Friday, June 30, 2006


It's pretty amazing what you can find on I never thought watching little videos on a computer could be so much fun. One thing that struck me about the Jud Laipply, "Evolution of Dance" video, besides the humor, was - wow that guy's really in good shape.

If you want to see the playlist of the songs you can find them, and download some of the songs if you like, at Evolution of Dance - with Jud Laipply



I embedded three montages of ice dancing and figure skating below that you might like. These are just a few of the many that come up if you search for "figure skating montage". Amazing combination of athleticism, beauty, and grace on the part of the skaters, as well as some video skills and creativity on the part of the montage makers in combining the clips and the music selection.


This is a figure skating montage of Canadian ice dancers Shae-Lynn Bourne and Victor Kraatz

The song is "For Good" sung by Kristin Chenoweth from the soundtrack of the Broadway musical "Wicked". Here's the Amazon link to the soundtrack from Wicked (2003 Original Broadway Cast).


There are a lot of Sasha Cohen video montages. I liked the beginning of this one with a quote attributed to Anne Frank -

"Think of all the beauty left around you and be happy."

Looking at a couple of those clips makes me think Sasha Cohen bears a resemblance to a young Audrey Hepburn.


And finally this montage of Michelle Kwan with the song "You Raise Me Up" by Josh Groban.


Grocery Shopping On a Bicycle

I fit these groceries on my bike -

Using my new bike baskets -

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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Craigslist's Craig Newmark

CNET has an article on Craigslist's Craig Newmark this morning. He's not the most popular guy with some newspapers because Craigslist is siphoning off some portion of the revenue newspapers take in from classifieds (newspapers make up to half their revenue from classifieds according to the article).

The article says,
"Craigslist allows anyone to post ads for almost anything they want to sell, without charging them a cent. Buyers don't pay either. People find jobs, rooms to rent, pets, furniture and clothes, as well as lovers, on Craigslist. The effect of the network on our society is hard to gauge, but it's difficult to find anyone in the tech sector or in the nation's biggest cities that hasn't unloaded an old couch or found a roommate on the site."

Craigslist is great. Check out the Best of Craig's List, for some humorous postings. I know it's a huge enterprise but by reading craig's blog I get the feeling it's a community. Awhile ago I ran across some pictures he had posted of his grandkids that were really cute - gotta love a guy who love's his kids and grandkids.

If you happen to be a student on vacation, Craigslist can be a good resource for finding work - either a full time temporary position or if you like more flexibility and are able bodied, by placing an ad to help people move, garden, do construction...that sort of thing.


Speaking of what you can learn on Craigslist, there's an interesting old post on the Best of Craigs List that speaks to people who would like to hire someone really really cheap, and the impact that has on our society. It's a post about someone who wanted to hire a painter to paint the interior of a house for $800. The job might be bid at around $3000, but the poster is looking for some poor soul who would be willing to do the work for about 1/4 of what it should pay.

There are many reasons why super-good deals on labor are not good for society or the individuals forced (or willing) to do work for less than what it's worth. You can read the comments at best of craigslist : Re: Painting & Wall Patching "Gig"= CHEAP BASTARD ! ! !

Appliantology - From the Samurai

The Samurai Appliance Repairman tells you What to Check When Your Refrigerator or Freezer is Warming Up and shares other pearls of wisdom in the Summer 2006 Appliantology Newsletter at

Yves Rocher - Save 50% And More (468x60)

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Slack - Tom DeMarco

I just got a copy of Slack : Getting Past Burnout, Busywork, and the Myth of Total Efficiency by Tom DeMarco. I was looking for his book Peopleware : Productive Projects and Teams , but they don't have it at the local library.

After I finish Slack I'll see if I want to buy a copy of Peopleware.


Losing Julia

Losing Julia by Jonathan Hull is a good book, maybe bordering on a great book, that touches on some of life’s most important things; love, loss, finding meaning, art, growing old and dying.

The main characters are Julia, Patrick and Daniel. The story is set alternatively in the front lines of France during WWI where Patrick and Daniel fought side by side, Paris after the war where Patrick and Julia meet, and a nursing home where Patrick now lives.

Patrick and Daniel are both in love with Julia. Daniel is killed in the war, Patrick loses track of Julia and marries another woman – only to find Julia again on a visit to a memorial on the French battlefield where he and Daniel fought.

The most interesting thing about the book is the shifting between Patrick’s current state as an old man in a nursing home and his recollection of his young life as a soldier. In many ways he’s the same young man – now trapped in an old man’s body. He’s losing everything (as we all do) and lives his life remembering what once was. It’s a story about survival, hope, finding wholeness and meaning.

It’s not the sort of book I would generally pick up, but it was recommended to me, so I read it and found it very interesting, moving and well written. I’m really impressed at the ability of the young author to describe aging and war in such realistic terms.

I can’t summarize the book adequately, you need to read it to get a feel for the writing. I took the time to practice my typing skills and transcribe a few passages I liked from the book below.


Speaking of love the author Jonathan Hull writes,
“But to touch it and hold it! What relief, if only briefly, until love wears off or slips through our hands. Strange how love – that most fickle of emotions – creates the illusion of permanence right from the start, just as beauty, so fleeting and elusive, can seem so timeless and infinite to behold.

