Just Another Blog
Saturday, September 25, 2004

We went to dinner last night at Dr. Mark's. He grilled up some delicious steaks that we wolfed down along with mashed potatoes, salad, and asparagus with hollandaise. That was followed by ultra-rich brownies which must have contained about 15,000 calories apiece. They were delicious.

I brought over a couple of bottles of 1989 Niebaum-Coppola Rubicon. We had trouble with both of the corks being brittle, but the wine was fine. I think it may be slightly past its prime at this point, but everyone seemed to like it. Not surprisingly it matched up well with the steaks. I thought the flavors tended toward tobacco, leather, and dark cassis in a tight and narrow range. The wine didn't open up much, and the two bottles were consistent.

Mark opened up a bottle of 1998 Silver Oak, Alexander Valley. We drank this with and after dessert. I thought it was outstanding. It was very rich and full with flavors of deep grapes, chocolate, and a little vanilla. It was a surprisingly perfect complement to the brownies, and worked well as a dessert in and of itself. It has been too long since I enjoyed some Silver Oak. It's a shame that it became so popular and the price just sky-rocketed. I still have one or perhaps two bottles of the 1990 in my cellar. I am sure it will be a beautiful occasion when I open and drink those.

After we polished off the wine, we moved on to beer and liquor for the game of darts. I tasted what was hands-down the best rum I have ever had. I believe it was simply called Anguilla XO. It was ultra-smooth, and I cringed when the girls mixed theirs with cola. It was way too nice to dilute with anything other than perhaps a single ice cube. The flavors of vanilla, molasses, and cola blended beautifully and the rum seemed to soothe my throat as it went down with nary a bite.


Have questions about god? This FAQ should answer all of your questions.

Friday, September 24, 2004
Another Book to the Shelf

I stayed up late and finished off another previously started and set-aside book. Deep Survival - Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why: True Stories of Miraculous Endurance and Sudden Death by Laurence Gonzales was the book. I originally set it down because I got discouraged by what I perceived to be new age mumbo jumbo on emotional intelligence and emotional response. When I picked it back up determined to make my way to the end, the book improved. The author eventually got to more of a neuro-biological basis for the emotional responses that he initially talked about. All in all he does a very good job of discussing the types of neuro responses that the brain goes through in a survival situation. He discusses the importance of certain types of thinking to ensure that you are listening to the right voice and employing the right portion of your brain in an emergency situation.

I did not think that the book was particularly well written from a grammatical standpoint. I found myself often having to re-read sentences or paragraphs due to awkward phrasing and wording. (I don't know: perhaps some of you have the same complaint about this blog.) To be fair, these complaints are probably better directed at the editor than the author. The guy is also rather impressed about himself and the adventures that he has had. At times he comes across as fairly haughty and self-important.
Aside: I read a funny comment somewhere yesterday, but I can't recall where now. It was talking about how John Kerry and his latest heiress wife conversed in French during their first date. Initially, it said, she thought he was a hottie. But, of course it turned out that he was just haughty.
Still, Mr. Gonzales has had plenty of neat adventures and some of them do lend themselves to his book. His father, whose tale of being shot down on a bombing run over Nazi Germany, being captured, and enduring a long ordeal as a prisoner of war with lots of broken bones and a torn-off nose opens and closes the book, is ultimately the source of the author's lifestyle and the long laid impetus to research and write about survival.

After reading the book, I do come away with a better idea of what it will take to stay alive if I ever find myself lost in the wilderness or perhaps adrift at sea. Therefore, I think it's easy to say that the book was worth it and enjoyable. The author has researched thousands of wilderness accidents and incidents of survival. He has interviewed the survivors, talked to the rescuers, and read the incident and mortality reports. The most appealing parts of the book were the accounts of terrifying accidents that brought on the "stories of miraculous endurance and sudden death." These stories were intertwined with the physical and neurological responses that a person goes through in such times.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004
Eight to Ten Inches

It's the last day of summer, and so far it's only made it to about 41 degrees. The high today was 57, but that was clearly at midnight this morning. It's snowing hard in the mountains. Some roads are closed. The snowfall should make it down to 6,500 feet. Above the tree line is where the bigger accumulations will be.

My sister's bestfriend and her husband and daughter are staying with us right now. They just moved to Denver from Japan. Besides being in the Navy [In Denver? Yep.], he is also a snowboard distributor rep. The whole house is very excited about the prospects of a great snow season.

The Beckenridge mountain cams are showing snow at least at the higher levels, and it looks like it's snowing at Vail and Beaver Creek too. Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!


I finally got around to finishing The Unbearable Lightness of Being. I seem to have developed a very bad habit in recent years: I tend to start a book, make it half-way or even three-quarters of the way through, and then put it down. I would bet that I have six books laying in my room right now for which that is the case. As I finished the book last night, I felt a sense of accomplishment that made me want to finish up some of the other books I've started. Perhaps I need to stay away from the internet and focus more on reading something that I can hold in my hands.

