Thursday, December 27, 2007


I have a lot of respect for individuals that are capable of creating endless amounts of nonsense. Hence, John Hodgman has become one of my favorite correspondents on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. After watching him as a correspondent, then becoming the "PC" on the Mac and PC ads, I found that he had actually written a book. If anyone is curious, his book is currently on my nightstand. The book is truly the work of a master. It is billed as a complete compendium of world knowledge, but acknowledges that all facts contained within are untrue. In effect, he wrote an almanac with entirely fabricated information. I am posting a clip of one of my favorite Hodgman pieces from The Daily Show. Enjoy.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007


I hope that everyone had a nice holiday and got to spend time with family and friends. Now that the previous statement has been made - on to the news!

I've said this many times in this blog - this is going to be interesting. Things just got interesting. It is possible that this post may become long and potentially sappy, but I'm just trying to grasp some of what has been swarming my brain for the last several weeks.

It is official - I am seeing someone. I had chosen to put the blog into hiatus until she was aware of it's existence and wanted to make sure that she didn't have a problem with me talking about her in a public forum. She is someone that I work with, indirectly, but is not a scientist (thankfully). She is a graduate student in the English department. She is very intelligent, shares my twisted sense of humor, is tall and just happens to be incredibly beautiful. We share similar taste in music, movies and even sports - more specifically we have a passion for baseball. I didn't know that someone existed that would be not just willing to, but actually suggest sitting in the living room while blaring Tool's Undertow while watching a muted Sportscenter and working on a crossword puzzle together as an evening event. She is the most amazing person that I have ever met and more than could have ever imagined. We've crammed so much time together into only a couple weeks of "dating", that it feels I have known her years and been together for at least several months.

Now, I'm going to get into a little bit of weirdness. Sometimes you really have to search for parallels and commonalities between people, other times they smack you right in the face. I am the older of two brothers, my uncle is the older of two brothers. I was born on his birthday. She was born on my Aunt's birthday (uncle's wife). But it doesn't stop here - my birthday is also her brother's birthday. This is just a single example that we discovered on our first date, but the parallels go so deep that it almost seems predestined. Our parents careers while we were being raised are another example - mothers were teachers (music/primary), fathers worked for the government (city/federal). She went to her mother's university, I went to my father's. I mentioned that our taste in music was similar - but liking the same seven year old mediocre song from a now widely despised band because of a single dull drum strike 3/4 of the way into the song - seriously? You can't make this stuff up.

Just a few weeks ago, I had been trying to force myself to get motivated. Trying to convince myself that my time in my current job would be worthwhile and beneficial to my future life. It had been almost a sensation of sleepwalking or just going through the motions at work and at home. Now, things seem to be changing quickly. I feel motivated. I feel alive. I am thinking about what I want to do in the future. I feel reassured about the path I have traveled. All of the stupid bullshit I've had to deal with from the past decade feels like a distant memory - means to an end, nothing more.

To answer the question that many of you may have been considering - Megan.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas

Although I am still on hiatus from the blog, I wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas. This blog will return on Wednesday and all will be revealed! I hope that everyone has a wonderful holiday!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


I'm sure that some of you have been wondering what's been going on. Andrew seems to post regularly, is everything ok? Has he gotten so busy with work that he doesn't have time write anything anymore? Well, to assure everyone - everything is going well... very well. My current schedule has been keeping me from the computer, but I promise to return soon. I have been distracted and very tired for the last few days, but you're not going to hear me complain about it. Thanks for bearing with me everyone and check back soon for some exciting news in the very near future!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Apartment Pictures... Finally!

As promised (just not as timely), here are a few pics of my new apartment.

Pic #1 - Kitchen
Things to note: The woodwork, the dark marble countertops, the stainless steel appliances.
Pic #2 - Living Room
Things to note: My sweet new coffee table (an early Christmas gift from my parents - thanks!), the new big screen TV (which is not so big that it overpowers the room) and the blanket that displays my true allegiances.
Things to ignore: Exposed wiring from the walls (it's part of a surround system that I decided not to use, but haven't gotten around to taking care of) and also, the fact that I don't have a lamp shade on the lamp in the corner.
Pic #3 - Bathroom/Dressing room
Pic #4 - A glimpse into the walk-in closet. I just wanted everyone to know what was on display, front and center. Go Royals!

