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Sunday, March 31, 2002

Easter

Happy Easter! I've always thought Easter was somewhat of a strange holiday. For starters, I didn't know the religious background behind the holiday until rather late in my upbringing and even now I find it humorous when people so casually say "Oh yeah, Easter is when Jesus rose from the dead." Just like that, like it happens every day. No different than when people say "The garbage men pick up our trash on Tuesday." The other major thing I realized this year is that Easter is one of the four major "candy holidays" along with Halloween (which is probably the biggest), Christmas, and Valentine's Day. Notice that all those holidays are pretty close together and there's a relatively long span between Easter and Halloween. I guess some candy makers are starting to make special treats for the 4th of July, and I suppose I don't blame them. Candy makers have to have something special to look forward to and Wal-Mart has to have something with which to stock seasonal shelves.

I wonder if the original Easter fell on April Fool's Day? If so, are there any religious implications?

Tuesday, March 26, 2002

Cael Sanderson

The most dominant collegiate athlete of all time? I've followed him, watched him, studied him...I don't think there's any doubt. I realize that most people don't follow college wrestling, but Cael Sanderson of Iowa State University grabbed the spotlight as he finished his college wrestling career with 159 wins, zero losses, four national titles, and four NCAA Championships Outstanding Wrestler awards. The Des Moines Register has a nice summary of Cael's career. What amazed me most about Sanderson was how much he improved each year, especially from his junior year to his senior year. I think about it and I'm still thinking that I've imagined the whole thing, but just when I didn't think a guy could get any better, he proves me wrong. Is the guy unbeatable? In wrestling, nobody is unbeatable - even the great Dan Gable and Alexander Karelin had their long unbeaten streaks ended. I'm guessing that to beat Cael Sanderson you'll have to be either incredibly strong (which Cael is not) or super funky. (For those not familiar with wrestling lingo, "funky" usually refers to somebody with an unorthodox style. When I think "super funky", I think of Nick Flach and, especially, of Ben Shane, a guy from my hometown that could pull off more offensive moves from his back than anybody I've ever seen.) Now that Cael has finished his unbelievable college career, the pressure on him will change. Not only are we looking for him to dominate in freestyle wrestling, but we are looking for him to carry the torch for a sport that really needs more exposure. I'm sure Cael's public speaking ability will improve (he's very modest to the point of being shy) and he'll feel more comfortable in that role. I think he puts more pressure on himself than most of us can even imagine. The great ones often do that...

Monday, March 25, 2002

Back to school and other random thoughts

Yes, I got back across Nebraska last Thursday without incident and now I'm back to school. It's a little strange to think that I'm facing my last few weeks here at the university, but I'm ready to move on. Where will I go next? It's hard to say - I've started applying for jobs and the prospects look pretty good so far.

I caught the last part of last night's Academy Awards. Was I the only one who thought Halle Berry was going to pass out before she even started her acceptance speech? Denzel Washington displayed the type of class you'd expect from somebody who is "following" in Sidney Poitier's footsteps. I've been a fan of his ever since he did such an outstanding job in Spike Lee's "Malcolm X". Unfortunately, I hadn't seen any of the movies that won the bigger awards, but I did see "Lord of the Rings" several months ago and was glad to not see it fall short in some of the major categories. It's not that I didn't enjoy it, I just didn't think it was Best Picture material.

Right now I'm working in the computer lab and we have a policy that states that users can only print one copy per document. How many documents is that? Does one copy actually imply that the user ends up with two identical documents? How can you have one of something and call it a "copy"? If that's the copy, where is the original? This logic closely follows Carlin's "don't make the same mistake twice" idea (in that it implies a total of 3 mistakes).

Although I think my NCAA tournament bracket would be a long shot to win in any pool, I did manage to pick 3 out of the 4 final four teams correctly. (I missed on Duke - I had Indiana being beat by USC...whoops...) Seeing how I only had 4 of the 8 regional final teams picked correctly, I'd say I had a pretty decent weekend.