I enjoyed Unbearable Lightness. At times I thought it was quite simply brilliant. The points made by storytelling were much better delivered than those as told by the author when he would stop the story to insert his own words and ideas directly. The philosophical issues of what it is that makes life worth living were certainly interesting. The fact that they were often delivered in a Catholic context made the points only somewhat less relevant.

It occurred to me as I was finishing the book that I had a professor in college who failed me by not instructing me to include this book in the context of a major paper that I wrote. I don't remember the exact details of my thesis, but it had much to do with the concept of philandering as a process of self-discovery or as a path to truth or something like that. I believe the four main texts that I drew from were Molière's Don Juan, Shaw's Mrs. Warren's Profession and Candida, as well as Nietzche's Thus Spoke Zarathustra. Kundera's characters Tomas and Franz would have been valuable additions to my paper.

In college, I was particularly taken by a speech that Molière's Don Juan gives to Sganarelle, his valet. I can easily imagine Kundera's Tomas delivering this same speech. I typed the monologue up and taped it to my wall. I printed out copies and handed them to any male friend who would take one. I am certain that this only added to others' perception of me as peculiar. I have posted that speech here. Stu will remember this; others who know me will see the irony of my favorite speech being so disparate from my actual love life; the rest of you will probably see me as just a bit more peculiar.

Saturday, September 18, 2004
Johnny Ramone

I know I'm the last person to blog the death of Johnny Ramone, but at least I'm giving you a multimedia experience.

I took these pictures circa 1992 when the Ramones played at the Smith Center on the campus of my alma mater, GW. I remember thinking at the time that I wished I had seen them when they were younger. It was a fun show, but even by then, the band had started to lose some of its luster. I'm glad I can say I saw them. From the moment I read about Johnny's death, I've had this song in my head.

Other folks are more respectful: Tony Pierce talks about listening to the Ramones every day. Ben Weasel talks about wanting to be Johnny.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004
Up Late

I stayed up and watched Roman Holiday. A delightfully cute movie with the delightfully cute Audrey Hepburn. Man, was she hot! They don't build 'em like that anymore it seems (well, perhaps Audrey Tautou).

Sodom and Gomorrah

If Ivan takes care of Sodom, who will finish off Gomorrah?

F Wal*Mart

Wal-Mart gave up their fight to put a store in the neighborhood. They faced fierce community opposition, and I am glad to see them give up. Of course, this whole thing is still Chuck Perry's fault: he promised no big box stores in his development and then went out and courted the devil. I hope he doesn't try the same thing with some other big store. If he does all of the neighborhood signs will have to be changed to No Target, No KMart, No Albertsons, or something of the like. Now something like a Wild Oats might make good sense especially if it were flanked by Mondo Vino II and a nice bar.

Monday, September 13, 2004
That's Rich

It would be cool to be so rich that you had to come up with creative ways of giving your money away. Go Oprah!

Sunday, September 12, 2004
What They're Reading

This Safire opinion on the funny memos is what everyone will be reading tomorrow.

Found that in the comments to this post on the Curriculum Vitae of some of the big name bloggers. Pretty impressive credentials.

Great Home for Dog Lovers (Lover Dogs?)

This is apparently all over the 'net, but I hadn't seen it until today. Check out these pictures of a home for sale in Danville, CA. Notice anything funny?

Hint: Look through the window in the third pic.

Running Backs

When Q runs for 1300 yards this year everyone will be saying how great it is for a little back to put up those kinds of numbers. But when Portis knocks out 2100, it's sure going to look like a bad trade. First run of the season for Portis: 64 yards, TD. I miss him already.

Friday, September 10, 2004
How It Was Supposed to Work

I can fairly easily make the arguement that Amy, a girl I used to work with at the wine bar, was the one who convinced me to get my MBA. While we worked together, she was in the program and besides working at the bar also worked as a foriegn currency trader. She told me a lot about the program and convinced me that although I had no business background at the time that the program was by no means beyond me. While things haven't exactly worked out for Graeme and me, I am glad to see that Amy has done much better for herself. I'm going to try and get a hold of her to see if she can help get me back on track.

Thursday, September 09, 2004
Al Michaels Rocks

4th Quarter in New England; Indianapolis down by three and driving down to the New England 1-yard line; Indy fumbles and the Patriots recover; Madden comments that the momentum of the game has just undergone a major "flip-flop."

Al Michaels replies, "We're in the right state for that."


Fark Dog

This dog featured in this story about his possible role in the Harry Potter IV movie, just plain freaks me out. If I had just seen it in a movie, I could pretend that it was some cool CGI work, but no, it's real, and it's disturbing.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004
Al Gore

I really enjoyed this long New Yorker piece on what Al Gore has been up to lately. He seems to have come to grips with what was clearly a very difficult loss for him and his supporters. No doubt the fact that he is getting rich now that he has left government service has helped to cushion the blow.