A final note - the bedroom is still pretty messy, so no pics of that for now - maybe later.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Holiday Party

Wednesday night my department had their holiday party. Normally, I dread these things, but this one turned out alright. The event was scheduled at the Webster House in downtown Kansas City. The Webster House was a 19th century school house that was renovated to accommodate a conversion to a restaurant. The building is incredibly exquisite and the food was amazing. It was a much higher class establishment than I had anticipated, despite the semi-formal attire requirement. The Webster House was not the reason that I dislike these (not simply social gatherings in general, but mainly academic related social gatherings) functions. It's the class separation that occurs. Typically, the professors (bosses) congregate with the professors. The graduate students gather with the graduate students. However, the difference at this particular function that managed to (somewhat) level the playing field - complimentary alcohol. While the air is still dense with pretentiousness, it's not quite as thick after a healthy treatment of imported beer or a few glasses of wine.

One of the highlights of the evening, however, was the use of my apartment building's limo service. Earlier in the day, a friend/colleague from my group had completed his dissertation defense (the grad student's final rite of passage that I will describe in a future post). One of the goals of the evening was to make sure that he was able to relax and be allowed to become lucid enough to begin to put the entire defense ordeal into a haze without the pressure of having to potentially drive home after the event. I invited my group to gather at my building prior to the holiday party and I would provide the transportation. I have to admit, it was pretty nice showing up at a semi-formal event in style... especially so when professors, who just parked down the block and walk to the front door, see a post doc and two grad students (and one spouse) arrive in a black stretch limo and be delivered right to the door. It did make for interesting conversation during the event, and guaranteed that the limo service will be used frequently in the future. What a great amenity for an apartment building.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Schrute-ism #2

I never smile if I can help it. Showing one's teeth is a submission signal in primates. When someone smiles at me, all I see is a chimpanzee begging for it's life.

The Power of Prognostication

I believe that "eerie" is the word. My 11/30 post, entitled "Son of a...", unexpectedly became foreshadowing. I had mentioned that the warranty period for my Xbox360 was nearing it's end and that I could attempt to bring it's functionality to a close, in hopes of receiving a newer model with the HDMI output port. I decided against this, and ended up only turning it one one time since that post to watch a DVD. Last night, I felt like "enhancing my hand-eye coordination", so I fired up the 360. I loaded my previously saved game, then the screen flashed and went black. Hmmm... could be a power problem, could be the A/V cable connection. I check the cables and restart. Then, the dreaded "red circle of death" appears.
Normally, the lights around the power button are green on startup, but when the "red circle of death" appears, it means that there has been a (typically irreversible) hardware failure. After waiting overnight with no success at restarting the box, I reported the problem to tech support. I have to admit, the Xbox360 tech support was very easy to deal with (so far). They just asked if I had gone through the guides online to try to restart it (i.e. unplug all the cables, unhook the hard drive, etc). They told me that the problem was covered by the extended warranty, and set up the return/repair (or replace) procedure. Total time spent on the phone - less than ten minutes. Unfortunately, however, there is only a very slim chance that my system will be replaced with the newer model featuring the HDMI output port. I will be hoping for the best. For any family members expecting an HD-DVD demonstration over the holidays, it is not likely to happen. Will you settle for a ride in the limo?

Monday, December 10, 2007

Top 5 Movies of 2007... So Far

I haven't been seeing many movies in the theater recently, but until I took a look at this list, I didn't realize how selective I had become. Of the 100 most popular titles of 2007, I have seen only seven. I seem to be less interested in movies. It may be because the quality of films has been dropping, or conversely, the quality of television shows has been increasing. I do believe that there is a link between these statements. With the increasing complexity of television shows (having multiple series featuring season long story arcs), I would presume that movie writers have been brought in to work on television projects. This shift, if it really has happened, could explain why TV programs have improved and decent movies seem to be few and far between. Of the movies that I have seen, there are enough good films that I can compile a Top 5 list. Honestly, I could swap any of 1-4 depending on my mood because they were all very entertaining.

