Sunday, November 30, 2008

11-30-08: SNOW; College Football

First snow fall of the season! Not much on the ground, actually. And, it's now hailing lightly. Oh well, it's still (barely) November. Plenty of time for the good stuff to come down later.

I watched most of the USC - Notre Dame game last night. Not much of a game, actually. USC's defense just crushed Notre Dame. It was ugly. I turned it off at the end of the third quarter, and was certainly not surprised to see the final score be 38-3. In fact, I was mostly shocked that Notre Dame actually got in a field goal.

Though last night's game wasn't competitive, it got me thinking about how crazy it is that so many people rely on the BCS. On the car ride home from Framingham yesterday, my dad and I were listening to Sweeny Murti on WFAN field calls from various angry New York sports fans. For about five minutes he spoke with a couple callers about the BCS. Despite being a baseball guy, Murti seemed to have a good working knowledge on how the BCS works and what ideas are out there to improve upon the system.

The problem, as I saw last night in the USC blow-out, is that you really can't judge teams fairly by strength of schedule. Notre Dame, an OK but not great team, was no match for USC at home. It was just unfair. And now, some other team who probably hasn't played USC this year has to suffer because of it. It's just too much for a non-head-to-head system to solve.

The "Plus One" system seems to be the best solution for now. No, it won't be a full-blown playoff, which a lot of people including myself feel would be the best solution, but it's better than the current system. From what I understand is that the "Plus One" solution would involve the bowl games being played, the teams would then be re-ranked, and a national championship would then be played between the top two teams. Frankly, I think that's fine for now. It won't please the purists, but since the bowl games represent a lot of $$$, you'd might as well go with it.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

11-29-08: Star Wars vs. Star Trek

I was in the car a lot again today (to and from Framingham, MA helping my family move furniture from my grandfather's old house), so I think myself and this blog need a good laugh:

Friday, November 28, 2008

11-28-08: The Theory of the Alpha Driver; Automated Highway Driving

I hope every one had a lovely Thanksgiving. I for one had a great time at my aunt and uncle's in Duxbury, MA. My uncle cooks a mean turkey dinner, and the fact that they have a sweet pool table set up in their barn always helps. You see, I am one of eight cousins on my mother's side. The two males are: myself at 23 and my cousin Quinton at 20... months. So there's a bit of an age gap. So, I played a lot of pool yesterday. It was still quite fun. My uncle's brother Bob was visiting from California. I haven't seen him in quite a while, and he's a pretty neat guy.

The only tough part of yesterday was, as to be expected, the travel. Duxbury is normally about a 3-3.5 hour drive. It took us nearly 5 hours yesterday. We hit our first major pocket getting onto I-84 in Hartford, which is pretty normal. We then hit pockets on I-84, then when we got into Massachusetts it was a nightmare. We took all sorts of back roads and ended up taking Route 20 for a bit. The worst part was that Route 3 was pretty much shut down because of an accident, so we had to take Route 3A, which wasn't thrilling but it got us there eventually.

Sitting in the car for all that time allowed me to do more research on what I call the Theory of the Alpha Driver. An "Alpha Driver" is similar to an "Alpha Male" in many respects. Alpha Drivers are overly confident, and see driving as a form of sport. It's not just a race: it's a game of survival.

I drove up with my parents in a rented minivan. My mom wanted to take our older dog (who is 13) and the two little ones (9 months and 6 months). My dad made the drive up.

Now, to defend my dad, I will not directly call him an Alpha Driver. But I will just say that his driving may or may not have given me more data for my research.

Alpha Drivers are different than other drivers (no, I won't call them Beta or Gamma Drivers) in that they see it as their right to tailgate, speed, change lanes, or whatever they feel like, with little to no regard for the other drivers on the road. On top of that, when they do, on occasion, let some one go ahead of them, they seem to expect something in return from that driver, usually in the form of driving just like said Alpha Driver. For example, Andy the Alpha Driver lets Bob the normal driver ahead of him at an on-ramp. Bob merges, but decides to go the average 5-miles-per-hour-over-the-speed-limit speed. Andy the Alpha Driver, upset that someone HE let in front of him drives like that, angrily changes lanes and passes Bob the normal driver, giving him the "look of death" as he passes Bob.

