Friday, August 31, 2007

Left turns in Beijing really are this crazy

This is just amazing. One commenter nailed it: This guy gives Batgirl a run for her LEGO money.

(Link via Joann)

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Must-reads for anyone following the Pirates CEO search

Known to any and every on-line Pirate junkie, the blogger/amateur scout Wilbur T. Miller is the cream of the Internet crop when it comes to Bucco baseball. WTM turns in another gem in this two-part series (one and two) on why Bob Nutting musn't be fooled by the Pirates good play of late. He argues convincingly that the Pirates are neither good nor young, and that (wrap your head around this) if/when Dave Littlefield is fired, he will leave the Pirates in worse shape than when he inherited them. (Links via Bucs Dugout.)

As far as who might be the one firing DL, John Perrotto from the Beaver County Times suggests Tony LaCava as someone Nutting needs to talk to. Finding an evaluator of talent has to be our no. 1 priority.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Ryan Lang

I talked to my best bud who lives in LA tonight for a glorious hour and a half. Ryan is my friend from China (you can see us together in Beijing to the left) who's originally from Minnesota and now works for ELIC in California, if that makes any sense. We talked about Disneyland, Starbucks coffee, CTF friends, getting together again, and tried to sum up basically a year of our lives. It was equally as daunting as it was great. One of the best thing about friends is that they don't care when you don't call them back for days or weeks at a time (this is for Jason and the Wilseys and Matt Stewart, too) and not only that... they still want to talk to you when you finally do.

I am blessed with some truly wonderful friends--for sure--even though I don't call any of you back.

(Here are a couple more pictures of Ryan, for fun, one more appropriate than the other.)





Oh, Ryan... and oh, Thailand! (You might not want to enlarge that second one.)

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Leopard to the future?

I've had fun exploring all the dazzling new features the next phase of Mac's OS X, "Leopard," will introduce this October.

And then Digg led me to this today, a blogger speculating that Leopard may abandon the "Aqua" theme OS X has held since it's inception (or at least begin to phase it out) in favor a space/time travel theme, as seen in the new (and amazing) Time Machine application, which you can see in the Leopard tour I linked to above, or below:



If using a Mac for the first time doesn't already blow you away, then Leopard ought to change that. It looks just amazing, introducing even more intuitive and user-friendly features that expose Vista for what it is--a cheap imitation and blatant rip-off of what Mac's been doing well for years--and is about to do even better.

Pretty cool stuff, huh?

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Ice Bowl

If at all possible, I will be here to kick off 2-0-0-8. Go Pens.

Thanks, Pensblog for the heads up.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Pittsburgh & Kovacevik

Some of you might know that I'm an avid reader and fan of Pirates P-G beat writer Dejan Kovacevik. I read everything he puts out, and I often take for granted the outstanding insight he provides into my favorite baseball team and (and I think this is where most of you should take interest) my favorite city. Dejan speaks of Pittsburgh the way I hope I speak of Pittsburgh, with the realization that Pittsburgh is a flawed yet unique and beautiful place to live that Pittsburghers should be proud to call home.

Part of my nightly routine before I go off to bed is to read the P-G's Pirates coverage (mostly written by DK) that's published every night at midnight. (Fun fact: In China, it was my pre-lunch routine at noon.) I just finished his weeknightly Q+A (which is only found on the Internet) and wanted to point you all to it, because Dejan has a lot to say about cities and Pittsburgh and perspective this evening, all of which I found very interesting. He continyes tonight with a series of "Things That Make Pittsburgh Great" that he includes each weeknight when the Pirates are on the road (which sounds terribly confusing, I'm sure, to a non-baseball fan) and tonight the Bucs won in Denver.

Thing No. 53 that makes Pittsburgh great: We are a terribly insecure people.

We always want to know what everyone thinks of, and we always are surprised when they like us, they really like us.

A history buff might suggest that has to do with our polluted industrial past. After all, who could brag about a place that was immersed in darkness in mid-afternoon?

Someone else might say that the mass exodus of jobs in the late 1970s and early 1980s, one of the greatest in American history, contributed. After all, how happy could anyone be with a place that was being virtually abandoned?

Whatever it is, it most surely applies.

Eve Picker, a loft developer in the Downtown and Strip areas, hails from New Zealand. Way before it became cool -- or profitable -- she was buying up vacant buildings and converting them into residential properties. And, as I recall from the one conversation I ever had with her, she was doing so with a sense of bemusement that so few people here seemed to appreciate what he had or, potentially, could have. As she put it, it took an outsider to come in and show us. There is a lot of that going on.

