Monday, October 22, 2007

Tags

First off let me say congratulations to the newest World Cup champs. South Africa defeated England in the Rugby World Cup on Saturday. Sadly I wasn't able to see the match but I did catch several of the first round matches on our satellite...oh how I love that thing. I have to say I don't understand why more Americans don't give Rugby more of a chance. It has all of the violence of football (again the kind with feet) but faster and more violent. Once you figure out the rules it's an amazing game. That said America's team was one of the worst in the World Cup this year. We didn't win a single match.

Second. If you want to see how inane a bunch of adults can behave after not seeing each other for ages check this out. And to think all of this happened without alcohol...amazing really.

Now for something completely different. Okay both Sina and Kendra have tagged us in the past year or so. I'm not very good about following up on tags. Kendra's involved a hundred things about us...I can't think of 100 things about myself so I'll just use Sina's which is shorter but does the same thing.

Jobs I have had:

1 – IT Manager
2 – Quality Control Inspector/ISO Management Rep (If you know what this is that means you're a nerd, FYI)
3 – Tech Support for Amway's newest online scam
4 – Research Assistant
Movies I could watch over and over:
1 – Serenity (It's awesomeness cannot be understated)
2 – The 5th Element (Again a Sci Fi film, but one that's totally awesome)
3 – Elizabethtown (Yes it's a chick flick but the soundtrack makes up for the bad acting and predictable plot)
4 – Ocean's Eleven (Mostly because it's on TBS all the time.)
Favorite TV Shows:
1 – How I Met Your Mother (best show on TV)
2 – House (He's as angry as I am)
3 – Mythbusters (I love this show so much)
4 – Dirty Jobs (Makes me feel better about my job since I never have to work in a river of poo)
5 - Avatar (I blame the Collins for this one but I'm addicted already)
Favorite Hobbies:
1 – Sitting around doing nothing
2 – Playing my PS2 (yes I'm a geek)
3 – Organizing my books
4 – Travelling
Places I have lived:
1 – Colonie, NY
2 – Argyle, NY
3 – Provo, UT
4 – Soisson, France
Favorite Foods:
1 – Homewrecker burrito at Moe's Mexican Grill
2 – Cafe Rio grilled steak burrito, enchilada style with black beans and green sauce
3 – Pasta fagioli at Lombardo's in Albany
4 – Moules-frites (A French specialty consisting of a big bowl of steamed mussels in a cream sauce with an equally large serving of french fries.)
Places I'd rather be:
1 – Paris, France
1a- Anywhere in Northern France
2 – Barcelona, Spain
3 – Dorset, England
4 – Middle Earth
Websites I visit:
1 – www.cnet.com
2 – www.slashdot.org
3 – www.politics1.com
4 – www.realclearpolitics.com (yes I know they're conservative but I love their polling data)
Who I am Tagging:
1 – Panini
2 – Lissa
3 – TripleAught
4 - Collins

Alright that's it. We're currently in a hotel in Salt Lake City and have a ton to blog about but as Wife is already half-asleep...I'll leave you all for now. Here's some sleeping music. I love Belle & Sebastian but I can't listen to them when I'm sleepy and driving. Still they're Scottish so they have to be good. Sleep well everyone.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Mile High Club?

Wife here. We have had some friends visiting for a few days and a more proper post will soon follow with photos and more details but suffice it to say for now that I jumped out of a plane this morning. On purpose. It was awesome.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Great Golfing God

In the beginning there was chaos. And God saw the chaos and said "Handest thou me my Pitching Wedge."
Thus begins the First Book of Golf (Chapter 1, Verse 1), a little known book of scripture found with the rest of the Dead Sea Scrolls, which discusses the greatness of golf and its divine origins. It also teaches that it's better to play long uphill greens short, that hybrid clubs are for sissies, and that real men don't use carts.

Or at least that's the translation I read.



Now I have mixed feelings on golf. On the one hand it was invented by either Scotsmen or Hobbits (The difference between the two being about four inches if my genetics are any measure). This means that the game is not crap and best played after drinking a bottle of 199 proof alcohol and eating a plate of fried sheep entrails.

On the other hand its harder to find a more bourgeois activity outside of polo than golf. An average round of golf probably costs about $120 for 18 holes. This doesn't include the cost of time (about 4 to 5 hours), and equipment (a craptacular set of clubs will cost about $150 and an, over the top unless you're Tiger Woods, set will cost you a gazillion dollars). The sheer economics of this leads me to conclude that despite it being Scottish, golf isn't the greatest game in the world. The fact that I'm a horrible golfer in no way affects my esteem of the game.

And yet, thus far in 2007 I have been out on the links twice as many times as I'd been the rest of my life. This sounds impressive until you realize that means I've been out twice thus far this year.

