Friday, August 29, 2008

Heavy Metal Office Drumming

Okay, after this post, I swear I'll try harder. Posting random YouTube clips is lazy, I know. I just haven't run across a genre of funny metal music spoofs like this before, and it's quite amusing to me. I've grown up as a fan of metal, but at some point it just becomes ridiculous. Probably why I find this so funny (as does this guy, obviously). My kind of humor.

For you Malvern/Emmetsburg folks, tell me who this guy looks like. I don't want to be the one to name him by name (HINT: His name starts with a Mike). Am I wrong??

A couple more to tide you over through the weekend, then I promise some substance. Who knew Bert & Ernie were into Grindcore? I'll never look at kids television again. And I'm okay with that.

This is so stupid. lol

Okay, I'm done with this. I promise.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Kelly Clarkson Goes Death Metal

I really couldn't wait any longer to post this. I was inspired after watching the documentary Metal: A Headbanger's Journey this past weekend, so I decided to go YouTubing for a while afterwards to see if I could find any hidden gems. Then I stumbled on this, and I simply was not prepared for what I saw & heard. I'm sure a couple of you will appreciate.

WARNING: This. Is. Awesome.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Welcome to Fall in Lincoln

It's officially Silly Season in Lincoln, as the college football season is finally here. This is our 7th fall of being fully intrenched in what has to be easily one of, if not THE most obsessed fanbases in the game. Their recent struggles have been pretty well-documented: the debacle of the last 4 years, the hiring, the firing, the end of the bowl streak, worst defense ever, the Return of the Messiah, back to tradition, restoring the order, yadda, yadda, yadda.....

But this off-season really has been unlike anything Nebraskans have ever experienced. Bo Pelini, the man that can seemingly walk on the waters of Lake McConaughey, was brought back as head coach. He's short-tempered, bullheaded, and has the entire state hanging (and agreeing) with his every single word. As soon as a new coach arrives in Lincoln (which has happened 5 times in the last 50 years) he is instantly the most recognizable man in the state. Every old lady and every old crusty farmer at every kitchen table, every coffee shop, grain elevator.....everyone in every place can gladly orate at great length their thoughts on Bo Pelini's defensive philosophy, his coaching resume, his staff, his recruiting class, his returning starters, his wife & kids, church affiliation, favorite restaurants, etc.... You get the idea.

And in case you trip over a plow and get a case of amnesia, most everyone here does something to their property to remind you of exactly where you are. It may be a simple flag or stone, but often times it's never that understated. Case in point: If this was a picture of an acreage on the outskirts of Ames, then I'd be impressed. Sadly, it's on the outskirts of Lincoln. I guess it loses the dramatic effect.

The in-state media has been relentless/comical in trying to get every angle on the new regime. Today in a press conference leading up to their first game, Pelini was asked repeatedly when he would be handing out the famous Blackshirts to his defensive starters. Would it be this week before the first game, or would he (gasp) wait until sometime AFTER the first game? Is that fair to his players? These are the questions he gets. Yes, a seemingly arbitrary, vague piece of practice apparel strangely happens to be one of the most significant and observed traditions, not only by the players, but fandom statewide. Who cares? In Nebraska, everyone does.

As many would assume, expectations for success over the next few years is as high as it was back in the glory days of the 90's. Crazy, you say? Maybe. Don't tell that to First National Bank, which takes up the most prime billboard real estate in town, just outside Memorial Stadium with this not-so-subtle statement. No pressure or anything, Bo.

As much as some Nebraska fans absolutely drive me nuts this time of year, I'd be lying if I don't get just as ridiculous and stupid with my anticpation for every game, every Saturday. As Johnny Mathis once sang, "it's the most wonderful time of the year".

Although I don't think Johnny Mathis was much of a football fan. Just a hunch.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Things to Teach Your Dog # 228

Early on when our dog Alex was still young, she had an obsession with ice cubes. So, I figured the only proper thing to do was to train her in proper ice cube acquisition techniques & manners. See how she did.

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Black Crowes: Council Bluffs 8.15.08

So it took be the better of 15 years to come around to the fact that, besides their early mainstream Top 40 hits, I really, REALLY like the Black Crowes. It was our first time seeing them live at Stir Concert Cove in Council-Tuckey, IA on Friday night, but it certainly won't be the last. Their sound is this perfect mixture of southern rock, memphis blues, and a rock solid 'Stones-like groove. There were some tasty jams from start to finish on a perfect night on the river. Plenty of songs from their new album Warpaint, which is very good. And, it got Hacksaw's Seal of Approval, so you know it was a good show.

The crowd at the Cove is interesting, as at least 2/3 of the crowd brings lawn & camping chairs to sit in. To each his own, I guess. You can get away with that for some shows they get there, but whatever. We found our way up front to a relatively small crowd of fans up on the rail. Hell.....5th row for the Crowes? I'll take it. Some seasoned (okay, stoned) fans who had made the trip from out of town couldn't figure it out, either. But the place filled in nicely once the show started.

FWIW....I have all the adoration in the world for Kate Hudson, but how did Chris Robinson position himself in life to be the father of her child?? Great front man, yes, but Jesus Quincy Adams, that is a strange looking dude. He looks like a hillbilly Tom Green. Sorry....just a rude, random thought....

Since my camera has yet to be replaced from going swimming, the first image is a shitty picture from my cell phone. Hey, it's the best I can do. The Crowes play at the Val-Air Ballroom in Des Moines in December, so check them out if you get the chance.

The set list

Movin' On Down The Line ->
Goodbye Daughters Of The Revolution
Good Friday
Peace Anyway
Locust Street
Rockin' Chair
Whoa Mule
Lay It All On Me
Downtown Money Waster ->
Thorn In My Pride
Oh Josephine
Twice As Hard
Wounded Bird
- encore -
Boomer's Story
Don't Do It

Friday, August 15, 2008

Only the Royals...

