Saturday, January 31, 2009

1-31-09: eHarmony and Other Dating Sites

To start, I've never registered for or used an online dating site. I know people who have, and none of them have found anything there that lasted more than a few dates.

Not that I have anything against people who do use them. Whatever makes you happy. But something funny came up a week or so ago when I was watching TV with the lady friend and a commercial came on for eHarmony.

During the commercial, the lady friend made an interesting remark: "I wonder what would happen if we both used eHarmony right now. Do you think they'd match us up?" It was, of course, in jest, so I laughed and said "Well if we did and it didn't match us, I'd be willing to go with whatever the internet says and I guess we'd have to break up or something." She laughed (fortunately) and it was the end of it (because the commercial was over).

I didn't think anything about that remark until a couple days ago, when an interesting social experiment popped in my head. What if you had, say, 50 unmarried couples register for, just for argument's sake, eHarmony. What are the odds that any of those 50 couples would be matched by the site? I'd guess it would be no greater than 5% chance that ANY couple would be matched, but that's just a wild guess. I have no idea what their algorithm is, but if you take into account all the registered users on eHarmony, the odds might be against you that you find one person.

Now, I'm not saying eHarmony is unreliable for finding good matches. I'm just saying there are plenty of other ways that people meet that generally work better. For instance, I went to the same (small) college as the lady friend, graduated on the same day, and we have mutual acquaintances from college. In fact, at one point in time (I believe) we lived about a block away from each other. But we didn't meet until about a year after graduating. We both work for the same company, and met through a softball team she organized. We didn't actually start seeing each other until the season was almost over. It turns out, she's a more avid Red Sox fan than I am. I found that to be very nice.

So what factors actually matter? Is it more important to be matched on 30-something degrees of ... whatever eHarmony calls it... or to have mutual interests? Who knows, but I do want to see that social experiment in action. Maybe something can be worked out by Valentine's Day...

Friday, January 30, 2009

1-30-09: Crosby's Backhander

The kid's got some serious talent.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

1-29-09: Technology Thursday: "Thank an Engineer"

These videos come from Texas Instruments' website. My personal favorite is the "Wireless Handsets" one.

MP3 Players

Wireless Handsets

Text Messaging

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

1-28-09: Profiting from a Name

I heard a story today about how John Wayne's kids are selling beef jerky with his name and likeness on the front. The piece featured an interview with his son, who spoke about how he and his dad loved to eat beef jerky, and he said something along the lines of "You know, one day we're going to see him again, and we'd want him to be happy with what we did."

I'm not sure if this is more disturbing than what Ted Williams' son did, but I just get a really bad feeling when I hear about people who profit from their family name. These people aren't necessarily doing anything special; they're selling normal goods that happen to have the name and face of a famous celebrity. I guess it's their right, but it still feels wrong. Do you really think John Wayne wanted his name associated with a brand of beef jerky?

This goes beyond just selling useless crap like t-shirts and beef jerky. Plenty of average people just sit around and live off of their name. Somehow, people think talent is genetic. Whether it's an actor's or a famous athlete's kid, they are given the benefit of the doubt. I guess it helps put people in the seats. But it doesn't often work out. There are only a handful of instances where some one lived up to their name (like Ken Griffey Jr. or Brett Hull). It's very, very uncommon.

But selling John Wayne Beef Jerky is plain wrong.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

1-27-09: Malkin's Goal from the All-Star Game

I meant to post something yesterday about the NHL All-Star game from Sunday for "Hockey Monday," but I was busy.

I'm not a huge fan of the All-Star Game in general. It is nice to see the skills these guys have, but it's not in a real game setting because there's no hitting (an unwritten rule though it may be). But either way, the skills are undeniable:

Sunday, January 25, 2009

A distraught Giants fan

I feel for you, buddy, but I'm not quite sorry for you.

WARNING: Foul language, kids.

1-25-09: The War in Gaza, a Personal Account

I had a great, though brief, conversation with a friend of mine from Israel about the recent skirmish in Gaza.

It didn't go quite as I expected, but I think it was actually better than I hoped. I thought he might be a bit more gung-ho about it, but he was much more mature about it. "It's unfortunate," he lamented a few times. I was a little surprised.

My friend had spent 11 years in the Israeli Air Force, so he knows a thing or two about war. He's fought in a few. I think it's good to hear from some one who's experienced it. Instead of relying on propaganda, he actually knew something about the suffering on both sides. But, in the end, he said "If I have a choice between eating shit and giving shit, I'm going to give it. It's that simple."

But my friend also spoke about his disappointment in how the Isrealis explain themselves, which I thought was a very good point. He brought up a quick example:

The Palestinian insurgents (or agents of Hamas fighting against the Israelis) could release a picture of a young child in a street, with her house destroyed behind her and her parents' bodies lying nearby. That's a powerful image, and one that CNN and other broadcasters are bound to show worldwide. Opinions are then formed that the Israelis are somehow monsters because they killed this girl's parents and ruined her life.

