Since I'm fresh out of any coherent thoughts today, I present you with random things filling my head this morning:
One of the best Saturday Night Live skits EVER is one that most people seem to have not seen. David Alan Grier was hosting and was doing a skit of whatever morning show Bryant Gumbel hosted, and played Bryant Gumbel.
Grier goes over-the-top with the hyper pronunciation of words and extended vocabularly that Gumbel would do, and played it as straight as could be. After talking about the guests that would be on the show, they go to a commercial break. You here from off-stage..."And, we're clear." Then, Grier interprets what Gumbel must have really been like when the cameras were not rolling...
Where's All My Bitches At?!
I yell that in the morning sometimes when I get to work. Some people laugh, others don't.
Years ago when I worked for a now-defunct dot-com, one of my co-workers knew a guy named Dack who just happened to have one of the funniest things ever on his website. It's The Web Economy Bullshit Generator.
The absolute thrashing to my ankle is starting to heal up. What was about 12 solid inches of bruising up my leg now just looks like I taped a piece of bacon on to the back of my foot.
John Hodgeman is one of the funniest people alive. I encourage you all to listen to The 700 Hobo Names. If you don't "get it", well, then I pity you. #166 - Dora the Explorer. Gold Jerry, GOLD!
The fine folk(s) over at kreisle.com (read: Bill) has a theory that Google Trends can predict the future, or at the very least, reveal what people really want to know. By comparing search terms, Bill believes we can predict the next president, amongst other things. I told Bill that he wasn't asking the tough questions about human behavior. So, (click at your OWN risk) I asked.
I plan to start writing my Why [IT] Matters series today. It seems my best thoughts for that either occur when I'm really pissed off, or drunk. Wonder what gives with that...
#237: Stingo the Bandana Origami Prodigy
Ahhh...That's good stuff.
July 23, 2008 1:17 PM
Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know...
So I was reading a thing a while ago about web site development and how the primary way to keep people coming back to a site is to provide them with fresh content. Well, at the rate I'm going with fresh content, I'm pretty positive that just about everyone who may have read this crap regularly has officially abandoned me.
Shit happens I guess.
I use a custom content management system I wrote almost eight to nine years ago now to manage this site. It's been through several versions, the latest of which actually runs pretty well. It's easy to use, and extremely flexible in the content it can handle. In a way, it's a general purpose management tool capable of managing many sites (This exact instance of my CMS was running about 6 sites simultaneously at one point) in a very straight-forward way. As I built the entire thing, I know exactly how it works, so it's easy for me to create and publish content quickly.
The only problem with running my own software is running my own software.
A small issue with how this site handles rendering all this content prevented me from being able to move some things around, and the right way to fix it was something I've been very lazy dealing with. A few weeks ago, I finally sat down, fixed it, and while I was at it, did up some fresh themes based around places I've been. And yes, I took every header picture used, except the one at St. Andrews. That's me walking over the bridge. :-)
So while there's nothing particularly striking about today that makes me want to author anything special, I figured I'd better at least fire up a flare so y'all know I'm still alive. But hey, I can provide an update...
The picture above is one that was in the Star Trib a few years ago on a morning when Duluth was fogged in. I've always liked it, and came across it again this morning. So I figured I'd put it out here just so I don't lose it.
This morning I'm working off a Category II Hangover. Andrew, Papa Steve and I decided to tear up the 5-8 Club last night and top off the evening with some stogies and Gin & Tonics. FYI, never smoke a cigar after dusk, and never end the night with gin. You'll wake up feeling like a five dollar bill that's been through the wash. Andrew had the privilege of waking up on my couch to Pepin licking one of his nipples. I bet that happens all the time to him though...
Oh, before I forget, I did write some stuff when I was on my way to Japan (yeah, FYI...I was in Tokyo with The Brother for 3 weeks over the holidays last winter...Good times) that I've posted below as well.
I better get back to Documentationing - The act of writing documentation.
Into The Wild
July 23, 2008 1:23 PM A few months ago, while in Starbucks with my co-worker Bill, I noticed an iTunes sale for the soundtrack of a movie called "Into The Wild" which was based on the book written by John Krakauer, one of my favorite authors. This brief moment in Starbucks caught me completely by surprise, because I had no idea it was even made into a movie.
After getting back to my desk, I quickly looked it up online. I found out that it was directed by Shawn Penn and the entire soundtrack was done by Eddie Vedder, the frontman for one of my favorite bands, Pearl Jam. Well, that did it...The only thing left to figure out was when it was playing and where.
This is where things got a bit shaky. Turns out that it was only playing at the Uptown theater, and the day I made this discovery also happened to be the last day it was showing. Further complicating things was that the movie only had one show time: 10:00 pm.
It didn't matter. I had to go. Into the Wild is an amazing story and while reading about the movie, all the critiques talked about how the movie adhered to the letter of the book. I can't even begin to explain the story except to tell you all to run out and get the book, then when you can, see the movie. But read the book first.