Now before I get into my current golfing expertise let me flash you back to 2002. The place is Sandy, Utah. My new company, and first job out of college, held an annual golf outing. I was the low man in the corporate latrine and decided that I needed to join in this outing to prove my worth (and hopefully maneuver myself out of the corporate latrine altogether. I didn't realize that all of corporate life was a process of being schmeared in the excrement of your executive overlords).

As there were two of us with no golf experience they wisely teamed us together and put us at the earliest tee time. That's the good news, the bad news was that standing behind us at the tee box was my direct manager, the CFO, CIO, and CEO of the company. Remember I had zero golf experience of the non-mini variety at this point. So with much trepidation, I approached the tee like a farmhand fertilizing his first mare. I lined up my shot with my borrowed clubs, and swung away.

"Whap"

And the ball sailed, let us say a Woodsian 350 yards right down the middle of the fairway. It was a good shot for an experienced player and a miraculous one for a golf-virgin like myself. The upper management congratulated me appropriately, obviously impressed with my novice skills. I found my ball ironed it over the water hazard out of sight of the bosses and proceeded to suck it up (out of sight of them fortunately) the rest of the day. Posting a decently respectable 117 on a par 72.

What's sad about this story was that was the best drive, moment, and score in my golfing career. Everything since then has been down hill.

Which brings us to ponder why I've insisted on going golfing twice in the past three months. Is it my desire to emulate the upper crust of society? Or am I planning on going to med school soon and realized this was a necessary skill for a doctor to have? Or am I just simply trying to improve my capacity for future networking? No, nyet, and non. I simply enjoy hitting round stationary objects with a metal club. It's a good non-hommecidal stress reliever after dealing with the teenagers from the youth group at church.

That said I'd like to get my score below a 190 again someday.




Here's another video one of my new favorite French songs, Face a la Mer. I know most of you won't watch it but at least this way I don't forget that I like it. Plus how can you not like French rap?


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Now playing: Suede - Metal Mickey
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Politics, Politics, Politics

I just found a new political site after listening to a CNet podcast. It's a pretty cool way to track political contributions, although I find it slightly troubling from a privacy perspective.

In any case they have one of the better "Who to vote for in '08?" quizzes I've taken. I'm troubled that Kucinich appeared so high. I'm also troubled that there was such a grievous error in the Obama biography. Can you see it?

Who should I vote for for president in 2008?


You match up well with...












Chris Dodd - 73 match

Dodd is a liberal democrat who consistently receives somewhere between a 95-100% approval rating from Americans for Democratic Action and the National Committee for an Effective Congress. Unlike his Democrat counterparts, he believes that same-sex marriage and civil unions should be an issue left to states and supports free trade agreements. As a legislator, he is known for his work on expanding health care coverage to the uninsured, particularly children.

Barack Obama - 73 match

You must be ambitious and idealistic, like Barak Obama. Obama is a liberal democrat who, unlike his rivals, opposed the Iraq war from the start. With only 8 years in the Senate, his inexperience worries some and sometimes reveals itself in the debates, but he also has the charisma and popular support that the others lack.

Dennis Kucinich - 72 match

Denis Kucinich, an Ohio congressman, is a far-left liberal democrat. He has the most extreme proposals for nearly every issue including creating a single-payer system of universal health care; an immediate withdrawal of all U.S. forces from Iraq and replacing them with an international security force; and guaranteeing quality education with free pre-kindergarten and college. He even wants to impeach Vice President Dick Cheney. Needless to say, Kucinich is a no-hope contender.


Take the test.

And here's the guys I didn't match up with.

Who should I vote for for president in 2008?


You don't match up well with...












Sam Brownback - 21 match

As an "economically, fiscally, and socially compassionate conservative," Sam Brownback is the candidate for you! The fiercely right-wing Senator from Kansas lets his religion guide his policy agenda- especially towards foreigners. He is best known for his unrelenting crusade against the genocide in Darfur and world-wide sex-trafficking. In a moment of particular compassionate, he co-sponsored a 2006 bipartisan immigration bill that branded him "Amnesty Sam" by critical conservatives and he later abandoned the cause. But there's no compassion for homosexuals, the porn industry, or women seeking abortions. Brownback's high-profile war against these groups has also put him in the spotlight.

Duncan Hunter - 26 match

Congratulations! You and Duncan Hunter are socially conservative nativists! Hunter is a conservative Republican Congressman from California who is big on unborn babies but not immigrants. He best known in congress for his prominent role in constructing a 14-mile double fence along the US-Mex border and introducing the Right to Life Act, which would give constitutional rights to anything that develops after the moment of conception. Unlike many Republicans, he opposes free trade because he says it poses a threat to American manufacturing and creates a huge trade deficit. To discourage trade, he has proposed a law that allows American companies to use �exchange-rate manipulation� as an excuse to receive protection under America's trade laws.

