Ow. Ow. Ow.

Finally went skiing today, at Summit West. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. There are muscles along the outside edges of both legs that I didn’t know I had, and that are eager for me to renew acquaintance with them. It was a pretty good time, though, at least until the rain started in earnest.

It’s Friday. Why are you reading this blog?

Okay, so that was just slightly defensive for not having posted anything today, but I had good reason: I was at an all-day off site marketing seminar, being talked to by the likes of our CEO, Kellogg professor Mohan Sawhney (who had some worthwhile things to say in spite of inventing B2B), and Tom Peters. Lots of things that I won’t discuss on the weblog, but it was fun.

Oh, and I see George got the scrapple I sent. Hopefully Becky will still speak to me. Oh, and this site is now link #4 (and site #3) if you Google for Stoltzfus scrapple.

Parallel lives

I was sitting in my office one day last week when someone stopped by to ask the way to Building 4. This isn’t uncommon, as our buildings are a maze of twisty little passages, all alike. But something about this guy seemed familiar. I could see he had a contractor badge but not his name. What was it? Joe something.

I hit the company directory and found the answer. There was the name I remembered, apparently now working for McKinsey. And in Redmond.

This was so uncanny. Joe and I had been at Virginia’s Governors School for Science and Math together in the summer of 1989; had gone to the University of Virginia together; and had started work at American Management Systems at the same time. Now, a year and a half after completing his MBA at Michigan, he was in Redmond on a consulting engagement.

Parallel lives. Really parallel: Joe and I never hung out much in college, he was in a different business unit at AMS and spent much of his time in Germany, he did his MBA at a different school a year earlier, and he won’t be in Redmond after next week.

But the final coincidence is that he was at Michigan with my friend and former AMS co-worker and teammate Larry Weyer. If three coincidences are a conspiracy, what are four???

Pennyroyal Tea

nirvana - cover art to in utero


In Utero

Geffen, 1993

Pennyroyal Tea
(Kurt Cobain)

I’m on my time with everyone
I have very bad posture

Sit and drink Pennyroyal Tea
Distill the life that’s inside of me
Sit and drink Pennyroyal tea
I’m anemic royalty

Give me a Leonard Cohen afterworld
So I can sigh eternally

I’m so tired I can’t sleep
I’m a liar and a thief
Sit and drink pennyroyal Tea
I’m anemic royalty

I’m on warm milk and laxatives
Cherry-flavored antacids

Knowing the Dog

I’ve spent quite a bit of time recently exploring the Black Dog, on the theory that (a) one should know one’s enemy and (b) familiarity breeds contempt. It’s been especially helpful to reconstruct my emotional history, knowing what I know now about the Dog. Even during my first years out of school, when in naïve retrospect I was on top of the world, I can clearly see his footprints. If nothing else, my mix tape explorations have taught me that.

I don’t think of this part of my work as a dance with the Dog, though. Mostly it’s about acknowledging my own emotions, something which my rational brain doesn’t let me do too often.

Lunch with the President—updated

So President Casteen came to lunch. A few interesting bits. Apparently the General Assembly continues to cut funding for education, after what Casteen characterized as exceptionally stupid budgetary decisions in the late 1990s (*cough* repeal property tax *cough*). So public funding for Virginia is going from 12% of the budget down to about 7% over the next two years, and tuition, which has been capped in-state at $4,500 a year since about 1995, is going to rise over the next four years to about $7,500 a year. (To which I say, after having paid about four times that a year for my graduate degree, So what???) Anyway, the school is going to continue to work at becoming self-sufficient.

Other stuff of interest: one silver lining with the whole Pep Band/WVA flap may be that it raises interest in why Virginia has no marching band, namely (among other reasons) the lack of emphasis on the performing arts; another residential college is planned, to abut the new basketball stadium (which will also allow rock concerts, apparently. And there will be a new contracted promotional agency, resolving the painful PK German situation once and for all). And there will be another capital campaign to grow the endowment so the school can go completely to self sufficiency. Anyway, other than running into Monica Nixon, that was about it.