I've never been a big fan of the kinds of bands the university brings here for concerts. We've had a few notable ones, like Smash Mouth, but about half the time the bands are somebody I haven't heard of, and 100% of the time they're bands I don't listen to. Until now. Just in time before I leave this place, the university is bringing in a legend - George Clinton and the P-Funk All-Stars. If you aren't down with P-Funk, check out the Dr. Funkenstein portal. (Thanks to www.gongol.com for the link.) My only question now - how are they going to get the Mothership into the West Gym?

Wednesday, March 20, 2002

Typical Wind Tunnel / Reflector Oven Mountain Weather

I opted for snowshoeing in Rocky Mountain National Park over all my other options. The weather was interesting - when I got there it was still quite early and the wind was gusting at least 40-50 mph. By the time mid-morning came, the wind had died down some but bright sun and white snow can bake you past golden brown in a hurry. Don't worry - I still had fun.

Tuesday, March 19, 2002

Risk = Probability * Consequence

I haven't gotten too adventurous yet - yesterday afternoon I headed out to Rocky Mountain National Park and drove around in the snow. The clouds were pretty low and it was snowing heavily enough that picture-taking wasn't very good, but I did drive through a herd of about 150 elk, so my trip did have a few highlights.

I've been trying to decide what to do with my time today and tomorrow. Option one (the lower-risk option) is to rent some snowshoes and make a few more day trips to RMNP. Option two (the higher-risk option) is to attempt to climb Mt. Evans. Evans is supposed to be a "novice" winter fourteener, which is good because I'm certainly a novice at winter climbing. I have all the gear, I know what the altitude looks like, and for Evans, I've even seen the route. But I'm just not convinced that it's something I should do. If I needed to cast any more doubt on the situation, check out the latest avalanche warnings from the Colorado Avalanche Information Center:

"ZCZC DENSABCO
TTAA00 KDEN DDHHMM
COZ004-009-010-012-013—18-019-033-034-060-061-161800-

SPECIAL AVALANCHE ADVISORY
COLORADO AVALANCHE INFORMATION CENTER
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DENVER/BOULDER CO
315 PM MST FRI MAR 15 2002

...BACKCOUNTRY SNOWPACK IN COLORADO IS EXTRAORDINARILY WEAK AND AVALANCHE PRONE...

TWO FATAL AVALANCHES ON THURSDAY IN THE BACKCOUNTRY NEAR ASPEN TESTIFY TO THE SERIOUSNESS OF THE UNSTABLE AND AVALANCHE PRONE SNOWPACK IN THE COLORADO MOUNTAINS AT THIS TIME. THIS IS A RESULT OF MANY MONTHS OF LIGHT SNOWFALL AND SHALLOW SNOW DEPTHS ... CREATING A SNOWPACK INCAPABLE OF SUPPORTING MUCH WEIGHT ... FOLLOWED BY STRONG SNOWFALL AND WINDS IN THE MONTH OF MARCH.

THE COLORADO AVALANCHE INFORMATION CENTER HAS AVALANCHE OBSERVERS IN ALL MOUNTAIN AREAS OF COLORADO. MANY OF THESE HAVE 20-30 YEARS OF EXPERIENCE ... AND NONE HAS SEEN A SNOWPACK THAT IS SO WEAK SO LATE IN THE SEASON. AND IT EXISTS IN EVERY MOUNTAIN RANGE OF COLORADO EXTENDING FROM STEAMBOAT TO TELLURIDE.

THIS IS NOT A TYPICAL MARCH SITUATION. USUALLY BY MARCH THE SNOWPACK HAS BEGUN TO WARM AND SETTLE AND STRENGTHEN. BUT NOT THIS YEAR. THIS SNOWPACK IS NOT PRODUCING LARGE NUMBERS OF NATURAL RELEASING AVALANCHES. BUT IT IS EASILY SUSCEPTIBLE TO A TRIGGER AND IT WILL BREAK TO THE GROUND. LASTLY IT WILL NOT STABILIZE ANYTIME SOON. THAT MEANS THE BACKCOUNTRY COULD BE UNSTABLE FOR WEEKS TO COME.

