Showing posts from December, 2004

Audioblog test post

Testing to see if I can type in the "Edit HTML" tab to add text to an audio post. It worked!! I couldn't figure out how to type text directly into the "compose" tab without the audio icon disappearing as soon as I typed anything.

The job of a lifetime

I just read a letter to the editor in Men's Journal that extolled the virtues of fatherhood. It was in response to a recent article by the magazine that described a series of dream jobs. The author of the letter felt that the job of 'father' was a glaring omission. In his words:

"Drawbacks: Less nights out with friends. What it pays: Nothing. Why it's a dream job: When the boss says "I love you", everything else seems wildly insignificant."

I like his word choice, and "wildly insignificant" is a great description of how everything else seems to fade to the background when Dominic gives me an unanticipated and unsolicited hug.


I accidentally left my watch in Iowa this past weekend. My wrist feels naked. It's almost as bad as not having my wallet, wedding ring or glasses. There are just some items that I expect to always have on my body. I don't think I'm bothered as much by not being able to check the time. After all, I can check the time on my computer, my phone, my radio and myriad other locations. It's the nakedness that is distressing.

On a related note, How Stuff Works had an article about the concept of time. Time is one of those concepts that is ubiquitous, but agonizingly abstract, similar to the concept of money. If you try to think about how time or money works in detail, after awhile it makes your head hurt.

Some interesting points from the article:

An atomic clock measures seconds by the oscillations of a cesium-133 atom.

Daylight Savings Time's origins lie in WWI efforts to conserve fuel by better aligning the time that people are awake with natural light, thus reduc…

Jaq "goes off" on spyware authors

His tirade is amusing, and all too correct. Thanks for the poetry, Jaq.

A Vajentic Villa

This is absolutely cool. There is an "apartment" (which I think may mean "vacation villa", but I can't read the language) on some island in the Adriatic Sea, off the coast of Slovenia. The name of the apartment is Vajentic, none other than the surname of my kin. I have heard that our family immigrated to the U.S. from Slovenia. In the past few years, I have done a little bit of research on this small, relatively unknown country. Supposedly, the countryside is beautiful. Someday, when I get more time, I will have my friend Petar translate the web page of the Vajentic Villa into English for me, so that I can understand exactly what and where it is. It would be fun to contact the owner of the villa.

Here is some information on Losinj, the island upon which the villa exists. This site is even in English!

Sharon's new blog

Sharon started a new blog entitled "Blogging for Baby" to document her experience throughout her pregnancy. I think it is a fantastic and exciting idea. I will be dropping by often to leave my comments.

eBay Sales

Saturday, I finally got around to listing my education textbooks on eBay. It was only my second time ever attempting to list items on eBay for sale. I got frustrated when I was repeatedly asked for my credit card number, even after I had already entered it. However, the process went smooth overall. I have been watching the auction of my four books over the past few days, and there wasn't any action on them----until today!! Now, I've got bids on two of the books with a minimum sales take of over $50 (assuming the buyers are good).

Maybe I can find a bunch of stuff to sell on eBay, and then retire at age 35.

Busy Busy Busy

I haven't been able to post lately as much as I like to. I've been swamped at work with multiple projects, each of which seems to demand 110% of my time. Most of my spare time at home is spent either playing with Dominic or catching up on what I couldn't get done at the office. I thought I'd take this opportunity at 11:50 pm to post a few thoughts.

Finishing up with school last week really lifted a load off of my shoulders. I am seriously thinking of only taking one class in the spring. I'm not really in that big of a rush to receive my teaching certificate. It would be nice to get it quickly, but I am happy with my current job, so taking things slowly isn't such a bad idea. I will definitely be taking only one class in the fall, since we will have a family of four at that time.

Despite my best intentions on savoring this Christmas season, it seems to have slipped past with me hardly noticing. I can't believe tomorrow is December 21! I really wanted to get …

Stolen Fetus in Missouri

This story about a murder of a woman and her stolen fetus is a surreal nightmare, and way too close to home! In an abject understatement, it's sad that somebody could find it within themselves to perform such a heinous act.

