Monday, March 19, 2007

Daily YouTube: So juvenile

I'm only posting this because my six-year old will think it's hysterical. Really. That's the only reason. What other reason could there possibly be?

This one too. Not for me. For the kids.

Microsoft MVP humor

Microsoft certifies a group of what they call "Most Valuable Professionals", or MVPs. Microsoft MVPs are the people who can answer the most arcane questions you can imagine about a specific Microsoft product; for example, the Microsoft Word MVPs can answer pretty much anything you can come up with regarding Word.

I work with a couple of MVPs, and they are freaking geniuses.

Anyway, the MVPs had their annual meeting at the Mother Ship in Redmond last week. Bill Gates spoke to them. Here is how one of the Microsoft Project MVPs, Jack Dahlgren, described the meeting. VERY funny!

Predictable, but still a giggle

From Comedy Central:

One Sunday morning, everyone in one bright, beautiful, tiny town got up early and went to the local church.

Before the services started, the townspeople were sitting in their pews and talking about their lives, their families, etc. Suddenly, Satan appeared at the front of the church. Everyone started screaming and running for the front entrance, trampling each other in a frantic effort to get away from evil incarnate.

Soon everyone was evacuated from the church, except for one elderly gentleman who sat calmly in his pew, not moving... seemingly oblivious to the fact that God's ultimate enemy was in his presence. Now this confused Satan a bit, so he walked up to the man and said, "Don't you know who I am?"

The man replied, "Yep, sure do."

Satan asked, "Aren't you afraid of me?"

"Nope, sure ain't," said the man.

Satan was a little perturbed at this and queried, "Why aren't you afraid of me?"

The man calmly replied, "Been married to your sister for over 48 years."

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Mavs: Welcome to the Knee-Jerk Dome

So, the Mavs dropped one to the hated Phoenix Suns last night. Final score: 129-127 in double overtime (see, it's even news in Taiwan). Not exactly a blowout.

The Mavericks had several chances to put this one away, but uncharacteristic mistakes by Dirk and Josh Howard (the two All-Stars, if you will recall) led to continued life for Phoenix. Little Stevie Nash did not let the opportunity escape, drilling the final three for the win, after scoring the previous seven points as well. That guy is pretty good.

The Suns in general are pretty good. The team that pushed the Mavs to six in the Western Conference Finals last year have become markedly better with the full return to health of Amare Stoudamire. That guy is not just good. He's a monster.

There is no shame in losing a truly titanic battle to the Suns. No shame at all.

What's got me teed off today is the rather egregious knee-jerking that's been going on from the so-called Mavericks faithful. I honestly cannot believe the number of "Dirk is a choker" comments I've heard from various sources throughout the day. Also popular are, "The Mavs can't finish," "The Mavs have no heart," and "Steve Nash is the hands-down MVP."

If any of those phrases came out of your mouth today, you should have your season tickets revoked.

This was a regular season game in mid-March. Granted, it was a regular season game of consequence, but it was a regular season game none the less.

Did you expect the Mavs to finish 73-9?

Personally, I liked everything I saw last night. Yep, that's right. Everything. Even Dirk's missed free throws and Josh Howard's stupid final foul.

Avery has something to coach now. Phoenix, which is one of the most dangerous teams in NBA history, now has the Mavericks' full attention. The Mavs are going to be just fine.

The alleged fans, however, I'm not so sure about.

In case you didn't know it, the Mavs are unlikely to go 16-0 in the playoffs. Even if they achieve their own goal and win the ring, they will lose a few along the way. Are you, the so-called MFFL, prepared for that?

Based on the utterly ridiculous reaction to last night's exceptionally entertaining game, I don't think you are.

You've got 4 weeks or so to get your head right. This thing will not be over until the guys in the other colored sweats manage to ring up four wins. Until that moment, you need to lock it up.

Get to work.

Daily YouTube: Enron

Since I'm on a tear about energy companies today, here are some Enron goodies.

First, the trailer for "Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room", based on the book co-written by Peter Elkind. No, not that one. The smart one.

And here are some Enron traders caught on tape cavorting as they screw California out of power, thus jacking prices into the stratosphere. Not too different from what those crooks at TXU are accused of doing...

