Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Personalized Plates

I recently registered our vehicles. On the form there was a little check box asking if we wanted to change our plates to a personalized plate. I've always ignored that check-box. But this time around, for some reason, I actually gave it some thought.

People often select cryptic plate ideas based on their own personal interests or skills. I just can't see myself being pretentious enough to drive down the street with a plate that reads "JAZZMAN" or "PIANOGUY." I would need something a little more geekish. Something that only others in the know would get.

North Carolina offers this site where you can type in your ideas and see if its been used by someone else. I checked, both "88 KEYS", "88 KEYZ", and "TRIBEFAN" are taken. But as I said, those aren't quite my style. It's tricky to fit your personality into just eight characters.

If I were to get personalized plates, I might choose from something a little more obtuse, like these (and they're all available):
  • SHARP 9
  • GUIDO 5
  • FMAJ7#11
What would YOU choose?

Sunday, January 28, 2007

So many books, so little time

I have two books I'm currently reading, and many in the queue.

I've just gotten into Terry Pluto's Faith and You (thanks Rob!). A series of essays on daily life and perspective. Pluto is a sports writer for the Akron Beacon Journal, but came to know the Lord and now makes contributions to the religion section of the paper as well. He has great sources inside the Indian's and Brown's front office.

The other book I'm into is a book recommended to me by Bill. It's a book entitled Generations: The History of America's Future, 1584 to 2069. The authors, Neil Howe and William Strauss show some very interesting data regarding generational cycles in America. They are not saying that you can see this in other countries, but they believe they have found a pattern of historical cycle that can act as an accurate predictor of what may lie ahead.

It's going to be hard to reproduce their chart, but as an example (I'll try),

Historical Example:
Year 0

Year 22
Year 44

Year 66
Age 66-87
Age 44-65
Age 22-43
Age 0-21

I've actually combined a few of their tables into this one. The years across the top are birth years, the far left column shows the ages. You should also understand this chart diagonally, rising from lower left to upper right as the people in the "generational cohorts" age together.

The interesting thing is, according to the author (and it would make sense) that each generation enters the same secular crisis or spiritual awakening at the same time, but at different points in their lives. The result is that they react differently to each one.

Here is a very interesting (at least to me) section of the book:

How can this cycle exist in a complicated world? To be sure, history has its good and bad surprises and accidents, its good and bad actors...Some would say instinctively that history is too cluttered to allow for our kind of cycle. But such a prejudice focuses too closely on events without sufficient attention to the response those events generate. It is the response that determines the social moment. Compare, for example, the American response to World War I and World War II. Both wars were preceded by aggressive foreign acts (the sinking of the Lusitania, the air attack on Pearl Harbor). In one case, Congress waited two years before declaring war; in the other case, it declared war the next day. In one case, the war helped propel divisive movements like Prohibition; in the other, the nation mobilized as a single organism. Both wars ended in a total victory-but in one case, soldiers came home to moral nagging and vice squads; in the other, they came home to ticker-tape parades. Both wars strengthened America's influence overseas-but in one case, that influence was quickly squandered; in the other, it was consolidated over the next two decades.
Why? When a society is in the midst of a Crisis era, as America was in 1941, generational forces tend to congeal a secular crisis from whatever exogenous events arise...Indeed, the generational cycle has significantly influenced how Americans have acted during and after every major war in their history. Which wars occurred in comparable constellational moods? The Revolution and World War II (Crisis eras) The War of 1812 and Korea (Outer-Driver eras). The French and Indian War and World War I (Inner-Driven eras). What many historians consider the nation's most misguided wars, the Spanish-American and Vietnam--were waged druing the social turmoil of Awakening eras. These parallels are instructive. They suggest how fortunate America may have been that the world's hour of fascist peril came when it did, and not a quarter century earlier or later.

I'm only on chapter five!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Readings in War

For anyone who's interested, I thought I'd share what my reading has been of late.

I recently finished a book entitled The Illusion of Victory: Americans in World War I by Thomas Fleming.

