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march 2006

Vince Lombardi

March 30, 2006 1:51 PM

Vince Lombardi was known for being a very motivational coach and getting the most out of his players.

Today (and yesterday) at work has been a study in how many things can go wrong all at once. Everything seemed to fall apart yesterday, but with the help of IBM and several groups here, it appears the car is finally starting.

The Vince Lombardi quote I used yesterday was this:

"I do not ask anybody to do the extraordinary. I ask them to do the ordinary extraordinarily well."

And another one of my favorites, which if things keep breaking I might have to use, is:

"In great attempts, it is glorious even to fail."

Strange Karma

March 27, 2006 12:46 PM

First, the back story:

Tim, Catherine, Skim and I all worked together back in 2000 for a dot-com that shall remain nameless. The week right before Christmas of 2000, after a merger deal fell through, Skim, Catherine and I were given our walking papers. Only Tim survived and stayed on the skeleton crew until the final nail in the coffin several months later. Skim, Catherine and I all ended up at an ERP software company, where I still remain and the two of them have moved on to other things. Hell, Skim moved halfway across the country. Guess she's too wussy for good ol' MN. Then again, Tim did too in the opposite direction. Sissy rock climber. Anyhoo, it's been YEARS since I've seen either Skim or Catherine, which is a bit of a shame as they were both really cool people and we all got along great. Tim is really the only one I've stayed in touch with and even saw him out in D.C. last fall when Nina and I were out there for my cousin's wedding.

OK...Moving on...

So last night after we got home, I was surfing the web, just checking some random things out. I decided to hit up Skim's blog and read this post. Now where the strange karma comes in just happened in the lobby of my employer's building about 15 minutes ago.

As I was walking through the lobby on the way down to Starbucks with a few guys I work with, I bumped into Catherine. Just as Skim describes in her post, Catherine was as cheerful as ever, here interviewing for a position with our alliances group. What are the odds of never really having any association with her for years, then reading something funny and 10 hours later actually bumping into her? We only had time to get the standard chit-chat out of the way before her first interviewer came down to haul her up to the firing squad. I don't quite have the heebies, but I definitely have the jeebies.

The thing is I owe Catherine a rather large debt of gratitude. When I was sent packing from the dot-com, the job search for engineers was much tougher than I thought it would be. It was Catherine who put me in touch with a guy named Dave who ended up hiring me. It's been a blast ever since and I couldn't have had a better boss. I'd like to think Catherine bailed me out of unemployment, helping me out when all other roads seemed rather bleak.

So, Catherine, if you ever read this:

Thank you.

Back Home

March 27, 2006 2:49 AM

And I'm (we're) dead tired. Grand Superior Lodge, while nice, has two somewhat fatal flaws. First, the service in the restaurant SUCKS. I had to FIND the host three times, and the third time the bartender, who was slack-jawing with another employee, did nothing but tell me "he'll be back soon." That almost sent me through the roof. Dinner is not meant to be a two hour affair when only 20-30 minutes of it actually involves dinner. Second, the bed was NOT comfortable. Neither of us slept at all. Nina tossed and turned, and I just never really got any good sleep. So when we got back I tried to take a nap, but got sucked into watching Superman. Then the call of the Internet dragged me into some downloads for Flight Simulator 2004.

After looking through all the pictures from up North, I noticed two things: First, it sucks that the one sunny day we had was the day we left. The best light is really early in the morning and really late in the evening, which isn't too vacation condusive. No biggie. Two, the pictures are all over the place. No real theme to them. Granted there are some good ones taken down by Canal Park in Duluth and more at Gooseberry, but nothing absolutely earth-shattering. I need to find a good subject to shoot. I need some inspiration. I have one, but I still need to think on it a bit. More detail to follow on that.

At some point Tim will need to teach me the finer art of wide-angle photography. His DC Night Out album is pretty impressive for the fact it was all done at night, and the compositions of some of the shots are really good. With my old camera, I mostly shot with the telephoto, subscribing to a theory of one of National Geographic's photographers that if the picture isn't good enough, you're not close enough. A good telephoto lets you frame-without-your-feet in that you can reach out and touch subjects from really far away. 300mm gets you a long way, FYI. It also works great as a fake macro, but has a tendency to "flatten" images. Needless to say, the 70-300 lens I have has seen 95% of the action.

