iraq is in moderate chaos at the moment because the neighboring dictatorships are jockeying for position to take Iraq as a puppet state. The Saudi royals are fueling the Sunni insurgency and the Iranian mullahs are paying for the Shiite insurgency (counter-insurgency?).

If we give the Saudis and Iranians enough trouble at home, then those countries won't have time or money to waste on their Mesopotamian neighbors. They'll be fighting for their own countries' futures. And thus Iraqi will be free to live peacefully and everybody will agree that the United States is the most powerful and best nation on the planet.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

I think they're just making it up

For the past few hours, weather.com's radar map has shown snow falling in north Seattle. But I look out the window (and walk to lunch and back) and see nary a flake in the air.

The current map shows rain/snow mix for Auburn southward because I guess that's where they think the 32-degree line is. But if it's not snowing here, is it really raining/snowing there? Are they just guessing? I think they're just making it up.

Winter Wonderland

Or maybe it was this song which was floating through my head as I've been walking to and from work lately. . .

Sleigh bells ring, are you listening?
In the lane, snow is glistening
A beautiful sight
We're happy tonight
Walking in a winter wonderland

Gone away is the bluebird
Here to stay is a new bird
He sings a love song
As we go along
Walking in a winter wonderland

In the meadow we can build a snowman
Then pretend that he is Parson Brown
He'll say, "Are you married?"
We'll say, "No man,
"But you can do the job
"When you're in town."

Later on, we'll conspire
As we dream by the fire
To face unafraid
The plans that we've made
Walking in a winter wonderland

In the meadow we can build a snowman
And pretend that he's a circus clown
We'll have lots of fun with mister snowman
Until the other kids knock him down

When it snows, ain't it thrilling
Though your nose gets a chilling
We'll frolic and play, the Eskimo way
Walking in a winter wonderland.
by Richard B. Smith

Yes, I'm pretty sure I was singing this song aloud as I walked Chunlin home the other day. Except I didn't know all the lyrics. . .

New Orleans, here comes Rice

So Rice is in a bowl game, the New Orleans Bowl, on December 22, playing against Troy State University. I wish they were picked for the Armed Forces Bowl (in Fort Worth), playing against Utah. But that's just because I know about the Utah Utes and don't even know what state Troy is in. Alabama? And what's their mascot, anyway? It better not be Trojans. Or maybe it should be.

In any case, Rice isn't going to gain anything by playing a SunBelt Conference team, even if they are the champions. I wish they had the opportunity to play an SEC team or some such, and show how much better they are than early in the season (when Rice lost by 50 points to Texas and then another 50 points to Florida State).

Well, at least this way, the Rice Owls will be the favorite. And New Orleans is a nicer town to visit than Fort Worth.

But I'm not going. That's too close to the crazy Christmas travel days. I'll just find a television at 5 p.m. PST on Friday, December 22, to plant myself in front of. Hmmm. . . I just might stay at the office. We've got ESPN2 in HD!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Let It Snow!

I've had this song going through my head for a couple days now. . .


Oh the weather outside is frightful
But the fire is so delightful
And since we've no place to go
Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!

It doesn't show signs of stopping
And I've bought some corn for popping
The lights are turned way down low
Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!

When we finally kiss goodnight
How I'll hate going out in the storm
But if you'll really hold me tight
All the way home I'll be warm

The fire is slowly dying
And, my dear, we're still goodbying
But as long as you love me so
Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!
by Sammy Cahn

Monday, November 27, 2006

Hey, it's snowing!

It's not supposed to snow in Seattle. Really. This town just ain't ready for it. I-5 is a parking lot from the convention center north to infinity.

This morning, I drove to work because the roads were bare and I had some errands to run during lunch. My car is still at the office, but I'm not. I walked back home. About five minutes before it started hailing (followed shortly by big snow), I was contemplating going for a run after work. I think my jog/walk to get home will have to do.

Peering outside my window, I can see the moon now. The clouds are thinning out. We're in for a cooooold night.

Seattleites are more polite and friendly when it snows than any other time of year. Strangers say hi and chat with other strangers, discussing their shared troubles. Unless, of course, said stranger is in a car stuck behind someone who's spinning their tires and not proceeding through the green light. Then, they lay on the horn.

I have Christmas music playing and it finally feels appropriate. . . It's a cd that came from my dentist in Houston, who I haven't seen in years. Some songs are good. Others, not so much. The disc doesn't say who's singing any of them, and it's clearly different people for each.

So up 5th Avenue I walk:
02-5th
The cars moved, somewhat. I probably could've driven home safely, but it would've taken longer.

04-LibraryLamp
This was near the new library and community center. Kids were playing in the snow in the field there. This place is starting to feel like an actual neighborhood.

07-NorthgatePedestrians
Let's go shopping!

Hiking up 5th Avenue, I hurried along. My forehead started getting cold. I put my hand to my head and felt a layer of ice. Melted snow, refrozen slush. No wonder my head was cold! And brush that snow out of my hair.

I briefly talked to another walker who left his car at the mall. He wanted to get home in time to watch the Seahawks game. He asked me where a nearby pub was, but I couldn't think of any. Still can't. After I left him behind, he flagged down a passing SUV and hitched a ride. See? Friendly strangers!

12-Roosevelt
This is the driveway of the building just north of mine. No tracks whatsoever for most of it.

All in all, snow is a pain, but fun. And I finally found a reason to be thankful my shoes have a goretex lining. My feet stayed warm and dry!

Now I think I'll make a large snowman on my balcony. . .

Happy Monday.

02-MondayMorningBird

Friday, November 24, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving Friday!

Some may call it Black Friday, but that's just not a happy enough name. Plus, I don't plan on going shopping. . .

I went to Seattle's parade this morning. Took some photos, of course.

I didn't get a good one of the Seagals, though. Sorry, Chunlin. Too blurry. . .

But first, a photo from yesterday:
03-Dave

Okay, here's the first band of the parade:
08-ConksBand
I just had to yell "Go Conks!" I got a few cheers in response.

11-ChunlinMark
I need to work on my aim. . .

The Mariners Moose rode around the street on his usual 4-wheeler:
12-MooseAttack!

Some of the few people in skirts:
14-MenInSkirts

Aww. . .
19-SnowmanHug

Right before Santa is. . . Snow Globe Lady!
18-SnowGlobeLady
I wonder if it's warm in there. . .

Look! It's Santa!!!
21-SantaKid

Ho ho ho! Merry Christmas!!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Happy Friday!

It's Wednesday-as-Friday Day, one of the longest days of the year. . .

Monday, November 20, 2006

My alma mater is better than your alma mater!

The Rice Owls are bowl eligible! They started the season 0-4 (and 1-5) by playing puff teams like Texas, Florida State, and UCLA. Once they got to the heart of their conference schedule, though, they've won five straight. That loss to Tulane is looking more embarrassing each week.

The last time Rice was bowl eligible (8-4 in 2001), they weren't invited to any bowls. The WAC at that time only had two bowl tie-ins, and Rice was third place in the conference.

This year, Rice is third in the C-USA with one game left to play. Even if they lose, I'd still count them as fourth. At least fifth. And the C-USA has five bowl games.

I hope the bowls don't look at the overall record and pick a team Rice beat (eg Tulsa) because they played teams like North Texas and Stephen F Austin at the beginning of the season. It's not like Tulsa has any more alumni than Rice, either. It's an even smaller school than Rice!

But Houston and Southern Miss are #1 and #2. If SMU beats Rice, they're #3. Even though Rice just beat Eastern Carolina, a bowl might pick ECU over Rice as #4. So then it's Rice, Tulsa, and Marshall (who isn't even bowl eligible yet).