One of the crazy things about my developing interest in history is that it's really hard to know where to start. A few years ago, I was curious about how World War II started, so I did what any reasonably savvy computer user would do and checked out wikipedia and a few other Google searches. Almost every article or essay on the subject of the beginnings of World War II began with a statement something like this: "To fully understand the reasons for the start of the second World War, one must understand the reasons for the start of World War I, and the failure of the Treaty of Versailles.

Well, I knew little about World War II, I knew even less about World War I. So, I went on a little hunt, and found a great book: A Storm in Flanders. I've commented on this book before. I really found it very interesting, and as the war was, very depressing. This book focused on the Great War mostly from the European viewpoint, though the author's intent was to write it for Americans who knew little about the war.

Fleming's book, Illusion of Victory, focuses on America's involvement in the war, and primarily focuses on Woodrow Wilson's failure as president to guide the country into the war (after running for re-election with the slogan "He kept us out of war"), and his failure as diplomat as he asserted himself as an almost unwelcomed negotiator for peace on the European stage.

One of the most startling things I took from this book is how unbelievably deceptive and censoring the federal government became toward it's citizens. People live in a great deal of ignorance about the current conflict in Iraq (and I use the term "conflict" intentionally since the 2nd World War was technically the last war declared by the US). If more people had a better sense of history, (and I can say I only feel like I'm getting my bearings lately), they would be surprised at what the Wilson administration (and later the Roosevelt administration) sanctioned regarding propaganda, what we would consider political "incorrectness" today, and stubborn political unilateralism. If you weren't on board with Wilson, too bad, he was gonna do things the way he wanted them done.

As I am learning, the problem with history is that it is hard to know where to start. I have now gained a broader appreciation for the start of WW II because of understanding WW I a little better. However, there were world events that took place before WW I that influenced it! Many US military commanders of World War I got their experience from fighting in the Spanish-American War! Now who can tell me something about THAT?

More on other books I've reading to come....

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


Maybe this will help you understand the whole AT&T, Cingular, SBC thing...

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Are you kidding me?

This little blurb just came in an email to me on an account I rarely check. Does anyone else find this slightly ironic? Or am I just too cynical?

It used to be that you could sit down and watch an evening football game with your children without fear of them being exposed to inappropriate material. Sadly, that's no longer the case as was proven Saturday night during the Fox broadcast of the NFL playoff game between the New Orleans Saints and the Philadelphia Eagles.

During a cutaway shot to the stadium spectators, the camera focused directly on a woman wearing a t-shirt clearly inscribed with the words "F--k Da Eagles" (without the dashes). The shot stayed focused on the woman and her shirt for several seconds. There can be no doubt that this was an intentional airing of patently offensive language on the public airwaves, as the person wearing the profane t-shirt was chosen by Fox Network's broadcast crew from more than 70,000 spectators in the stadium. The camera operator selected that particular woman and the director and/or producers of the event made an affirmative and conscious decision to air the shot from that particular camera, forcing the f-word into millions of homes. Furthermore, the v-chip would not and could not have protected children and families from the type of content evidenced here.

To view the offensive scene, click here. WARNING – GRAPHIC CONTENT

Fans on the East Coast saw this obscenity televised during the Family Hour (8:30 p.m. ET) -- but it aired at 5:30 p.m. in the evening on the West Coast.

That was the content of the email. Weird. Call Fox now, by the way.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

New Year, New Work Out

I've been fairly consistent over the last few years going to the Y and working out each morning. It's hard to tell, I know. The matching component to a good work out is a good diet. I at least have a decent work out.

I have, however, decided to mix things up a bit. I've become too predictable so I created a new 10-day cyclical work out for myself that hits the whole body, with each exercise hitting the muscles in a slightly different way. With the help of my friend Bill, who is also joining me on this venture (though I'm not sure he knew what he was getting himself into!), I'm excited to kind of push myself a bit more than in the past. For all you weight lifting friends out there, join me on this routine!

Week 1

Monday - Back
This is followed by 20-30 minutes of cardio with my heart rate in the range of 130-140 bpm.