If love doesn’t triumph, it ought to. For love is the one thing we have that feels more powerful than even death; the only respite from life’s wretched absurdity. The magic of love is not that it contains all the answers, it’s that it eliminates the need for so many pressing questions. For love makes us feel like gods – and that’s what we’re really after isn’t it?’

A conversation between Julia and Patrick,
“At least you’re not normal,” she said.
“I’m not?”
“No, thank goodness. Don’t you find normal people boring? They conceal all the important things.”


Julia and Patrick talking about why she paints,
“I think just about everybody would like to be an artist, if they had the talent.” I said. “Art seems to get right to the point.”
She took a swig from the bottle and handed it back.
“What inspires your painting?”
“I guess it’s all the things that I want to say but can’t. Not with words.”
“And do you get to say them that way, with your brush?”
“I get to try and say them. That’s enough.”


Julia on being overwhelmed by the beauty and intensity of feeling on her first visit to the Louvre,
“I spent all day wandering up and down the hallways, staring at the Mona Lisa and Canova’s Psyche and Cupid and the Venus de Milo and Caravaggio’s The Death of Venice and hundreds of other works in all shapes and sizes and colors. My feet were killing me. And just before I was about to leave, I was staring at Michelangelo’s The Dying Slave, and I suddenly realized that every single work I had seen expressed the same thing, the same intense longing for beauty and immortality and justice and compassion. It was as though all of these artists from throughout history were in there in those long hallways crying out the same anguished plea in a thousand different languages. I burst into tears and started running. I just had to get out.”

I said nothing as I watched the beautiful woman with tears in her green eyes running from the Louvre and then through the Tuileries, disappearing in a crowd.

“After that I didn’t feel so alone anymore. Suddenly I realized that the deepest, most indescribable parts of my soul had been felt and understood and transcribed by these artists. But it made me sad too, because I realized that that is the best we can do: to express our longings and pain. We can never stop it.”


On searching for wholeness,

Julia once asked me to what extent I felt I was really my true self in public, and all I could say was very little. She said it’s a pity what a gap there is between our public and private selves, probably the loneliest piece of no-man’s-land in the world, she called it. Then she told me that she was devastated the first time she realized how far apart everybody really was, even close friends.

“What about you and Daniel?” I asked.

“I think we were as close as two people can get, in the time we had.”

“Was it close enough?”

“It was close enough.”

“And that’s what we all long for isn’t it? To connect, if only momentarily, clasping hands across the chasm, which is why drinking buddies at the bar seem almost love-struck as they fall over each other in rapid and raucous agreement; why friends and lovers whisper in intimate code, attempting to bridge the divide with ropes and pulleys, and secret handshakes that belie their permanent solitude.”


On facing our mortality,
I wish God still worked. Or at least I wish some of the substitutes were more reassuring; that there was some plausible alternative to unretouched reality, a way to skirt the messy stuff. A rebuttal to the darkness.

Let’s see, there’s materialism (if I’m a doomed creature at least I’ll be a comfortable well-attired one, God-like in my furnishings if not my chromosomes); there’s science (The idea that we might outsmart God, somehow pick his locks and take over the controls – hah!); there’s the woozy notion of salvation through self-knowledge, though it’s awfully expensive and besides it doesn’t stop the pain (Insight alone never does, on the contrary, it can strip wounds raw); and there is love, which also seems flawed, but not a flawed perhaps.

So if I can’t be writ large upon the heavens, if I can’t entrust myself to
Then at least let me alight upon the soul of a woman,
If only briefly
Before I plummet.


And once again on emotional response to art,
Finally she said, “Do you know why I was so upset when I visited the Louvre, why I ran out?”
“Because for the first time I realized what the Louvre says.”
“What does it say?”
“That our lives – all our lives – are a struggle between love and loss.”
“And which wins?”
“That’s what I can’t decide.”

And finally once again touching on love and loss,

“I think most of us are haunted deep within by a sense of lost perfection, by this nagging feeling not just that things could be better but that they once were better; that we can actually, in our hearts, recall a feeling of joy that we cannot reproduce, and that is our ultimate agony. It’s not just that we can imagine utter happiness, it’s that we’ve tasted it; perhaps, as Freud would say, at the breast of our mothers. And having tasted it, nothing else tastes the same, which is why so much of life is so bitterly sweet.

I don’t think we ever stop trying to find it again, that sense of infinite well-being and security. Deep in our hearts we all long for a sort of Restoration. That’s what love offers: our only chance back to an ethereal communion we once enjoyed. And maybe that’s why love even at first sight feels so much like a reunion.

And without love? Without love we are like songbirds who cannot sing.”


Food Network

Friday, June 23, 2006

Getting in Touch - Too Much

"Getting in too-much touch (interruption is not collaboration)" is a post by Jason from the Signal vs. Noise Blog that sounds right on target. There are a lot of interesting comments on the post as well.

He makes a rather radical suggestion that we should be finding ways to be apart rather than being in touch too much.

He sums up the post with - "So before you keep trying to keep in touch too much, think about stepping back and being quiet for a while. You’ll be surprised at how much more work you, and the person you were about to interrupt, will get done."

Great advice, but hard to follow. I'm pretty sure anytime I have anything to say everyone else in the office wants to hear it ;-)


It makes sense to anyone who works on intellectually challenging projects in an office environment that interruptions are the enemy of productivity. We all know that there is a spool up time to start working on something (planning/organizing/gathering information/etc), followed by a period where we actually accomplish something and then a wrap up phase where we integrate what we have done and what is left to be done into our plans.