So I'm thinking Rice will play in the Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth, Texas, on December 23 versus TCU. Rice's first bowl game since 1961!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

To Someone Special

Happy Corrugated Cardboard Day

Wishing You Happiness
and Blessings Always

Corrugated Cardboard Day
is a time for thinking of those
who are a special part
of our lives
and have a special place
in our hearts--
that's why
Corrugated Cardboard Day
is a time
for thinking of you.

Love,
Mom

Friday, November 17, 2006

NFL White Home Jerseys

From Wikipedia, the repository of all known facts:

Dallas Cowboys:

The Cowboys were the first NFL team to primarily wear their white jerseys at home, as every other team wore their colored jerseys at home. This tradition started in the 1960s by then-general manager Tex Schramm, who wanted a single look for his team that every fan would see, whether they were playing at home or on the road. He also wanted Cowboys fans to see a variety of opponents' colors at home games. Since then, two other NFL teams, the Dolphins and the Redskins, have adopted the practice of wearing their white jerseys at home.

Throughout the years, the Cowboys' blue jerseys have been popularly viewed to be "jinxed" because they often seem to lose when they wear them. Most of the time, Dallas will wear their blue jerseys when they visit Miami, Washington, or one of the handful of teams such as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers that traditionally wear their white jerseys at home during the first half of the season due to the hot climates in their respective cities. But on some occasions, opposing teams will purposely wear their white jerseys at home to try and jinx the Cowboys.

The Cowboys have lost the following playoff games when wearing their dark jerseys:

  • Super Bowl V against the Baltimore Colts
  • The 1980 NFC Championship Game versus the Philadelphia Eagles
  • The 1982 NFC Championship Game against Washington
  • A 1996 Divisional playoff game versus the Carolina Panthers
  • A 2003 Wild Card playoff game against Carolina

Washington Redskins:

The tradition of wearing white jerseys at home was started by Joe Gibbs when he took over as coach in 1981. Gibbs was an assistant for the San Diego Chargers in 1979 and 1980, and the Chargers wore white at home during the tenure of coach Don Coryell in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Their burgundy jersey (which is primarily used for when the opposing team decides to wear white at home, which comes mostly against the Dallas Cowboys) consists of burgundy jerseys and white pants. The other combination were burgundy jerseys and gold pants, which were used mostly in the past and for one year in the 2002 season when the Redskins celebrated their 70th anniversary and wore it at home.

Their white jersey consists of three combinations. One is the white jerseys and burgundy pants, which is considered the "classic" look. The other (and lesser known) combination is the white jerseys and gold pants, which was used in the past when they weren't wearing their burgundy jersey. The last combination consists of both white jerseys and pants. That particular combination surfaced in the first game of the 2003 season on a nationally televised game against the New York Jets, which led to many sports fans and Redskin faithful alike to point out that they have never seen that particular combination. That year the Redskins wore it two more times. That look didn't appear again until midway through the 2005 season when the Redskins wore it on a road game against the St. Louis Rams. The Redskins won six games (including one in the playoffs against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers wearing that combination) and the local media jokingly pointed out that the reason why the Redskins were winning was because of the white on white combination. In the NFC Divisional Game against the eventual 2005 NFC Champion Seattle Seahawks, the Redskins wore the all white jerseys, in hopes that they could keep their luck going; however, they lost 20-10. The Redskins have continued to wear the white jerseys and white pants into the 2006 pre-season. In the 2006 season, the Redskins started wearing black cleats, something that hasn't been done for quite awhile. It was a surprise because they wore white cleats during the preseason. They would have to wear that color for the rest of the season, because the NFL usually asks teams to choose either black or white cleats to be worn throughout the season.

Although the Washington Redskins always wore their white jerseys during home games, there were a couple of exceptions where the Redskins wore their burgundy jerseys. One was during the 2001 season where Marty Schottenheimer had the team wear burgundy, another one during the 2002 season with Steve Spurrier where they celebrated the teams' 70th anniversary, and the last one during the 2003 season where Spurrier had the team wear burgundy in some of the home games.

Miami Dolphins:
Miami is one of the three NFL teams that primarily wear their white jerseys at home (the others being the Dallas Cowboys and the Washington Redskins), although they will wear their aqua jerseys during games held at night. Since the 2003 season, the Dolphins have worn an alternate orange jersey twice for home night contests. They are 2-0 in games wearing the alternate jersey (each of which were comebacks against the Washington Redskins in 2003 and against eventual Super Bowl champs and Division-rivals the New England Patriots in 2004). They did not wear the orange jerseys in the 2005 season because they had no night games.

In 2005, new coach Nick Saban did not have the Dolphins wear the aqua pants with the white jerseys, instead opting for the all-white outfit. Prior to Saban's arrival, the Dolphins traditionally wore all-white at home and aqua pants with white jerseys on the road under former coach Dave Wannstedt.

On two occasions, the Dolphins have worn an all-aqua combination for prime-time games, defeating the Chicago Bears in 2002 and the Cleveland Browns in 2004.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Where My Mind Has Been

Chunlin
Reorganizing college sports conferences
New Zealand vacation
Food
Work
Health and exercise
World news and politics
Writing novels
The Amazing Race
Christmas gifts
Maintaining my various calendars
Learning Chinese
Photos
Survivor
Cleaning my condo
Professional development
Blog

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Friday, November 10, 2006

NCAA Football Reformation

Lest you think I cared more for basketball than football, here are the six top-tier college football conferences, taking the top nine of each region from the rankings as of last weekend:

West:
California
Southern California
Boise State
Oregon
Oregon State
Washington State
Arizona State
Brigham Young
Washington

Central:
Arkansas
Louisiana State
Texas
Oklahoma
Texas A&M
Nebraska
Missouri
Tulsa
Texas Christian

Midwest:
Michigan
Ohio State
Notre Dame
Wisconsin
Iowa
Purdue
Minnesota
Cincinnati
Central Michigan

Southeast:
Louisville
Florida
Auburn
Tennessee
Georgia Tech
Kentucky
Georgia
Alabama
Florida State

East:
West Virginia
Wake Forest
Maryland
Virginia Tech
Clemson
Navy
South Carolina
East Carolina
North Carolina State

Northeast:
Rutgers
Boston College
Pennsylvania State
Pittsburgh
Massachusetts
Connecticut
Syracuse
Harvard
Yale

(I know, I know. Ivy League teams? The Northeast is just weak, that's all. Weak!)

And because I care, here are the second-tier conferences for the important regions:

Pacific:
California-Los Angeles
Arizona
Montana
Hawaii
San Jose State
North Dakota
Nevada
North Dakota State
Air Force

Great Plains:
Houston
Kansas State
Oklahoma State
Northwest Missouri
Texas Tech
Nebraska-Omaha
Louisiana-Lafayette
Rice
Baylor

Great Lakes:
Ohio
Indiana
Western Michigan
Michigan State
Youngstown
Illinois State
Northern Illinois
Illinois
Northwestern

And, just for fun, here are the two third-tier conferences from the West Region:

Northwest:
Wyoming
Portland State
Idaho
South Dakota
South Dakota State
Montana State
Colorado State
Central Washington
Colorado

Southwest:
Utah
New Mexico
California Polytechnic-San Luis Obispo
San Diego
Stanford
Fresno State
California-Davis
San Diego State
Northern Arizona

If things ended as they now stand, Utah and Wyoming would go up to the second-tier Pacific Conference and Colorado and Northern Arizona would drop to the fourth tier. Taking their places would be North Dakota State from the second-tier Pacific Conference and Augustana (South Dakota) from the fourth tier, both going into the Northwest Conference; and Air Force from the second-tier Pacific Conference and Sacramento State from the fourth tier, both going into the Southwest Conference.