Roethlisberger vs Manning

Despite most people giving courteous and professional opinions about Eli Manning's early struggles (e.g. his team stinks), I still think Big Ben will be a better quarterback over the long term. He has a physical advantage over Eli. He obviously has leadership skills, and now he is at least a half year ahead in experience. The one thing we don't know is how Big Ben will handle adversity when it comes his way. Eli is getting that chance now.

It should be an interesting juxtaposition of the two quarterbacks on the field tomorrow.

Personally, I still think Manning's refusal to go to San Diego should have raised considerable questions about his character and leadership attributes. It is poetic to see San Diego (Rivers) and Pittsburgh (Roethisberger) enjoying such success while the Giants (Manning) stumble badly. Hopefully, Eli has more going for him than his family name.

Pirate News

Well, I confess to not being nearly as plugged into the MLB scene as I used to be. At one time, I was a passionate fan of the game, especially my beloved Pittsburgh Pirates. Even now, I find myself following the scores of the games, and get excited when the Pirates creep out of last place. So, I was stunned when I read last night that the Pirates had traded Jason Kendall to Oakland during the winter meetings. I was even more shocked that I hadn't heard anything about it. I just don't have the time or energy to follow my team in the offseason. I don't know how some people seem to know everything about sports. I guess I used to be like this, but I have other priorities now. Anyway, I wish Kendall luck. He was always a gritty player for the Bucs. The more I think about the trade, the more it pisses me off. I'm glad he is going to Oakland. I like Billy Beane. Littlefield likes to trade away popular players. I know there are challenges with the payroll, but if…

The BoDeans

I haven't listened to this band for a long time. I'm listening to it today, and it sounds good.

I really like the song Hurt by Love

Blogger Search Capabilities

12/17/04 Update: I'm still not getting any results returned when I search through the blogger banner. When I get some time, I'll try the other option that blogger recommends, but I think my blog still needs to be in the google index for that option to work.

I'm trying to enable search capabilities on my blog. I tried searching for articles using the search box in the blogger banner at the top of my blog. I wasn't getting any results, so I checked Blogger help. There was a note there that said that "if you are not getting any search results, it is probably because your site is not in the google index." Then, it gave me a link to the google page where I could nominate my site for inclusion into the index. I did just that. However, the google page said that there were no guarantees on if or when my site would appear in its index. I would think that it would show up since blogger is part of google. However, I have no clue. I still can't return any results f…

Windows Media Player

I currently have the Windows Media Player 9 series installed on my laptop computer.
I've also got the QuickTime player, which I think is the latest version player from Real Networks. However, I'm biased against them because when I installed RealPlayer on my home computer a few months ago, it set all my defaults for all media (even pictures) to use their software. This made me unhappy.

I'm trying to figure out how to set up a 'playlist' that randomly selects songs from my music library. Maybe the playlist isn't the best way to accomplish this. After I perused the help (briefly), a playlist appears to be a permanent list of the same songs. WMP will help to set up the playlist by selecting songs that meet certain criteria. This is cool. But, it doesn't help me with my random song selection efforts.

It appears that 'shuffle' is what I am after. I learned to shuffle a selected playlist by going to Now Playing; clicking the 'select playlist options&…

MP3 Player

A few weeks ago, my MPIO mp3 player stopped working after I accidentally dropped it against the treadmill. I've been running without music!! I'm in the market for a new MP3. I'll be browsing eBay, but I've also got a credit at Best Buy, so maybe I'll go there. I want one that is small enough for me to run with. This time, I'll be more careful! I was actually pretty happy with the MPIO, so if I don't see anything else that really entices me, maybe I'll get another one. The one I had had an expandable memory slot that I never needed to make use of, but it would be nice to have that option. I think I'll steer away from the pricey iPod, or whatever Apple's product is called. I'm definitely looking for functionality over fashion.

RIP Dan Bishop

The Democratic state representative of my district in Missouri passed away. I believe he has two young children. Prayers out to his family.

Are you Jesus?

The following story was told to the congregation of Holy Family Catholic Church by Father Matthew this past Sunday. I found the story inspiring.

