Friday, June 30, 2006

Cheating Americans!

I just noticed that none of the riders being withdrawn from the Tour are Americans. I guess this means that Americans are either less likely to cheat, or better at hiding it.

Le Tour de France

For the past couple of weeks, I've been putting off posting an entry giving my predictions for this year's Tour de France and encouraging my huge, huge readership to tune in. My predictions would have gone something like this:
  • First place: Jan Ulrich (Germany, T-Mobile)
  • Second place: Ivan Basso (Italy, CSC)
  • Third place: Floyd Landis (USA, Phonak)
  • First-place team: CSC
I also would have predicted/hoped for strong performances from Levi Leipheimer (USA, Gerolsteiner), George Hincapie (USA, Discovery), and Dave Zabriski (USA, CSC).

Well, I guess it's good that I never got around to posting, because the 2006 TdF has been dealt quite a blow. Fifty-something riders have been accused of blood doping. There is no proof, but blood doping is very difficult to prove. Because of a pre-existing agreement between the teams, these riders have been "voluntarily" withdrawn from the race. By the same agreement, the riders cannot be replaced. Thus many teams will be racing short-handed. One team, Astana-Wurth, which has lost 5 of its 9 riders, has withdrawn the entire team, including the non-accused Alexandre Vinokourov (Kazakhstan). Check out the most recent, though probably not final, roster here.

The upshot of all this is that it's a wide-open race. I guess, based on my would-be predictions, I should be predicting Landis as the winner, and I should still be expecting strong performances from Leipheimer, Hincapie and Z-man. But with all these changes, I don't know what to think. Those of you who've only known the Tour as a foregone conclusion* would have seen a much more competitive field even without these withdrawals. With them, the race should be quite exciting to watch.

The TdF will be broadcast on the Outdoor Life Network everyday from July 1 through 31. There'll be live coverage at 8:30 AM EDT and, for those of you with jobs or lives, "enhanced" prime-time coverage at 8:00 PM EDT. You should tune in, if for nothing else, for the entertaining commentary by Phil Liggett, Paul Sherwen, and Bob Roll.

* See 2000 through 2005.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Spider-Man 3, Venom 1

Spider-Fans in the audience may want to check out the new teaser trailer for Spider-Man 3. (You can stream it from here here and stream or download it from here.) Those familiar with Venom, will be heartened to see that the references to that character, or at least the symbiote, are overt. Those not familiar with Venom should probably not poke around on the interweb for information about him.

I've Been Waiting for this News for a Long Time

Researchers at the University of Alberta at Edmonton have announced that they have developed a technique for regrowing teeth. This article gives few details, so I'm skeptical but intrigued.

Men Are From Krypton

Anyone who has endured eating out with me may enjoy the latest Penny Arcade comic.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

I'm the Best There is at What I Do

Fans of Homo superior will be glad to know that Fox has just announced that the long-speculated-about Wolverine movie, staring Hugh Jackman, will hit theaters in 2007.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Barform

Alison and I have call to use this neologism very frequently.
barform, noun. Food in bar form, especially Clif, Luna, Pria, or other energy/protein/nutrition bars.
Example: Since we're planning to hike for three hours, we should be sure to take some barform with us.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

There's a Lab in my Lab

I'm sure Alison will be very happy to hear about the growing trend of pets in the workplace.

This Car Really Cooks!

You may think that cooking on your auto's engine block is crazy, but it's actually an efficient use of time---you cook while you drive---and energy---you use otherwise wasted engine heat. Plus, it provides an entertaining distraction for those of us who are easily bored by long trips in the car.

Chef's note 1: Shuaib and I found that cooking times will be a little longer in a tiny-engined Honda.

Chef's note 2: You may not want to try this on hotter days, especially if your automobile overheats easily. (This wasn't a problem with the tiny-engined Honda.)

Chef's note 3: Alison, we are totally doing this on our next road trip.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

It's a Disc, Not a Frisbee

Here's a funny article---rant, really---on a topic that has fascinated me for some time: disc golf. I just hope there's a sequel on ultimate.

Crabfu SteamWorks

Check out the way-cool, radio-controlled, steam-powered (wheeled, tracked, and legged) vehicles built by the guy at Crabfu SteamWorks.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Oh, the Shoemanity!

Alison has this habit of not untying her shoes before taking them off. I've tried to convince her that doing so is bad for the shoes, that it stretches the upper and stresses the seams, but she remains unconvinced. It makes me cringe every time she does it, especially when I've loaned her the shoes she's mistreating so. I'm not even sure how she can remove her feet from her shoes when they are still tied; I certainly can't. She must wear her shoes much more loosely than I do.

