Just Another Blog
Thursday, April 15, 2004
Sweet Goal

Go here (I'm not sure where the highlights are kept after today), and watch the highlights from yesterday's Tampa Bay - Islanders game. The first goal that Martin St. Louis scores on the steal is super sweet. Damn, that was pretty.

The Lightning are looking awfully sharp as of late. It sure would seem weird though if we get to a point where it's a San Jose - Tampa Bay final.

Monday, April 12, 2004

**When I think of you, I dance!
**Well, not so much as dance as spin in circles.


**But still, when I think of you, I spin in circles!

More Hockey

I watched a good portion of all three hockey games yesterday, and I am heading out to the bars to catch the Avs tonight. I was falling in and out of a food and wine coma by the time the Canucks and Flames played. I was disappointed to see Vancouver win. If they make it out of this round, that should be the end of it for Crawford and his team. I thought I would be more impressed by Boston than I was. Neither the Bruins or the Canadiens look like they will be the team to come out of the East. I missed the first period and most of the scoring in the Wings game. I think I was wrong about the back to back games favoring Detroit. They just looked a little flat to me except during the occasional flurry. I'm sticking with the Wings in six. If they can do it in five, I think they could really use the time off. A couple of seven-game series might really tire these guys out. Still, when all four lines have superstars skating, they will be tough for anyone to beat.

Tonight, I want to see the Avs score two in the first period and for the crowd to start jeering Turco. I've got nothing against the guy - I don't know enough about him to feel one way or another - but I think the Avs have rattled him. I'd like to see Dallas pull him going in to the third and then wake up tomorrow morning and read the Dallas papers calling for a change. Just to shake things up.

Realistically, I expect the Avs to have their hands full in Dallas. Home ice means something this year (this round? this week? maybe?) and the Avs' top guns will need to keep up the scoring.

Heitz Cellars

We drank the '88, '95, and '97 Napa cabs side-by-side-by-side last night. About two weeks ago I had done the '95 and '97 together when we ate some pot roast. Last night the lamb was terrifically juicy and tasted just wonderful. I think it's probably worth buying a rotisserie even if you never cook anything besides lamb - well, and of course chicken - in it. Such an interesting flavor in such a nice cut of meat. Lamb is a great wine food with it's hint of gamey-ness. You could do an earthy Burgundy, just about anything with a backbone of Syrah, Chianti, Merlot, Cabernet, and on and on. It's a fun food to try and find your favorite pairing with.

The aged cabernets were great with the lamb, but they probably aren't my first choice with the dish. I would probably prefer some sort of Rhone wine, but I am still (for the most part) avoiding French wines.

The 1988 was loaded with ripe, red fruit flavors. From the first sip to the last, fruit was the predominant flavor. The bottle was opened for over three hours before we finally finished it off. This 16 year-old wine held up through it all. The wine lacked the structure and complexity of the '95, but it was certainly evident that even the plain-old Napa Valley Cabernet (as opposed to one of Heitz's other more well known single vineyard bottlings) was built to last. Drink your '88s soon. I don't think it is going to get any better and could start to fade off any time now. Great dark chocolate covered cherries flavor on the finish. On the Wine Spectator's scoring scale, I would probably give this wine an 89.

The 1995 was again my favorite. Perhaps this is not surprisingly given the greatness of the 1995 California vintage. This wine clearly had a lot more tannic structure than the others. More than the other wines, this one really evolved the longer it was in the glass. It starts out rather tightly wound without a lot of the flavors being immediately apparent. Inside of twenty minutes though the fruit, black leather, and earth begins to break through. This wine was the heaviest in the mouth of the three. I feel certain that this wine is probably still a good three years away from its peak. It will probably continue to age and pour well for at least another ten years. On the WS scale, I give this a 92.

The 1997 was the most average of the three. It may be that the wine is at somewhat of an awkward stage or that it has in fact already started its decline. It's not a bad wine by any means. Fresh from popping the cork, most drinkers initially preferred this wine. (And when we had it with the roast, some preferred it to the '95.) The wine is smooth with well integrated tannins making it eminently gulpable. However, it does not display the intensity of fruit (or other flavors) as the the '88, nor does it have the structure and depth of flavors of the '95. I still have a half dozen bottles or so of this vintage. I think that I will probably wait another six months before I give it a try again. I'll give this one an 84.

Sunday, April 11, 2004
Vertical Easter

I'm heading over to my brother's for Easter dinner and hockey and Xbox. He'll be doing lamb in the George Foreman Rotisserie, and I will be supplying the 1988, 1995, and 1997 Heitz Napa Valley Cabernets. You should all be jealous.

Saturday, April 10, 2004
Bum Knee

When I quit my job I told everyone that I wasn't going to even work on my resume until I had ten days of skiing in (at the time I only had four or five days in). I got up three times in the first five days after I left. Unfortunately on the third day I had an annoying little accident that seems to have brought my season to an abrupt end.

