Monday, April 30, 2007

Maybe I'm Biased.

Scatterbrain usually sides with police officers because one of my friends is a cop. So when I read this, I couldn't help but think "that's what you get for running from the cops, you bastard." It reminds me of the stories you hear about someone breaking into a house, getting their face broken by the owner, and then trying to sue for physical harm. Accountability is rare these days.

Friday, April 27, 2007

I Love Heavy Metal.

Last night, on the way home from work, I was listening to Soulfly, and the song "Jumpdafuckup" came on. As I listened to it with a gigantic grin on my face, I paused for a split-second and thought "is it really possible to fit this many curse words into a single song?" and "is there really a point to this song?" The answers, of course, are "you wouldn't have thought so 'till you heard this" and "not really." I, for one, couldn't care less. Soulfly is one of those bands that makes most modern rock bands sound like Yanni. Sometimes there is nothing better than pulse-pounding, fist-pumping, heavy metal.


What’s your take on this?


I tried to edit this post and it blew up, and I can't figure out how to recover it. Now *I* feel shafted.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

"Year Zero."

Nine Inch Nails' new album, Year Zero, has fewer live drums, fewer guitars, and fewer screaming than its predecessor, but it's a harder album. "Hyperpower!" sets a stage akin to "Somewhat Damaged" from The Fragile, only it sets a stage for fierce electronics that don't give you time to breathe 'till near the end of the album. "Survivalism," the first single, is a good example of the overall tone of the album. The song is fairly quiet in comparison to "You Know What You Are," but rather than beating us over the skull (not that there's anything wrong with that), "Survivalism" gives us an unrelenting tempo, a higher sense of urgency, and brutal lyrics:

"I got my propaganda I got revisionism
I got my violence in high def ultra-realism
All a part of this great nation
I got my fist I got my plan I got survivalism"

Through Trent Reznor's electronic, mechanical, metallic attack, he's created a classic industrial album perfectly frames our current harsh times. Year Zero is a state of panic.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Viewpoint: John Cloud is an Asshole.

Link to Mr. Cloud's opinion.

The gist:

"In a rational legal system, the school would be held accountable for its errors."

My opinion - in a world where people usually exhibit fairly rational behavior, no one could have reasonably predicted that something this heinous, of this magnitude, could have happened. Cho Seung-Hui was a disturbed person who cowardly shot himself just like every other disturbed, cowardly idiot who does this sort of thing. There is no rhyme or reason for it, though. The finger-pointing and the mentioning of litigation is inappropriate and shameful, in my opinion. The media continue to line up like lemmings to sensationalize this thing instead of respectfully allowing the victims' friends and families to mourn in peace.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Pizza Hut Park Blows.

This is a separate post because Edgefest was awesome, which is what matters the most.

However, otherwise, the venue was awful.

1. Parking = nonexistent. Look, parking in a concrete desert and paying $20 to do so isn't the best, but you can at least park somewhere. There was literally no parking at this place. We finally jumped a curb and drove through a random field and parked alongside some other frustrated people that couldn't find a parking spot.

2. Food = what food? So you're expecting 50,000 or so people to show up at your park, Pizza Hut. So how do you prepare? Don't make enough pizza, or anything else, to accommodate all the people at the park. On two separate occasions I stood in the Pizza Hut line for 20 minutes, and after not moving and inch, and with 10 people ahead of me, I stormed off, realizing I wasn't going to be eating pizza. The generic ballpark-style food joints were out of everything but plain hot dogs. I just don't understand how the logistics of feeding people could have been so wrong.

3. Construction sucks. What surrounds this (theoretically) nice, new venue? Nothing but a bunch of roads that are apparently ALL under construction. Look - leaving a concert and getting stuck in traffic is normal. I want you all to know I'm aware of that. I don't mind normal concert traffic. But this was ridiculous. It took us about an hour and a half to go a mile. Think about all the concert traffic you've encountered - you usually think "this sucks" but in reality you're out in a half-hour or so. Not at this place.