TRIGGERED AVALANCHES CAN BE EXPECTED ON SLOPES OF 35 DEGREES AND STEEPER AND AVALANCHES CAN BE TRIGGERED ON SHALLOW SLOPES WITH STEEPER SLOPES LYING ABOVE. EXTRA CAUTION IS MANDATORY FOR ALL BACKCOUNTRY USERS.

THIS STATEMENT IS OF PARTICULAR INTEREST TO PERSONS USING THE BACK COUNTRY OUTSIDE DEVELOPED SKI AREA BOUNDARIES. WHEN NECESSARY SKI AREAS USE AVALANCHE CONTROL METHODS WITHIN THEIR BOUNDARIES.

FOR ADDITIONAL AVALANCHE INFORMATION...IN FORT COLLINS CALL...970-482-0457 ...IN COLORADO SPRINGS...719-520-0020...IN SUMMIT COUNTY ...970-668-0600...IN DURANGO...970-247-8187...IN DENVER...303-275-5360 OR VISIT OUR WEB PAGE AT www.geosurvey.state.co.us/avalanche.

WILLIAMS
COLORADO AVALANCHE INFORMATION CENTER
2001-02
"

Sunday, March 17, 2002

Ft. Collins

Nothing like a little jaunt across the Great Plains to start a spring break...but now I'm in Colorado and within sight of snowy mountains, so all is right with the world. Nebraska is still Nebraska, but crossing the Great American Desert was relatively painless this time around. Tomorrow's events are still up in the air, and I hope to take a few days to "tour" and take an obscene number of pictures. Hey, it's a hobby... Otherwise, I'll save my other comments for a large writeup when I get home. I'm already thinking about what it would take to write a book called "10 Things to Keep Your Mind From Going Numb As You Drive Across Nebraska".

Friday, March 15, 2002

24/32

I did considerably better with my predictions today, correctly identifying 13 of the 16 winners. I missed on Hawaii, Florida, and Texas Tech. The Texas Tech loss hurt the worst - I had planned on some Bobby Knight magic to take them to the round of 8. I'm quite happy about the Creighton win - I didn't think they'd do it, but this puts both Kansas and Creighton one win away from playing each other in the round of 16. My hometown would go nuts over a Kansas/Creighton matchup because we have a hometown kid playing for each team - Nick Collison for Kansas and Mike Lindeman for Creighton. Creighton is going to have to beat an awfully tough Illinois team that more than a few people think could make it to the final four, and Kansas is going to have to get over this "funk" that they've been in and play the kind of basketball they played most of the season.

In other news, I decided today that I'm going to take a trip for Spring Break (which started today). Nothing quite like planning in advance, eh? Anyway, I'm headed for Colorado on Sunday and I'll be gone for 5 days. I have no real specific plans other than to get across Nebraska as quickly and painlessly as possible - really, I'm just anxious to visit with a few old friends and to see a skyline of snowy peaks. I'm sure I'll check in at least once or twice while I'm away.

Thursday, March 14, 2002

For those of you scoring at home...

Today wasn't a bad day of basketball - Missouri played great, Kansas won ugly, and by the time the last games of the day came around I decided I'd seen enough and watched the movie "Donnie Brasco" instead. I correctly picked 11 of the 16 games today, missing on USC, Oklahoma State, Gonzaga, Marquette, and Pepperdine. I think Missouri was the biggest upset that I predicted, so I'm glad that I at least got that one right. I'm not expecting anything too exciting to happen tomorrow - I'm going with the higher seeded team in every game except the Hawaii-Xavier game. Go Rainbows!

Wednesday, March 13, 2002

Bracketology

I've never been real big on entering NCAA basketball tournament pools. I know some people who do a ton of research and enter dozens of brackets. I entered two brackets a couple years ago and won, so I figure my luck has run out and there is no need to ever enter another. But it's still fun to fill out a bracket and follow along, even if there isn't anything at stake.

Here's all you need to know about my NCAA tournament bracket. First, I'm a fan of college basketball, but I don't watch a ton of it. I usually only watch if it involves Kansas, my favorite team. Occasionally I'll watch an Iowa game, but beyond that I don't see much. Second, because I'm a Kansas fan, I'll root for them and many of the teams that I've seen them play. And that's about it - no specific research, RPI ratings, history of past matchups...none of that extra stuff. I guess all I can say is, "Go Jayhawks!"