First, here are the two movies, that didn't make the list because, frankly, they stunk:
Spider-Man 3 (so many reasons that it wasn't good)
Breach (boring - only movie in years that I actually dozed off "watching")

The Top 5 Movies of 2007

5. Hot Fuzz (Simon Pegg and Nick Frost do a buddy cop flick - hilarious)
4. 3:10 To Yuma (I don't like Westerns, but this movie rocked - would have been rated #1 if at some point in the film Christian Bale had said... "I'm Batman")
3. Live Free Or Die Hard (completely unrealistic, but every second was entertaining)
2. The Bourne Ultimatum (best of the series so far)
1. No Country For Old Men (see yesterday's post)

Sunday, December 9, 2007

No Country For Old Men

While I had my doubts about seeing The Golden Compass, I was confident that I would enjoy seeing No Country For Old Men. The Coen Brothers, Tommy Lee Jones, a violent movie about a hitman and stolen money - sounds like an entertaining film. And entertaining it was. For those of you with a dark sense of humor and the stomach to handle violence, No Country For Old Men is most definitely your kind of movie. I liked several of the Coen's previous movies: Fargo, O Brother Where Art Thou, and of course, The Big Lebowski. Their movies have dialog driven storylines, with (typically) dark themes and are injected with a twisted sense of humor. They don't assume that their audiences are morons or have attentions spans so short that they need to deliver flashbacks to scenes that appeared earlier in the same film. For these reasons, the Coen's should be applauded. The thing that surprised me most about No Country For Old Men was the ending (which I will not reveal). I appreciated the fact that they left the audience with something to talk about. Too many films wrap everything up in a nice bow (Da Vinci Code)... and everyone forgets everything they just saw (Spider-Man 3). You will have much to ponder as the credits roll (and on your way home - or later still) and you will remember what happened. No Country For Old Men may top my list of top films of 2007... so far, which just might be my next post...

Thursday, December 6, 2007

How Much Are You Willing To Pay For Artwork?

I came across an interesting article about an art auction this morning. To summarize, an anonymous bidder paid $57.2 million for a 3 1/4 inch tall, 5,000 year old sculpture. At first, it seems like a lot to pay for something of such small stature... but it is incredibly old, well preserved and quite intricate. The article got me thinking about how much money I am willing to spend on artwork to decorate my apartment. Obviously, I am entirely incapable of even considering spending within five orders of magnitude (that 10,000 times for the non-scientists) as this piece sold for. I would probably spend about $100 for a single piece of artwork.

Then my interest turns to how much money the anonymous bidder must possess. Let's just say for the sake of argument that my net worth is roughly $10k. If I am willing to spend about a hundred bucks for a piece of art, that would be 1% of my net worth. Again, for the sake of argument, let's assume that this bidder is also willing to spend only 1% of his/her net worth on any one item. These estimates would make this person a billionaire five times over. How do people get this much money? And how can I become like these people (in wealth, not necessarily anonymity)? The only thing that I am certain of, is the answer does not lie in academia.


Whenever I'm about to do something, I think... would an idiot do that? And if they would, I do not do that thing.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

To See or Not To See...

The Golden Compass opens this week in theaters. I've seen the previews on TV for the last several weeks and I had simply dismissed the notion of paying to see it. It's quite possible that it relates to my dislike for the lead actress (Nicole Kidman), but the scenes with the giant polar bears look pretty impressive without having the appearance of being ridiculously fake since they are surely CG generated. I was still in the camp of not wanting anything to do with this film. Then, the Christian right speaks up and condemns the movie as being anti-Catholic (normally I can't stand Fox News reports, but this one was actually somewhat well done. They made an attempt at being objective - I know it's just about a movie, but I don't think it's too much to ask for the reporting of news to be politically neutral). Now I am becoming more interested in seeing the film because of the controversy. Is there really an anti-Catholic message? I'd have to see it to find out and the group that is recommending a ban has absolutely no intention of doing actually watching it themselves (What century is this anyway?).