The net result of not being able to complete this cycle of plan/do/check is that we get stupider. We aren't working smarter we are vibrating between starting work, stopping work, forgetting where we were and restarting at the pre-accomplishing anything useful phase (over and over).

This oscillation causes stress because we feel stupid - we sense we aren't learning, we are reacting to all varieties of outside stimulation including people who want to talk to us about topics we aren't working on at the time, people who want to talk about topics that have nothing to do with anything we would ever be working on, phone calls, emails, instant messages, people talking to other people in our work area etc. etc. etc.


It's crucial to distinguish a "conversation" from "talking". A conversation involves a meeting of the minds. In order for that to happen those minds have to be occupying the same space. Say I'm reading an email or paper about X and you (my coworker) happen to be working on Y - and one of us starts to talk about what we are working on. Unless we are both working on something quite trivial this will more than likely not result in a conversation, but that interruption may set us back significantly longer than the time it took to complete the verbal exchange.

Conversations are not trivial - listening is hard work. Hearing someone is easy, pretend listening is pretty easy, half listening while thinking about something else, or thinking of a response - ditto...but really listening, responding, restating, looking - that's hard. The deal is - we are by nature pretty lazy. We don't like hard stuff (no matter what we tell ourselves). You have to train yourself to listen and train yourself to focus (some people have more natural inclination in this regard but anyone can get better).


I believe that one trait exceptional workers in a creative or intellectually challenging environment share is the ability to focus.

You can check your own score on this trait by thinking of times when you were so absorbed in what you were doing that when someone starts to talk to you it takes you some time to refocus and hear them. This total attention comes about when you are working on something difficult, or creatively challenging, that interests you. On the other hand, if your job involves routine, non-creative, simple tasks chances are you can multi-task and don't really need to focus on anything.

People that can focus their attention get the big bucks.

It's a silly myth that people can focus and multi-task on intellectual challenging creative tasks. I guarantee that if you have chosen a worthy task that you aren't going to be doing anything other than working really hard on very specific things related exactly to what you are trying to accomplish.

People that can work in a chatter-filled area filled with constant little interruptions make good Air Traffic Controllers or McDonald's employees. Why is this?

Because this type of work has clear definitions for what is to be done. There are rules, follow the rules and you'll do okay. You can think of other areas where this is true - for example pilots are good multi-taskers. Why?

Again because they are following a set of rules, they have been trained by repetition to repeat certain tasks, they have checklists and a variety of cockpit devices to alert them if they forget something important. If you are a knowledge worker - an engineer, web designer, software programmer, scientist etc. this is not the case.

Creative intellectually challenging work is not so rule-based. People who like to learn, like to think, are drawn to the type of work where they can use their minds. They also tend to not do so well when forced into non-thinking rule-based roles.

I'm all for enjoying yourself at work, interacting with co-workers, having trivial/funny/stress breaking moments. The problem is, as usual, striking a balance. If you are being constantly interrupted by the trivial/funny/stress breaking moments to the point that you aren't learning/accomplishing, then obviously that's a stress producer.

Finally I'd say everything isn't for everybody. Not everyone has to, wants to, or can - work in an office as an engineer, programmer, or in some other work-role that requires extended periods of quiet time to accomplish tasks. It's a big wide world out there, find a niche that works for you.

I'm pretty sure whatever you choose to do - the ability to focus, listen and to participate in conversations will serve you well.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

WordPad - Fixing Stuff - I Want to Be Like Joe

Ah good old WordPad.

I'm using WordPad to write with this morning since I haven't got around to installing Word on this new laptop.

WordPad has about everything a writer could need - it mimics a typewriter.

Today is Thursday June 22, 2006. It's a good day, we're still here, moving into the sweet spot of summer.

We'll start to see fresh local strawberries, blueberries, then corn, peaches, pears, peppers, apples...

We can listen to the Mariners on the radio, work in our yards, ride our bikes, take walks, sit outside on a warm evening as the sun sets - maybe sipping a beer or enjoying a glass of wine. We can take road trips with our family or friends, fly somewhere, take a train. Go on hikes, fish, float down a river, take a boat ride... All kinds of things.

B is heading to Northern Minnesota's lake country next week. She'll be there for a month relaxing by Big Bass lake, taking saunas in the wood-fired sauna, visiting, swimming, floating on the lake, relaxing. I love Northern Minnesota and so does B. I'm lucky she introduced me to the area. We didn't have any lakes in the part of Montana I grew up in, so heading to the land of 10,000 was a treat for me. I'm not sure why I haven't been able to plan my own trip out there for awhile. I think it might be that I'm too lazy.

Now that's lazy - too lazy to plan a vacation :-)

I've got a couple of mini-vacations planned; a trip to Tahoe in late July and a trip to a summer camp in late August and I'm sure I'll figure out some other recreational activities this summer. I like just having free time to do nothing or whatever I want to do without a lot of plans to worry about.


Growing up in Montana was wonderful in many ways. I'm really thankful for all the experiences I had in and around my small town. One small thing that I learned was the importance of self-sufficiency. You'll discover that trait in many people that grew up in farming areas in families that were not well off.