Completely unnecessary, folks. Seeing all this happen yesterday, coupled with the reports that Thanksgiving is still the deadliest travel holiday, really makes me wonder when we'll develop automated driving technology like that seen in Demolition Man and iRobot. Apparently there's been some serious research (I can't find the article right now but I think I posted something about this some time ago) into highways that employ a sort of technology that allows you to put your car in auto-pilot and cruise at outrageously fast speeds, but still quite safely.

There are a couple things about automated driving that I think are significantly safer, and more efficient in general, than most human driving. First, human beings are naturally aggressive. There are a lot of Alpha Drivers out there who see driving as nothing more than "I need to get there as fast as I can." No need for that, as it's flat out dangerous. Automated driving could save lives because it would allow for faster cruise speeds and have no emotional baggage attached. As processing power increases, it will make total sense in the future to employ that technology.

The other aspect that would make automated driving useful is in the fuel efficiency realm. Alpha Drivers tend to accelerate and decelerate far too aggressively, which wastes gas. Again, no need for that. In fact, you really don't save much time by going that fast in the first place. The risk-reward is far too great. And if it saves you money on gas, why not try it?

In general, I only see this sort of technology useful in long-distance driving on major highways. Side street driving, though still riddled with Alpha Drivers, wouldn't really benefit right now from an automated solution. But still, if it saves lives, we should look into it.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

11-27-08: Happy Thanksgiving

I'll be leaving in a little bit for Thanksgiving dinner at my aunt's house in Duxbury, MA. It's about a 3.5 hour drive, which should be a bit longer with traffic. But still, there's something special about celebrating Thanksgiving close to where it was supposedly first held (in Plymouth, which is the next town over from Duxbury AND the town in which I was born).

Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

11-26-08: Alice's Restaurant

Every year, mostly in New England, it is a tradition on and around Thanksgiving to play one of its most popular theme songs: "Alice's Restaurant" by Arlo Guthrie.

The actual name of the song is "Alice's Restaurant Massacree." It's a pretty long song (18.5 minutes, in fact), and it's in the "talking blues" format, meaning that Guthrie talks most of the time alongside a guitar accompaniment. The story itself is pretty funny, and it's actually true, which makes it special.

If you've never heard it, I won't spoil it for you.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

11-25-08: Vacation!

I'm off from work until next Tuesday, which is marvelous. Tomorrow will be spent wrapping up some homework. Thursday is the day of turkey. Friday: nothing planned. Saturday I need to help my parents by driving up in a UHaul truck with my dad to move some furniture from my grandfather's old house in Framingham, MA. Sunday: nothing planned. Monday: nothing planned.

Should be a great mini-vacation.

Monday, November 24, 2008

11-24-08: For the Sake of Taking Action

I'm beginning to wonder, more often than before, how the average American sees the role of its government. It seems like, with the current administration in its final days and the Obama solution on the horizon, more and more people are talking about all the stuff Obama is going to do for America. He's taking a proactive approach, and promising more than ever before.

I just don't get it, and I begin by asking this question: Do you think there will ever be a President-elect who says "We're doing OK. In fact, the problem is probably that we, the Federal Government, are doing a little too much"? I doubt it. People expect action to be taken. And politicians expect to take action. Otherwise they're just sitting around doing nothing. And doing nothing doesn't get you re-elected. It comes down to elected officials getting nervous and just taking action for the sake of taking action.

The problem is that the default answer to most all problems brought up by critics of a particular policy or administration is either "They didn't do enough" or "They didn't do the right things." Rarely do you hear some one say "They did too much." Sure, you do get "They went too far," but that's not quite the same. Often, those critics are saying that whoever was at fault merely went too far in the wrong direction. There's a difference.

I think it's just human nature, though. People want to feel important, and politicians usually have the gene that makes them want to feel more important than most. I'm not saying government should just sit on its hands whenever a problem comes up. I'm just saying that sitting on one's hands should always remain an option.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

11-23-08: Quantum of Solace

I saw Quantum of Solace last night. I wasn't sure what to expect going into the theatre, since reviews have been mixed. I knew it was supposed to be entertaining, but that it didn't feel like a Bond film.