Alright, it's time to take some familiar territory in the home bed tonight. It's vastly superior to anything at Grand Superior.

Edit: I posted this at 11:16 pm, but the timestamp shows 9:40-something. Looks like server is choking on it's clock again. Ugh. I think it's time for some NTP.

Up North and "Roughing" It

March 25, 2006 6:21 PM

Nina and I decided to take a long weekend since she's on spring break and head up to the North Shore of Lake Superior. We're staying at Grand Superior Lodge just north of Two Harbors and I must say, it's pretty nice. We got a package deal and ended up in the "honeymoon suite." The beauty of Grand Superior Lodge is in the details: Free WiFi Internet.

Nina and I just finished hiking all over Gooseberry Falls and she passed out tired on the bed. FYI for future visitors, Sketchers are NOT good hiking shoes when it's slippery outside.

So, I'm just enjoying life, staring out at the picture you see above, which is the view out the window.

Life could be worse.

I've rattled off about 130 shots up here so far. I'll upload an album when we get back into town. Meanwhile, I think I'm going to go relax. :)

The Jason Schmitz Theory

March 25, 2006 6:07 PM

My good friend Jason, whom most would not consider to be profound, quite literally is. One of my favorite "Schmitzism's" (besides the phrase Good Times) is his Theory of the Pods and the Clones. It's pretty simple and breaks down like this:

Pod - One whose actions and decisions have no effect on others. Examples include McDonald's fry guy, barista, etc.

Clone - One whose actions and decisions have no effect on themselves. Examples include most politicians.

He used to consider himself to be a Pod when we worked together, since nothing he did really effected the other developers. He also would (quite accurately in my opinion) classify most of management as Clones.

The thing I find profound in this overly simple theory is that we should all try to be neither a Pod nor a Clone.

The Point of a Good, Bad Movie

March 22, 2006 6:06 PM

One day when teaching film class my father used the movie Clerks as an example of a movie that doesn't have a theme or a real point to it. He was soon corrected by a student who simply uttered:

"Work Sucks."

I'm having one of those days today.

Edit: Winamp just randomly fired up the theme from Beverly Hills Cop. Maybe the day is finally turning around. Bet you can't guess who actually recorded it.

Digging Out

March 22, 2006 12:52 AM

I posted a new photo album taken with the Canon 10D that Tim VERY generously donated (enough) to my photographic cause.

It's been fun getting back into taking some pictures. It's something I did in college but stopped after I broke my 80-200 lens on my old Ricoh manual body. That, and not having a dark room at my disposal meant shelling out $25+ for each roll of 400TX black and white.

I'm slowly learning digital. It takes some post-processing mojo, but I'm figuring it out. A little saturation here, contrast there and voila! Anyhoo, I hope you all like the albums.

First Post

March 22, 2006 12:48 AM

So here it is. It's only been roughly SIX YEARS since the original idea for this not-so-fancy content management system first came to fruition on a white board while my then-boss was on paternity leave and I was naive in the ways of serious enterprise development.

About 3 years ago I started a somewhat large project of completely gutting what it was (a rag-tag assemblage of JSPs and servlets) into a well-architected, much more performant version running on Struts, an ORM tool, and some fancy pants UML diagrams.

Well, here it is. After the last step, a long, hard, painful introduction to XSLT 2.0, I present to you the first blog post of the rebirth of izeon.com.

This entire thing is driven entirely via a user-defineable schema of content types, which are then stored as XML. Each time you hit this page, it renders out of a fancy XSLT "server" that spits out HTML from stylesheets defined by site administrators. Not bad for a night gig, huh?

Enjoy it. Who knows, maybe I'll actually put something more out here than just this one hunk of text. You never know!


This is the word barf of a guy named Bob (Ethics major turned Software Engineer) who lives in Minneapolis.

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