Specifically I'm thinking about the ability to take care of and maintain things. If a farmer has a piece of equipment break down they will do everything they can to fix it before ever thinking about bringing it to a shop or calling a mechanic to come out. People that live in the country learn to fix stuff out of necessity. You learn the basics of engine repair and you learn a lot about jury-rigging stuff to keep it going. I was also lucky to learn a bit more about fixing things while in the Navy and while working as a traveling cash register/computer repairman in Montana. You get to learn to work under pressure when a stores cash registers/computers conk out.

The ability to use tools, to fix stuff, comes in handy. It's a source of pride for me and gives me satisfaction to get a small engine going, or a washing machine, dryer, hot water heater, a furnace, computer, fix little things, etc. It's interesting to take things apart and see how they are built. My grandmother gave me clocks and other small things to practice on when I was a wee lad. I think I have a genetic disposition for tinkering that came from my maternal grandfather, a machinist who designed and built his own speedboat and a small gas-powered car for his daughters among other things. He was killed in an accident on his Harley before I was born, but my grandmother and mom told us the stories and showed us the pictures. In a way I always thought it was kind of cool to think about my grandfather when kids were talking about their old decrepit grandpappys and I could think about my Harley-riding grandfather.


There's a couple of themes in the devotionals I read this morning that are connected. The first is a story about a guy named Joe who was an alcoholic living in a shelter. At some point Joe found the Lord as they say. He didn't go around preaching but rather was known for his willingness to do the dirty jobs - cleaning toilets, mopping up vomit from the drunks, visiting with the depressed or sick people around him - lending a helping hand and a listening ear. One day during the service at the shelter a repentant drunk kept praying and shouting, "Make me like Joe."

The minister is feeling a bit uncomfortable with the display and says, "Don't you mean make me like Jesus?"

The man pauses and then asks, "Was he like Joe?"

The other theme is from the gospel of Matthew. It asks and answers the question - "Where do we find God?"

Matthew 25:31-40 (NRSV)

"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. Then the king will say to those at his right hand, 'Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing,I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.' Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?' And the king will answer them, 'Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.'"

You never know when you are going to run into God, I think he or she might surprise the heck out of us every so often by showing up as a person who has exactly what we need in a given moment. What we need isn't always for someone to do something for us - Sometimes what we need most of all is to be of service to another. To let go of our ego, work from the inside out, filled with love and compassion, step out of our comfort zone and realize how blessed we are to have been given the opportunity and the wherewithal to make a difference, no matter how small in anothers life.


The timers going off on the oven telling me the pumpkin pie I'm baking is done so I'll be signing off for now.

Enjoy the day, the summer - the moment. We're only here for a short time, make it the best life possible. Remember to breathe...nice and deep, slow down, feel the sunshine.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Summer's Coming

I have to get off my blog now and go watch for summer.

It's coming to the place I live in the Northern Hemisphere at 12:26 GMT which if my arithmetic is right is 05:26 PDT.

The lucky Irish get to start summer on May 1, but the people on the T.V. and newspapers keep saying the summer solstice (June 21st or 22nd) is when summer starts here in the good old US of A. So we have to wait a month and a half to start summer, while the Irish are cavorting around enjoying their summer.

When I was a kid summer started the day school got out and ended the day it started.

Summer solstice - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Coordinated Universal Time - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Wet Cement

Looking for Nothing? You've come to the right place. Plus! You! Can! add your own bit of nothingness. It's free! It's fun! It's a new virtual free for all wacky whiskey-fueled wickiup on

Not really but...could be.

Anything's possible right?

It's but I was thinking wet cement might get more attention, since most people tend to not want to stick something into or on wet paint but quite a few people like to leave their name, a message, footprint or handprint in wet cement.

Wetpaint Easy Wiki Creation

Technology Review has an article about Wetpaint, a new Seattle company that is bringing the wiki platform to the masses.

From the article -

"Starting a Wetpaint site is as simple as picking a name and design, creating a few pages, writing something in them, and deciding who can edit them. The company's CEO, Ben Elowitz, says he hopes everyone from neighborhood watch groups to Cub Scout leaders will warm up to Wetpaint and start using it to collaborate on projects and manage group information.

Elowitz believes that online collaboration is a largely unexplored market. "Message boards are good for dialogues, blogs are good as soapboxes, and social networks are good for meeting people, but none of those really let you manage relationships," he says. "For people who are online now, the technology is there to give them a chance to connect over their common interests."

What is a wiki?

Type it in Merriam-Webster OnLine and you get nothing. Well not exactly nothing - you do get these suggestions for wiki:

1. whacky
2. wacky
3. wick
4. wickiup
5. whisky
6. Wicca
7. which
8. Wick
9. withy
10. witchy

I think wiki might have come from the Indian word wickiup.

Wikiup as defined by Webster Online -

Etymology: Fox (Algonquian language of the Fox, Sauk, and Kickapoo Indians) wi.kiya.pi house : a hut used by the nomadic Indians of the arid regions of the western and southwestern U.S. with a usually oval base and a rough frame covered with reed mats, grass, or brushwood; also : a rude temporary shelter or hut.

In other words a wiki has an oval base and a rough frame covered with reed mats, grass or brushwood and is used as a temporary shelter or hut.

Note to self - I really could use an editor (not a word processor...a real live human editor to keep me from filling the internet with the digital equivalent of hot air).