I hope I can figure out a way to send this to The Edge, because their concert was awesome. They should get a better venue next year, though. Watching awesome bands while your stomach is killing you is the kind of thing that takes an experience down from being a 10/10 to a 9 or so. That's not the end of the world, but it's something that's easily fixable to give you a perfect concert experience.


Random side-comment: in talking about pizza with my friends yesterday, i.e. the pizza that wasn't in our belly because of those morons, they brought up Pizzeria Uno, a local joint, and made a claim about how unhealthy their personal deep dish pizzas were. I didn't believe it until right now. This is a copy/paste of their Chicago Classic Deep Dish PERSONAL pizza. Oh. My. God.

Serving Size(g)

Calories from Fat
% Daily Value*, Calories:

Total Fat

Saturated Fat

Do you really need to see the rest of this information? My heart just skipped 3-4 beats for the times I've had a pizza there in my lifetime. It was good, but not even close to two-bacon-double-cheeseburgers good. I feel violated.

Muse Rocked So Hard They Broke the Barricade.

Yesterday I attended Edgefest, an annual rock festival hosted by a local radio station, 102.1 The Edge. In short, it was awesome. Here is a brief write-up of the bands I saw:

Bowling for Soup - this is a Texas punk band that was playing as we walked in, famous for "1985." I don't know if you northerners out there have heard it, but they play it all the time down here. BfS is basically a not-as-good replica of NOFX, although they are still a solid band nevertheless. The lead singer's between-song banter was quite witty as well, for which they got bonus points.

Jet - I went to the show with my friends Julie and Dylan. Dylan pointed out that Jet were the only band there that really didn't seem to fit in. I agree with him. From a generic standpoint, most of the bands there could be classified as "alternative rock." Jet is much closer to a straight-ahead rock band, a la Oasis. I enjoyed what I saw of their set, but left to go see...

Placebo - if you can break into my memory bank and remind me why I knew of this band and wanted to see them, feel free to remind me. It must be a soundtrack I own that they appear on. Nevertheless, I remember thinking "I need to see Placebo, because I think they rule." They ruled.

Papa Roach - I was looking forward to seeing PR because they started many years ago as an infamous rap-rock band, but everything I've heard from them lately has been strikingly solid. "Scabs" (I believe that's the name) is a particularly good song. Additionally, they came across as being very earnest and grateful to be there, which is always nice. The singer was full of energy and made many trips into the crowd, which was cool.

Blue October - This band is odd. My mental jury is still out on them. I was telling J&D that they remind me of [(Contemporary Adult Radio Band) + Evil]. Seriously, they sing these quasi-laid back, almost "groovy" tunes, but every once in a while the lead singer screeches ferociously and gets a really nasty look on his face. Interesting stuff.

Muse - They broke the barricade. I wasn't joking. After their second song, the show was postponed for 10 minutes while a really non-hip older guy took over the mic and pleaded with the audience to "step back 3 feet immediately so we can solve this important safety issue. Once the barricade is fixed, we will, uh, get back to rocking out the night and what-not." Once the barricade was fixed Muse continued to blow our minds with more ferocious yet melodic rock music. The first time I saw this band live was at Coachella years ago, and I HAD to buy their CD immediately after the show. They are that good live.

AFI - I was looking forward to seeing what they would do since they used to crank out hard punk music, but now make music that's a bit more along the lines of goth and pop. Overall I enjoyed their show, but if I have any complaint about it, it's that they seem almost too purposefully trying to "rock out." This means there are lots of kicks, lots of jumps, and lots of dramatic arm-waving, but it doesn't quite seem as since as a lot of the other bands. It seems planned. (note that I'm sure 99% of bands that do this stuff plan it, but they seem more natural doing it.)

My Chemical Romance - Gerard Way is the man. He and the band performed like psycho zombies (the new, ultra-fast kind, not the old slowpokes) delivering fierce hard rock music to the masses. "We shall destroy you with our monster riffs and possessed looks." That kind of thing. I loved their set list and loved the performance.