It's still going to take a lot to overcome the fact that Nicole Kidman is in it though... After a trio of terrible movies, I vowed to not watch any of her future movies. What were the three movies that drove me to this, you ask? 1. Eyes Wide Shut - boring movie about characters that weren't worth watching... it was uncomfortable just to sit through. 2. This one is probably going to annoy/anger some people, but here goes anyway - Moulin Rouge - I don't mind the musical/movie crossover genre... oh wait, no, I despise the musical/movie crossover genre and this was one of the worst I'd ever seen. 3. The Others - The so-called twist ending was a waste because it was glaringly obvious from within the first five minutes of the movie. Apparently I gave up on her as an actress in 2001, and now, going back through here IMDB filmography, the only movie of hers that even half-liked was Malice - which wasn't even that good. Why do people like her? I just don't understand; all of her roles end up being over-acted, the movies she chooses to appear in aren't that good, and now I find out that she's married to a country music "star". What the hell? Yeah, I'm not seeing this movie - Nicole Kidman is charting waters previously only occupied by Denzel Washington (seriously, Crimson Tide is one of the worst films ever made) in my book.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Royals' Early Offseason

It seems that the Royals are trying to become a legitimate team in the off-season. A week ago they signed Japanese relief pitcher Yasuhiko Yabuta in a move to expand their international presence. Then with today's signing of free agent Jose Guillen, they landed a decent power hitter for the middle of their lineup and the rumor is that they aren't done. They are reportedly going after the top Japanese free agent Hiroki Kuroda, and they've been mentioned to be making a run at Andruw Jones - another power hitting outfielder.

What would Royals fans have to complain about if their team managed to land multiple high-level talents in one off-season? I'm guessing it will go something like this... Guillen is going to be a problem in the dugout, he's a hothead, he's inconsistent and he's potentially going to be suspended after being named part of the steroid investigation. Jones is coming off of his worst season and maybe he's on the decline even though he should be in his prime. Kuroda was good in Japan, but his skills won't translate to U.S. major league ball.

Any free agent they do sign only has to show some sign of being helpful to another team to be trade bait. While signing free agents hasn't worked too well in the past for the Royals. But that was under the old management philosophy - sign free agents that are nearly drawing social security and maybe they can pull it together for one more season. Now they're going after free agents that are in the prime of their careers. It's a step in the right direction, but soon they're going to have to translate that to wins on the field. They improved by 7 games in 2007 over the 2006 season (GM Moore's first season), but it takes more than one season to prove a trend. Hopefully the 2008 season will show that they're becoming legitimate. In any regard, the buzz in KC is positive and I'm certainly looking forward to next season more with every signing.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Son of a...

The new TV has arrived! After rewiring my system and getting everything hooked up appropriately for HD, I made a disappointing discovery (hence the title of this post). There is no HDMI port on the back of my xbox360. How frustrating - I can only go up to 1080i output with my HD-DVD player (sarcasm). After a little checking, the HDMI port wasn't "standard" until Aug 2007 consoles. That is information that I would have liked to have had prior to purchasing the HDMI cable for that console. I can use the cable I purchased for the cable box, but it doesn't put out a 1080p signal, so what's the point? Somehow I have been "lucky" as I own one of the boxes from the first shipment (end of 2005) that hasn't destroyed itself. Maybe if I run the box 24-7, it'll crap out and I'll still be able to get the replacement system that has the HDMI port on the back. Hmmmm... I think that the warranty is set to expire at the end of the month - so I'd better hurry up and break it ( I won't actually do this, but I can talk about it, right?).

I'm sure that many of you don't understand what I'm talking about, so here's the quick synopsis... To get a "full" HD signal (1080p), you must first have a piece of equipment capable of outputting the appropriate signal, a piece of equipment capable of displaying the signal and a cable capable of carrying the correct signal between the two pieces of equipment. All three are required for the 1080p signal to work properly, and until I went to wire the system, I believed that I had them. I believed... incorrectly. Oh well, what the hell, it's still way better than standard definition. How did I survive before this?