And, for the sake of irony, here's an internal Enron video regarding the company's vision and values. High humor, this:

TXU loves their customers. Real hard.

The joys of the Metro section over lunch. It really aids the digestive process. It certainly helps me control my appetite.

More bile-inducement today on word that TXU, those fine folks who may be in a competitve situation in retail power supply (MAY be - big emphasis on MAY be), but are clearly still a monopoly when it comes to wholesale power production, were violently having their way with the public during the summer of 2005. It now looks like TXU was purposefully withholding electricity during the hottest months of the year in an effort (a successful effort, btw) to boost prices.

According to a Public Utilities Commission report, TXU withheld power from the "balancing energy market", the real-time power auction used to meet demand in a just-in-time manner, throughout the summer of 2005.

The telling paragraph from the DMN story:
The effect: Power prices on the balancing energy market, whose cost is
shared by electricity providers, increased by an average of 15.5 percent during
peak periods. That increased the overall costs to the market by $70 million and
earned TXU about $19.6 million more profit than it would have made if it had bid
in a competitive manner, the report said.

Steve Blow wrote a column, also in today's paper, which I think does not go nearly far enough in blasting this bunch of crooks. How is this ANY different from the crap Enron pulled?


Dallas puts the "fun" in "dysfunction". Again.

While perusing the Metro section of today's DMN (Dallas' sole daily source of news in print - thank God it's in the responsible hands of Belo. Er, wait a minute...), I ran across yet more evidence that Dallas City Govt is more inept than anything this side of the Rappahannock River.

The Trinity River Corridor project, approved back in 1998 under the great Ron Kirk's stewardship, has been challenged AGAIN by a member of the City Council. This time, it's Angela Hunt and her point is the proposed toll highway is taking up too much proposed park land, so it (the highway) has to be built outside the levees.

This project, which could add TREMENDOUS value to the downtown area, has turned into Dallas' version of the Big Dig. Of course, the major difference is the Big Dig, after decades of political nonsense, actually got done. Sure, the Mob got rich off it, decent humans were evicted from their dwellings, and the random 40-ton roof panel falls off a tunnel now and again, occasionally crushing hapless innocents below. But it got done.

Dallas can't even manage that.

You know what? Angela Hunt may even be right. Maybe the toll road should be built on top of the existing roadway and business along what is now Industrial Blvd. I don't know. And I don't care. This point has been argued, litigated, voted on, reargued, relitigated, revoted, triple argued, and quadruple hashed to friggin' death.

Just DO the damn project, already!

Just a side note: Dear, dear Uncle Ron, this city turns it's lonely eyes to you. Why did you ever leave City Hall? I mean, other than Mayor of Dallas is the most thankless, highest stress, least rewarding, most frustrating, highest b.s.-quotient job in the galaxy. Why? We need you back, dude.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Daily YouTube: Ice fishing

Ice fishing: More dangerous than you think.

Grand Canyon Skywalk controversy

A long, long time ago, I blogged about the all-glass skywalk being built into the thin air over the Grand Canyon. My comment at the time was "No thank you." But that was just because of personal fear. Overall, the concept is sorta interesting.

It's even more interesting once you find out the venture is, in large part, owned by the Hualapai tribe, who live on a million-acre reservation which includes the south rim of the Canyon. The Hualapai are dirt poor, with an unemployment rate that fluctuates between 50% and 70%, depending on the season. To call the Hualapai situation grim and untenable is stating the obvious.

So, instead of holding their hand out, the Hualapai have looked around and made an assessment of what they have that can generate some employment, some dough, and some hope for them. The Canyon is their one asset. To capitalize on this one asset, the Hualapai have chosen an idea which should have minimal impact on the environment and which is unique in the world. It ought to do pretty well.

What on Earth could be wrong with that?

Well, you've probably already guessed where this is going. Some well-meaning types, including the former superintendent of Grand Canyon National Park, have their knickers in a twist, calling the skywalk a "travesty" which will "tarnish the pristine canyon."

I absolutely love the quote from Hualapai Tribal Council Chairman Charlie Vaughn, who said, "Those people are eating tofu and pilaf and sitting in Phoenix with their plasma-screen TVs. Our tribe started in these canyons. We've always been here, and we'll always be here."