The Killers - I must say, after all this rock I had SLIGHT doubts about how the Killers' performance would stack up, even though they were my favorite band on the bill. I must say, all those thoughts were dissuaded after they came out and busted out a fist-pumping rendition of "Sam's Town," from their eponymous album. What continued was literally my favorite 5 or so songs from each of their two albums. Their set list was absolutely perfect, and Brandon Flowers' vocals have only gotten stronger since the last time I saw them. They did themselves proud as the headliners and left us walking away from the venue extremely satisfied with the whole experience.

Tickets for this show were about $50 before TicketWhore bent us over with their evil transaction fees. Regardless, it was an incredible value for all that music, and if the billing next year comes close to this year, I'll be back.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

“We’re Going to Sue that Racist Cracker.”

RUTGERS CAMPUS: In a move that surprised few, on Wednesday members of the Rutgers women’s basketball team declared “we’re going to sue that racist cracker,” for Don Imus’ controversial remarks last week. Imus has been the source of much criticism the past week, spurring comments from the Rev. Al Sharpton such as “what he said is the greatest insult ever said about a group of people in the history of this planet,” then after a brief pause, added “or any other planet. Ever.”

Focus groups met on the Rutgers campus early this week to talk about the pain and suffering they experienced after they heard that “some white guy” on the radio called them something that they are called on average 23,823 times per day as they listen to rap stations. “Look, when Lil’ John says ‘’till the sweat drips off my b*lls, ‘till all these b*tches crawl’ it’s accompanied by loud bass that I can dance to, so it’s a-ok with me. And of course he’s black. But some whitey saying that s**t? Hell, no.”

Imus, attending a local KKK meeting, could not be reached for comments.

Luxilon Big Banger ALU Power vs. Babolat Pro Hurricane.

I've been playing with Prince Polygut 17 for the last few years, but it's been discontinued, so I have to get new string, per my earlier post. The Polygut is an all-polyester string, hence it hits like a plank. To be more specific, poly string is hard, which allows it to last a long, long time; however, the hard properties take away a lot of the feel you get from softer string. It's also a monofilament and has no texture whatsoever. At the same time, when I swapped to poly, I came from Prince Topspin 15, a much thicker string, so I noticed an interesting dynamic - since the poly is so durable, I can play with a much thinner string than normal. This thin string allows me to get a lot of "pop" on the ball, although not a lot of "bite." In general, the thin string gives me a feeling of "pop" on the ball, whereas a string with more texture gives me "bite."

The Babolat is an all-poly and, unsurprisingly, plays very similarly to the Polygut - it hits like a plank. But a plank with a lot of "pop." You feel like you have a lot of control over the ball even though the actual ball-racket connection feels uncomfortable. If you miss the sweet spot, you are greeted with a nasty-feeling vibration.

The Luxilon is a poly-synthetic blend which is supposed to last almost as long as poly, but also give it the softer characteristics of a synthetic. The most shocking part of hitting with this string was that it had been so long since I'd hit with a "soft" main, it felt very strange to me. What is most strange is the power. When you are used to hitting with a plank, and you trade that plank for a piece of hard rubber, the ball rockets off the rubber with much greater ease than the plank. I at once don't like the feeling of that much power, but think I need to get used to it. My hitting partner was telling me yesterday "you're just trying to convince yourself to like the Luxilon" and he's absolutely right - the poly, over a long period of time, will not only put more wear and tear through my arm through it's harsh stiffness, but also force me to do more work over time, which puts muscular wear and tear on my arm. When I play tournaments, I almost never think people I lose to have more skill than me, or that they are in better shape than me; I simply get worn out faster because my game is more labor-intensive than theirs. Someone who charges the net every point, for example, doesn't expend much energy compared to someone like me that prefers to take the Agassi route of camping at the baseline and hitting rocket groundstrokes corner to corner.