Tuesday, March 12, 2002

Road Killing

Ugh. I was on my way home today when, on the highway, I noticed what appeared to be very fresh and undisturbed road kill right in the middle of my lane. I didn't have room to swerve around it because of oncoming traffic, but no problem, I thought - I'll just straddle it. I bet I wasn't more than 30 feet away when the carcas decided to stand on its hind legs and look straight at me. Thump! Too late. I caught one twitch in the rear view mirror and that appeared to be it. I'm not even sure what it was - a woodchuck, badger, muskrat...I'm not too good with critter identification, but I can usually identify if something is dead or alive. Well, I thought I could, anyway... What a way to ruin a perfectly good day.

Monday, March 11, 2002

Being a TV critic is easy because there's so much about which to be critical

If you didn't already know, most of the TV I watch are time-tested sitcoms brought back in reruns - M*A*S*H, Cosby, and Cheers are my current favorites, and I went through a long Roseanne phase there for a while. Otherwise I'll watch the news or sports, and very few new shows. Given that I'm recovering from Monday Night Football withdrawl (I'd even take a Seahawks vs. Bengals game right now) I thought I'd try a few new shows tonight. There seems to be a theme with some of the new programming. First, ABC's "The Wayne Brady Show" and second, NBC's "The Colin Quinn Show". Yes, Wayne Brady is talented. Does that mean he should have his own half hour of sketch comedy? I'll let you decide for yourself, but don't be surprised if I've already forgotten who Wayne Brady is by next Monday night. As for Colin Quinn, well, I think I hold him in a little higher regard because although he's never really been great, he sure has stuck around a long time. Plus, he's doing his show live and it sounds like he has some good writers (including SNL's Tina Fey). Remember Remote Control? It used to be that game show that MTV played when they weren't showing videos. (Remember videos on MTV? That's another issue altogether.) I remember Colin Quinn from that show, then he sorta disappeared, then he had some good recent years on Saturday Night Live, and now he has a new prime-time TV show. Maybe the trick for Colin Quinn is not for him to change and possibly get funnier, but for him to be the same funny he's always been only in different situations. What am I trying to say? I'm saying that he'll be funny on this show, but somehow we'll get tired of it, then he'll show up somewhere else, and we'll all still think he's funny. This seems to be what he's done so far, and it's worked (to a degree), but if you're the new biggest fan of "The Colin Quinn Show", you'd better tape it so you have something to watch a year from now.

Too bad I'm not old enough to have seen "The Flip Wilson Show". I think I'd have some greater insight into all this. I have tapes of "The Red Skelton Show", but maybe that's a little dated for comparison. Or maybe it's just too good for comparison - I'll take Gertrude and Heathcliff over Wayne Brady's Posse Troi skit any day.

Sunday, March 10, 2002

Viewer discretion is advised...

For not having HBO or Cinemax or any of those premium cable channels, I sure seemed to hear a lot of foul language on TV today. You have to listen closely, but there's the occasional expletive to be heard during a college basketball game. I always wondered if the networks cringe or smile when they know that the people at home just heard something that would normally be bleeped out. Then ESPN premiered "A Season on the Brink", the story of Bobby Knight and the Indiana Hoosiers during the 1985-1986 season. Interestingly, ESPN went no-holds-barred on the language on their main network, but offered a simultaneous edited version of the movie on ESPN2. I thought the movie was pretty interesting, but during a commercial my attention was solidly grabbed by the CBS special "9|11". It was by far the best documentary I've seen about last September's attacks, and if you missed it, then hope for a DVD release or at least yearly replays. The documentary was a project that began long before September 11th and followed a new firefighter in the New York fire department. The fateful events of that day turned that project into much more than was ever envisioned, and CBS did a very nice job in airing it with a minimum of interruptions. I'm sure I'll see the rest of "A Season on the Brink" someday, and I wonder if ESPN will take much heat for the language. Given the nature of their broadcast, I'm sure CBS won't (or shouldn't).