What is a wiki you ask?

A wiki platform allows collaboration by multiple "editors" and tracks changes. A wiki can be about anything or in my case nothing.

I created an easy Wiki at Wetpaint and you can edit it.

It's all about Nothing

I'm going to leave it for anyone to play with until it gets filled with links to male performance enhancement products, miracle diet plans, refinance offers, links to porn sites or whatever else the professional spam/junk creators put on it. After that I'll probably limit edit capability to a select group (me) or maybe you if you write something or paste something that has any redeeming value. I hope my wiki about nothing has a longer creative life than the Banjo (Testing the Gami) site I created at

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

You're Invading My Public

You've heard people say "you're invading my privacy." I heard a comic talking about people who talk on cell phones in public places say "you're invading my public."

Your invading this "public" space with your "private" conversation.

He suggested the next time you see someone having a "private" conversation on a cell phone in "public", sidle up to them and get your ear really close to their phone and try to listen in. Heck if you are going to hear one side of it you might as well get the whole thing right?

That's part of the problem with public cell phone conversationalists. It's not really a conversation at all. At least not from the standpoint of the public. A conversation is between two or more people - what we hear is a monologue. Generally if people are giving a monologue we prefer it to be in the form of a speech, a sermon or a comedy routine - not some boring, or self-important, or wannabe important cell phoner.

I like to watch and listen to people - observe - but there is nothing to get out of listening to a cell phone talker, it's just noise - not background noise like traffic, or jet airplanes or trains - it's foreground distracting irritating noise because our minds catch bits and pieces of a human voice and can't help but focus on whatever the cell phoner is saying.

You can do what I do - pretend like they are including you in the conversation (which they are) and answer their questions.
"How are you honey?"

"I'm doing okay but I wish you wouldn't call me honey."

"Is everything okay?"

"Sure, I think everything is just fine."

"I'm at the store, is there anything you would like?"

"Yeah - I'd like you to put away your cell phone."
It's just a pet peeve with me. It's rude, it's confusing and it really messes up public spaces when people are talking on cell phones. I'm not worried about people who are outside, or in a hallway, or get a call in a public space and then try to do their best to be discrete about it. It's the people who initiate calls...lengthy...loud the type of public places where people either talk to each other, are quiet, or if they are talking to themselves are doing so because the voices in their heads are answering - you know - libraries, theatres, stores, cafes, gyms, churches, doctor's offices.

It's just manners.

There's no hard and fast rules it's just a matter of thinking about other people. Sitting on a public bench talking on a cell phone - fine. Sitting down beside another person and then making a call on a cell phone - not fine.

We are wired to respond to human voices. If someone says something in a room and it's only you and them in that room - your instinct is to respond. That's a good instinct. I'm not so sure it's furthering our evolution if we train ourselves otherwise. So everytime we hear a person say something, our initial reaction is -

You talkin to me?

That sounds kind of crude.

I suppose as V.R. advances and people can watch videos, advertisements, or whatever on their glasses, or on some type of retinal implant we won't know if people are looking at us either...

You lookin at me?


No Grunting

Have you ever been in a gym with a grunter? Not the person who makes the occasional "ahhhh" or "uggggg" or "grrrrr" when some particular exercise is hard or when lifting a heavy weight, but the constant grunter who sounds like they are in some serious pain.

I think the key is they sound "serious" and I can't help but think for some of them that's the point. They want you or whoever else is around to know they are doing some "serious" work. Maybe some of them just don't realize what they are doing.

I have to be a little crude here - the noises some of these people make sound like they are taking a huge dump. I don't wanna hear it...

There used to be a guy that would lift weights at the Y in the early mornings and make the most God awful sounds. It was weird because it wasn't a body builder type heavy weight spot. It was a place with some free weights, stationary bikes and cross trainers. Lots of people doing lots of things - including regular exercising, visiting, reading the paper, stretching...and one guy who was making noises that sounded like he was in labor. I think someone talked to him or maybe he figured out on his own that he was the only person moaning, grunting and groaning at high volume - because at some point he stopped.

Yesterday I stopped in a small gym and there was one other guy there. He was a grunter, groaner and a moaner. He wasn't lifting weights but rather doing some "serious" push-up like moves using one of those trainer balls.

It's embarassing and irritating to me to have to listen to someone making really loud gutteral noises, so I turned on the T.V. - loud. He immediately cranked up the radio - so I turned off the T.V. and was thankful for anything to drown out his suffering.

Which is the point. If you are suffering to the point that you have to moan, groan and grunt - how long are you going to stick with an exercise routine. If you are really in pain how long would you keep doing the exercises? Probably not long unless you have some sort of masochistic tendancies.

Not only is grunting irritating and fakey sounding - it's a waste of energy and it's poor form. If you are lifting weights you need to control your breathing, breathe out on the lift, not be grunting and groaning. Ditto for aerobic activity - breathing is key and grunting and groaning just gets in the way.

I think about people who are performing physical feats that are very hard, who don't waste their energy grunting and groaning - basketball players, mountain climbers, runners, bicycle riders - you don't hear them making a constant barrage of loud painful sounding grunts and groans. A few noises here and there - sure, but they are focused on what they are doing, getting in the flow, in the zone.