The state of Colorado would thus have two colleges in the third tier (Air Force and Colorado State), but in different conferences. But that sounds better than putting Portland State in the Southwest with California colleges and New Mexico.

Oh, and Washington would drop down the second-tier Pacific Conference, to be replaced by UCLA. But there's still a chance to stay in the top tier for the Huskies. Win some games! Go Dawgs!

NCAA Basketball Reformation

I was thinking (oh no!) about the NCAA again. Basketball is starting soon, and poor little Nevada doesn't have any high-caliber teams in their conference. And neither does Gonzaga. Or Memphis. Or other teams in other conferences that I don't really know much about.

So here are the six top-tier men's basketball conferences, taking the top nine in each region from last year's final rankings:

West:
Gonzaga
California-Los Angeles
Nevada
Washington
Arizona
California
Air Force
San Diego State
Utah State

Central:
Texas
Kansas
Arkansas
Louisiana State
Oklahoma
Wichita State
Texas A&M
Missouri State
Creighton

Midwest:
Ohio State
Illinois
Iowa
Michigan State
Indiana
Marquette
Northern Iowa
Wisconsin
Bradley

Southeast:
Memphis
Florida
Tennessee
Kentucky
Alabama-Birmingham
Florida State
Alabama
Louisville
Vanderbilt

East:
Duke
North Carolina
Georgetown
George Washington
West Virginia
North Carolina State
George Mason
North Carolina-Wilmington
Maryland

Northeast:
Connecticut
Villanova
Pittsburgh
Boston College
Syracuse
Bucknell
Seton Hall
Hofstra
Iona

Now, wouldn't that feel better?

An Open Letter to Rana, Goddess of Clouds


Rana, I know it's Your holy day and all that, so it makes perfect sense for You to be overhead, completely and utterly. But do You really have to bring Hívuítoví with You today? Can't You for once go somewhere without Her? I know You can. I've seen You do it. So just try. Once. Today. Please. Thank You.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Blog Post #867

I finished going through my old posts and adding index labels to them.

So now it shall be easy-peasy for you to browse every post I ever did write, sorted by topic.

If you so desire.

There's some good stuff in there. (So says present me speaking highly of past me.) You should read it again.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

How old is that, really?

Today's the 5078th birthday of Methuselah, the great-great-great-great-great-grandson of Adam, the first human. Or, at least, as near as I can figure it, using the time-honored traditions of biblical teachings and random-number generators.

Methuselah has been dead now for 4109 years, but that's no reason not to honor the old guy. He lived a really, really long time. He out-lived his son, Lamech, by five years and died the year of the Great Flood. The Bible doesn't say, but I've always wondered if Methuselah drowned or if he died of natural causes before God killed most everybody. Can you picture Noah saying, "Sorry, Gramps, but the Great Almighty didn't say anything about bringing you aboard. Bye!"

Actually, the fact that Methuselah out-lived his son isn't as impressive as the tale that he had a son when aged 187!

I should move to Pasco.

Franklin County is the only place in the state where the majority voted the same as I did on all the statewide votes. Yakima and Benton counties voted the same as me on all but the Owens/Johnson judicial race, so maybe I could live there, too.

But definitely Tri-Cities or Yakima.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

We're all gonna die!!

Does anybody remember all those hurricanes we had this year? I know the season officially doesn't end till November 30 and last year we had storms form in December, but let's take a look at the comparison between predictions and reality.

From Wikipedia:

Average # of named storms: 9.6
Average # of hurricanes: 5.9
Average # of major hurricanes: 2.3

Predicted # of named storms: 17
Predicted # of hurricanes: 9
Predicted # of major hurricanes: 5

Actual # of named storms: 9
Actual # of hurricanes: 5
Actual # of major hurricanes: 2

So, um. . . Back to the average. The world is not ending.

Global Warming Data

Here's why I don't trust scientists: They're human and have agendas and are willing to bend the truth to fit their agenda.

There's an article in the Sunday Telegraph describing just how the scientists and bureaucrats of the UN massacred the global warming data to create a global panic.

You probably are familiar with the hockey-stick graph of worldwide temperatures, where the temperature goes up and down, more or less level, then abruptly shoots up in the twentieth century.



The top graph is from the UN's report of 2001. The bottom graph is from the UN's report of 1996. Notice anything different? Well, here's how they got from one to the other:

• They gave one technique for reconstructing pre-thermometer temperature 390 times more weight than any other (but didn't say so).

• The technique they overweighted was one which the UN's 1996 report had said was unsafe: measurement of tree-rings from bristlecone pines. Tree-rings are wider in warmer years, but pine-rings are also wider when there's more carbon dioxide in the air: it's plant food. This carbon dioxide fertilisation distorts the calculations.

• They said they had included 24 data sets going back to 1400. Without saying so, they left out the set showing the medieval warm period, tucking it into a folder marked "Censored Data".

• They used a computer model to draw the graph from the data, but scientists later found that the model almost always drew hockey-sticks even if they fed in random, electronic "red noise".

That all sounds scientifically honest, now doesn't it?

There's more. The sun heats and cools in cycles. It's currently in a very hot period. I won't bore you with the numbers (they're in the link), but here's a summation: "The entire 20th-century warming from all sources was below 2 watts. The sun could have caused just about all of it."

And they've also messed with the laws of thermodynamics. Has anyone heard of the Stefan-Boltzmann law? Well, apparently there's a little lambda in that equation that equals hc/ukT. A simple version of the equation is E=(sigma)T^4. The lambda is partially in the sigma, I guess. In any case, T is temperature. If you know the temperature and size of a body, you know how much it's radiating, and lambda to boot.

(In case you cared, Boltzmann is the Austrian who committed suicide because nobody believed him when he said that atoms existed.)

So the centuries-old method of calculating lambda gives you 0.2-0.3 deg C/watt. Guess what the UN's computer models use? 1.0 deg C/watt. Why? Because it fits their agenda better. Some "scientists" have used 1.9 deg C/watt just to scare you better.

And here are the concluding lines from the article, just because I can't say them better:

Removing the UN's solecisms, and using reasonable data and assumptions, a simple global model shows that temperature will rise by just 0.1 to 1.4C in the coming century, with a best estimate of 0.6C, well within the medieval temperature range and only a fifth of the UN's new, central projection.

Why haven't air or sea temperatures turned out as the UN's models predicted? Because the science is bad, the "consensus" is wrong, and Herr Professor Ludwig Boltzmann, FRS, was as right about energy-to-temperature as he was about atoms.

And no matter how much power we give to the UN and how much we destroy our economy with crippling regulations, we are not going to reverse the trends of nature.

Fortune Cookies

Fortune cookies only give actual fortune predictions half the time. The rest of the time, it's just sayings or instructions. In any case, here are some that I've collected over the past year:

Your confidence will
lead you to success.

There will always be
delightful mysteries
in your life.

A tantalizing new prospect
will come your way.

An unexpected windfall
will be yours.

Put up with small
annoyances to gain
great results.

Make those special talents
you have work like a charm.

Be innovative. Take
charge of new ideas.

Learn to broaden
your horizons, day by day.

D'ja vote?

I voted this morning. More people than usual, even for a November election. Maybe they don't trust mail-in voting anymore. Or maybe it's just a coincidence.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Vote Tomorrow!

And go to the polls. Don't do the vote-by-mail thing. You want to be sure your vote is counted, don't you?