I was standing to the right of my brother waiting to get scanned at the mid-mountain Independence SuperChair at Breckenridge. He started to get entangled with the skier to his right. At the same time I started to get entangled with my brother. Slowly - ever so painfully slowly - I began to fall to my left into my brother while he was concentrating on staying free of the guy to his other side. My boots wouldn't release and I stayed erect while slowly falling and increasing the torque on my right knee. Eventually, I fell. I think what happened was the snow finally gave way beneath my skis and allowed my feet to slide out from under me. I was blinded by the pain for a couple of seconds but got up to ski another two or three runs before we called it a day.

By the time I got home, I could barely walk. I could bend my knee as long as I kept the movement perfectly in line with my body. Any lateral movement was excrutiating. My knee didn't improve over the next week so I finally made an appointment with an orthopedist. While I was certain that I had torn something important, the doctor diagnosed it merely as a bad sprain.

That's good news, but I A) feel a little bit like a wussy for going to a doctor just for a sprain and B) am not completely convinced it was the proper diagnosis. I'm no anatomist, but I have some ongoing strange pains that don't seem to be accounted for by a sprain. I'll give it another two weeks or so before I seek a second opinion or an MRI. The doc said it would be another two to three weeks for it to heal, so I can at least wait him out on that. We'll see. For now, it still hurts almost all the time, gets stiff easily, feels funny near my second toe when I walk, and hurts excrutiatingly badly if I move at the wrong angle. Hopefully, one morning I will wake up, and it will suddenly be better.

Red Wings

That was some pretty good hockey. I don't think the Red Wings deserved to win though. Nashville really out played them in the final period. But at the same time the Wings were able to withstand everything that the Predators threw at them. I thought the Wings' penalty kill was pretty impressive, but I wasn't particularly wowed by their power play. I suspect though that it was merely an off day for the Wings. I suspect too that playing back to back tomorrow will actually favor the older Red Wings team. They have a lot of big solid bodies that are leaving lots of black and blue marks on the younger Nashville team. The commentators kept talking about Nashville's speed, but I didn't really think that it was overwhelming. Sure they're quick, but more than that I think they are tenacious and take lots of chances as far as where they position themselves on the ice (thus accounting for the many turnovers). Nashville has the people to take this series to six games, but they are going to have to play as well as they did today and get some breaks. Hopefully, the Flames can beat the Canucks and give the Wings hell in the second round before the Avs have to deal with them - assuming the Avs can get by Dallas and the Sharks.

I like Robert Lang. He's one big, tough hockey player. He needs a haircut worse than Barry Melrose though.

Go Pioneers!

I got to watch the Avs beat up on the Stars last night. I think it was only about the third or fourth hockey game I've seen all year. But I'm in luck. The Wings are on ABC this afternoon, so I'll get to watch that game. Then tonight DU plays for the NCAA championship against Maine. I think Maine is probably favored, but DU seems to be playing strong lately. If you want to see a couple of future NHL goalies, check out the game tonight. It should be a good one.

Farewell Omni Financial

I did indeed quit my job. I tried real hard to just quit and not talk about the reasons behind my leaving, but the managers kept pressing me for my reasons: why would someone with so much potential and apparent skill in the job up and quit just one month after being promoted?

So I gave them as much of the straight dope as I thought they could handle and without taking a torch to the bridge that I was crossing over. I explained that they had created an atmosphere where the almighty dollar was the only thing that was important. Bringing in more and more money is the only thing that matters and must be done by any means necessary. I explained that this causes people to always be pushing the envelope in terms of what they are willing to do and say in order to keep the dollars flowing. There is a systemic pressure to do things that are contrary to the true interests of their clients. At times the pressure causes people to do things that are at the best immoral and at the worst illegal. Sometimes these pressures are exerted expressly by members of the management team, but mostly it is an implicit threat that you need to find a way to create more money -- client interests be damned.

So I told them all those things at they gave me a look that said, "You poor, naive, little boy." Maybe I am naive. Maybe every company in the world is just trying to maximize revenue from every client. I honestly don't have a problem with that if you are upfront and honest about it. But when you have to resort to lighting false fires under the feet of your clients and when you have to constantly bill one hour for tasks that take ten minutes or less in order to force desperate clients to pay even more money, then, yeah, I've got a problem with that.

There are a select few folks at the company who have been able to rise above and make a living beyond the fray. Those few can run run an honest book and make an honest living. But they are few and far between, and I am not convinced that even they don't occassionally bend their moral code in order to hit their number.

There were a lot of other management problems that I did not address with the company. I think in the long run, my professional interests lie in the realm of personnel and operations management. Omni Financial is a firm with serious, serious issues in terms of both of these areas. I roughly calculate that their turnover rate on an annual basis is close to 400%! I'm serious. Can you imagine working in a place where everyone is replaced four times a year (or would that make it 300%?)? It's unbelievable. What's worse is that they don't seem to see it as a problem. They start a new-hire class every other week and have to train folks from the very beginning. The fact that they neither recognize turnover as a problem nor seek to cure the underlying causes is absurd.

But I'm out of there now. I leave behind a few friends all of whom are jealous that I am in a position to be able to just up and quit my job. No one likes it there. I'm glad I'm gone. I sleep better at night now.