So I will make this plea to all you loud grunters in public gyms - please for the sake of those around you stop and listen. Try to fit your personal sound producing activities within the range of those around you. If you are in a gym with a bunch of Bulgarian body builders...maybe everybody is grunting to their hearts content, if you are in a public gym with just regular people chances are they aren't moaning, grunting and groaning like there's no tomorrow.


Sunday, June 18, 2006

Tolerate Mornings has some pretty fun stuff. Check out the wake-up calls from Lucy, Eagle and Sheldon. You can pick the one you like best and set things up to have the wake-up call made to your phone, at the time you choose - either one time, daily or weekly.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Marks of the Liberating Community at inward/outward

Marks of the Liberating Community at inward/outward is a wise and inspirational bit of writing excerpted from Elizabeth O'Connor's 1976 book, "The New Community".

She outlines these five marks in the piece -
"First among those marks is a clear, radical, unequivocal commitment to the poorest, the weakest, and the most abused members of the human family.

The second mark of the liberating community is commitment to a life of dialogue.

The third mark of the liberating community is a radical commitment to a critical contemplation of one’s own life and the life of one’s faith community.

The fourth mark of the liberating community is its commitment to a life of reflection.

The fifth mark of our vocation to build liberating communities is that we will structure into every day a time of solitude."

BlogThis - Handy Firefox Add-On

BlogThis from Phil Ringnalda is one of my favorite Firefox add-ons. It allows you to right click on your current page and create a post to blogger. It also comes in handy if you want to just create a link to a page and cut and paste it into something else.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Bike Rack

I installed my new Wald 582 Folding Rear Rack Grocery Baskets tonight. I think it's going to work great for trips to the grocery store or other errands. The first two pictures are with it closed, the third is with it open. It will hold a lot of stuff.

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Super Low Budget Movie

According to an AP article in MIT's Technology Review this morning an Italian film director has shot a 93 minute film using a mobile phone and a pocket flashlight.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

What's That Home Worth?

I noticed a blurb in the June 19th issue of Time magazine that says has estimated values for over 65 million of the 85 million single family homes in the U.S.

Just enter the street address, city/state or zip code and find out what they think a home is worth.

I noticed the information for some homes is not updated to include updates that have been done since the time the house was last listed. claims an error rate of +-7.2% from the median value, but the Time blurb says any single estimate can be wildly off.

If nothing else the site may give you an idea of what homes may be worth in a particular neighborhood.

Sorticulture This Friday and Saturday

Sorticulture is in Everett's Legion Memorial Park this Friday noon to 8 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The Everett Herald says,

"The Sorticulture festival features more than 70 artists selling handcrafted, garden art including fountains, trellises, sculpture and mosaics. More than 20 specialty nurseries will be on hand.

Experience a sculpture garden, live music, food and activities for kids too. Northwest gardening personalities, including Ciscoe Morris, will present lectures and demonstrations."

Read more about it from the Parks & Recreation's Sorticulture in Everett


Back To You

Here I am.

Waiting for the day to begin. Enjoying the peace and the quiet, a bowl of oatmeal and a cup of coffee.

Life is good.

This Sunday is Father’s Day. Another holiday that signifies a spike in shopping - if retailers have their wishes. A day for us to stop and think about our fathers, visit them if we can - if fathers have their wishes. This Sunday give your father the best thing any of us have; our selves, our time, and our attention.


People say the best way to make your self feel better about yourself is to do something for someone else. Helping others, serving, caring for those who need us can be very therapeutic. This like so many things, is easier said then done. If you are in a deep dark hole it’s not possible to help others – in fact people, who “reach out” to others, who are not themselves in some sense - stable, satisfied, strong, and loving; can do more harm than good.

I italicized in some sense because as humans we are all in some other sense – unstable, dissatisfied, weak and unloving. The great thing about being here by grace and saved because of our faith is that it isn’t what we do, it isn’t who we are, it isn’t us pulling ourselves up by the bootstraps – it’s about being open to what God wants, having faith that our lives have a higher purpose than what we can know. Having faith that God is love, God loves every one of us and we are all worthy of being loved. Faith that there is something, beyond what we can know, that guides this earthly plane.

We are here but a short while, pilgrims, travelers on a path, ending up where we came from. We came from that plane when we are born and return to that plane when our spirits leave our bodies. Nothing changes, everything changes, we never leave, but we are always leaving. It’s a paradox, and a mystery that we can’t penetrate, so we have a couple of choices – we can say there is no mystery (we know it all…it’s all understandable) or we can back off on our egos a bit and admit there are some things we don’t know (and probably can’t know). So we rely on faith. We take a leap….to something a little scary, maybe very scary, the idea that we are here by grace and saved by faith and (here’s the important part) THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING WE CAN DO ABOUT IT.

So relax – it’ll be okay. We can’t cheat on this. We can’t escape no matter how hard we try, a new car, better job, bigger house, ironclad retirement plan…none of it means anything. If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans. There are very very few important things in life. I can guarantee you that one of them is not that you accumulated 2 tons of trinkets (even gold trinkets).

We are saved, we are lovable and can give others love. We can act out of the kindness of our hearts. We can put aside worldly things and forget about the things our consumer oriented, politically polarized, hyperactive, society says we should find important – to think about and more importantly – do – other things, that bring some beauty into this world. We can use our weaknesses and our strengths to make this world just a little better place for a time. We have no idea how far a small act of loving kindness will travel. We can take a leap of faith and believe it will go all the away around the world...