If you're mired in unrelenting poverty, you can wallow in it, or you can do something about it. The Hualapai are doing something about it. I say good for them.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Daily YouTube: Things get out of hand at Princess Leia's party

Someone definitely has too much time on his/her hands.

Note: Language warning.

GM to produce all-electric car by 2010

GM says they're going to mass-produce the all-electric Volt by 2010.

Chairman Bob Lutz gives the project a 10% chance of failure, meaning (one assumes) a 90% chance of success.

Early specs indicate 40 miles on a charge, which makes it a decent commuter, but not a road-tripper. Not much word on styling, seating, or other sorta important details. All Lutz is saying now is it won't look much like the concept car. Too bad.

However, this is a start, and it's got to start somewhere.

Hats off to GM for sticking their neck out a bit. Now, let's see if they can follow through.

Vancouver is ramping up for 2010 Olympics

Vancouver, home of my mother-in-law's family and one of my Top 5 Cities in North America, is in the midst of a big-time ramp-up for the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Already one of the most beautiful cities on Earth, especially if you like sea-green, the city center is getting several new landmarks and facelifts on some existing ones. New hotels and, especially, new transportation options should go a long way to making an already-accessible city even easier to get around.

My big question back in 2003, when the city won the Olympic sweepstakes, was the somewhat terrifying Rte 99 (The Sea-to-Sky Highway) up to Whistler, which will host most of the skiing and sliding events. I've driven this road in every sort of weather condition imaginable - clear blue sunny days, torrential rain-and-wind storms, and one particularly tense late night snowstorm - and I could not imagine how that narrow, twisty, up-and-down-at-precipitous-angles, horrible visibility road would handle the enormous traffic generated by the Olympics.

The Canadians are spending $600 million on the road, which should help. But parts of it are literally blasted into the side of the mountain - widening these sections seem like they'd take $600 million alone. Good luck with all that. If you're going to see the Olympic downhill, leave early (like, a couple of days early) and pack a lunch. And maybe dinner too. Look into some of those Lisa Nowak-autograph-model astronaut diapers too.

I'm looking forward to Vancouver's big coming-out party. I'm sure they'll do a fantastic job.

Bored with your Sea-Doo?

If your personal watercraft isn't blowing your skirt up any longer, here's the next logical step: A personal submarine.

For a mere $128,000, you can play Red October to your heart's content.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Daily YouTube: D-Wade and Jeremy Piven: Genius

No one could deliver these lines like the great Jeremy Piven. And the shot by Wade is pretty good too.

Mavericks about to find out what "pressure" really means

The Dallas Mavericks are well on their way to one of the great regular seasons in NBA history and arguably the best regular season any Dallas sports team has ever had. After an 0-4 start, the Mavs seem unable to lose, mounting an unbelievable 50-9 record so far. Local sports talkers and writers are quickly running out of superlatives to describe this team.

And rightly so. Those of us who remember the completely failed 90s should absolutely revel in what this team has turned into.

However, none of this triumph means anything if there isn't a Championship parade here in June. No one knows this better than Avery Johnson and his boys.

I submit to you that this incredible regular season, while glorious for everyone involved, is going to result in the most intense pressure possible on our little Mavs come playoff time. After choking away a 2-0 lead to Miami last summer, this entire season has been aimed at getting back and finishing the job.

A fact which has become lost on exactly no one.

How big a target is going to be on this team's back come April? How much national media scrutiny will these guys be under? How many times are they going to have to answer questions about their inglorious gag-a-roo, or this year's attempt at redemption?

Johnson has the team on a mission, no question about it. He appears to realize what this thing is really all about, and seems to have the team realizing it as well. It's not wins and losses this year, it's playing the game correctly. It's learning to put games away, to withstand the inevitable opponent's third quarter run, to do the little things that make the difference down the stretch, to stand up in the spotlight. It's about winning playoff basketball games.

This is great fun to watch, but it's interesting to step back and see the bigger picture. The choke in Miami last year has stayed with the national media, and not many outside Dallas seem to think the Mavs have the toughness to overcome it.