After seeing it, I don't know what people were thinking who said it didn't feel like a Bond film. I guess they were looking for more gadgetry, and thought Daniel Craig had turned the series into a James Bond version of Jason Bourne. But I didn't see that at all. Though the villain in Quantum of Solace was pretty weak, I did like the film. It also feels like we'll be seeing more films with the Quantum involved, which reminds me a lot of SPECTRE from early Bond films. A nice touch, I think.

The thing about the film, at least in comparison to Casino Royale, is that it's pretty much one big action scene. Yes, there is some drama here and there, but the focus is on action. I thought it made the film quite entertaining, which is all you're really looking for in a Bond film. If you really think James Bond needs to be taken more seriously, just go watch Moonraker and you'll agree that action sequences are the way to go for Bond.

I thought Daniel Craig did another fantastic job. He really conveys the darkness behind the character really well, which is very important if they're trying to develop the early story of 007. I wasn't 100% keen on the supporting cast, but they did a decent job. It was nice to see them give a bigger role for Felix and other members of the CIA. The female lead, Olga Kurylenko, did a very nice job; it's nice to see a Bond girl with a sense of independence.

The tough part to buy was the villain. I just didn't think they cast him well. Worst off: they wrote in a physical confrontation with Bond. That just didn't work for that character; he was just too small to pull it off well. I understand, however, that they'd probably want to build up the role of Quantum a bit. Maybe this is just a first step.

Overall, Quantum of Solace was very entertaining, and was a refreshing take on the Bond series. I look forward to the next one.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

11-22-08: The Cyclocross Experience

Today I had the pleasure of dipping into the culture pool of Cyclocross. My buddies Scott and Taylor had a race at Cheshire Park today, and I made the trip up.

For those unaware of the sport (as I am quite new to it as well; I do my best to understand it from descriptions from Scott), think of it as a mix between mountain biking and road racing, only a little closer to mountain biking. The bikes are a mix of the two. The course: interesting. They have obstacles in the way, sand and mud to trek through, and tight, "off camber" turns made to make you fall off your bike. And hills. Glorious, steep hills in the middle of the woods, that force you to decide whether or not to carry your bike or ride it.

Though it was blisteringly cold and windy today, I had a great time. Scotty and Taylor may not have been completely happy with their times, but being able to drink some beers and trek through the woods to see guys haul ass on their bikes was well worth the trip. Fun time.

After the race I took a short trip up to Southington to meet a good friend and Fraternity Brother, Garrett, for a couple beers. We met up at a sports bar called Sliders, which had pretty good wings. I hadn't seen Garrett in a while, and since I was in the area, I figured it would be a good idea to meet up.

Very cold, but fun, day. Time to go sit in a warm movie theatre and watch Quantum of Solace.

Here's a video to enjoy:

Friday, November 21, 2008 Let Detroit Go Bankrupt

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OPINION   | November 19, 2008
Op-Ed Contributor:  Let Detroit Go Bankrupt
A managed bankruptcy may be the only path to the fundamental restructuring the auto industry needs.

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Slumdog Millionaire From visionary director Danny Boyle, and winner of the People's Choice Award at Toronto Int'l Film Festival 2008. Now Playing in select theatres.
Click here to view trailer


Thursday, November 20, 2008

11-20-08: Technology Thursday: Deep Space Internet

I read a fascinating article yesterday about a program NASA is running, with the help of a big shot at Google named Vint Cerf, that would allow for "deep space internet." Basically, they're working on a new protocol, well beyond TCP/IP, that will allow digital communication (or "internet access" to some extent) from millions of miles into space.

The problem with normal data transmission over such vast distances is interference. Space debris, large objects, and various forms of radiation make long range communication quite difficult. Therefore, you'd need to use a new method to overcome this. Enter DTN, or Disruption-Tolerant Networking. Cerf and NASA have been working on the protocol for roughly a decade, and apparently hope to some day use it for deep space communication of digital information.