Are you Jesus:

A group of salespeople were attending a weekend conference at a hotel. The meeting was filled with boisterous laughing, shouting and arguing; exactly what you might expect from a sales conference. By the end of the third day, tempers were short and the salespeople wanted to get home to their families. When the adjournment of the meeting was announced, the men and women quickly gathered their purses, hats, coats and other valuable belongings and herded toward the awaiting bus outside that would take them to the airport. On their rush to gain the exit, some of the salespeople tipped over a stand that had been set up by a young man hoping to sell snacks to the participants of the conference. Food and money spilled and scattered everywhere. The rushing salespeople barely noticed the young man trying to pick up his belongings. Some …

A list of things I want to do before I die

Circa 1996-1997, my friend Suzanne Mitts told me about a magazine article she had read in which the columnist recommended to write a list of 20 things that you wanted to do before you died. I read the article, and it inspired me to create such a list. I've been carrying this list in my wallet ever since, although I rarely consult it. Interestingly, I would still like to do most of these things. Here is the list I put together about 8 years ago. I've bolded the entries that I've achieved, italicized the entries I've made progress on and parenthesized the entries that no longer interest me as much as they once did:

Visit AlaskaLearn to play the guitarPublish a novelBuy a house by the time I am 30Own my own businessAcquire an MBA degreeVisit Poland/Eastern EuropeVisit ItalyTour Europe in generalGo to a SuperbowlGet, and stay, in shapeTour the U.S. for vacation(Learn to speak Russian)Hold a public officeLearn to program computersVisit all 50 states and take a photo at each…

2004 Reflections

Some thoughts on the past year, in no particular order:I changed jobs, from Sprint to Cerner, in June.

Notable deaths: Keith Gamblin, Larry Avery, Dan Bishop, Mattie Stepanek, Ronald Reagan

Notable births: Troy Schreck, Justin Killen, Grace LaPosta

George W. Bush re-elected to presidency in November. I was negatively emotionally impacted by this than either I anticipated or should have been.

I went to the driving range quite a bit in the summer, but only golfed at a golf course once.

I completed five or six 5K races.

I started the Master of Education program at Rockhurst University in August. I completed my first two classes in December.I did a decent job on maintaining my health. I went through several diet episodes, lifted weights on a couple seperate consistant periods, and had good cardio workouts. I'm probably in better shape now than I was last year at this time. Definitely, no worse shape.I began blogging on a regular basis, albeit with gaps, and sometimes with nothing…

WSJ's Joe Morgenstern

Joe Morgenstern is the movie reviwer for the WSJ. His reviews are published in the Journal's Weekend Edition on fridays. I usually pick up the friday edition of the WSJ for the crossword puzzle (also located in the Weekend Edition), so I often read Mr. Morgenstern's reviews, which are always on the first page.

I confess to not being an expert in the art of the motion picture. In fact, I don't even know some of the technical terms that are bandied about by reviewers. In addition, I generally like most movies, and completely dislike very few of them (a notable exception to this last point was the movie Waiting to Exhale, one of the few movies that I actually wanted to leave the theater before it was finished.) To state it bluntly, I am completely unqualified to be a movie critic myself.

However, I don't feel inappropriate being a critic of the critics. Why are so many of them overwhelmingly negative? Is the movie industry in this day and age really in as bad a shape as t…

Rudy Giuliani my not always be a "hero"

Rudy Giuliani enjoys wild popularity now, as he has since 9/11. However, he is not immune from criticism, and should not get too comfortable with the label of hero. As witnessed in the vile 2004 presidential election, anyone that runs for office is fair game. Look what happened to John Kerry. Despite what one may have thought of his politics, the personal attacks on his integrity were hideous. The group Swift Boat Veterans for Justice led the way in an effective effort to question Kerry's loyalty to the country, even though he is a decorated Vietnam War hero. Politics is an ugly, vile business.

War Rumblings

Iraqi Leader Criticizes U.S.-Led Coalition by MICHAEL McDONOUGH, Associated Press Writer
File this under the category "with friends like this, who needs enemies."