In case you're too lazy to decide how to vote on every race and issue, here are links to how I'll be voting tomorrow morning:

Washington
Seattle

I've never thought that ballots should be secret. If you don't have the strength of your convictions to speak your mind, maybe you shouldn't be voting.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Eat Something!

Hey, y'all! Having a good weekend?

Just stopping by to remind you to eat something. 'Tis the Holy Day of Nokí, after all!

Mangi! Mangi!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Butterfly Leaves

Leaves outside my window, dancing on the breeze. Like butterflies, they swoop and swirl. Small, orange, alive yet dead. One last chaotic motion by the symbols of the coming winter. The only color in a world of gray.

And now they're gone.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

That'sh Jusht the Way It Izh

Shometimezh I wonder. . .

My name izh Shotoshoroto!

Nothing to shee here. Move along, move along.

Shorry! We have a shortage of witty shayingsh thish afternoon. . .

I'm feeling a bit shilly.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Some Photos from My Past

My dad sent me some hiking photos of me, through the years.

So I'll post them for all to see.

Most of them, at least.




The first two are from my second backpacking trip, when I was almost six years old. The trail to Annette Lake has been much improved since then.


A few years later, another backpacking trip. This time to Big Heart Lake. This photo is at Copper Lake, though, on the way to Big Heart.


Don't ask.


I don't remember my backpack being that big. . .


I'm fifteen in this picture. I'm an old hand at backpacking by now. This is the Seven Lakes Basin in the Olympics.


Skip a few years and I'm suddenly quite a bit older. This is atop Mt St Helens. I should climb it again to get a look at the new lava dome.


This is just old Mt Si, but I still found a little cliff to perch upon. I like perching on high places.

Chocolate

70% cocoa is the best, I say. 80% cocoa is too bitter. Hershey's Special Dark is probably only 55% or something like that, and that's not good enough.

But I can heartily recommend Lindt Excellence Dark Chocolate. Thanks, Chunlin! Yum yum!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Christmastime already!

Because I've already finished off a carton of egg nog and our office chocolate supply is becoming populated by red, silver, and green wrappers, I've deduced it's almost Christmas!

And thus . . . time for a song:

It's Christmas in Heaven
All the children sing
It's Christmas in Heaven
Hark, hark, those church bells ring

It's Christmas in Heaven
The snow falls from the sky
But it's nice and warm, and everyone
Looks smart and wears a tie

It's Christmas in Heaven
There's great films on TV
"The Sound of Music" twice an hour
And "Jaws" One, Two, and Three

There's gifts for all the family
There's toiletries and trains
There's Sony Walkman Headphone sets
And the latest video games

It's Christmas! It's Christmas in Heaven!
Hip hip hip hip hip hooray!
Every single day
Is Christmas day!

It's Christmas! It's Christmas in Heaven!
Hip hip hip hip hip hooray!
Every single day
Is Christmas day!

Today is Tuesday

Just in case you were thinking it was Wednesday.

. . . Although I suppose some of you would easily be able to tell the difference, eh Mamurd?

Obituary for Pink Flamingos

I heard on the news this morning that the plastic pink flamingo factory is shutting down tomorrow. It's so sad! How could they ever go out of business? Everybody needs a plastic pink flamingo or two or ten in their yard. They're so stylish!

I have the urge to go buy at least a pair of flamingos. The only store I know of, though, is Archie McPhee's in Ballard. Maybe that's part of why they're going out of business: their product isn't available in enough stores!

I used to have a pair of pink flamingos, a few years ago. I got them at a company Christmas party. I displayed them on my apartment's balcony for the whole year, then gave them away at the next year's company Christmas party. My boss Tom got them and said he would stick them in his friend Ron's yard. I haven't seen them since.

Monday, October 30, 2006

unovercast

Hey, look. The sun is setting!

Aren't there supposed to be clouds obscuring my view?

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Friday, October 27, 2006

The Boy Who Cried "Bear!"

For the past five or six years, as the economy has steadily improved, there have been a constant stream of pundits on the television and in the newspapers claiming that a crash is just around the corner.

"The housing bubble is about to burst!"

"We're headed for a depression or at least a recession or at least a slowdown!"

But it doesn't happen. The economy keeps chugging along.

When (hopefully in the distant future), these bearish pundits are finally correct, nobody will believe them. Everyone will have tuned them out. And thus all their predictions will be for naught.

But at least they'll finally get to say, "I told you so."

How Many Times Do I Have to Tell You?

Vegetables taste better than donuts!
Vegetables taste better than donuts!
Vegetables taste better than donuts!
Vegetables taste better than donuts!
Vegetables taste better than donuts!
Vegetables taste better than donuts!
Vegetables taste better than donuts!
Vegetables taste better than donuts!
Vegetables taste better than donuts!
Vegetables taste better than donuts!
Vegetables taste better than donuts!
Vegetables taste better than donuts!
Vegetables taste better than donuts!
Vegetables taste better than donuts!
Vegetables taste better than donuts!

"Can't-Do-Well" Cantwell Doesn't Do Well

Usually, one of the main reasons (often the *only* reason) to keep an incumbent in office is because of the clout and power they have accumulated. So how has Washington's junior senator done in the past six years?

Maria Cantwell has worked her way up to being ranked number 99 out of 100! Way to go!

Oh wait. That means she's next to last.

At least she's more powerful than Senator Pryor of Arkansas. . . But he's only been in office four years, so you've got to give him some leeway.

Never mind that the nine other senators from the class of 2002 already have more power than Cantwell. Never mind that all nine senators from the class of 2004 already have more power than Cantwell. Never mind that this includes both Democrats elected that year (Obama of Illinois and Salazar of Colorado). Never mind all that. I'm sure Cantwell is serving our state's interests well.

That next-to-last slice of pie tastes just as good as the first slice, right?


(ht: Sound Politics)

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Fun with Babelfish

Can you guess what language I translated it to (and back) in Babelfish?

James Dean dean, James
I knew any you meant
James you dean, said it all therefore cleans
And I knew my life can look all is good
If I can look at it in the silver screen

You are the low-down rebel if had once were
Since you did not have the cause
James you dean, said it all is very clean
And I knew my life can look all is good
If I can look at it in the silver screen

We will discuss a low-down bad refrigerator
You are just too cooling for the school
The sock hops, the soda water
The basketball and the automobile repair store
Obtains your only matter to violate all customs

James Dean, James Dean
Very hungry and is very thin
James you dean, said it all therefore cleans
And I knew my life can look all is good
If I can look at it in the silver screen

Young James Dean, in the screen
Wants to know perhaps who he is
Along has come Spyder and has carried off the rider
And brings him under the road to the eternal

James you dean, dean,
James bought its sight not to see

You too fast down to cannot live
Too is young down to cannot die
Goodbye
You will fast to live
Too will be young down to cannot die
Goodbye
-"James Dean" by the Eagles

And the Rest

The Professor and Mary Ann

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Ahh, Prison

I guess it's not just the prisons in New Hampshire that are so swanky and comfortable that people want to live there. It's also true in Germany:

A 59-year-old German man who has spent the last 34 years in jail has turned down offers to be let out, an official says.

"He rejected an offer to leave in 1992," Thomas Melzer, a spokesman for the Brandenburg state justice ministry, told Bild newspaper.

"We can't do anything if someone sentenced to life in prison doesn't want to leave."

new deodorant

How can they get away with calling it "invisible solid" when it leaves a quite visible white powder on my skin (and hairs)? You'd think someone would have looked in the dictionary before they used a strange, new word like "invisible."