The idea for DTN reminds me of ad-hoc networking, in that it relies on communicating across nodes. In fact, I think that's where they got the idea. If you daisy-chain a packet of data across several nodes, which are placed relatively close together, you can send it over pretty much any distance. How DTN works is that it prevents packet loss by holding on to data until the coast is clear between two nodes. It takes a very long time to get the message across, but if it's not time-sensitive, then this "interplanetary internet" method is a very feasible route to take.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

11-19-08: Bailing Out Detroit

There's been a lot of talk this week regarding the idea of using part of that $700 billion from the TARP to bail out the Big Three auto makers in Detroit (Chrysler, GM, and Ford). A lot of people are saying it's necessary to do it, but a whole lot more seem to think it's not important.

I fall into a different category: I don't think it should happen out of principle. Bailing out the auto industry is basically saying "We know you're big. We know you've screwed up. But... we forgive you." Letting them go bankrupt is the right thing to do in this case. Why? Because they need to change, and they won't change unless they are forced to. If they had used better business sense (and didn't pay their workers way more than their competitors), they wouldn't be in this mess.

You shouldn't reward a failed system by giving it a second chance by spending tax-payer dollars. A lot of industries have come and gone over the years, and to say the American auto industry needs to drastically change its business model to survive and thrive is no stretch. To say millions of people will lose their jobs overnight is also way too dramatic; bankruptcy would work in stages. It would be a softer landing than many fear.

You have to draw a line somewhere, and this seems to be a good place to start. Sorry, Detroit. First the Tigers, now this?!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

11-18-08: Pedroia named AL MVP

First time since 1995 that a member of the Red Sox is named American League Most Valuable Player. Way to go, little guy.


Sent to you by Pat via Google Reader:


via Boston Red Sox News by Ian Browne on 11/18/08

Just call him Mr. November. Or better yet, refer to Dustin Pedroia as the Most Valuable Player of the American League.


Things you can do from here:


Monday, November 17, 2008

11-17-08: Hockey Monday: Funny Hockey Commercials

You see, even hockey players have a sense of humor.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

11-16-08: I Just Saved a Bunch of Money on My Car Insurance by Switching to...

As my current policy is expiring in early December, and I live in the great insurance-driven state of Connecticut (which is fortunately not price-fixed like our northern neighbors in Massachusetts), I shopped around the last few days for new insurance.

My current provider is Progressive, from whom I bought a policy back in June. I try to go six months at a time with these, just in case. Well, Progressive's new rate wasn't so hot. It had gone down slightly, but I felt like I was getting jobbed a bit. So, I did some searching.

After some online quotes and phone calls, it's come down to Geico. In fact, I just got off the phone with them a few minutes ago to buy the policy. I then called Progressive and canceled the renewal on my current policy. The strange part is, unlike when I canceled my policy with Liberty Mutual back in June, Progressive didn't even try to bargain with me. They asked what my new rate was going to be (well, they asked what I was quoted at; I'd already bought the policy because I strongly doubted they were going to beat it), and just helped me cancel the renewal. They were very polite, so in six months, I'll keep them in mind.

Just for some perspective: I'll be saving 35% on my new policy with Geico versus my renewal rate with Progressive. Thirty-five percent means approximately $250 over the course of the six month policy. That's huge. Man am I glad I called those guys.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

11-15-08: Old Movies Made Anew

Pretty interesting night last night in New Haven. The lady friend and I ate a late dinner at a great Lebanese place called Mamoun's. I highly recommend it. Good food at a great price. The odd thing was that when I went to use the bathroom, I walked in to a small, smoky little room. I thought at first that there was a fire, but it turned out to be burning incense. I guess that's just part of the culture.

After that we grabbed some beers at Black Bear, then took a little stroll around the city before heading to "Insomniac Theatre" at the Criterion Cinemas. It's a weekly thing where they show an older movie at 11:40PM. Last night was Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. It's definitely the kind of movie I wish I could've seen in theatres. Not my favorite of the series by any stretch, but still pretty good. And at $5 a ticket, not a bad price!