What does this have to do with me being at 37,000 feet right now? Well, let me get there...
Traditionally, the closest way between two points on Earth is anything but a straight line. To understand what I'm talking about, take a piece of string and a globe and "connect the dots" between any two points on the globe. Try Tokyo and Minneapolis and it might surprise you that the Great Circle Route (the arch in your string) takes you just shy of Anchorage and down the Alaskan Archipelego, stepping out across the Pacific, almost brushing Russia as the route ends up almost North/South before Japan.
The winter jet stream isn't letting our current route fly the shortest way however. Our track has taken us well North, cutting across the midsection of Alaska, and far to the North of the Alaskan islands before heading almost dead South once we go feet-wet over the Pacific. The end result of this "detour" is an absolutely amazing view of the Denali mountain range. The sheer remoteness of this part of the world is absolutely stunning. It's the first time I've ever recalled being in a plane where absolutely no sign of human interference with the environment is visible, outside of crossing the middle of the ocean. It truly is The Wild, remote and alone.
Much of the story in Into the Wild takes place in the remote wilderness of Alaska, which is where I find myself right now. The view from a plane is one that you can only get from a plane. The view below of the Denali range brings back a lot of the thoughts of the movie, and the main character's struggle to find himself. His realization at the end is a simple one: "Happiness only real when shared."
While I truly admired the scenery below (it is seriously like nothing I have ever seen before) it has now passed. As we've made our way further to the West, we've just stepped out for our journey across the big blue. As we continue our track towards Tokyo, it appears as though we are not as alone as the main character of Into the Wild. Due to it's location and the range limits of most cargo aircraft, Anchorage, Alaska is one of the busiest destinations for cargo aircraft, providing a small hub for both UPS and FedEx. A UPS MD-11, the big brother of the DC-10 just passed about 1,000 feet below us to a destination of it's own across the Pacific.
July 23, 2008 1:23 PM In a brief tip of the hat to Tom Wilson, I was unsuccessful in my pursuit of a World Business Class upgrade due to my unwillingness to shell out $4,800 for the upgrade. Oh well, I'm still flying non-stop to Tokyo for a little over thirty-seven bucks, something that'd be hard for most people to say. Anyhoo, sitting in the back of the plane has been the motivation for this post. Read on...
A frequent encounter when flying internationally (or on any wide-body jet) called "Dutch Roll" can sometimes be mistaken for turbulence. What is Dutch Roll? Well, it's a bit tricky to explain, but bear with me on this...
The tail portion of a plane that sticks up is actually called the vertical stabilizer. It's purpose is pretty simple: Keep the plan cutting through the air without moving side-to-side. Much like the small "wings" on the back of the plane (the horizontal stabilizers) keep it from moving up and down in a roller coaster like motion. Without a vertical stabilizer, flight would be almost impossible, with the plane careening out of control to the left or right.
A frequently unaccounted for part of the plane that actually helps keep it on track is the fuselage, the long skinny tube all of us are trapped inside while on the plane. It acts much like an arrow, cutting through the air from front-to-back. The fuselage and the vertical stab both play a roll in Dutch Roll.
If any of you have ever flown on a DC-10 (Minneapolis flew them non-stop to Hawaii and Amsterdam for YEARS) you actually know Dutch Roll much better than you think. A DC-10 was a triple engine plane, with engine number two mounted smack in the middle of the vertical stabilizer. It was also known for being one of the widest bodied planes (It's almost as wide as a 747) but was also very stubby from front-to-back. To compare, the 747-400 I'm sitting on right now has 67 rows from front to back, and carries about 403 people. A DC-10, while overall smaller, still carried just shy of 300 people, but did so with only 38 rows. On a DC-10, the combination of a short, stubby fuselage and a relatively small vertical stabilizer with an engine in the middle of it combined to make perfect friends for Dutch Roll.
(I know I still haven't explained what it is, but bear with me.)
On the opposite end of the DC-10 is the 757. The Boeing 757 is one of the longest narrow-body planes flying today. It has more rows in it than a DC-10, yet the fuselage is only half the diameter. In addition, the 757 has a very large tail in comparison to its size. The result? A plane that tracks through the sky like a long skinny arrow. In fact, the 757-300, which is a stretched version of the standard 757-200 has almost 50 rows from front-to-back yet is still a single aisle, narrow-bodied plane.
So, what exactly is Dutch Roll?
Well, it's a phenomenon where the tail of a plane moves gently left and right as it flies through the air, circling around the center of gravity of a plane (which is usually right around the center of where the wing meets the fuselage.) The result is a slight figure-eight side-to-side swaying motion as the plane flies through the air. If you can imagine the motion you would make with a knife as you spread frosting across the top of a cake, that's about what it's like.