The Uruguayan guy who designed the convention center was inspired by the flow of the Three Sisters bridges, a view he glimpsed from driving atop the Fort Duquesne Bridge. Might someone here have noticed that?

The travel writers around the country who come here and glow about the place point out things in a way some of us never could see or, in some cases, never have taken the time to see.

It is a somewhat endearing trait, in a way, that we care what others think about us. But it also illustrates plainly that we do not think enough of ourselves.

Visiting San Francisco last week and now here in Denver, these are two places where you can ask anybody about these cities, and they will do everything but sing and dance in describing them.

We need to do more of that. No rose-colored glasses are needed, either.

If you don't have any interest in baseball or in specifically a pretty bad baseball team, that's fine, but I hope you (by, perhaps, spending a few days following his Pirates coverage) can appreciate the seriousness in which Dejan does his work and reports on a city and its baseball team, and I'm glad his thoughts and observations are a part of my daily reading.

On another note, it made me exceedingly proud tonight (as the group I traveled with to Sweden gathered at my house to look back and look forwards) to hear Arianna, who has started blogging here, cite Russ' thoughts, from his blog here, in our conversation. (It wasn't only through hyperlinks, I had used what Russ wrote here to initiate some conversation in youth group a couple of weeks back.) I try to take my life, conversations and connections on this Internet seriously and use them, not for viral videos and forwarded e-mails, but for a conversation that we otherwise could never have. It really made me proud and happy. I've never specifically realized or thought out all of the things I try to pass on to the younger generation as I work at my church, specifically, but some of these things I've been blogging about tonight vaguely (like place, stories, community and conversations) are certainly some of those things.

Monday, August 20, 2007

The Hush Sound at the Rex, tonight

I don't go to many concerts, and this will be my first time at the Rex (on Carson Street, the South Side). So I'm stoked.

We're seeing The Hush Sound, an indie rock quartet (Bob, Greta, Darren and Chris) from Chicago who've toured with such bands as Jack's Mannequin and Straylight Run. Tonight they'll be with Hello Stranger and I'll be with Adam, Andrew, Jamie, Jessie, ArGu and ArGar. I don't have anything particularly interesting to say other than that, just thought I'd share my excitement.

Some randomness:
- I played Scrabble earlier tonight (Sunday). Some words I used: jig, fig, zed, easy, quo... and I can't remember any other cool ones. But there were more. (Aren't words awesome?)
- Today's my sister Stacy's birthday. So, happy birthday, Stac! It's also Ryan's birthday. I don't think you read my blog, but happy birthday to you, too, bud.
- The Pirates have scored more runs so far in August than any other team in baseball. That's just sort of ridiculous.
- Leopard looks absolutely disgusting. Take the tour sitting down, and then get a Mac.
- Sam and Eee are having a girl!! Her name is Emma, and here's the baby blog.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

We still have lots of work to do

I've started tracking this blog's stats (using BlogPatrol), as in how many people are, and, as much as I can gather, who is visiting my blog (or at least how). The most interesting things for me to see have been what OS' and what web browsers you folks are using to view and enjoy Doddfodder. Here are the crucials:

Of the last 14 visitors I've had, ten of you are using Windows XP, one Windows Vista and only three Mac OSX. That's not very good, folks.

This is even more shocking: Firefox vs. Internet Explorer is tied at seven, with IE7 beating out IE6 four to three (and no Safari views at all). I can understand the OS thing, as many of you are using family PCs at home or don't have the money for a Mac laptop or desktop or whatever your silly excuse might be for still using a Windows-based machine. But this web browser thing is inexcusable, as in, why/how/WHY?!? is anyone not using Mozilla Firefox?

Do you like tab browsing? Of course you do. Sweet add-ons. Yup. Design and aesthetics and functionality. Cleanliness, speed, accuracy, reliability, pop-up freedom, friendship, and Google search bars? Firefox invented these things. Really, it did (all of them). And that's just the beginning. Please please give it a try--for your own sake and the sake of my blog-stats. I promise you that your Internet Explorer will never be missed.

Also, thank you Jme, the Wilseys and Yahoo search for referring me over the last 24 hours. Hopefully I can return the favor.

And finally, I'll refer back to myself, just for one last reminder of why I'm a Mac/Firefox/truth/beauty/goodness kind-of guy:

The Paperclip.