McCain Has 'No Confidence' in Rumsfeld by BETH DeFALCO, Associated Press Writer
Question: Why did McCain support President Bush's re-election campaign on grounds that he was an effective prosecutor of the war on terrorism if he had 'no confidence' in Bush's secretary of defense whom W. stands by through thick and thin? We know that McCain differs with much of Bush's domestic agenda and his cronyism from their primary battles in 2000. Stories like this leave me more unlikely to support McCain in the future. I would have gained enormous respect for him had he not openly supported President Bush. His choice to do so appears to be a calculated political move designed to attract some of Bush's supporters for 2008. Not the type of 'maverick' that attracted me in 2000. At the …

Sprint and Nextel

The deal became official today. This is big news for Kansas City. I spent five years working at the Sprint 'mothership' in Overland Park, KS. I am glad to no longer be working there, although I am thankful for some good years that I did have there. I still have several thousand shares of Sprint stock from my employee stock purchase plan, so I hope that the deal is financially beneficial. I think that it will be. Nextel seems like it needed technology to supplement its wildly popular push-to-talk service and Sprint badly coveted Nextel's business-heavy customer base. I was surprised to see that Sprint would be spinning off its local business. I wonder if I read that correctly. The reason this surprises me is that I thought the LTD business at Sprint was the most profitable division. The strategy seems to be to bet big on wireless. Not that they haven't been investing heavily in wireless over the past ten years, but now they are dumping one of their cash cows …

The Human Genome

It is easy to quickly passover articles with titles containing words like genome, biomedicine, bioinformatics, molecular diagnostics, etc. However, if read carefully, such articles can be exciting and rewarding. The subject of genetics has always been of interest to me. It was even one of my majors in undergraduate school, for one semester, before I decided it was too "scientific" for my taste. The advent of sophisticated databases and data-analysis technology along with scientifc discoveries related to the human genome create a historically unique opportunity for an understanding of the genetic makeup of the human body.

Some of my understanding and thoughts:

Mapping of the human genome is a pivotal event in human history that revolutionizes scientific thought.

Humans share a great number of genes with other species. Fruitflies are our long lost cousins.

Human beings are 99.9% genetically identical.

We share more than 90% of our genes with a mouse.

Approximately 24K proetin …

Steelers improve to 12-1

The charmed season continued yesterday with a 17-6 victory over the New York Jets who have never won in Pittsburgh. The win clinched the AFC North crown for the Steelers, guaranteeing them a trip to the playoffs. They also remained the top seed in the AFC, in line for home field advantage throughout the playoffs.

The game was close until the final minutes. It was 3-0 at halftime, and 3-3 going into the fourth quarter. Old school football!! Jerome Bettis took over in the fourth quarter with some key runs and a touchdown pass to Tuman on a great play call. The defense played another excellent game and came up with several turnovers. The team also kept the penalties to a minimum, unlike last week against the Jaguars. Lee Mays made some good plays, helping to offset the absence of Plaxico Burress.

The defense was simply awesome! James Farrior has a good chance of being named NFL defensive player of the year. Polamalu made another interception, and continues to hit hard and hustle on every…


Men's Journal featured a story recently about climbing Mt. Rainier in Washington. The author of the story had never climbed a mountain before attempting a guided climb with Rainier Mountaineering, Inc. He successfully completed a 3-day climb that involved crossing deep crevices, height induced oxygen deprivation, physical exhaustion and cold weather. I would like to chalk this up on my list of "things I'd like to do before I die." I think completing such an adventure would leave me with a euphoric sense of accomplishment. RMI claims that you do not need previous mountain climbing experience to summit Mt. Rainier, but that you should be "in the best shape of your life." The mountain is approximately 14, 500 ft. high. The cost for a guided expedition with RMI was less than $1000. Reasonable price, in my opinion. I can't remember what the rate was of attempted climbers that fail, but I think it was around 50%, maybe even more. It would not be easy.

Imagine all the people....

Every once in awhile, I will be listening to a song and a lyrics that I have heard hundreds of times will strike me as particularly poignant. This happened today as I heard John Lennon sing “Imagine” on my radio while I was driving to work. In the chorus, he sings:

“You may call me a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope that someday you will join us, and the world will be as one.”

I’ve worried a lot lately about having too idealistic a viewpoint. Mr. Lennon admits that his view is idealistic and he is unapologetic about it. In fact, he wants everyone to become part of the “dreamers.” I don’t think that this is possible (the realism in me always outweighs my optimism or hope). However, I admire his trying to reach those that think his hopeful view is merely a “dream.” After all, history would have left us much poorer had we not been blessed with dreamers.

Amen, Brother John!