The first time I noticed Dutch Roll was in the middle of the Pacific Ocean on my way to Hawaii. It was on a DC-10 (the Dutch Roll poster child) headed to my brother's wedding. Sitting next to me was one of my best friends Nick, enjoying his first flight ever. (How bad ass is that? First flight non-stop to Hawaii from Minneapolis...High five Nick.) As we lumbered across that vast expanse of ocean, the plane began it's roll. The DC-10 is one of the most stable planes in the air, but you can definitely notice its tendancy for windmills and clogs: Dutch Roll. Ever since, the only other times I've felt it are on the subsequent DC-10 flights I've made.
I'm in row 63 of 67 on a 747-400 with 398 of my closest friends. You might think that being in the back of this plane would be bad, but I lucked out. The back of a 747-400 curves in slightly and the result is that I'm in the first row of seats in the back where it's two across and not three. I have a virtual acre of space next to me where I've stowed my bag, letting me stretch my legs out under the two seats in front of me. And as a bonus, there's nobody sitting in the seat directly in front of me, allowing me to use my laptop with plenty of room to still see the screen.
Left-to-right and back to the left again. Lather, rinse, repeat. That's what I'm experiencing right now as we cut across the vast expanse of the Canadian Interior that stretches out underneath us. NWA flight 019, non-stop service to New TOkyo International Airport At Narita aboard a Boeing 747-400 gently rolls side-to-side in the most relaxing form of non-turbulence you can experience.
July 23, 2008 1:20 PM Well, here we go again.
Right now I'm sitting just outside of Gate G4 at Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport. In about 45 minutes I'll be getting on a non-stop flight to Tokyo/Narita International where I will be spending the holidays with my brother and his wife. This will be my first trip over to Japan to see him. I'm really excited about it, especially now that I'm through security at the airport.
I know I haven't written anything out here in quite some time, but life has been nothing but a whirlwind the past few months.
So, where to start? Well, Pepin (my super Golden Retriever) is probably the hot topic for most, so we'll start there.
Pepin is doing magnificent these days, except for a habit of wanting to eat things he's already digested. I won't go into much detail about that, as I'm assuming most of you can figure it out. Outside of that, he continues to be a very mellow, very loving pooch who is a total ham. Despite his problems, I think you'd be hard-pressed to find a better behaved or easier to handle puppy. He's amazing, and I'm so glad I have him.
Next: The Designer.
All I have to say is WOW. Every time I think things with her couldn't get better, they do. It's been a frighteningly busy few months with a lot of big things going on, but she's always there with me, supporting me, likewise me to her. She's just about the best thing a person could ask for. Just the other night we were at a party hosted by the founder of the architecture firm she works for, and we had an absolute blast. All her co-workers love her, respect her, and funny thing, I do too. ;-)
She had a scare earlier in the summer with her health that had she and I spending a few glorious nights in the hospital at the ER or in the radiology department, but it turned out to be nothing too serious, and she's fully recovered. Otherwise, she's just been really busy with work, with lots of big projects going on. Somehow, she manages it all in stride, with only the occasional venting session.
So, for those who I don't see every day, the past 6 weeks have been VERY strange. First off, I ended up in the hospital myself, with something a bit more serious than the quick scare The Designer had to deal with. I ended up needing surgery to repair a 4 1/2 inch abdominal tear which had me out of commission for a few weeks. The surgery at first didn't bother me too much, but once I was laying on that operating room table, it started to sink in. After I came-to from the anethesia, I could barely walk, and it remained that way for several days. I ended up camping at my Dad's place for several days, which was nice as I hadn't seen him for quite some time before that. I dragged a bunch of stuff with me and sort of "moved in" for five days. He dealt with it well, and definitely was amazing in taking care of me.
Oh, and if any of you are the surgical recovery nurses from Fairview Medical Center, y'all owe me 20 bucks EACH. I DID eat pizza the night after my surgery and had no problems keeping it down. SO THERE!
Outside of that, everyone else is doing well. I've spent a lot of time with friends and family in the last few months, and it's been nice to be back with them. I've seen my sister and all my other friends pretty regularly recently, and it's nice just to be back in the circle.
But the one I never see is my brother, something that should be fixed in a little more than twelve hours and forty minutes. Oh, and just to rub it in to all of you again, this ticket cost me $37.31. That's right. Non-stop to Japan for nothing more than taxes and immigration fees. WOW. Even a Worldperks agent from NWA told me I was insane when trying to reschedule my spring trip. Well, Tom Wilson and his scary knowledge of www.nwa.com paid off, and here we go.
Well, there's much more to say and I will definitely be back on the blog from here on out. Right now I'm going to finish my beer and make my way to the 63rd row of a gorgeous 747-400 waiting to take myself and about 430 other people roughly 5953 miles over Minnesota, Canada, the Alaskan Archipelego, before finally stepping out across the Pacific Ocean on it's way to Narita Airport.
Looks like it's time to board. Godspeed to everyone this holiday season.
"And once you have tasted flight, you will wak the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been and there you will always long to return." - Leonardo Da Vinci
Again I return.
This is the word barf of a guy named Bob (Ethics major turned Software Engineer) who lives in Minneapolis.
Email me. Buy some photo gallery prints. Do whatever.