Monday, October 23, 2006

Best of My Pancake

Am I alone in thinking that the Eagles' song, "The Best of My Love," sounds like a pancake?

Smooth, even-thickness, warm. . . you know?

Too bad it's about a couple falling apart, though.

Weather

'Twas turning into a sunny day, but now a dense fog has rolled in. I can't even see the transit center or the mall anymore.

Ah well. 'Twill be sunny once more, soon enough.

Does anyone have any favorite Kuwaiti recipes they'd be willing to share with me?

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Closer to Home

And now to finish off the Voters' Pamphlet, for those of you in Seattle.

United States Representative, 7th District: STEVE BEREN
Old Baghdad Jim has got to go. He's part of the problem in DC, not part of the solution. Please, let's get rid of him.

State Senator, 46th District: BRIAN TRAVIS
The incumbent, Jacobsen, wants to get rid of the initiative system. I guess he thinks the government in Olympia is doing a swell job. . . I beg to differ.

State Representative, 46th Dist., Pos. 1: SEPTEMBER SECRIST
Her entire blurb is NO TUNNEL!! Good enough for me.

State Representative, 46th Dist., Pos. 2: KEITH NILS LJUNGHAMMAR
His entire blurb is NO TUNNEL!! Sounds familiar? Well, it still works for me.

King County Proposition 1: YES
Let's get the county government out of the real estate business and give usable land to people who will actually be productive with it.

King County Proposition 2: NO
More taxes for transportation goodies that the county promised us with the last transportation tax increase? I don't think so. Use the money you're already taking from us. It should be more than enough.

Seattle City Council Position 9: STAN LIPPMANN
His opponent, Clark, was hand-picked as a replacement councilperson by the rest of the city council. No matter what Stan Lippmann will say and do, he'll be an independent voice on a council that otherwise might as well be just one person instead of nine.

Seattle Initiative 91: YES
No special treatment and government subsidies for sports teams just because they're sports teams.

Seattle Referendum Measure 1: NO
Our city's latent conservativism rears its ugly head again. The city council want to abolish strip clubs. While I've never been to one, I think other adults should be able to, if they so desire.

Seattle Charter Amendment 6: YES
I've read/seen enough disaster/armageddon scifi books/movies/etc. to know that emergency planning is a good thing.

Seattle Charter Amendment 7: YES
See number 6, above.

Seattle Charter Amendment 8: YES
This will put three department heads on the same 4-year reconfirmation schedule as all the other department heads. Accountability is good.

Seattle Charter Amendment 9: NO
Ten years ago, Seattle replaced two positions which were directly elected by the populace with the city auditor, which is an appointed position. And now the council wants even more direct control. Consolidating power is a bad thing.

Seattle Charter Amendment 10: YES
This would spread out the power of who chooses the people who control the zoning laws. Spreading out the power is a good thing.

Seattle Charter Amendment 11: YES
Paperwork. Nothing to see here.

Seattle Charter Amendment 12: NO
This would let appointed council members (See Position 9, above) vote on proposing charter amendments. I think it's reasonable to only allow elected members mess with the city charter. No coup d'états allowed!

Seattle Charter Amendment 13: YES
Paperwork. Nothing to see here.

Seattle Charter Amendment 14: YES
Paperwork. Nothing to see here.

Seattle Charter Amendment 15: YES
Fixing typos. Nothing to see here.

Seattle Charter Amendment 16: YES
Fixing typos. Nothing to see here.

Seattle Proposition 1: NO
You don't really want to give the government more of your hard-earned money, do you? Have you seen what they've done with all the rest of the taxes they've collected? No? Well, that's because they're incompetent and haven't accomplished anything.

So, there you go. On November 7, vote. And be sure to vote right!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Look Both Ways Before Crossing the Street!!

And not thirty seconds before, either. Look in the direction of the oncoming traffic of the lane in which you are about to step as you step into that lane. Even if it's a crosswalk. Even if you didn't think you saw a car there.

Because behind that huge SUV (at a safe and generous distance) is a little, beige sedan. You lucked out this time because the sedan's driver saw you, but just think what might happen to your pretty, little, iPod-wearing head if the driver of that car were as inattentive as you!

Just a friendly reminder, that's all. . .

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Your government could be worse

You could live in Aurangabad, Bihar, India, after all.

As a solution to the high incidences of "killing, extortion, kidnapping and inter-caste wars," the city government has decided to paint every building in the city pink:

Officials say the idea of painting the city pink originated from the dominant Rajput community, who migrated from the western state of Rajasthan where the capital, Jaipur is known as the pink city of India.

"Only a few buildings (in Jaipur) bear the pink colour. Aurangabad will actually be the country's real pink city," said Arvind Kumar Singh, a senior government official overseeing the work who is also a Rajput.

With the city's 2 million residents complaining about poor quality of life and depression due to crime, officials said they had decided to paint the city pink ahead of the Hindu festival of light, Diwali, on October 21.

How's that for government inaction?

I'm just waiting for Dear Leader Nickels to try the same thing in Seattle. . .

Your government could be worse

You could live in Kazakhstan, after all.

Last November, the central bank of Kazakhstan released new bank notes with the work "bank" misspelled on them. Yeah, they don't even know how to spell their own name in their own language. In Cyrillic, they apparently spelt it "banq" instead.

How's that for government incompetence?

They've gradually culled them out of circulation, but it isn't fast enough for some Kazakhs. Language is a touchy issue there, since the last few generations were forced to use Russian in official transactions, etc.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Voters' Pamphlet, page 42

My favorite section of this election's pamphlet is the race for State Representative from the 43rd Legislative District, Position 1. Position 2 is pretty good, too, but only as spice to the Position 1 race.

The 43rd District comprises the heart of Seattle: Downtown, Capitol Hill, Eastlake, Madison Park, Fremont, Wallingford, Ravenna, and the U-District. Included are the neighborhoods that fight each other for the title of "most insanely liberal."

The current holder of Position 1, Ed Murray (D), is running for State Senator from the same district. The current 43rd District Senator, Pat Thibaudeau (D), isn't running for anything this year. Maybe she lost the primary and I didn't notice.

For Position 1, we have three candidates: Jamie Pedersen (D), a clean-cut, 37-year-old man (who is a lawyer and "community leader"); Hugh Foskett (R), a spiky-haired UW sophomore majoring in math; and Linde Knighton (Progressive), a gray-haired, round-faced, elderly woman.

So the Democrat is the status-quo mainstreamer. The Republican is the young up-and-comer. And the Progressive is the kind old lady. Or so it seems from appearances.

Foskett (R) is running on education and the environment, which certainly are not the usual conservative fare (taxes and transportation would be that, for these races). The oldest candidate, Knighton, wants to turn the political and cultural system on its ear. And Pedersen strongly hints at his homosexuality twice in his short blurb.

I predict the Democrat, Pedersen, will win 60% of the vote. Two years ago, the Democrats won 87% and 85% for Positions 1 and 2 in the 43rd District.

Oh, and what about Position 2? The incumbent, Frank Chopp (D), a friendly looking middle-aged man, is being challenged by Will "Chopper" Sohn (R), a UW junior who just happens to have the same campaign address as Hugh Foskett.

I wish the young friends the best of luck. They're gonna need it.

Voters' Pamphlet

Here's some opinion for you, if you live in Washington State. Or maybe I should make it a royal decree. . .

In any case, there's not much on the statewide ballot this year.

United States Senator: MIKE MCGAVICK.
I'd like to be able to endorse the Libertarian, but Guthrie is just too weak on defense. What does he think the federal government is for, anyway? (The incumbent Democrat, Cantwell, was never an option. I mean, come on.)