But as my friend pointed out, they don't show how a combatant fired a missile or shot out from that building moments before it was destroyed. And on top of that, and this is something I did not know, a lot of buildings are booby trapped to prevent Israeli soldiers from going building to building. That is to say, rather than allowing Israelis to come in and shoot the enemy, Hamas agents simply blow it up. Apparently, these bombs can even be set off if a building nearby is bombed. That is truly scary, and it's something the Israelis struggle to communicate.

In the end, I got more of a disappointed vibe from my friend, which is sad but good to see. It shows that, even some one with military experience fighting against this same enemy, there's some compassion.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

1-24-09: The 100-0 Game

When I first heard about the 100-0 girls high school basketball game, I was puzzled. Then when I read the article printed in the local paper (the game took place in Texas), I became puzzled and angry at the winning coach.

The game took place between The Covenant School and Dallas Academy. The latter was the loser of the game, failing to score a single point and giving up 100. From what I understand, the team had virtually no chance of keeping it close. The eight girls on the team represent nearly half of the school's entire female population, and only a few had played basketball at all before making the team. The Covenant School, on the other hand, had a very good team. So, neither team was misguided going into the game.

I was a girls high school ice hockey coach last year with my dad, and I know what it's like to be in the shoes of the Covenant School's coaches. That's why I'm so upset by their reaction. Micah Grimes, the Covenant head coach, simply remarked "It just happened." Ms. Grimes, that is outrageous. You don't "just happen" to score 100 points against an opponent with absolutely no chance of winning. From what the article said, most of the points were scored via layup, which means they probably could've passed the ball around a bit beforehand. There is absolutely no reason to score 100 points. It's not only extremely low class, it doesn't help your team at all. You don't work on the basics if you're just stealing the ball and laying it up. It's insulting, and it's a waste of time. There's a team in our league for girls ice hockey who was very poor, but we passed the puck around and worked on the basics, without running up the score. An outrageous score is completely avoidable.

Micah Grimes: you have no control of your team and you have no class. And, from what it looks like in the article, you have no clue. Good luck.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

1-21-09: Ziploc Omelets

I was just sent this today. I really want to try this out sometime. Probably this weekend.

If you like omelets this sounds quick and good.
Ziploc Omelets

The best feature is that no one has to wait for their special omelet
Have the guests write their name on a Quart Size Ziploc Freezer Bag with a permanent marker.
1. Crack 2 eggs into the quart size Ziploc bag (not more than 2) shake to combine them.
2. Put out a variety of ingredients such as: Cheeses, Ham, Onions, Green Peppers, Tomatoes, Hash Browns, Salsa, Etc.
3. Each guest adds prepared ingredients of choice to their bag and shake the bag to mix them well.
4. Make sure to get the air out of the bag and zip it up.

5. Place the bags into rolling, boiling water for exactly 13 minutes.
You can usually cook 6-8 omelets in a large pot.
If you have more omelets, make another pot o f boiling water.
6. Cut the bags and the omelet will roll out easily.
Be prepared for everyone to be amazed.

7. Nice to serve with fresh fruit and coffee cake;
everyone gets involved in the process and it becomes a great conversation piece.

Imagine having these ready the night before, and putting the bag
in boiling water while you get ready. And in just 13 minutes you have a nice omelet for a quick breakfast!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Queens of the Stone Age - "Broken Box"

I listen to this song every morning. It helps me start the day off right.

My favorite line begins as such: "Well you're so in love, just like Juliet."

Have a listen:

1-19-09: I Miss Sledding

On my way home from the dentist this evening, I drove by a hill at which a couple dozen or so kids and adults were sledding. I thought to myself "This would be the perfect day off from school." Since most schools were closed today for Martin Luther King Day, it'd be like a snow day that you didn't have to make up. That's pretty awesome.

I then thought "Why didn't I sled more in college?"

Then I remembered this video (taken at WPI):

Saturday, January 17, 2009

1-17-09: Funny Observations, Part 1

Every once in a while, I like to stop and do a little people watching. I don't schedule it or anything; if I find myself with a minute or two of time to kill, I'll just sit back and observe.

Here are just a few things that I saw (or concluded) recently:

  • Men more frequently top off their tanks than women when fueling their cars. Women also tend to spill a little gas after taking the nozzle out than men. There's probably nothing to it, but most men might catch my drift on that one. Sorry for the image, folks. Just an observation.
  • There's generally a "five step rule" when it comes to holding a door for some one. If some one is within five steps of the door, people tend to hold the door. At least, that's what I use. I also take longer strides when approaching the door, but not every one uses the rule.
  • It's socially acceptable to repeat some one else after they've given a third person an answer to a question if you were previously familiar with the answer. For example (and I did this the other day so I'm as guilty as any), Bill asks Dan "What was that movie with Eddie Murphy and Nick Nolte?" Dan is attempting to get the answer, but Rick, also involved in the conversation, answers "48 Hours". A split second later, Dan replies "48 Hours, yeah." Isn't this a bit odd? Why do we do this?