Rant Of The Day

Companies continuously attempt to prompt their customers toward web services, touting the time saving benefits. However, very few companies have web services that end up saving me time. One example I dealt with today is my health care plan, Lumenos. I was trying to log into the secure area of the web site, but my user ID and password were not working. I called the toll free number to discuss the problem. To the company's credit, I did not have to wait long on hold. The representative gave me a new user ID and password. I tried it. It did not work. I called again. Same routine. Granted, I should have stayed on the phone until I got it to work. However, that is beside my point. I don't want to have to deal with any of this stuff when I want service. I expect things to work the first time I try. High expectations, I realize. But that is my perogative with the fees my health plan charges me!

Teen Pregnancy

Daily KOS, a liberal website by any standard, has an interesting chart showing that teen pregnancy is more prevalent in the states that voted Republican, a.k.a. "red states."

It is interesting, and amusing to some degree, that the northeast liberals so vilified by conservative Republicans evidently practice the moral values preached by such conservatives better than the conservatives themselves. Of course, it is probably the liberal infiltraters in the south that are having evil sex and getting pregnant while the conservative stalwarts in the northeast are responsible for the low incidence of teen fornication.

Plotting one's life

Sean links to a post by Erik Benson that explains how he is plotting the datapoints of his life on a graph to determine possible relationships between various variables and his mood. Given my tendency to write everything down in my planner and to track habits in my own life, I was naturally drawn to such an initiative. I don't know if I'd go so far as to graph my data, but Erik is obviously a kindred compulsive soul when it comes to trying to understand his life. Thanks for the reference to the post, Sean.

There are also some good links to mood sites in the comments to Erik's post.

By the way, does anyone know if there is a way to enable automatic links in blogger? For example, when I type Sean's name, I like to link to his weblog. My method for doing this currently is to go back to Sean's weblog, copy the web address, go back to blogger and use the link icon to paste the web address. Is there a way to automatically associate a link with certain words that I type, …

Falluja--Humanitarian Crisis

"Where you live should not decide whether you live or whether you die."--U2, Crumbs From Your Table, 2004
Human carcasses are being devoured by dogs in the streets of Falluja. Nearly every public building, mosque and school has been destroyed. Hundreds of thousands of Falluja residents are going to return from their temporary exile to find their city in ruins.

Did the costs of this military campaign outweight the benefits to the U.S. and Iraq? I suppose that question cannot yet be answered. However, it is clear that the costs are deadly high. To paraphrase the cliche, war truly is hell.

When I see this type of destruction to a city and the pain it causes its civilians, it leads me to believe that we are only helping the enemy in their efforts to recruit. I get the feeling that the vast majority of those returning to Falluja are unlikely to blame the insurgents, and will instead blame the U.S. There will be exceptions to this, but a new crop of enemy will have been created. We…

A great Steeler victory in Jacksonville!!

We watched the first half of the game at The Brass Rail, a new pool hall near our house. It was a nice bar and I had an excellent ham hoagie. However, the volume of the game was not on at the bar. I was surprised, because they had nice, big plasma screens all over the joint. I thought that they would have had more of a sports crowd. We ended up coming back to our house to watch the second half of the game. After about 5 minutes of listening to Joe Theisman and his cronies, I was ready to turn my volume down! Those guys say some of the dumbest things. A few weeks ago, Jaq ranted about Joe. I agreed with him then, and tonight’s performance just reinforced my opinion.

I expected an exciting game, and I was not disappointed! The Steelers continue to impress me with their ability to win games with clutch plays. Critics will find plenty to use to argue that the Steelers are not at the top of their game. That is fine. They are not at the top of their game. However, they are do…

Moral Relativity

I believe in God, and therefore, in an absolute truth. However, I think the truth is more abstract than people who would accuse me of moral relativism might claim. I don't presume to completely understand God, though I do claim to have a loving relationship with Him. I do believe that God has revealed a "moral map" to the world through Jesus. Unfortunately, I think a lot of people, even many who claim to be Christians, have not accepted the directions of this map, the primary of which is love.