Justice of the Supreme Court: STEPHEN JOHNSON.
The incumbent, Owens, is endorsed by a long list of traditional liberals. Stephen Johnson is endorsed by a long list of conservatives, but also some Democrats. So who do you think is claiming bipartisan support?

Oh, and Stephen Johnson is a friend/acquaintance of my parents.

Initiative Measure 920: YES.
Taxes are bad. Taxes on dead people are even worse.

Initiative Measure 933: YES.
Government regulations on private property have gotten out of hand. Some landowners aren't allowed to use the vast majority of their parcels due the various environmental regulations. That's just crazy. If we the people value a piece of land enough to protect it from development, we'd better be willing to put a monetary amount to that value and pay up.

Initiative Measure 937: NO.
Electric companies should encourage their customers to conserve energy, but the government should not *force* them to do so.

House Joint Resolution 4223: YES.
At first I thought this was a pointless law, but then I realized that it will help small business owners. If this is approved, they'll be able to quintuple their tax exemptions on office equipment. I just hope nobody abuses it. . .

Okay, so I guess there were several items on the statewide ballot. Oh well.

VOTE LIKE I TELL YOU TO!

Happy Halloween!

We have the Halloween decorations out at work now (well, starting last week). It's a couple months late per my schedule, but no bother.

Andy has two rubber skeletons by her desk. I modified one as seen below:

That's Just Not Right

Cassie's response, upon seeing me place the skeleton, was, "That's just not right."

But I say, why can't a skeleton be sexy? A little life after death!

Thunder God!



Today (Mars only) is the Holy Day of Huro, the God of Thunder.

Happy birthday, ya big lug.

. . .

Oh great. Now I have "Thunderstruck" by AC/DC stuck in my head. I do believe it was my junior high's official school song for a couple years when I was there. . .

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Don't Be Cruel, Hound Dog

Yesterday, I bought an Elvis Presley cd: 30 #1 Hits.

I like Elvis.

Buddy Holly is good, too, but he always has the same sound.

Elvis could (and did) sing anything. He had songs that were simultaneously #1 on the Pop, R&B, and Country charts. How is that even possible? Has anyone else ever done that? Would that be possible today?

Monday, October 16, 2006

Lordy!

Lordy, but that sweet-and-sour sauce is a downright unnatural shade of red!

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Overhaul the NCAA

I was talking about fixing the college football championship, but I'd really like to completely change the organization of the NCAA. I just don't like the fact that a good football team like Boise State or Montana, or a good basketball team like Gonzaga, is stuck playing against poor-quality teams year after year.

And there are perennially bad teams, like Baylor, that play in the top conferences when they don't really deserve it.

So I suggest a system where the worst team of a region's top conference drops down to the secondary conference and the best team of the secondary conference rises up the next year to play in the top conference. This concept has worked quite well for a long time between the English soccer leagues.

This system could continue down through all the schools, and not just the top tiers. It could be set up to have vertical mobility from Division I-A all the way through Division III. Currently, the NCAA divisions are separated basically by how much the athletes are paid (in scholarships, etc.). While fair, I think it could also be fair to separate the teams based on performance.

A college could have a football team in a middling conference, a basketball team at the bottom, and a women's rugby team in a top tier. There would be no reason to rope all a college's different sports together in the same division. They could just float as performance dictates.

Since the current conferences don't have a one-to-one geographic relationship between top tier conferences, secondary conferences, tertiary, etc., the whole NCAA organization would have to be realigned based on regions.

I would propose dividing the country into six regions of 50 to 60 Division I schools. Divisions II and III are most common in the Midwest and East Coast, so those regions would have many more lower-tier conferences than the West. The top-tier conferences, however, would be equally strong from region to region. Or, at least, as close as we can make it. For example, the Northeast is strong in basketball, but weak in football, so they'd have more "undeserving" teams in the football top tier than other regions. But that's just the way it would have to be if we want it to work for all sports.

My regions are as follows: West, Central, North, Southeast, East, Northeast.



The top conferences in each region could be called Pacific, Central, Midwest, Southeast, Atlantic Coast, and East, just to confuse things. The secondary conferences could be called, um. . . , Western, Missouri Valley, Mid-America, Sunbelt, Mid-Eastern, and Atlantic. But the names don't really matter.

Each conference would have the same number of teams. This could be ten or twelve, but I think the best would be nine. That way, a football team could have eight conference games (which is how many the Big Ten currently has, for instance) and four non-conference games, and play all the teams in their conference. A basketball team could have sixteen conference games (which is how many the SEC currently has, for instance), and twelve or however many non-conference games, and play all the teams in their conference twice.

The West Region would have 126 teams, the Central 121, North 197, South 117, East 152, and Northeast 333.

The West Region would be divided into fourteen conferences in six tiers (grouped 1, 1, 2, 2, 4, 4). The Northeast Region, on the other hand, would be 34 conferences in seven tiers (grouped 1, 1, 2, 2, 4, 8, 16). The first four tiers of each region would be equivilent to Division I. (Central would be 1, 1, 2, 2, 4, 4; North 1, 1, 2, 2, 4, 4, 8; South 1, 1, 2, 2, 4, 4; East 1, 1, 2, 2, 4, 8.)

At the third tier, the region would be divided in half geographically into two equal-level conferences. The same would happen when those divide to 4, 8, or 16 in a region. For each pair with one "parent" conference, both champions would rise to the higher tier. The bottom two from the "parent" conference would be dropped down. If the teams from the "parent" conference happen to be from the same mini-region, the dividing line between the two mini-regions would shift to keep the conferences even. Potentially, a geographically middle college would switch back and forth between the mini-regions from year to year, but I think that's a minor drawback. They'd have marginal ties to either group, anyway.

The top-tier Pacific football conference, using the way things stand now, would include all the Pac-10 except Stanford. Colorado would also get bumped to the second-tier Western football conference. Those two would be playing against schools like Boise State, Idaho, Hawaii, Air Force, BYU, Utah, and Colorado State. I think Boise State would quickly rise up to the top-tier conference and not look back. Perhaps Arizona would fall down and stay awhile in the Western. And Idaho might just lose and go down to play with Montana or North Dakota.

The top-tier Pacific basketball conference, however, would not include Washington State or Arizona State, but would include Colorado. Gonzaga would start in the third-tier conference, just for tradition's sake, but they'd probably nose out Oregon State or someone for a permanent spot at the big kids' table.

So that's how it might look if this plan were inacted. But do I really think the schools would even consider this plan if I could get it in front of them? Not really. But I can dream, can't I?

Friday, October 13, 2006

Bituminous!

Bituminous! Bituminous! Bituminous!

Quand?

For weeks, I've had less and less stuff to do at work. I would mention this every Monday-morning meeting. I'd help out on other projects and still have time to clean my desk.

My desk is now messy again. This week, my bosses threw six new projects my way (at least partially my way). So now I have plenty to think about.

I might be even too busy to get them anything for Bosses' Day on Monday. . .

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Scrap the BCS

As far as I'm concerned, the method used by the NCAA to pick a college football champion is fatally flawed. Division I-A football is the only college sport to not have a tournament. The other sports have national tournaments. The other football divisions, I-AA on down, have national tournaments. So why not Division I-A football?

Tradition, really, is the only explanation. The colleges have a long tradition with the bowl system, and they don't want to cut their friends loose. And rightly so.

But I think I have a solution that can give us the tournament we need without throwing out the bowl system we want to keep.