Tuesday - Legs

  • Squats
  • Leg Press
  • Lunges
  • Straight Leg Dead Lifts
  • Standing Calf Raise
  • Seated Calf Raise
Wednesday - Chest
  • Flat Bench Press
  • Incline Bench Press
  • Decline Dumbbell Flys
  • High Cable Crossovers
  • Dips
  • Push ups (three sets each to failure)
This is followed by 20-30 minutes of cardio with my heart rate in the range of 130-140 bpm.

Thursday - Arms
Friday - Shoulders
This is followed by 20-30 minutes of cardio with my heart rate in the range of 130-140 bpm.

Saturday or Sunday - 40 minute walk

Week 2

Monday - Back
  • Pull Ups
  • Behind head Lat Pulldowns
  • Close Grip Pulldowns
  • Seated Rows (separate handles)
  • One Arm Dumbbell rows
  • Good mornings
This is followed by 20-30 minutes of cardio with my heart rate in the range of 130-140 bpm.

Tuesday - Legs
  • Smith Squat (legs out front)
  • Front Squat (weight on shoulders in front of head)
  • Leg Extensions
  • Leg Curls (face down)
  • Seated Calf Press
  • Seated Calf Raise
Wednesday - Chest
  • Pullovers
  • Machine Press
  • Machine Flys
  • Decline Press
  • Low Cable Cross over
  • Push ups to failure (three sets)
This is followed by 20-30 minutes of cardio with my heart rate in the range of 130-140 bpm.

Thursday - Arms
  • Heavy Barbell curls
  • Incline Dumbbell Curls
  • Wide Grip Barbell Curls
  • Close Grip Barbell Curls (preacher bench)
  • Rope Press Down
  • Seated Tricep Press
  • Machine Extensions
  • Dips
Friday - Shoulders
This is followed by 20-30 minutes of cardio with my heart rate in the range of 130-140 bpm.

Saturday or Sunday - 40 minute walk

Tuesdays and Thursdays I usually start with a little rotator cuff exercises after a five minute warm up, just to maintain those muscles.

My goals--

I would love to get to where I can do three sets of 10 pull ups each.
I once benched 285. That was before "the accident." It would be nice to get close to that again.
I used to try to squat 225 but two things happened. 1) I had a little pain in my right knee--a sure sign I was trying too much, but 2) someone told me my form was wrong so I went back to 135 and I'm working my way back up with correct form. I'm at 185 now.

In three months, I'll try to change this whole thing up again.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

I am a Google junkie

If Google ever crashed, I'd be in trouble. I was just thinking about all the Google services I use:

  • This blog lives on a Google server somewhere
  • I have three gmail accounts
  • I use the Google servers to sync my firefox bookmarks/passwords/cookies between my home computer and work computer
  • My default map is Google Maps
  • I have made phone calls from the Google map to a business where it says "click here to call"
  • I have texted myself data from Google maps about a business address/phone number
  • I enjoy using Google Earth a lot--it's a great teaching tool for the kids as well (version 4.0 was just released)
  • I have gone completely to Google Calendar, which very soon will be able to fully sync with iCal.
  • It's my default search in Firefox
  • I have an adsense account
  • I use their Docs and Spreadsheets (though I actually had an account with Writely before Google purchased it)
  • I manage my digital photos with Picassa
  • I distribute my photos online with Google/Picassa picture share
  • I love doing searches using
  • I use Google chat
  • Google News is one of my news bookmarks
  • Froogle is the first place I search when I want to buy a product I don't normally purchase
  • I have subscribed to usenet groups through Google
  • I like to search through Google Video
Are there any Google services that you use that I don't know about?

Monday, January 01, 2007

I got dugg

For those of you who follow digg, you may have already seen this. I submitted a picture I stumbled upon, put it in the offbeat news section and got to the front page! The digg totals are piling up. It's at 2444 as of this post. Go digg it!

If you sign up at digg, let me know your user name so I can add you to my friends list.