This could be---say it with me---a deal-breaker.

Stupidification

I'm sure Lisa Simpson would approve of this neologism:
stupidification, noun. Dumbening.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Optimum Scoring Frequency in Sports

All the hubbub surrounding the World Cup has finally motivated me to post my treatise on optimum scoring frequency in sports. So, here it is.

I believe that, in sports based on a points system, both participant and spectator, the frequency of scoring should be neither very high nor very low.

When the scoring frequency is too low, the score doesn't always identify the superior individual or team. Consider (non-American) football, otherwise known as soccer. I've seen games where one team is clearly better than the other: Team A controls the ball for most of the time, and most of the game is played on Team B's half of the field, but the game ends in a (usually scoreless) tie, so the score does not reflect team A's superiority. Worse, in low-scoring sports, an inferior team can get lucky and win by a single score.

At the other end of the spectrum are sports where the scoring rate suffices to ensure the superior team wins but is so high that it makes each individual scoring incident unexciting. Consider basketball. Scores of 100 or so provide plenty of resolution but the entire arena doesn't erupt in a chorus of "Gooooaaaallll!" each time a basket is sunk.

In my opinion, American football has a scoring rate close to the "Goldilocks" value: not so low that there is insufficient resolution or too many lucky breaks, but not so high that scoring is uneventful.

This is all my opinion; your mileage may vary.

Smoove

I can't recall where I got this word, but I've been using it for at least a couple of years when "smooth" simply doesn't suffice:
smoove, adjective. Extremely smooth.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Lynx

I've just decided that all the men in our wedding party will wear these.

It's NOT a monster movie, you say?

Apparently the Sci Fi Channel is capable of showing something other than crappy monster movies. Check out this review on Yahoo!News. I'm actually interested in seeing this now. I guess other people must find this stuff kind of facinating, too, or else they wouldn't make this show. I can't help feeling like I'm a bit morbid, though. (Mwahahaha!)

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Who am I?

I got up and went for a 3 mile run at 6:30 this morning. Wow! To be honest, this was not my idea and had someone not been expecting me to show up I would have stayed in bed. I am still super impressed with myself (or should I say "quite pleased with myself"), though. I am actually even further impressed that I am not napping on my desk right now.

Do you think I should be concerned that perhaps I have been kidnapped by aliens and I am actually a robot copy and I don't know it? Hmmm....or maybe I'm a Cylon.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Brian with the Overhead Projector

Here's another metaphorical situation for you, gentle reader. This one was conceived when one of Alison's professors discovered a simple way to illuminate a recessed blackboard whose own lights had failed.
Brian with the overhead projector, metaphor. Any person who is "quite please with" and surprised at his own cleverness in solving a problem.

Melinda at the Closet Door

Remember the episode of TNG where the Enterprise D encounters a species whose language is incomprehensible, even with the universal translator? Picard discovers that their language is metaphorical, based on references to similar situations in their mythology and history. Over the last few years, I've invented a few of my own phrases for describing situations concisely. Here's one that was inspired by an incident involving Alison's former roommate:
Melinda at the closet door, metaphor. Any person who is unable to turn door knobs, open jars, et cetera, due to her hands being slippery, especially if this inability is brought on by the application too much lotion.

Canoes + Booze + Beans = Hilarity

\begin{SurferDude}
Dude! You totally gotta check out Brian's latest story! This dude totally gets his...well I won't ruin it for you, dude. It's hi-freaking-larious! Chah!
\end{SurferDude}

Wedding Dress Fitting...Oh Boy!

I went to IL this past weekend to have my first wedding dress fitting. I was SO excited! I spent the weekend hanging out with my sister who is home from college; Monday was the big fitting appointment. We were planning to go to the fitting at 11am, grab some lunch afterward and then Ashley was going to drop me off at the airport because my flight was at 5:30 in the evening.

We showed up at the bridal store and they remembered me. All the ladies who worked there got all excited and went in the back to get my dress. They hung it up in its opaque pink garment bag in the dressing room and I went in to try it on. My wedding dress! How exciting! I unzipped the bag and.....

...it was not my dress. It was some completely different dress that I HAD NEVER SEEN BEFORE. OH GOD, WHERE THE HELL IS MY DRESS?! So, attempting to be calm, I went over to the woman who was ringing up another bride at the counter and informed her that that was not my dress. She proceeded to look horrified (as did the woman odering her dress!) and go look in the back to see if something had been switched while I tried not to cry in public. It turns out that the factory transposed the dress number. Instead of sending dress #672 they sent dresss #762. Fan-freaking-tastic. And, oh yeah, they don't have a dress #672 in stock in my size, so the earliest they can get it to me is mid-late July. Keep in mind that the wedding is August 12.

