June 2007 Archives

Just got back from DC

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We spent last weekend in Denver (details and pictures coming soon) - we left on Saturday morning and returned home on Monday night. Wednesday morning I left for a conference in DC, and had an absolute blast, despite being sick (mouth and throat are bothering me for some reason).


We were invited to attend NCR's Executive Conference on Self-Service Kiosks. NCR pulled out all the stops for this event and put us up in the swanky, five-star Mandarin Oriental Hotel on the 8th floor (the Madarin Club level) with water views. From my $500/night room, I had a perfect view of the Potomac and the Jefferson Memorial. It was absolutely amazing - and NCR picked-up the tab for the entire event.

Here are a few pictures of the room, taken with my cellphone... it's hard to appreciate how cool the room was with these horrible pictures, but it'll give you some idea of what it was like.

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We were in town Wednesday through Friday; on Wednesday night, we attended the Washington Nationals / Detroit Tigers game at RFK - we scored some great 3rd base seats for $20 each (face value was $45 each). The game wasn't too good - the Nationals really stink, but it was fun nonetheless. Here's a picture from our seats:

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On Thursday night, we went to the Captiol City Brewery and had dinner there. We also saw the new Fantastic Four movie, and then went back to the hotel. The gym at the hotel was incredible as well - the treadmills were "Technogym" models, with 20" LCDs built into them. I'd never heard of that brand, but they were great treadmills. I went online to look-up info about them, and couldn't find much -- but I did find one distrubtor who was selling a used model for $9500. The Mandarin's gym had 10 of these.

Speaking of treadmills, I've been doing well with my running routine - up to 2.5 miles in 25 minutes. My goal is to do 3 miles in 25 minutes, and then after a while bump up to a 10k. I've been working on this for about 6-7 weeks, running at least 5 times per week. I really don't like running, but once I "get going" it's not bad. When I first started, doing 2 minutes seemed like death - I was out of breath, panting, gasping, and in complete agony.

After a while, I learned the proper breathing pattern, and now after 15 minutes or so of running, I'm breathing comfortably, and my legs are the only things that "complain" about the running. Getting to 20 minutes is a challenge, and by 25, I'm ready to quit. :-) Hopefully that'll get a little better as I continue to work on it.

Well, that's about it for now. I'm going to clean the house.

So our cable TV has been on the fritz for the past two weeks... Cox has been out 5 times to try and fix it, all to no avail. But for some reason, my internet is working flawlessly - it's never been faster.

Check this out:

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I just ran that test from Speakeasy.net and almost fell out of my chair. 15,000 download is the equivalent to TEN (10) T-1 lines. All for $39.99/month.

Unreal. It's going to be hard to dump Cox even if they can't fix my TV...

To give an idea of how fast this connection is, let's say I had to download a 100MB file (the equivalent of, oh, say 20 iTunes songs). With a dial-up modem, it would take about 5 hours to complete.

With a normal cable modem, about 36 minutes.
With a T-1, about 9 minutes.
With my current connection? 15 seconds.

Right now, when I buy and download an iTunes song, it literally "flashes" the word "Downloading," and I have it. That's so unreal.

I'm in love!

Please take the 7 minutes to watch and listen to this video. It makes such wonderful sense. It's a shame that no one in Washington has the guts to stand-up to anything. Our entire government really has failed us.

7 hours on a ladder

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Spent 7 hours standing on a ladder today, staining the rest of our deck. Holy cats. The good news is that it's all done, and the deck looks pretty good. The stain is a bit splotchy in some spots -- I don't know how that happened; I applied it exactly as instructed, using two coats, brushing it carefully. Yet, it still shows some splotches... I'm guessing that the wood absorbed more product in certain areas, and that led the the uneven finish. Maybe it'll level out after a year or so.

To make the job a little more tolerable, I purchased an inMotion m600 iPod radio. The thing is awesome. It's tiny -- about 1/4 the size of my laptop but has great sound. It has a built-in rechargeable battery that lasted the entire day (I worked from 9:30am - 6:00pm). If you have an iPod, I highly recommend this "boombox" - it plays pretty loud, the battery lasts a long time, and it's extremely portable. It even charges your iPod while it's docked. Well worth the money.

I used the m600 to listen to Al Franken's "Lies And The Lying Liars That Tell Them", and I almost fell off the ladder from laughter - that, and from shaking my head in disbelief.

I was never a huge fan of Al Franken, but this book is fantastic. It's absolutely hilarious and he makes some incredible arguments. He provides well-documented and proven facts and references to show how people like Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reily, Rush Limbaugh, and good 'ole Dubya' mislead the public on a regular basis, all the while screaming about how everything is the "liberal media's" fault.

The chapters on terrorism are particularly interesting. Consider this: Regan lost 500+ American lives in the 80's during two terrorist attacks: Beirut and PanAm 103. He also supplied Afghanistan with tens of thousands of RPGs, rifles, ammunition, rocket launchers, and technology that terrorists use today to fight our troops.

Bush Sr. didn't lose any American lives to terrorism under his watch, but he implemented operation "Ignore" when the Cold War ended, and rather than gather-up all of the armaments from Afghanis, he simply deserted the area, leaving the weapons behind and leaving the area to become a haven for anti-American terrorists in training.

Clinton implemented funding and introduced anti-terrorist legislature, well before 9/11. When the WTC was bombed in 1993 (just 38 days after he was inaugurated), Clinton immediately captured, prosecuted, and imprisonned the people responsible, including Ramsey Yuseff. In 1996, Clinton authorized an assassination order for Osama Bin Laden, and he pressed congress to increase spending on anti-terrorism efforts. He suggested that we implement measures similar to OFAC and the Patriot Act (back in 1996). The Republican congress turned it down (including the assassination order), and scolded Clinton for his efforts. They were more interested in going after him for Monica Lewinski, and picking on Al Gore over his concern for the environment.

Bush Jr, well.... despite losing nearly 3,000 American lives during 9/11, and some 3,500 in Iraq, he's actually cut anti-terrorism funding, and well, we're still looking for Osama. Oh, and we're still fighting an unwinable war in Iraq.

What else? He's set the stage to put us some 4-trillion farther into debt. He's screwed up the economy, got the entire world mad at us, and has all but run the country into the ground. But, hey, at least the gays ain't allowed to get married, right?

Please, do yourself a favor and read or listen to Franken's book. It's pretty insightful. Many thanks to my friend John Janzen for sharing the book with me - he's recommended 3 books to me, and so far has hit home runs with each of them.

In other news, I'm off to Dallas on Tuesday - should be back on Wednesday night.