The only characteristic of the Luxilon I haven't quite figured out yet, though, is the texture part. Since it's a blend, I expected to have more bite on the ball since it should have a more coarse texture than the poly. However, that hasn't seemed to be the case so far. It's very soft, and I feel tons of power, but I can't generate the spin I'm expecting to - yet. Luxilon also makes the string in a "rough" version that will probably be the ticket for me, assuming the longevity is in line with the regular version. An overriding theme in all this is that I refuse to go back to a string that breaks in two hours, which I why I swapped from Topspin to Polygut in the first place.

Thus ends my most boring post ever for those of you that don't play tennis.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

I've Got Hoes in Different Area Codes.

See? I have one in California, another in New Mexico...they are scattered all over the place, really.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Random String Comments of the Day.

I string my rackets (Wilson NSix-One 95 16x18) at about 65 lbs. with Prince Polygut 17 mains and Wilson Extreme Synthetic Gut crosses. Upon visiting Tennis Express this past weekend, which is tennis shopping heaven, I discovered that my Polygut strings have been discontinued. So it's time to make a swap.

After a long discussion with a pro there, I purchased a set of Luxilon Big Banger ALU 125mm string (16L, they call it, although it has the same diameter as 17...?) and Babolat Pro Hurricane 17. The Luxilon is a poly-sythetic hybird and the Babolat is a pure poly. Both of them "feel" like pure poly string - the Luxilon actually feels a bit more brittle, although also a bit softer, which is odd.

When I hit with them tomorrow, I'll report back.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

I Had Two Submarines, and Both Were Blown Up.

On the show “Lost,” it was recently revealed that The Others had a submarine which they could use to travel back and forth between their island(s) and the “real world.” As Ben, their leader, pointed out to Locke, The Others didn’t necessarily want to leave the island, but the submarine was a constant reminder that if they wanted to leave, it was at least possible, and that knowledge gave them piece of mind. Of course, two episodes ago, Locke blew up the sub because he doesn’t want anyone to ever have the ability to remove him from the island (selfish prick!).

And thus we reach my current situation. I’ve worked in the same group at work for 4.5 years now. I like my group. I’ve learned a lot here. But there are a few externalities going on which make the present situation a little different: 1. I recently finished my MBA, so clearly I’d like to move to a position where I’ll be using my newly-learned knowledge, rather than continuing to develop software. 2. Almost every one of the people I started working with has been systematically removed from the team over the course of time; one retired last Tuesday and the other just headed out to a different building for an internal position. So at this point it’s essentially me and my lead left (and he's not going anywhere). 3. We are constantly reminded in my group that layoffs are impending. We have seen staffing charts that look like a roller coaster going down over the next couple years, so to a certain extent I feel like I’m on a sinking ship.

Thus, much like Juliet on “Lost,” I find myself longing to hitch a ride on the submarine, only I had two subs. One sub is the “look elsewhere” sub. However, since my company graciously paid for my degree (for which I am thankful), they also require me to work with them for at least a year post-completion. This is to say if I went to another company I could potentially owe my current company tens of thousands of dollars. BOOM!

Sub two is the “internal transfer” sub. I recently found a multitude of positions that would have been great for my skills and the newly acquired MBA. I started getting phone calls about interviews. But suddenly,


I’m being kept in my current group (i.e. they are not allowing me to leave) because the people that have recently left have left a unique situation where my team really needs me or we won’t meet deadlines. So despite the fact that others watch out for the layoff axe, I have the anti-layoff super-glue in its place. The thing is, I’m fine with the rationale of the whole thing and frankly, I’d implement the same situation if I were my boss.

But it would still nice to have a submarine in the dock.


Try to imagine something worse than this happening to you.

Keep in mind that the guy "must serve at least 4½ years before parole is considered." Boy, I feel MUCH better now.

Monday, April 02, 2007

I Heart NIN.

Trent is a genius.