Badnarik for President

The Libertarian candidate for President, Michael Badnarik, was campaigning in Colorado today. 9 News (Denver's NBC affiliate) posted a nice long interview with him here. (Follow the link and then find the video link in the right column.)

I'll probably end up voting for him, but listening to the interview got me to thinking that we'd probably be better served if we could get such a well spoken Libertarian into the Senate or even the House. There, he could build up some tenure and really work to be a voice of limited government. If he was successful enough, then I think we could start to see an increase in Libertarian party candidates across the country. Once there were ten to twenty of them in Congress, I think it would make a presidential bid a lot more realistic.

Instead of trying to make some grand statement now, the party needs to look further down the road. With a group of them in the House and Senate and representing multiple states and different regions of the country, Libertarians would appear much less like a fringe organization.

I also have some concerns about his foreign policy ideas. I can see the validity of some of the arguements against our current situation in Iraq, but to pursue a purely isolationist policy where we have no troops overseas and do not try to weild any influence at all in any part of the world no matter how corrupt or how in need of help, seems nearsighted to me. Our post-World War II policies of intervention have had varying degrees of success, but overall, our might - both military and economic - has done more good than harm. To bring everyone home and do nothing but defend our borders is too narrow-minded.

Isn't there another choice that allows our mighty nation to help where we can, to step in where we must, and still give its citizens the freedom to live their lives outside the shadow of the government's umbrella? There should be.

Ink II

has sex advice from tattoo artists. Nothing too shocking here, but somehow better than a lot of the other advice columns they have run.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

I may very well have been the only one at the party in Chicago with a single tattoo. There were lots of good ones too. In particular, the cute little blonde with eyes for Graeme seemed to have some really good work. It was dark and my vision was perhaps a bit altered, but it looked like really in-depth work. I suspect he'll eventually get a closer look at it and let me know how tight it all is.

I have a pretty good idea of what I want my next tattoo to be: a full moon on my other shoulder. I've been occassionally looking for and always keeping my eyes open for the right artwork, but I haven't seen anything yet. This one isn't too bad, but not quite right. It looks like it may be part of a bigger picture, and I want something essentially freestanding. It also looks too much like a planet and not enough like a moon.

Alternatively, I may get my family coat of arms (this is close, but not exactly how I've seen it represented before) done on my back shoulder or chest. I'm not sure. Like everything else in my life right now, I can't do anything until I get a job and some money. Hopefully though, the next time there's a two tattoo minimum to get in the door, I won't have to lie my way in.

At Melanie's

In Chicago, four of us out-of-towners all had the chance to take advantage of Melanie's big place and big hospitality. Poor girl, she was beat from having just flown in from Germany where she had been drinking heavily with the future leaders of the free world or some such group. She regaled us with tales of meeting Hitler's Foriegn Minister's grandson, running into Chancellor Schroeder, meetings with various powerful VIPs of multi-national corporations, and all sorts of other political-type power brokers. But those weren't the things that impressed me. I was more impressed by the fact that she has both more CDs and more records than I do MP3s and the fact that she knows Drew Curtis from their time together at Geek Camp Vampy Camp.

Thanks for the putting together the party and for putting us up and up with us.

Drinking in Chicago

The combined birthday bash in Chicago two weekends ago was a fine time. Vince picked me up from the airport, and the party started before we even left Midway. Graeme made it in from KC, and Melanie made it back from Germany, and then we started drinking.

We met up with Graeme's new landlords and were treated to the kind of hospitality he is looking forward to experiencing on a regular basis as soon as he can set fire to all the bridges in KC. Vince and I were well prepared with a base that allowed us to hold our liquor the entire evening. Graeme didn't have the chance to take the same precautions. Luckily it rained harder in Chicago then it has been raining in Florida. The rain filled the streets and washed away all of the puke while leaving Graeme soaked through to the bone.

The next evening was the big party, and we were all careful to prepare ourselves for a long night of excess. Vince named tequilla as the shot of the evening; he must have had a dozen of 'em. I suspect I had about half that many to help wash down my many, many Budweisers.

Delilah's was packed with folks celebrating the birthdays and Graeme imminent return. A good time was had by all. The good times didn't end there. At 2 AM we picked up the party and headed to the Under Bar (I think that was the place's name) where we kept drinking until their last call somewhere around 5 AM. Then it was off to White Castle.

I had six sliders with cheese without onions. I probably could have eaten a dozen of them. My relative lack of intestinal discomfort in the morning is a testament to my good decision to hold at six.

I woke up in the morning sitting straight-up on Melanie's couch completely dressed with my feet squarely on the ground in front of me: a sure sign of a great night.


I'm back from my trips to Chicago and Breckenridge. I had a great time in each although I had to fight off a pretty bad cold Friday and Saturday in Breckenridge. I had everything in check by the time Graeme and Michael made it up to the hills on Sunday. Got my folks off to the airport last night. I slept for a long time happy to be back in my own bed.