And one more time: GET FIREFOX.

Friday, August 17, 2007

The Dark Knight, more pics

There are some great new stills floating around the web right now, and they might not be up for too long (also, here). Some almost border on spoiler-ish, so if you're not into that sort of thing, stay away. But, if you're into this sort of thing...



Then by all means, click away. And, if you still haven't seen the teaser trailor with the Joker's laugh at the end, then here you go:

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Photos from Matthew's house

2724 (Kurt's house)

In related news (as Matthew is now a Christian-school teacher), I found this interesting: Annapolis Area Christian School (where I have some connections a few different ways) is starting a football program, a rarity for Christian schools (from my experience), this fall. They already have a pretty impressive lineup of academics and athletics, so uh, good for them.

WALL-E

Thanks to Boyle, I re-watched the WALL-E trailor, and was stoked to realize the music they play during the WALL-E segment is the same music that serves as one of the musical themes in Terry Gilliam's 1985 movie Brazil, which I've watched for the first time since I saw Ratatouille, and thus couldn't have recognized it in theaters. The musical themes in Brazil add so much to the movie (actually, I think Gilliam said he was inspired by hearing a particular song to make the entire movie) and it was a good choice by the Pixar folks to borrow this piece of score. (I really don't have to say how excited I am for WALL-E, do I?) I also heard that WALL-E will be completely without conventional dialogue, with only the robot noises you hear WALL-E use at the end to say his "name." Wow.

In other nerdnotes, I've had my movie collection alphabetized for a bit now, but decided yesterday to take it one step farther: I'm alphabetizing by director. I'm trying to get to know my movies better and this ought to be a good way. It's not like my collection is all that substantial, so it's not a huge undertaking or anything, but it should help me get to know at least the names of some of the lesser-known movie-makers whose films I'm proud to own.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Apple store

I'm in Shadyside blogging on one of the new iMacs (officially my next computer) and I just played with the iPhone.

...My heart's racing. It's just spectacular...

I'm here because Andrew's buying a MacBook, which is pretty rad. Always good to have another Mac friend.

Alright, back to the iPhone...

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Sweden, in pictures

OK, so I realize this is sort lame, but I've been sort of lazy and have only uploaded my Sweden photos into Facebook (because it has the only uploader program that seems to work on my computer). I much prefer Picasa but Picasa's uploader goes gaga on my Mac.

Speaking of Macs, has everyone seen this??? I can distinctly remember the first time I walked into an Apple store feeling like I had entered an alien spacecraft or some sort of retail store from the future with the message: Here you are, earthling, this is a computer. The new iMac is like that for me... although to be honest I'm so used to the graceful designs and intuitive features Apple provides, I almost feel like I need to use a Dell again for a while just so I can appreciate my MacBook like I once did.

But, as I was saying, below are my Facebook photo albums from my week in Sweden--and actually most are just from the two days I spent in Stockholm--with hardly any of the eight people I traveled with. (I guess when I'm with people, I like to be with people. When I'm with buildings, I take pictures.)

Album 1
Album 2
Album 3

UPDATE: Actually, nevermind. You can still check out my Facebook albums if you like, but here they are in Picasa. Saying I hadn't uploaded them made me want to upload them.
Stockholm (Day 1)

In and around TranĂ¥s

Stockholm (Day 2)

Friday, August 10, 2007

Moving

We moved my brother up to his new house on College Hill today (2724 5th Ave. if you're curious, across from the McCracken's). I really meant to take my camera with me and shoot some pictures, but forgot, so that'll have to wait 'til next time I'm there (which I hope is soon). No major work needed on the place; Matthew's been doing some cosmetic stuff (new floors, carpet, paint) though and it's looking really nice. It'll be a great place for him (within walking/biking distance from BCCS) and in a great little community with some great people and a coffee shop and college, both of which I happen to be pretty fond of. I appreciate living at home, for now, and I love a lot of the people around me and the friendships I have here in Moon and at the church especially, but I'm happy Matthew's moved into the place he has and look forward to visiting him there often and seeing his impact on the community there, and what impact it might have on him.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Twenty-five

It's my birthday! Here's what Wikipedia has to say about August 9, a pretty interesting day overall I'd say (Sistine Chapel opens, Jesse Owens wins fourth Gold Medal, second atomic bomb dropped on Japan, Nixon resigns, I'm born). For now, my birth is listed, but that will change quickly. As a present to me, help me keep my name on the Wiki-birth list. Because if you weren't born according to Wikipedia, well, you weren't born.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

8/8/08

Today marks exactly one year until Beijing kicks off the next Summer Olympics. I've been reading a lot about how behind Beijing is on lots of important stuff, like human rights and the environment, and to be completely frank: I'm worried about China. It's going to get a lot of bad press in the next year and beyond because while China has a lot of good things going for it (the food, Zhang Yimou movies, the people) and will always have a big place in my heart, it is not what the West is used to, in a lot of ways.