About 15 minutes in, right around the time to switch over to the second reel, something quite odd happened. The movie started to play upside down and backwards, in about 3/4 speed. It was actually pretty hilarious. For about five minutes it was just nuts. People looked like they were walking on the ceiling, and the lady friend joked that the dialog "almost sounded like German." Perhaps it's a brainwashing technique by Steven Spielberg... Who knows. Anyway, they had to go through and fix that, which took a little over 20 minutes. But then the film went on (even though it skipped about 15 minutes of the film) and was still pretty fun. It's good to see older movies like that.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

11-13-08: Technology Thursday, Volume 2: Blackberry Storm

This probably seems like a product plug, which it probably is, but I think this device (at $199) might be able to put a dent in the iPhone's market share:

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

11-11-08: Good Lebanese Food

First off: Happy Veterans Day. If you have yet to do so (and shame on you if you haven't), go thank a Veteran. It's the least you can do.

I had Lebanese food for the first time tonight, at least since I can remember. I've had Egyptian and various African foods (and some authentic Turkish food), but never Lebanese. I have a friend who works at a great Lebanese spot called Layla's Falafel in Fairfield. He said it was really good, and I had time to kill before my grad class, so I stopped by.

I ordered something called a "chicken shawarma," which includes (obviously) chicken, lettuce, tomato, and this really great sauce. It was amazing. I think I'm going to include this spot more regularly in my pre-class dining in the future. It's right down the street from Fairfield University, and it's not too expensive (not cheap, but overall it's well worth the money at $6 for a really good sandwich). The sandwich comes in wrap form, and is very similar to a gyro. I think the key is in the sauce and how the chicken is prepared. It's really, really good.

If you have access to good Lebanese food in your area, I highly recommend it. And, if you're in the Fairfield area, try Layla's Falafel. Good stuff.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Turn Signal Frequencies

xkcd is one of my favorite comic strips.

11-10-08: Hockey Monday, Volume 2

There's nothing more exciting than sudden death overtime. It's a time when any one can be a hero. Here's a video of the 10 most clutch overtime performers:

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Cool Astronomy Picture

Pretty neat picture of various galaxies. This is the "low resolution" version. The full resolution (31.2 MB; amazing) version can be found here.

11-9-08: My Regards to Penn State

I work with several Penn State grads, who will not likely be in a good mood today. So, I'd just like to dedicate this short post to them. For those unaware of yesterday's events (and I was shocked when I found out last night), Penn State Football's National Championship hopes ended suddenly with a loss at Iowa. College football is cruel in that a single loss can change everything.

So, especially to Scotty: my sincere condolences to Penn State. Joe Pa deserves better.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The "Real" First Black President: Richard Pryor?

Richard Pryor: genius.

11-8-08: Quinnipiac Game

I convinced the lady friend to go to last night's Quinnipiac Men's Ice Hockey game up in Hamden against Colgate. I wanted to check out the new TD Banknorth Sports Center, and was quite impressed. It's a two-sport complex, with an ice rink on one side and a basketball arena on the other, with a lobby area in between. I wonder if they'd ever do two games at once... might be an interesting scene with parking and concessions. For one thing: it's a whole lot better than when they played at the Northford Ice Pavilion. A very nice upgrade.

It wasn't a great game, unfortunately. Despite winning in impressive fashion over UConn last weekend, Quinnipiac didn't look so hot against ECAC foe Colgate. It's not like Colgate played all that great, either. I think part of the problem was that, since it was a pretty warm, moist night (especially for November), the ice wasn't in great shape. It looked a little dicey, which makes for a difficult time for passes to connect. Still, some shots were just plain misses.

Colgate won 1-0 on a cheap 5 on 3 power-play goal in the middle of the third period; the kid scored on a rebound with 10 seconds left on the power play. I thought that was a tough break for Quinnipiac, especially since the second penalty was called just a few seconds after the first; a Quinnipiac player was called for slashing right off the face-off. Pretty weak call by the ref. I normally side with the referee because I was one for several years through middle school and high school, but sometimes you just need to let the teams play. The way Quinnipiac played on that 5 on 3, it could have easily meant the game. If they were 5 on 4, I don't think Colgate would have scored, since they had enough trouble with a two-man advantage.