So, at this point the ladies who work there are totally freaked out. I can tell that they are genuinely upset about this, and the woman who owns the store offers me two options:

1) They will order the new dress in my size and when it comes in they will ship it to me in MD and pay for me to have it altered out there.
2) They have a floor model of the dress I ordered in the store that has only been tried on a couple of times and is one size smaller than the one I ordered. They can have their seamstress let it out a bit and I can come back that afternoon to see if it will work and if I take that one, they will give it to me for half price.

So, I took option 2 with contingency plan 1. I tried on the smaller dress which mostly fit except for being a bit tight in the waist. Ashley and I stayed in the area. We got some lunch and hung out at the mall until they called us at 2:40 to let us know that the dress was ready for me to try on again. It did fit, actually, and so they took the measurements for the hem and sent us on our way.

Now, Ashley and I had to make it to O'Hare airport in time for me to make a 5:30 pm flight, which was a bit dicey since it was, at this time, 3:10 or so and we had to stop for gas on the way. Plus, we were coming from a different suburb than usual so we had to take a different route with which we were unfamiliar. Oh, and on the way we encountered a bad accident and a major traffic jam.

It all ended up okay...actually, it ended up better than okay since I made my flight AND I am getting my wedding dress for half price. Still, it was an extremely stressful day to say the least! *sigh* I should have gone with a Greek theme and worn a white bedsheet...I mean toga.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

I'm Fast and This Makes Me Furious

I learned just this weekend that a third entry in The Fast and the Furious series will be opening this month. This one's set in the Japanese drifting subculture. I've said it before---and before before---and I'll say it again: Who ordered that?

Ah, the Bachelor Lifestyle 2: Revenge of the Bachelor

Alison has gone out of town again, leaving me to my own devices. Apparently, "my own devices" means "bike, visit the bike shop, buy groceries, clean the house, work on the bikes, watch Family Guy on DVD, bike again, clean the house some more, 'forget' to mow the lawn, and blog."

Cntrl Z

Alison and I have often spoken of how we'd love to have an undo button in real life. Well, the latest Frazz addresses this fantasy.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Turks and What Now?

I recently learned that Todd is getting married on a Caribbean island. Why didn't we think of that?

Friday, June 02, 2006

Gorram, That's a Frakkin' Good Script!

Jane Espenson, former screenwriter for Buffy, Angel, Firefly, Gilmore Girls, and DS9, among other shows, is writing an episode for the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica. I think this is likely to be a true chocolate-meets-peanut-butter situation*.

* Two great tastes that taste great together. Duh.

Mmmm...Batwoman

It appears that Detective Comics is bringing back Batwoman, whom DC killed off in 1979 and whom you shouldn't confuse for Batgirl. But there's a twist: Batwoman is now a lesbian*.

Now, I've always been a detractor of the various Bat-family characters: Batwoman, the various Batgirls, and especially all the Robins. I feel that they undermine the central character of Batman. Further, I'm always irritated with female characters that are simple knock-offs of male characters**. Despite my own misgivings, I expect that this new, black-clad lesbian Batwoman---compare this rendering with these of the original, purse-carrying version---will be embraced by the fanboys. I mean, she's a lesbian, and look what she's wearing. In fact, I predict that, after Batwoman's initial success, she will "turn" Catwoman and there'll be an issue devoted entirely to the two of them making out.

Mmmm...Catwoman.

* This change seems to be part of a broader, ongoing effort by DC to increase the ethnic and sexual diversity of its superfolk.

** See also Spider-Girl and all the versions of Spider-Woman.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Yay! I'm done!

Wow...that level of exuberance just took a lot out of me.

Hello again, everyone. You may recall that I, too, am a contributor to this blog. Although, you wouldn't know it based on the past month or so. Sorry for my long absence, but after finals (which were pretty horrendous this term) I had to prepare for my written comprehensive exam. This was a two-part exam spanning two days, the second part of which I completed approximately an hour and a half ago. Woo hoo! I am really happy to be done, although I am not sure that it has completely sunk in yet. Mostly I just feel reeeeeeally tired. My main objective for the rest of today is to not think. Therefore, I should probably stop writing and go veg. So, in conclusion I promise to write more soon, but TTFN.

Blast From the Past

Have you ever wondered what life was like for the primitive people of 1995? Well, this article from The Onion answers your question.