Thursday, March 07, 2002

Is I-80 your Mason-Dixon line?

I was just discussing with a friend of mine the differences between northern and southern Iowa. I've seen a good share of this state and met people from all over, and I don't think my perceptions are totally my imagination. You can make your own opinions (I encourage it - it can be fun, especially if you know a southern Iowan who deserves a good teasing) but my friend asked me to summarize southern Iowans in one word. In a self-admitted burst of creativity and clear thought, I came up with this:

Northern Iowans = granola
Southern Iowans = gravy

I don't know if there's much I can add to that. The whole thing makes me want to go to Davis county for some reason, though... (For a very temporary stay, I'm sure. I'm not changing my spring break plans.)

If it wasn't old news before, it has to be now...

That's funny - I went to all that trouble to talk about the Grammys and to bring up George Carlin and I didn't even talk about the fact that I caught his show in Davenport a couple weeks ago. Maybe I was just too steamed about the whole Nelly Furtado thing. Seeing Carlin live was a bit of a pilgrimage for me - I've been listening to him since middle school and I have about everything he ever recorded. Sure, he's crude, but he's highly observant and willing to point out things most people would like to ignore. (If you've heard his "First Enema" bit, you realize how bizarre some of these things can get.) Anyway, even though it was a late night and the theater seats were very uncomfortable, it was definitely worth it to see him in person. He's getting up there in age - 70 or 71, I think, and despite his current amount of energy it wouldn't surprise me if he doesn't go on too many tours after this one. Now that I've seen the master, it would be great to catch some other shows - Louis Black, Mitch Hedberg, Brian Regan, John Caponera, John Pinette, Kathleen Madigan...so many comics, so many laughs...

Late content is better than no content, right?

What exactly is "old news"? For something to be "old news", does the news just have to be old? What if what happened, the subject of the news, is something that happened some time ago, but there was no way to know about it until now? Is it still "old news"? Was it even news until you heard about it? Case in point...

About a week ago the Grammy Awards were held and two Grammys were won for albums I own - Best Spoken Comedy Album for George Carlin's audiobook of "Napalm and Silly Putty" and Best Album Notes for Richard Pryor's "Richard Pryor...And It's Deep Too! The Complete Warner Bros. Recordings (1968-1992)". Notice that neither of these really have anything to do with music. There's a bit of an analogy to be made between the music I listen to and the baseball teams I support. Even though I like the Cubs and watch them whenever I can, I realize that winning championships isn't much of a habit for them, but I watch them anyway. You can say something similar about Tori Amos - she can contend for the playoffs, but never brings home the goods, and I'll still listen to her anyway. I shouldn't complain too much - my oddball listening tastes have given me some satisfaction over the past several years - Johnny Cash has won Grammys for work related to his last three albums, Barry White won a Grammy for his last album, and Fiona Apple won a Grammy for a song off her first album. I'd like to see all of them at the podium at the same time.

Lastly, did anybody else realize the irony in Nelly Furtado winning Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for "I'm Like A Bird"? Best vocals? From my limited experience listening to that song, I think I heard a total of about 4 notes and 8 words. Maybe I just couldn't hear very well over the gnashing of my teeth...

Looking good

After messing around with my Blogger template and my CSS I got this page looking how it should. If you didn't see the previous messed-up version, you didn't miss much. I still have to get the archives figured out, but that can wait until later (maybe later today after some sleep) when I figure out what other things I'd like to link off this page. If you're curious why I'm "suddenly" putting significant effort into this site, it's because I'll be leaving the university in a couple of months and I want this to be all set before I'm gone, especially when I list this site on resumes. Yes, the job hunt continues...

Broken site...

I just uploaded a bunch of content for downclimb.com and I encourage you to go check it out. There's always more to do, but I'm pretty satisfied with it for now. Unfortunately, the transitioning of this section of the site didn't go quite as well, so it will take some time to figure out where things are broken. After that's done then I can catch up on making updates to this part of the site in terms of actual content. See ya then...