I experienced a great deal of culture shock visiting Sweden because in my head, there was the USA, and there was the rest of the world, which for me equals China. (I lived there for a year, after all, and it is very much ingrained in my mind.) And Sweden was very different than both the US and China. It was clean, orderly, easy. Nice. China is mostly none of these things. Living there for so long and going with the purpose I did made my China experience very different than what the media and certainly, the athletes, will experience when they spend a month there next August. And like I said, I'm worried for China. The country and the people are all about saving face, and they will lose a lot of face when athletes complain (rightly so) about the pollution and politicians and others complain (rightly so) about so many other things. These Olympics are the most important thing to happen to China (at least the capital city) in a long time. It's a country with a lot of rough recent history, and they're desperately seeking the approval of the globe. They think they belong at the top (and they were for centuries), and this is their chance to show that they are again. I can't say this with any certainty because my scope of experience is limited, but China is far behind South Korea, Japan and the West in lots of areas (and I don't just mean structural and behavioral, I mean societal issues: justice and freedom issues). It made for an exciting place for me to live and explore, but it'll make for a bad place for the Summer Olympics, I'll bet my bottom kuai on.

It's a pipe dream of mine to make it back there next summer (either as a teacher, or who knows, a blogger) but whether I experience Beijing on display in person or not, I promise for the next year I will be paying close attention to the Middle Kingdom and what the world is saying about it.

P.S. I'd like to find a great news feed for all things Beijing Olympics. My first instinct (of course) would be Google, but if anyone has a better suggestion, let me know.

Pittsburgh

I love Facebook. I think it's an amazing site and it's crazy to me that I didn't sign up for it until after I graduated college, because when I was in college Geneva didn't have a Facebook page. The Internet changes so mind-bogglingly quick, it's just craziness. But that's not my point. Facebook has this great app right now called "Where I've Been" where you click on places you've lived in (red), visited (blue) and would like to visit (green). Here's my map:



But that's not my point either. I think that someone should (and I would if I was a bit more Internet savvy) create a "Where I've Been: Pittsburgh" edition with all its neighborhoods and towns and streets, because I think Pittsburgh is one of the most interesting cities or places to explore, anywhere. My family moved to Pittsburgh the summer before I started Kindergarten, and I consider it my home as much as anyone can call a place home. I love it here and though I love to travel, see new places, and may live in new places, Pittsburgh will always, always be where I come home to. But, no matter how much I drive around Pittsburgh and explore, there's always some new place to find. When I go somewhere in Pittsburgh, I seldom go exactly the same way twice, and that's not because I'm a bad driver or bad with directions, it's because that's the beauty of Pittsburgh.

If there ever is an un-planned city, I would have to think Pittsburgh would be it. Even if you wanted to plan a grid of some sort or anything that made sense, how could you? The topography throughly prohibits any such endeavor. And it pretty well prohibits any thorough exploration of the city and it's varied and unique neighborhoods, streets and towns. And there are a lot of them.



This is one of the many reasons I love it here. And these are just inside the city limits, where I've never lived. (Though, over the past year I have spent a lot more time exploring the city than I have in years past... I can thank Sam and Jo especially for that one.)

I have lived in Chippewa Township and in Beaver Falls on College Hill (both up in Beaver County), Moon Township, Franklin Park and in Wexford. My church where I've gone for years and now work is in Robinson. And despite this, or because of this, it's truly amazing to me that I can drive around the north and west suburbs (and Beaver County) and find so many places that have so much meaning to me. The place we sometimes got ice cream after little league games. The elementary school I went to. The other one I went to. The highway where I looked enviously at black Jettas when I was a kid starting to think about driving (I ended up with a blue one of course). The dentist office I've gone to since I was 8. This place where this happened. Or this time with these people or this person. It goes on and on and I realize this isn't unique to me and Pittsburgh. But in another way, it is.