Tune in next week for more stupid observations, or add your own in the comments. It's important to take stock now and again, and do some people watching.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

1-14-09: NPR's "Army Ramps Up Repairs To Fix Battered Equipment"

On my way to class tonight, I heard on "All Things Considered" on NPR an interesting piece about the Red River Army Depot in Red River, Texas. The Army spends approximately $17 billion a year repairing and improving broken equipment (trucks, humvees, etc.) damaged in battle. It seems like a lot of money, well at least it used to up to the recent talks of hundreds of billions being spent to fix the economy, but it seems reasonable to me knowing how much we spend in war anyway.
The interesting part of the piece, to me at least, was how the depot was using Lean Manufacturing techniques it learned from, all of places, Toyota. My company employs a similar system of lean manufacturing (they call it "ACE", which stands for Achieving Competitive Excellence), and it's interesting to see that the Army is employing it at such a scale as this. It takes 16 minutes to strip a humvee. That's pretty damn fast.
I just thought it was neat. See the link above for the story.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

1-11-09: Skiing After a 15 Year Break

I hadn't gone skiing since I was about seven years old until today. Why the long break? In short: ice hockey, and a move away from the mountains. I also had some issues with my last memory of trying to ski, in which I repeatedly crossed the tips and fell, a lot. That was when I was seven, though.

The lady friend is a big skier, in the upper-intermediate level. She's gone on ski trips to various locales in New England (pretty much all the big mountains) and is going on a trip to Whistler, British Columbia at the end of the month. But today, she and I headed up to Mohawk Mountain in Cornwall, CT.

Despite the treacherous road conditions, we made it up to the mountain at about 9:30AM, a bit later than expected, but still plenty of time to enjoy the quite good conditions. I started off with a lesson at 11:00AM, after getting all set with rentals and whatnot. The lesson was with an older instructor named Bill Pierpont, who was awesome. We started off with myself and a nice girl named Jill, who was probably in her mid to late 20's. As stated above, I hadn't been skiing since I was seven. Jill had gone once about ten years ago. Bill started us off with a quick lesson in stopping at the bottom of the Nutmeg trail ("bunny slope"), then we went up on the lift to the top of the run.

Jill was nice but had some issues with staying upright. For whatever reason (most likely luck), I didn't fall once the entire day. After a couple runs of just working on basic turns, Bill made it a one-one-one lesson and we went through a couple runs of more dynamic turns and stops. I told him I had played hockey since I was three, and he was really good at making the connection to skating. I found that when I built up some speed, turning was easier. I almost lost my edge and/or crossed the tips a few times, but recovered. For whatever reason, and I have a working theory, I have a little more difficulty turning right than turning left. My theory is that, since my right foot is the dominant foot, I use it for balance. When I turn to the right on skis, I had to balance on my left ski. I worked at it, and got better over the course of a few hours.

After my lesson, it was lunch with the lady friend. She had packed us some sandwiches, which hit the spot. She spent the time I was in my lesson doing some of the tougher runs, which seemed decent. We spent a few hours going up and down the bunny slope, trying to get me to turn correctly. I have to admit that I was impressed by her patience, but she seems to think I'm good enough to go on the other trails. I've got stopping and turning down OK for a beginner. I'm looking forward to it! Great day.

Monday, January 5, 2009

1-5-09: Hockey Monday

Lots of hockey this week for me. I'm going to at least two games, one on Wednesday to see the Bridgeport Sound Tigers take on the Houston Aeros with my dad, the other on Saturday with my parents and the lady friend (first meeting!) to see the same Sound Tigers take on the rival Hartford Wolf Pack. Might, but likely won't, go to a Quinnipiac University game on Friday. That's doubtful right now, though.

Here's the video of the week:

Sunday, January 4, 2009

1-4-09: Happy New Year!; Moving

Happy New Year!

I know it's a few days late. I moved New Years Eve, and have been putting together the pieces ever since. I did manage to still have a very nice New Years celebration; went with the lady friend to her friend's condo in Hamden. For some odd reason, I am better at Beirut if I don't play for a while. We tore up the table! Fun time.

I now live in the lovely small city of Derby, Connecticut, which is only about 25 minutes from where I grew up, so it's not all that new to me; it's also exactly as far away from work as my previous residence. It's convenient since I've been able to drive home to pick some stuff up in small increments. Derby is in the "All American Valley," which consists of such towns as Shelton, Ansonia, and I think Seymour. The Valley has the reputation of being a bit white trash, but I am going to keep an open mind about it.

Yesterday I took a walk arond the neighborhood (primarily to find a USPS box to drop off my two Netflix movies: Memento and Seven Samurai, both excellent), and realized that I am within walking distance of a Dunkin' Donuts and a Catholic church. I went to Dunkin's, but am tempted to start to go to church more often. Only after coffee, though. Oddly enough: they are in opposite directions from my apartment. Coincidence?