And come back to you.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Negotiation Tips

Paul's tips has some sound advice for negotiating - something we all have to do at some time or another, whether it's buying a car or other big ticket item, or negotiating over a salary, or any number of other areas - it can pay to know how to negotiate.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Save On Gas - Buy a Bike Basket From Amazon

Having UPS deliver seven 24.3 ounce boxes of Kellogg's Frosted Mini-Wheats sounds fun and convenient but I probably am not a candidate for the Amazon Grocery.

My speed is more a bicycle with a basket. I've used my rear rack and bungee cords for years now, but yesterday I was wishing I had something that would carry a bit more weight and bulk. So I'm going to get a basket.

This one would be perfect if I still had my little dog. "I'll get you my pretty... and your little dog too..."

Nashbar Toto Quick Release Front Basket

This one's a little too girly I suppose...

Pyramid Pro Large White Bicycle Basket with Flowers

I was thinking about buying the grocery baskets at REI until I read the reviews for the Wald folding baskets. They are fairly heavy at 5.5 pounds but the people that have them really like them.

I ended up getting the Wald 582 Folding Rear Rack Grocery Baskets for $32.47 (after my π/2% instant reward of $.52). That's half what the REI Novara 'Round Town Panniers are, plus the REI bags aren't that much lighter at 4 pounds.

If you like to buy stuff at Amazon (and who doesn't?) it pays to sign up for the 1.57% Instant Discount

Save On Gas - Buy Groceries from Amazon

Amazon's newest store - Amazon Grocery has more than 10,000 non-perishable items, all eligible for FREE Super Saver Shipping on orders of $25.00 or more, making it easy to stock up on staples as well as regional favorites, hard-to-find specialties, and natural and organic products.

Postscript: There's no free lunch, or in this case free gas.

I'm sure if you shopped smart, bought things on sale, purchased some things in bulk, and tried to combine trips to the store, you would probably end up saving money by shopping locally - even considering the price of gas (assuming you are within a reasonable distance to a supermarket).

Amazon offers non-perishable items in fairly large quantities. For example the Amazon Grocery offers a box of seven 24.3 oz "Kellogg's Frosted Mini-Wheats" for $28.77 or $4.11 a box. offers the same box of cereal for $4.74, which makes Amazon look pretty good, if you buy things like cereal at full price. My local Safeway not-infrequently offers cereal at 2 for 1 prices. With the 2 for 1 deal I pay $2.37 per box.

I end up paying $8.22 for two boxes of cereal at Amazon and $4.74 at my local store...that leaves me $3.48 to buy a gallon of gas.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

YouTube - 10 Things I Hate About Commandments

Ari Eisner and Mike Dow demonstrate creative use of scenes from the movie the "Ten Commandments" with Yul Brynner and Charlton Heston (this version includes Sinead O'Connor and Samual L. Jackson as the burning bush aka Principal Firebush).

The creators of this video have another good one called Must Love Jaws

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Mentos & Diet Coke Fountains

I heard about Orchestrating Mixed-Media Art with Mentos on NPR's All Things Considered earlier this week.

Then I got a link to - Extreme Diet Coke and Mentos Experiment in an email. EepyBird has some cool Quicktime video of the performance of the Diet Coke/Mentos fountain.

How do you make such a fountain?

You can find out at

It's not quite as simple as dropping a mentos into a diet coke (almost that simple but not quite). It involves drilling through mentos, stringing them together to make a cartridge, and suspending them just above the soda, with a 1/4 inch hole drilled in the bottle cap - they recommend anyone under 35 get help from an adult.

You can find some videos of the Diet Coke and Mentos reaction at Google Video (none of them as cool as the one at EepyBird though).

The Most Precious Gift

Recent post from inward/outward from By Dawna Markova from her book "I Will Not Die an Unlived Life - Reclaiming Purpose and Passion" -
"Ultimately, all I know is that we get to keep on practicing opening our hearts to the raw stuff of life that every human being experiences, the energy we label as fear, rage, pain, joy, and ecstasy. I know you can't get rid of any of it. You can only know it all with tenderness and honesty. I know we all suffer from a lack of compassion and mercy for ourselves and each other. I know I need to learn to observe with passion, to think with patience, and to live with care. I know we begin and end in authenticity, and in between, our task is to find ways to make that authenticity relevant to the world. I know there is nothing more precious that I can give than love. I know I forget all of this more often than I remember, and then I get to practice some more. And I will keep practicing, pressing vitality out of every last moment, until I die with a still-hungry heart."


Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Nacho Libre - In Theatres June 16th

In the upcoming movie, "Nacho Libre", Jack Black stars as Ignacio (friends call him Nacho), a cook by day in a Mexican orphanage,who moonlights as a lucha libre wrestler to raise money for the orphans in this comedy from the creators of “Napoleon Dynamite” and the writer of “The School of Rock.”

I embedded the preview of Nacho Libre over at Cafe Jack - Yahoo!.

Iced Media emailed me some stills and interview clips with Jack Black to share.