We shall see. A championship is the only thing that will truly legitimize this franchise and its stars. They seem to know that. I can't wait to see them really put to the test. It's almost time.

ATM doggies

If your seeing-eye dog isn't doing enough for you, here's the next generation. They're able to operate an ATM for you.


I'm telling you, the Brits have lost their pasty little minds.

A gift for the laziest person you know

Here's the Pasta Fork, with a spiraled handle to do the twisting for you. You just hold it at the end, then move your fingers down the length, and, voila, you have pasta twisted around the fork.

All this for a mere GBP 9.99 (that's $19.22 for the Yanks).

I'm waiting for the electric version, myself.

Canadian diamonds

Interesting article in the WaPo today about northern Canada's latest mineral stampede, this time for diamonds.

The Far North, it turns out, is a treasure-house of South African proportions, and maybe even bigger than that. Gold and oil are old news above the Arctic Circle, and now you can add the world's third largest deposit of diamonds to the list.

I do find it interesting that the environmentalists aren't going bananas about the enormous open-pit mines used to dig out the gemstones. I guess Lac du Gras is not as environmentally sensitive as the North Slope of Alaska.

Anyway, it's interesting to me that the Canadians are cashing in on their conflict-free diamonds. Regardless of your opinion of the diamond trade, it's sorta refreshing to see a country that doesn't violently hate the US reaping some natural resource rewards.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Lawyer joke du jour

Three Doctors are dicussing which types of patients they prefer. Doctor Watson says, ''I prefer librarians. All their organs are alphabetized.''

Doctor Fitzpatrick says, ''I prefer mathematicians. All their organs are numbered.''

Doctor Ahn says, ''I prefer lawyers. They are gutless, heartless, brainless, spineless, and their heads and rear ends are interchangeable.''

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Elkin (the band) update

Checked in on those boys from Scotland today. Here's a photo slideshow of a June 2006 gig in Edinburgh that's worth a peruse:

Go download some Elkin tunes here. And, of course, the required MySpace.

Ivan, Keith, or any of the other lads - if you stop by, please give a shout-out! We're big fans here in Frisco, Texas.

Daily YouTube: Big Audio Dynamite

In keeping with our "Great Bands of the 80s" motif: Here's a band which probably never got the props it was due. The first real merge of black and white music, the first sampling I ever heard, and a kickin' beat.

And a bonus B.A.D. video - the band appears to have either watched too much Monty Python or smoked way too much weed. Or both. This is a giggle.

Jesus and family’s tomb found in Jerusalem?

In potentially the biggest news ever in the history of ever, filmmaker James Cameron says the tombs of Jesus, his mom, his brother, his wife, and his son were found in Jerusalem in 1980.

Finding the tomb of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph (Jesus’ brother) would be enormous news (talk about an understatement – it would call into question the Resurrection, one of the principal beliefs of Christianity) on its own. But finding Mary Magdalene’s ossuary and, even more startlingly, an ossuary inscribed with “Judah, son of Jesus” is news of, well, Biblical proportions. I won’t even attempt to go thru the possible ramifications of this, if it’s true. Just imagine the Western World as you know it thrown into mass hysteria.

Cameron has made a documentary film about the find, entitled The Lost Tomb of Jesus, which will be televised on the Discovery Channel on March 4.

Israeli archeologists, by the way, dispute Cameron’s claim. They say the tombs are those of a Jewish family with similar names (the always-confusing “Solomon” vs “Salomon” dilemma?) and the find, while significant, is not earth-shaking.

This has all the makings of a religious battle royale, which is probably not what Jerusalem needs at the moment. As an aside; can you imagine living in Jerusalem? Between the Muslims going crazy over the rebuilding of the ramp next to the Dome of the Rock, the gays and lesbians marching recently, the usual uneasy coexistence of Holy Places and holy men from three major world religions, and the usual uneasy coexistence of Jews and Arabs, the high-blood-pressure and heart attack rate amongst Jerusalem residents MUST be the highest in the world. It’s a near-miracle the place is still standing at all.

An unnamed Jerusalem resident summed things up nicely when she said, “It will mean our house prices will go up because Christians will want to live here.”

Oh dear. Does this mean The Da Vinci Code was nonfiction?