The major problems with the current system are that not enough deserving teams get a shot at the championship and that the non-BCS-6 conferences are penalized for not being big and rich. This year, the BCS is switching from eight to ten teams, but still only two have a shot at the championship; and they're making it an automatic berth for a non-BCS-6 conference champion team in the top 12 as opposed to the top 6 as they had it before. But that still doesn't give them a chance at the title.

The system that I will explain below solves both of the two problems by including every conference champion and essentially the top twelve teams ranked in the polls. No longer will a #3 team be on the outside looking in at the trophy game. No longer will a zero-loss or one-loss team from a mid-major conference be complaining all winter and spring.

In this system, there would be a tournament of sixteen teams. Each of the eleven conference champions would have automatic berths. The other five berths would be selected by a committee and would essentially be the top five teams in the polls who weren't conference champions.

Using the 2005 season as an example:

Southern Cal*
Texas*
Penn State*
Ohio State
Oregon
Notre Dame
Georgia*
Miami, Florida
Auburn
West Virginia*
Texas Christian*
Florida State*
Tulsa*
Boise State*
Akron*
Louisiana-Lafayette*
(* denotes conference champion)

On the Saturday after the conference championships (eg December 10, 2005), the top eight conference champions would host the other eight teams.

Louisiana-Lafayette* (16) at Southern Cal* (1)
Akron* (15) at Texas* (2)
Boise State* (14) at Penn State* (3)
Auburn (9) at Georgia* (7)
Miami, Florida (8) at West Virginia* (10)
Notre Dame (6) at Texas Christian* (11)
Oregon (5) at Florida State* (12)
Ohio State (4) at Tulsa* (13)

It may seem unfair that a high-ranked team like Oregon or Ohio State has to travel to Florida or Oklahoma, but the way I see it, if they couldn't win their conference, they're lucky to be in the tournament at all. And Notre Dame? It's time to suck it up and join a conference. No sympathy here.



The quarterfinals, semifinals, and national championship game would all be bowl games. In addition to the wealthy BCS four (Fiesta, Sugar, Orange, and Rose), I would include the three bowls with the next largest current payouts. These are the Capital One (Florida Citrus), Cotton, and Outback.

Since the Rose and Orange have the longest histories, I have kept them both on January 1 as the two semifinal games. The national championship game would either alternate between the Fiesta and the Sugar, or rotate between all five of the remaining bowls.

In the quarterfinals, the top four winners (as ranked by the committee) of the first round would play the lower four. The matchups would be located in the bowl game that makes the most geographic sense when considering all of the top four teams. The westernmost top-four team would play in the Fiesta, the next-most-western team would play in the Cotton, and so on. In our example, these games would have taken place on Saturday, December 17, 2005.

Fiesta Bowl (Tempe, Ariz.): USC (1) vs. TCU (8)
Cotton Bowl (Dallas, Texas): Texas (2) vs. West Virginia (7)
Capital One Bowl (Orlando, Flor.): Penn State (3) vs. Georgia (5)
Outback Bowl (Tampa, Flor.): Ohio State (4) vs. Oregon (7)

The higher-ranked teams would have games relatively close to their fan base, thus increasing ticket sales (and that's what it's all about).



In the semifinals, the four teams would be re-ranked and matched up similarly to the quarterfinals. In our example, these games would take place January 1, 2006.

Rose Bowl (Pasadena, Calif.): USC (1) vs. Georgia (4)
Orange Bowl (Miami, Flor.): Texas (2) vs. Ohio State (3)

The national championship game would take place on a good day approximately a week later (January 9, 2006).

Sugar Bowl (New Orleans, La. (in Atlanta that year)): USC vs. Texas

And thus, everyone gets their shot at the crown. High-ranked conference champions (Southern Cal, Texas) have favorable schedules without much travel (home, Tempe, Pasadena; home, Dallas, Miami). High-ranked non-champions (Ohio State, Oregon) have tougher schedules with more travel (Tulsa, Tampa, Miami; Panama City (Florida), Tampa, Pasadena).

A mid-ranked conference champion will have the reward of a home game in the first round, but it will be against a tough opponent. A low-ranked conference champion won't even have the home-field advantage, but at least they're at the dance, and I'm sure the Ragin' Cajuns would want that opportunity.

Inattentive Driving

Or perhaps I should call it Ignorant Driving? Do you think people who drive slow in the left and middle lanes when there's plenty of room for them to move right are ignorant of the laws or are they just not paying attention?

I wrote an email to the Washington State Patrol earlier this week:

How often is the "Keep Right Except to Pass" law enforced? It seems like a lot of congestion and dangerous situations on the highways are caused by slow cars in middle and left lanes. I've never heard of anyone receiving a ticket or even a warning for this violation.

I recived a quick reply:

Thank you for your inquiry to the Washington State Patrol.

The Washington State Patrol (WSP) takes dangerous driving very seriously, and is dedicated to enforcing all traffic safely laws in order to increase public safety on our highways.

The WSP has numerous programs we use to assist us in educating and enforcing the laws on our highways such as our online reporting tool for citizens to report aggressive driving and unsecured loads. These programs allow citizens to notify us about violations in specific locations to determine where hot spots are so we can then focus our enforcement in those areas. Last year alone, the WSP contacted over 4,700 left lane violators, over 9,000 right-of-way violators, over 10,500 HOV violators, and 56,000 aggressive drivers. We will continue to enforce theses laws, and more importantly educate drivers on the laws so that they can make the right decisions.

We are always looking for input and new ideas to increase awareness for safe driving issues. Please feel free to volunteer your ideas to increase the safety of the citizens utilizing the roads of Washington.

If we may be of further assistance, please do not hesitate to write or call.

Sincerely,

WSP Webmaster

So that's 4,700 people who didn't keep right and 56,000 agressive drivers. When you drive the freeways around Seattle, though, you'll see that inattentive/ignorant drivers are about 100 times as common as agressive drivers (an honest scale-of-magnitude estimation).

So if the state patrol "contacted" 56,000 agressive drivers, they should have contacted 5,600,000 ignorant/inattentive drivers -- not the 4,700 they actually did "contact."

That's a bit of a difference, don't you think?

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Today

Today is October 10, and do you know what that means?

It's time to put up your Christmas decorations!!

Yay!

Halfway

I'm now halfway done going back through my old posts and adding tags to them. 412 out of 824. See the list at the bottom of the sidebar.

I've written a lot on this blog thing. I'm entertaining myself by re-reading what I posted long ago (well, I'm only back to March of this year...).

Monday, October 09, 2006

Memento Gone

I had a small shard of plastic at my desk. It was a memento from my Europe trip last year. When I shipped stuff home from Dubrovnik, I included my guidebook pages from Greece. In transit, the box split open and the guidebook pages fell out. The plastic shard fell in. Or perhaps the one transmuted into the other. I'll never know.

But the plastic shard is now gone. Did the cleaning crew throw it out, thinking they were doing me a favor? Did a coworker pick it up and forget he had it with him as he walked away? The shard was sitting right beside the little rock that came through my driver's-side window while driving on I-5 last year and hit me in the shoulder. Why'd they take the plastic shard and not the rock? If it was the cleaning crew who threw it out, why didn't they think these two objects were related, equal in importance? More than likely, I'll never know.

It just looks wrong now, to just have the rock.

Memento gone.

Um...

"Do you like children?" I asked.

The tall, blond man smirked and replied, "Yes, with a nice hollandaise. Yum yum."

I glanced down at my platter of condiments and pulled out the closest I could find. "How about ketchup? You like ketchup?"

The blond shrugged. "Meh. It'll hafta do." He yanked the glass bottle from my hand and immediately proceeded to race off across the soccer field, right at the two teams of eight-year-olds.