Love can be manifested in infinite ways. What I may think is an act of love, another may think is a sin. Hence, we have "moral relativism." Both parties may claim to be acting in accordance with God. An extreme moral relativist might claim that there is no absolute truth. However, someone that believes in an absolute truth, such as myself, can also have questions about what is right and wrong. I think even some people that lambast the concept of moral relativism practice …

Barry "U.S." Bonds

I remember back in the early 1990s when Chris Berman of ESPN would refer to Barry Bonds as Barry "U.S." Bonds. In fact, he may still use this moniker. I would not know, since my passion for baseball fizzled with the 1994 season. I now only follow the game from a distance that only seems to increase each year. This past week's news, admissions and controversy about "performance enhancing drugs" did not surprise me in the least. However, it does make me sad, if only from a nostalgic perspective. Back when Bonds played for Pittsburgh, I hoped and prayed with all my heart that he would lead them to a World Series title. Unfortunately, his playoff performance as a Pirate resembled the St. Louis Cardinals in this year's World Series.

It seems like Berman was on to something when he nicknamed Barry "U.S." Here are my theories of what Berman might have had in mind:

Barry "Uses Steroids" Bonds
Barry "Useless SituationalHitterInThePlayoffs&qu…

Obervations from the 12/3/04 edition of The Catholic Key

Pope: U.S. vocations a 'stark challenge.' By Sarah Delaney of Catholic News Service
Yes, indeed. Men must make an excrutiating choice when entering the priesthood. I am not one of the many in favor of allowing priests to marry. However, I acknowledge the challenge that the church faces by requiring its priests to be celibate. I think those willing to make such a sacrifice are ready to give their whole lives to the church. As far as the link between celibacy and sexual abuse, I think it is bunk. Sexual predators are deranged people that would be harmful to children whether or not they were in the preisthood.

Students explore living with a disability: Diocesan ministry designed program. By Kevin Kelly, Catholic Key associate editor
7th grade students from a Blue Springs junior high school participated in exercises "designed to show them how hard life can be for the disabled." They tried to pick up buttons and tie shoes while wearing work gloves and walk with a ca…

U.S. Military Recruiters and Military Composition

E.J. Dionne, Jr. argues that the recent ruling by an appeals court that allows colleges to bar military recruiters from campus without fear of losing federal funds is bad for liberalism. His point is that authentic liberalism should encourage close ties between the military and civilian sectors of society. He has a persuasive point. I've long believed that the lower classes of U.S. society bear an unfair portion of the burden of defending our country. This is why I would support the implementation of a fair draft, one that gives "equal opportunity" to members from all economic classes to be drafted into military service. More importantly, the growing gap between the military and civilian sectors of society is dangerous to our democratic republic. Our society as we know it depends on civilian rule over the military. This is possible only when the military is aligned with civilians, indeed, is made up of civilians. When the military sector becomes a separate and distinct e…

Steelers vs Jags

I've been waiting for this game all season, because it is the only primetime game the Steelers have on their schedule this year (they did get an earlier primetime game courtesy of a hurricane in Florida forcing the kickoff of their contest with Miami into the evening hours.) We are going to watch it at a new bar & grill in the Northland named The Brass Rail. Lynae was there a few weeks ago, and she thought it would be a good place to watch a game. Normally, I don't like watching games at places other than Minsky's, because Minsky's has so many TVs, I know we will always get the Steeler game with volume. Plus, we are regulars at Minsky's. But, for MNF and other primetime games, I like to branch out.

I was surprised to read today that Jason Gildon is playing for the Jags. I don't know how I missed that news. It should be fun to watch him play, though I hope he doesn't have too much success against us. Gildon is one of my favorite Steelers from th…

Ricky Williams

The AP reports today that Ricky Williams has rejected NFL terms for his reinstatement to the league, and is not planning to return for the 2005 season. He is, presumably, retiring "for good." However, I wouldn't be surprised to see him playing again sometime.

There are generally two schools of thought on Ricky Williams:
1. He is a dumb, drug-addicted, idiotic moron who passed up millions of dollars and fame so that he could go smoke weed in The Outback.
2. He is a courageous soul that is tired of living his life on the terms of other people and is to be commended for turning his back on more material wealth (he already has plenty of it) so that he can follow his heart.

I happen to be in the second camp. I read a great article in the December issue of Esquire about Ricky. He is a smart guy that is concerned with deep, philosophical questions. Although his physical skills fit football perfectly, in his entirety he is a mismatch with the NFL. I wish him luck.