Links to Windows Media clips of interviews/confessionals with Jack -

Montezuma's Revenge

Jack's Beefy Juicy Package

Jack's Geology Lesson

Post Number 963

I've written 963 posts for this blog. I'm sure I have well over enough words to cross the word count threshold of 50,000 words used to differentiate a novel from a novella (less than 50,000 words). I'm under no illusions that this blog is a novel...just thinking about how many words I've typed, how much time I've spent.

One positive thing about writing is that it can be a bit of a brain exercise, as opposed to staring at the old boob tube/idiot box or aimlessly surfing the web. So I suppose the hours I've spent typing on this blog aren't a complete waste of time.

On the other hand I wouldn't want to miss life by spending too much time in front of a computer as Tom Barrett talks about in the Interlude: Meditation of the Week at


Speaking of numbers, today is 6/6/6 so I am dedicating this post to the devil.

Take that devil.

There are two ways to think about the devil (lets just say evil instead). The first is that evil is an active force in the world, and we have to fight against that force. The second is that evil is a passive thing, simply the absence of good, we have to fill the world with good - not spend our time fighting the evil one(s).

The second way of looking at things is Gandhi's, Mother Theresa, or Saint Augustine - the first would be a world view shared by Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson or James Dobson.

The Catholic Encyclopedia says Saint Augustine's writings "contain the saint's clear, unquestionable views on the eternal problem of evil, views based on an optimism proclaiming, like the Platonists, that every work of God is good and that the only source of moral evil is the liberty of creatures".

That's a tough idea to accept at face value.

Every work of God is good?

It might be more a question of what is God then what is good. Let's say - God is good. God is love. God is not a father figure watching over and controlling every event happening on earth. God is the source of all things, where we came from where we are going.

I'll leave it as God is love. Love is good. Evil is the absence of love.

It has been said there are countless ways to do evil and relatively few ways to do good. Not sure about that.

If I consider a scale of goodness with 1 being evil and 10 being saintlike behaviour how would I fill in the blanks? I could kill someone that would be a 1...but maybe not. I could steal something, that would be a 3...but maybe not. I could hurt an innocent person, that's a 1. But what if I didn't know I was hurting them?

My head hurts.


We strive to be good. We miss the mark. We get up and try again.

Monday, June 05, 2006


I love rivers.

I have fond memories of fishing in Montana rivers from the time I was a small boy. I was lucky to have grown up in an area with lots of good trout streams. I have vivid memories of the look, the sound, the feel and the smell of certain places on the Yellowstone, Gallatin, Madison and Jefferson rivers.

The lower Gallatin was a great place to walk. The Yellowstone is a great river to float on, in certain areas - other parts are quite dangerous. The Madison is a good place to fish. I spent a lot of time sitting beside, walking beside, or in rafts on those rivers.

Bridger creek was a good one, the Stillwater...the East Gallatin - caught over 30 fish on one wade down that small river (catch and release).

Rivers remind me how precious the world is. How precious time is. My father in law loved to fish. He was a preacher's kid and knew something about the bible. He used to quote a scripture about fishing. I think it was Hezekiah 12 - "The time a mans spends fishing will not be held against him in heaven." There is no such verse in the bible but it came in handy for the Sunday's when fishing became more important than going to church.

Rivers are a great metaphor for life. You can't dip your toe in the same river twice as they say. You can let things "flow". Rivers are infinite, they replenish themselves, they reflect the seasons.

I got to know a 97 year old man this year. He was a dear soul. He could recall and talk about certain important things in his life. His family, his job, cows, horses, his speedboat and the time he spent salmon fishing on the Snohomish river. He used to ask me every so often with a bit of a twinkle in his eye, "is the Snohomish still flowing?".

It is indeed.

I miss our visits.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

BBC - Comedy - The Office

I watched the first season of the BBC - Comedy - The Office this weekend on DVD.

It's funny. Quite a bit better than the NBC version. Ricky Gervais, who plays the office manager David Brent, is really talented. The other characters in the show particularly Tim, the good-guy, are interesting and funny.

There's an episode where a consultant comes in to teach a seminar called, "Who Cares Wins" where David ends up talking about when he was in a band and then starts singing some hilarious songs while accompanying himself on the guitar. It's priceless. You have to watch it to appreciate it but here are the lyrics to one -
"Pretty girl on the hood of a Cadillac, yeah. She's broken down on Freeway 9. I take a look and her engine's started, I leave her purring and I roll on by. Bye Bye!

Free love on the free love freeway, The love is free and the freeway's long. I got some hot love on the hotlove highway, I ain't going home cos' my baby's gone.

A little while later, see a senorita. She's caught a flat trying to make it home. She says "Por favor, can you pump me up?" I say, "Muchos gracias, adios. Bye Bye."

Little while later I see a cowboy crying, I said, "Hey buddy, what can I do?" He says, "I lived a good life, had about a thousand women." I said "Why the tears?", he says "'cause none of them was you."
When David finishes, Tim asks him if the cowboy was talking about him (David). David replies, "no he was looking at a picture". Tim says, "a picture of you?"


Free Love Freeway: Information From and a remix version of the song on


Step by Step Pickup Seat Repair

My 85 Chevy S10 pickup needs a little seat repair. Being the do-it-yourselfer type I'm going to tackle it on my own.

Step 1 - Take seat out and throw it on the deck.

Step 2 - Repair the top

Step 3 - Repair the bottom

Step 4 - Begin Recovery Process

Step 5 - Install temporary seat

I'm outta here!