If you're not from Pittsburgh or have never been here, it's probably hard to imagine or understand how Pittsburghers give and receive directions. Turn right where the store used to be, follow it to the end of the road, turn left, follow the road to the right down the hill, at the 6-way intersection take the 3rd right that goes back up the hill, and we're just past the old fire house that you can't see from the road. And once you get there that way, you can't go the same way back.

Most of you are from Pittsburgh and I'm preaching to the choir here... most of you probably understand it better than I do because your parents are from here, too, and your grandparents, and Pittsburgh and the rivers and streets and bridges and hills are more ingrained in your life than they'll ever be in mine. And that's awesome. But I'm thankful that I call Pittsburgh home, and while I can wish that Pittsburgh was like Chicago or DC or New York and had a great subway system or like Denver or somewhere that was a grid or like anywhere that I could actually ride my bike somewhere (that's on me for living in the suburbs) for now, me and my Jetta are used to the hills and winding shortcuts and confusing road signs and orange barrels that make up Pittsburgh, and all the crazy intersections and guesses and surprises that you need to encounter to make it from Point A to Point B.

As long as A and B are both in Western PA.

Quick! Name these two former Pirates



HINT: Both played a part in ending my childhood, and one is now baseball's Home Run King. 756 came earlier tonight, and so there that is.

I went through this stint in college where I wrote fairly often of my dislike for Bonds in The Cabinet, and it's still there. I wish I had some of those old articles to link to now, but to be honest with ya, at this point my frustration has moved from outsiders (Bonds, the NY Yankees, Tony La Russa) to squarely on the shoulders of the management of my Pittsburgh Baseball Club. I don't care a whole lot that Bonds has now hit more homers than any other ML baseball player ever (including 176 as a Pirate), many of which he hit juiced. What I care much more about is that it's been 15 years (yup, since 1992--as in, see players pictured above) since there was meaningful baseball in Pittsburgh past August and into September and (gulp) October.

Bonds can hit 756 more for all I care if the Pirates could just be good again.

Music makes me happy

On my play-list tonight:

The Beta Band
Beck
Chili Peppers
Dylan
Lou Reed

What music makes you happy?

Sunday, August 5, 2007

A China story

I lived a whole year over there, and every so often I look back at all the stuff I wrote and remember some of it (because it feels pretty far away most of the time). Here's one of my favorite stories, as I told it here:

First, some background, then the punch line.

Big Purple class has been learning about going to the market and how to bargain (albeit simply) in English. For example, the student will tell me, “I want to buy apples,” to which I reply “that’ll be 5 yuan” to which they say, “No, no, no. How about 3 yuan?” Simple enough, right?

Next background: Foreigners have big, ugly noses. This is a well-known fact in China. In fact, even my nose is big and ugly—which I suppose it is compared to most Chinese noses, as they run pretty small and cute. This doesn’t bug me all that much (really at all), but when my students are kind enough to point this out to me (that my nose is big and ugly), I tickle them or give them some sort of hard time. After all, that’s my job. One of the other things I do is cut them off at the pass by asking them questions about my nose: if my nose is beautiful, if they like my nose, etc. I do this in Chinese so they know they can’t talk about my nose right in front of my nose, because, hey, I ting de dong (understand). Or I just do it to get a laugh out of them, which it does. Today, however, one of them got a good laugh out of me.

I was goofing around with some girls from Big Purple on the playground. They’d ask me to say things in Chinese and would laugh hysterically when I said them. So I said in Chinese, “You know, I can speak a little Chinese?” “We know,” they said, and kept on laughing. We continued chatting and eventually, I asked this one girl Cocoa a question. “Cocoa, is my nose beautiful?”

To which she replied, in English, “No, no, no. How about 3 yuan.”

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Sylar is the new Spock



And he's from Pittsburgh. Here's an interview.

The new Trek movie, set for a Christmas 2008 release, is being directed by J.J. Abrams (of LOST fame) and will tell the story of a young Kirk and Spock, just starting off at Star Fleet Academy. Kirk has yet to be cast, though Matt Damon has been rumored. I think that'd be a great choice, but supposedly Abrams is looking "younger." Whatev. As for my opinion on Sylar as Spock--it's awesome he's from Pittsburgh, but I wasn't super impressed with Zachary Quinto's performance on Heroes. He pulls off creepy, but more often, I thought, he over-acted. Maybe I'm just still down on the whole show since the finale failed to live up to my "save the world" expectations. There are reasons why I'll watch Heroes next season (Hiro mostly) but I suppose now I can watch it to see the next Spock.

Live long, Zach, and kudos.