Rudy Giuliani - 30 match

You want a socially conservative candidate who is likely to win and as the Republican front-runner, Rudy Giuliani could deliver. He combines liberal views on abortion and same-sex marriage with a conservative approach to the situation in Iraq. He consistently lends his support for the war and President Bush's troop surge while public support for the war sinks lower. Guiliani rides on the heroic reputation he earned in the wake of the 2001 terrorist attacks which made him a popular, nationally recognized figure. He is also quick to remind people of his other achievements, including the restoration and revitalization of New York City.


Take the test.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

The Great Library of Alexandria....er Upstate NY

Okay I just added a link that some of you have been bugging me for. To the right you'll see a My Library link which is part of Google's awesome Book Search feature (how does Google make money? I don't know but I love them). In any case this isn't complete as some books I own aren't in Google's database others I just haven't had a chance to add yet. That said I still prefer my Access database library, that way I can track who's borrowing my books. Yes I know that's anal retentive stop making fun of me. I only created it so I'd have an idea about replacement cost in case the house burnt down and Wife couldn't carry all my books out.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Flogging You, Flogging Me, Flogging Everyone

My great-grandfather, my name sake and all around great man, arrived in the United States July 17, 1920 on a ship called the Celtic with his father and mother. They emigrated from Scotland via Liverpool. I don't know anything about the motivation for leaving the Old Country, I'm guessing it's a combination of wondering what the sun looked like and a desire to get away from the English. I could be wrong though.

An interesting aside about my great-grandfather Stewart. He was born right around the turn of the century near Dumfries, Scotland (also the home of Robert Burns).



Like many of his generation he found his way into WWI fighting with either the Gordon Highlanders or the Black Watch in the British army, I haven't been able to find out which. In either case he was part of the 1918 offensive which wrested much of north eastern France from German hands. Both units were part of the mobilization that started in the forests of Villers Cottret and moved up through Picardy. This is only interesting as I lived in this area for five months toward the end of my missionary service in France. I found it a very interesting juxtaposition in the generations of my family.

Back to our narrative. Passing through Ellis Island, the Forbes settled in Quincy, Mass. Soon Stewart sent for (at least that's how I suspect it happened I haven't been able to prove it. I just know that she didn't come on the boat with him) his sweetheart. They married and my grandfather was born, in that order even.

Now I bring this up because my Scottish great grandparents settling in highly Irish Boston provided one of the great narratives of my family's life.
Our common hatred of the Irish.

Now you have to understand that my great-grandmother spent her life cleaning hotels and houses for the previously established Irish population of Boston. Can you imagine how that would irk a proud Scotswoman? Especially one who's father owned (as far as we can tell anyways) a prosperous business in Glasgow.

So you can imagine the somersaults she's doing in her grave knowing that her great-grandsons betrayed the family heritage of blind racism against the Irish by going to Irishfest 2000 this summer (I guess the Irish are on a different calendar, that's the only explanation for why it wasn't Irishfest 2007). In our defense, Irishness and Scottishness in America have become largely conflated into a larger "Celtic" identity.

It's this new concept of Celticness that can explain how a band called "Enter the Haggis" can play at an Irish festival. They, by the way, kicked some major arse in their performance. They successfully fused bagpipes, panpipes, and punk rock sensibilities to create a fascinating sound that was toe tappingly awesome.

They were followed by a less than stellar punk band during whose performance my brother and I, in true old man mode, left the main stage area and found a quiet seat where we could criticize the music that kids of today listen to. What happened to the good old days when there were true artists like White Lion, Whitesnake, or Great White? That said there still are bands worthy of attention in this day and age. The closing act at Irishfest 2000 was one of those, Flogging Molly.

Now for those of you who don't know them I'm ashamed of you (unless you're over forty in which case I'm impressed you know how to turn on a computer....Wife will yell at me about that comment later). Flogging Molly is an Irish punk band that's been around for years. Fusing instruments as diverse as pipes, accordions, and piano, they've developed a loyal following throughout North America. Their hits might be an acquired taste for some including classics as "The Worst Day Since Yesterday", "The Devil's Dance Floor", and "Drunkin Lullabies". As with any proper Irish band it seems like most of their music is about drinking, but would you really expect less?

In the end this proved to be one of the best concerts I'd been to in ages, and was well worth the inevitable haunting by great-grandma's unsettled spirit. It also should redeem me slightly in the eyes of those who mocked my fall into country music. Here's a video for those of you who aren't familiar with the greatness of flogging molly and one to introduce Enter the Haggis.


Flogging Molly


Enter the Haggis