I also thought the Quinnipiac goaltender played extremely well. The one goal was on a rebound on a 5 on 3; you can't do anything about that as a goalie. All you can do is make the saves on even situations, which he did quite well. Tough loss.

The rink was loud. It's all concrete, which just makes for a very loud rink. It wasn't cold, either, which was nice. I got seats right by the glass for $15 each, but, as the lady friend pointed out, we probably could've gotten away with just buying $5 standing-room tickets and sat there. The section next to us had people coming in and out throughout the game, and ushers didn't check tickets. Lesson for next time: buy the cheap tickets.

Overall, fun time. I'd been in a funky mood for a few days (I think a lot of people have with the time change and whatnot), and it was good to get out. This weekend I have to focus on banging out a bunch of homework for one class and to do the mid-term for the other. Wish me luck!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

11-6-08: Technology Thursday, Volume 1

The second weekly theme I'm going to try is what I'll call "Technology Thursday" for now. I know it doesn't have quite the same ring as "Technology Tuesday" would, but I didn't want to have Hockey Monday and Technology Tuesday and then have nothing else the rest of the week. That, and I have grad school on Tuesday nights, so until there's a Thursday conflict, it's Technology Thursday.

Technology Thursday will be a weekly post that might contain a video, an article, or just me ranting about a particular technology. It doesn't have to be anything brand new, and I'll try to give an engineer's perspective on things. That way, you're not just learning something second hand, you're experiencing something through the eyes of a 23 year-old electrical engineer.

For the first installment, I'd just like to set some ground work on the engineering mindset. For non-engineers, engineering is often considered a pretty broad subject in which you use a lot of math and science. I tend to agree, but with a few additions. Engineering is not just math and science, in that we don't just sit around and plug variables into formulas and get results. There are plenty of jobs for that. Engineers are problem solvers.

What I like to think a good engineering education entails is more than just learning the mathematical and scientific principles one needs to know to solve a problem. You also need to learn how to think like an engineer. When something comes up at work, it usually doesn't involve a great deal of math. Oftentimes, it's a puzzle. If you were unfamiliar with some of the finer aspects, you could probably still come up with a solution. Engineering, in the industry, involves a tremendous amount of communication skills and group work. If you just sit in a classroom all the time writing down formulas, you're not getting as much out of your education as you should.

But most engineers take this beyond just work. I was at a bonfire last Friday with a fellow engineer (I happened to be on a date, as well). After things were set ablaze and the embers were floating towards Heaven, she said to me: "I can't help but thinking of thermodynamics when I look at that fire." That is thinking like an engineer. You look at the science behind things, and often you seek out problems. My uncle, a software engineer, and I have had many discussions on various subjects, and find it thrilling to take (mostly technological) problems and engineer up some solutions. It's a lot like a hobby. You can call it being an absolute nerd, but if it's fun to do, who really cares?

Engineers, in general, tend to like to apply logic in all aspects of life. It ultimately depends on what sort of engineer you are, but I believe I fit into that category. I will look at an argument and try to break it down into its logical elements. Lawyers do this all the time, but it's very much an engineering practice, as well.

Well, that's it for now. Look for Volume 2 next week in the brand new Technology Thursday.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

11-5-08: The Day After

Well, that happened. Election Day 2008 is finally behind us. Change is ahead. Change, indeed.

I ended up voting for McCain after all. As Connecticut is not quite a battleground state, it didn't really matter in the end. I wasn't excited about voting for McCain, either. It was just "the lesser of two evils." I hate it when it comes down to that. I was almost jealous of how excited most of the Obama supporters were. However, I wasn't going to jump on that bandwagon just to jump on it. I think there's enough on that wagon as is.

A friend of mine sent me a link to the video below. I think it's pretty interesting, especially some of the points about race. I really wish, of all things, this whole thing didn't break down into a Civil Rights debate. I read Thomas Friedman's column today and was in awe at how he made Obama's victory into such a racial statement. Yes, Barack Obama is the first black President elected to office. That's all well and good, but why is it then so important for people to point this out? Surely all of professional journalism can come up with something more than either: a) the first black President was just elected or b) some one not named Bush will be President for the next four years. Policy discussions, any one?