Last thoughts on “astroturf”

I’m letting the “astroturf” issue drop. For one thing, it’s not true astroturf—that is, it doesn’t represent some agency planting fake “grass roots” letters in newspapers around the country under phony names. Instead, it’s a letter writing campaign—one made transparent by Google, but a fairly normal occurrence nonetheless.

Greg pointed out yesterday that this sort of thing is fairly common practice on both sides of the aisle, and takes blame, or credit, for having done the same thing in support of environmental causes. I like his parting thoughts:

More citizens need to learn how to discern the difference between a real groundswell and the scripted kind. Politics would be healthier for it.

Crossing blogging lines

Heh. I’ve said before that we’re in trouble when I cover politics and Greg covers Mac software. Well, today it’s happening again, with the ongoing Republican astroturf saga here and Greg discussing Jefferson, the new Mac OS X front end to the Thomas legislative database. I had a chance to play with it last night, and it’s pretty cool. The first thing I did was to plug in my senator’s name, which led me to the long list of amendments to the appropriations bill currently under way (linkage once I figure out how to work Thomas’s web interface). Jefferson is definitely a useful tool to keep yourself informed as a citizen; I would never have spent the time to figure out Thomas, but Jefferson makes it quick and easy.

Dancing the Jigsaw: Power tools in Seattle

All my relatives should be fearing for my safety right about now. I got a jigsaw on Saturday.

My eye-hand coordination is somewhere south of dismal. You know how the kids who can’t play sports can at least play video games? I’m the one who always killed QBert in the early 80s because I couldn’t figure out which way the joystick went. So the concept of me + power tools = scary.

This is a first step to our first big post-housewarming project. We have a closet that was sheetrocked after the floor was laid in our sun porch, but the closet sits empty while our kitchen is stuffed. We’ll be putting in some shelving and storing a lot of barware in the new pantry/bar/whatever we’re going to call it.

But first I have to learn to operate the saw safely. My plan is to use it to cut the lumber that will frame the drawers I’m going to hang under my workbench. We have two kitchen drawers that were displaced when our dishwasher was installed, and no other place to put them, so I thought, why not? The answer is apparently “because there’s not much there to attach them to.” So the plan is to cut some two-by-fours to the length of the drawers and mount the slides on them, then put cross-boards across the tops of the drawers perpendicular to the drawer mounts and screwed into the drawer slide pieces. Then I’ll use the cross members to mount the assembly to the bracing members under the workbench.

Theoretically. The good news is that the plan doesn’t call for a lot of complicated cuts, so it should be just the thing to learn how to operate the saw. The only trick is finding the time.

QTN: Hale’s Ales Rudyard’s Rare Barleywine

More Northwestern beers for George today. The style known as barleywine is generally characterized by high alcohol level and high residual sweetness (it’s difficult to make a beer both very dry and high in alcohol, as substantial amounts of sugars are needed to encourage the yeasts to produce the alcohols).

This particular barleywine is a very limited edition from Hale’s Ales—so limited that it’s branded Rudyard’s Rare rather than Hale’s. Looking more like a British specialty beer than one of Hale’s usual brews, it nevertheless is clearly a Northwest beer, with high hopping balanced against the very malty sweetness. It’s perceivably strong, but remarkably balanced considering the high alcohol level (9.2%). Not a lunchtime beer. —Excuse me, I need a nap.

Remote update: Getting around statefulness

I’ve been continuing to play around with the Sony RM-AV3000 universal remote and may have actually found success. With a little help from RemoteCentral, I got around the gripe that I had about stateful buttons. Specifically, I found a setup that, from any input state, allows me to reliably choose the input on my Philips TV on which the DVD player and amplifier are providing input. It has nothing to do with the Input button, which is stateful. Instead, I can use the channel buttons. Use the keypad in the TV section to go to channel 002, then channel down three times for the cable or VCR (composite inputs) and four times for the component inputs. So now my DVD macro looks like: TV 002 Ch- Ch- Ch- Ch- AMP (DVD input) DVD Play. It looks a bit naff but it works great.

Maybe now Lisa will use the remote…