"Ha-ha-ha-ha!!" he cried.

"Aiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii!" the kids screamed as they scattered.

The ref blew his whistle and held up his yellow card.

The tall blond clocked the ref on the back of the head with his ketchup bottle as he charged past. The ref crumpled to his knees then pitched fowards onto his face.

Friday, October 06, 2006

A Song from Summer Camp

Hi, my name is Joe and I work in a button factory.
I’ve got a wife and a dog and a family.
One day, my boss came up to me and said,
"Joe, are you busy?" I said, "No."
He said, "Push this button with your right hand."

Hi, my name is Joe and I work in a button factory.
I’ve got a wife and a dog and a family.
One day, my boss came up to me and said,
"Joe, are you busy?" I said, "No."
He said, "Push this button with your left hand."

Hi, my name is Joe and I work in a button factory.
I’ve got a wife and a dog and a family.
One day, my boss came up to me and said,
"Joe, are you busy?" I said, "No."
He said, "Push this button with your right foot."

Hi, my name is Joe and I work in a button factory.
I’ve got a wife and a dog and a family.
One day, my boss came up to me and said,
"Joe, are you busy?" I said, "No."
He said, "Push this button with your left foot."

Hi, my name is Joe and I work in a button factory.
I’ve got a wife and a dog and a family.
One day, my boss came up to me and said,
"Joe, are you busy?" I said, "No."
He said, "Push this button with your butt."

Hi, my name is Joe and I work in a button factory.
I’ve got a wife and a dog and a family.
One day, my boss came up to me and said,
"Joe, are you busy?" I said, "No."
He said, "Push this button with your forehead."

Hi, my name is Joe and I work in a button factory.
I’ve got a wife and a dog and a family.
One day, my boss came up to me and said,
"Joe, are you busy?" I said, "No."
He said, "Push this button with your tongue."

Hi, my name is Joe and I work in a button factory.
I’ve got a wife and a dog and a family.
One day, my boss came up to me and said,
"Joe, are you busy?" I said, "Yes!"

IgNobels Announced!

The IgNobels are alternative prizes for scientists whose research isn't deemed serious enough for the Nobel committee, but still is pretty interesting stuff. This year's winners include:

Two Australian researchers from the Commonwealth Scientific and Research Organisation (CSIRO) have won an IgNobel for their research on how many photos you need to take to ensure that nobody in a group photo has their eyes closed.

Ivan Schwab, of the University of California Davis, and the late Philip May, of the University of California Los Angeles, have won the ornithology prize for their pioneering work on the ability of the humble woodpecker to avoid head injury.

Wasmia Al-Houty, of Kuwait University, and Faten Al-Mussalam, of the Kuwait Environment Public Authority, have taken home the nutrition prize for showing that dung beetles are in fact finicky eaters.

Francis Fesmire, of the University of Tennessee, has been awarded the medicine Ig for his report Termination of Intractable Hiccups with Digital Rectal Massage.

Physics laureates Basile Audoly and Sebastien Neukirch of Paris University are to be honoured for their insights into why dry spaghetti tends to break into more than two pieces.

Howard Stapleton of Merthyr Tydfil, Wales, has been awarded the peace prize for inventing an electromechanical teenager repellent. The device makes an annoying noise designed to be audible to teenagers but not to adults. He later used the same technology to make telephone ringtones that are audible to teenagers but not to their teachers.

Three US scientists - Lynn Halpern, Randolph Blake and James Hillenbrand - have been awarded the acoustics prize for conducting experiments to learn why people dislike the sound of fingernails scraping on a blackboard.

While the conclusions of a group of scientists from Valencia University and the University of Illes Balears in Spain are not immediately clear, the judges have deemed their study Ultrasonic Velocity in Cheddar Cheese as Affected by Temperature worthy of the chemistry prize.

Also honoured for cheese research, Bart Knols from Wageningen Agricultural University in the Netherlands has won the biology award for his part in research showing that female malaria mosquito are equally attracted to limburger cheese and human feet.
The scientists take this award seriously nowadays, with 8 of this year's 10 recipients flying to Cambridge, Massachusetts, for the ceremony.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

New Hobby

I just had a great idea. You know how people sometimes use the strangest search words to find my/your blog? Wouldn't it be fun to do searches for random phrases and then click on the links to the blogs that have nothing to do with those phrases?

F'rinstance, at blogger.com, I did a search for "potatoes of death," except I didn't put the phrase in quotes, so it pulled up every recent blog post with "potato" and "death" even though they aren't together in the same phrase.

So if one of those bloggers is perusing his or her site meter, he or she will have a head-scratcher at why anybody could possibly be searching for potatoes of death. Cool, huh?

The only problem now, though, is that this very post will now be tops for "potatoes of death"!

Midday Malaise

I am quite ready to go home for the day. Why must work be such a drag sometimes?

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Beta!

Yay! Today Blogger let me switch to Beta! I haven't changed the template yet, so it's still old school officially, but at least I can add some labels and I wonder what this is going to look like. . .

UPDATE: I changed it all to the new template. Look at the Archive! ---->

And another: I've added labels to my most recent 150 posts. So play around where it says "Index" below here.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Dry Falls

Last weekend, I went to Dry Falls in eastern Washington on a Mountaineers outing. We spent two nights in cabins at Camp Delany in Sun Lakes/Dry Falls State Park. Very basic amenities, but the scenery made up for it.

03-UmatillaSouthMorning

I went on a short dayhike on Saturday, wandering around the bottom of Lower Grand Coulee, up and over a gap in Umatilla Rock, halfway up Dry Falls, over to Green Lake, and to another viewpoint above Meadow Creek, and back to camp.

09-DryFallsUmatilla

20-Green

Green Lake didn't drain anywhere, so there was muddy salt flats around the edge. And it wasn't very green, either.

A short drive took us up to the visitors' center at the top of the cliffs.

30-DryFallsDryVisitors

For those of you who don't know, Dry Falls and the surrounding terrain of coulees and channels were created by repeated catastrophic floods at the end of the last ice age. The cliffs in the picture above are 400 feet tall. Try to imagine 300 feet of water flowing over them.

39-DelanyEvening

The floods left boulders scattered all across eastern Washington and even some in the Willamette valley of Oregon, south of Portland. The boulders were most likely stuck into icebergs from the disintegrating glaciers and just floated along top of the floodwaters.

On Sunday, we drove back via SR 20 through the North Cascades. We stopped at Washington Pass. The road to the lookout was closed for the winter already, so we had to walk the half mile.

45-LibertyBellChunlin

My parents have a picture from this viewpoint, with Liberty Bell Mtn (above) in the background, of me as a kid clinging to a tree that looks like it's hanging over a cliff, but my sister is standing in midair beside me. I couldn't find that tree. Maybe it died or was removed for handrail construction. Or maybe I just couldn't figure out which three-foot cliff it was on.

The larches were quite yellow up there, but none of them are near the road, so I only have distant shots.

49-CutthroatState

A little bit down the road is Diablo Lake.

51-DiabloDavis

I remember, from probably that same family vacation, the four of us renting a motor boat on this lake. On the way back, my parents let me steer. I recall driving at full speed through the narrow channel between the little rock islands in the bottom left of this picture. All my mom could say was, "Mark, Mark, Mark, Mark!" I made it through just fine, thank you.

The drive back to Seattle was stop-and-go in Everett, of course, but we made it home in time for about 45 minutes to unpack and clean up before it was time to go eat Mongolian food and watch The Amazing Race. Yum yum.