Anyway, I'm not distraught because Obama won. I saw it coming. I just wish the discussion afterward was a little more centered around the issues at hand and not just about race.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

11-4-08: Trying to Avoid Politics

I'm not exactly thrilled with how things are shaping up with this election. My sincere thanks to Christopher Shays for his time in Congress. You're a good man, Chris. I, for one, will miss you.

To break through this, here's something straight from my buddy Scotty's blog to cheer you up:

Pacman and Ghosts from Scott Frison on Vimeo.

Monday, November 3, 2008

11-3-08: Hockey Monday, Volume 1

I'm going to try sticking to a few weekly themes, at least for now.

So, for the remainder of the hockey season (through April), I'm going to have Hockey Monday, in which I'll feature a video or an article that illustrates the wonder of the best game on ice.

Here's this week's little treat:

Sunday, November 2, 2008

11-2-08: Two Days To Go

In all likelihood, within 48 hours I will have voted in the 2008 General Election. Within the past week I've gotten more phone calls about polls and received so much campaign literature in the mail, it's hard to keep track of who is running for what.

I'm only old enough to have voted in one prior election, which was back in 2004. I voted for Bush. I remember the feeling of sending in my absentee ballot. Fortunately, this time I'll be able to vote in person. The plan is to go in before work soon after the polls open, but if the line is too long, I can go later. I just want to make sure I cast my vote.

This may be good or bad, but nothing said or done in the last few months since the nominees from each party were formally set has changed my mind. I'm not completely sold one on candidate over the other, but I do know I don't like some of what Obama wants to do. I know a lot of people are looking at the last eight years and saying "We need to avoid repeating that disaster." I look at the past eight years in a slightly different way.

In saying the following, I am not endorsing every thing the Bush Administration has done or not done. I just think it hasn't been all that bad. If you want to place blame on any one person, sure you can blame the President. That's fine. But how much is he really responsible for the market collapse? One could point at the Federal Reserve on that one, as well. Then there's the Democrat-lead Congress, who hasn't shown much promise in the past couple years. I always try to keep things in relation: the President and his administration don't control everything. At least, they're not supposed to do that. If they appear to be, then something needs to be fixed. I'll acknowledge that much. But I won't go so far as to say everything good or bad that's happened over the last eight years falls on the shoulders of any single entity.

I do think Obama is going to win. It's hard to really tell decisively in the polls because of the margin of error, but I don't see McCain pulling this thing off. He's just not the guy to do it. Not to say he's a bad guy, though. And you never know how many of Obama's supporters will actually vote. But it's not looking promising for McCain.

Write in Stephen Colbert.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Come on you Spurs!

Tottenham Hotspur has just staged the comeback of the season! Despite being in last place, they have just completed a two goal comeback in the second half to defeat top-ranked Liverpool at home. What a game!

11-1-08: Bonfires and Blast Hour

This weekend is quite rare indeed. Yesterday was Halloween, and tonight is the annual "Blast Hour," which celebrates the clocks turning back one hour. Some people read a book, many get an extra hour of sleep, but most people my age try to hit the bars for an extra hour. I started celebrating the occasion in college. You know, for its scholarly roots.

Last night I got to see something I haven't seen in about 11 years: my town's Halloween Bonfire. It's put on by the town Lions Club and features a sizable bonfire, cider and donuts, and a Halloween costume competition. Eleven years ago I won my age division. Proudest Halloween moment of my life. Anyway, it was a great time. Some of the costumes were great, some disturbing (the word "jail bait" may have been mentioned), but for the most part the kids put on a decent showing. No, I didn't go alone, so it wasn't some creepy 20-something gawking at kids and fire. I brought some one with me who grew up in a similar small town and enjoys those sort of festivities. There wasn't a whole lot going on otherwise, surprisingly. A few of my co-workers were heading to Stamford for a party held at a bar, but I like bonfires.

And tonight is Blast Hour. I can't remember the last time they occurred in this way (Halloween on a Friday, Blast Hour Saturday night/Sunday morning), but it's pretty awesome. Live it up, America.