Question: What's worse than hearing famous/annoying White Sox announcer "Hawk" Harrelson's famous home run call, "You can putitontheboaaaard...YES!" ???

Answer: Hearing it 4 at-bats in a row. Against your favorite team who you think is finally turning some sort of futility corner.

That's right, folks. back home runs.

Roll the ugliness.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Honey, where's the car seat??

A classic image that I took in front of my hometown bar one Sunday morning. What I would've paid to be in on that discovery & subsequent conversation.

Feel free to suggest a caption for this photo in the Comments section.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Presentation Zen

Out of the small readership that's either been tipped off to this page, or forced to consume it at gunpoint by me, I'm not sure who this subject will appeal to. Consider it an attempt at a useful post. I suppose it depends on your job role. What has become one of my favorite job roles over the past 5+ years has been teaching, or specifically presentations for groups of people. My ambition to become a Secondary Ed. teacher was pretty quickly dashed during my sophomore year of college, when a particularly unsavory education professor in so many words told me I wasn't educator material. Fair enough. When I took my current job, the teaching aspect wasn't in the job description, but it's been as important than any role I've had. Presenting to a crowd is easily most people's worst nightmare, but it has become one of the most rewarding aspects of my job. It can also be the most challenging aspect, simply because of the subject matter.

You see, what I do isn't glamorous (you really thought you were the only one?) and it's not easily explained in a nice, tidy sentence or two. That's one huge reason why teaching can be so difficult for me. I explain to people when asked that I am a "Dirt Cop". My title is Stormwater Specialist, and I work primarily with new construction and development in the metro area. Regulations from the Clean Water Act require that developers and municipalities do their part to limit the amount of mud (sediment) and other pollutants that may leave these construction sites, as much as possible. While part of the job requires me to be a "regulator", the more important role in my time on the job has been that of "educator". I do my best to try to convey to a usually unattentive and disconnected audience who would rather be anywhere else at the time what the regulations are, and then how to stay in compliance on their sites.

So how does anyone tackle presenting on a subject that, to the disintereted layperson, is the excitement equivalent to being forced to sit through Disney on Ice? It isn't easy. It's being able to take something very complicated and make it seem effortless to the person learnign from you. But so often people who put together presentations have no idea how to do that. They just type out everything they want to say, put it on some slides in PowerPoint, add a couple nonsensical cartoonish ClipArt items, and proceed to put you to sleep faster than a bottle of Ambien.

I was just as guilty when I did my first few presentations. After pleading with people before my talks would start to "please not fall asleep just yet", it never failed to do the trick. It was always Yawnsville. But then again, I told myself, so was everyone else's presentations discussing erosion control. "Don't feel bad,'s just the material. I mean, who's gonna stay awake to hear about the intricacies of proper staple patterns when installing erosion control blankets?" These self-talks made me feel better for a while.

Then I stumbled on a blog that changed my tune. It was simple enough, and the content made all the sense in the world. Finally. Garr Reynolds has been adding to his uber-popular blog site, Presentation Zen, for almost 4 years now. Reynolds has spent most of his professional career living in Japan, and it comes through in his techniques to presenations. Simplicity is at the core of his teaching on great presentations. Using great examples from some the best presenters in the world, including the great Steve Jobs of Apple, Reynolds teaches that the presentation is YOU, with the supporting material contributing to you. We've all had it backwards for far too long.

Garr's book is outstanding for anyone who does any sort of teaching or presenting, and I highly recommend it. It's definitely made a difference in how I approach an audience, and present on a subject that on the surface seems completely lifeless. I've attached a recent presentation he gave on the subject at Google. There's also a ton of good recommendations within the presentation, as well. It's a bit long, so if you've got some weekend time and you're at all interested, give it a look.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

My Attempts at Photography

I thought I'd try my hand at creating a slideshow of some of my favorite pictures that I've shot in recent years. ((Photo Geeks: the majority of these were taken with a Canon Powershot G6. That's the best I can do until Santa brings me something better, but I'm not worried about it)) While I've got a LOT of work to do to get better at all of the steps, in getting a good shot, there's been some hidden gems that at least I like to think are "okay" shots. It's a bunch of different stuff, with some random pictures of things & friends thrown in.

UPDATE: I think this slideshow will have to do in this location for now. Blogger is being difficult with putting it over on the right side, and I'm not a programmer. I've updated the slideshow with the pictures I think I wanted in it for a first time out. I'll update the show from time to time, and maybe move it up to the front page when it slips. I'm sure I should've watermarked these, but part of me says they're not good enough to get ripped. I'm sure there's some little girl somewhere who needs to win her 4-H photo contest, though. Good thing she'll find Ryan McGinnis or Mike Hollingshead's sites before she finds mine.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Lake Panorama Shenanigans

This past weekend was the 2nd annual installment of the retreat to Lake Panorama, hosted by the Flaherty's. The usual suspects were in attendance: Bargie, Yoshi, the Mickey's, the Flaherty's, and us. Two things have become obvious about the lake weekends:

1. We shouldn't bring the Simpson College Yearbooks and play the game, "Who Would You Get With". Lesson finally learned, I think.

2. We make entirely too much food. This year we even scaled back, after cooking enough barbecue last year to nourish a small, impoverished nation. Still, on Friday night: 48 egg rolls for 6 people. You do the math. (Pass the salt & pepper, Yosh)

Regardless, the cuisine portion of the lake weekend is always my favorite. I think it's because I love to cook, and I love to cook for a crowd even more (Thanks, Ida!). Granted, it's not the most inexpensive idea in the world, but it's always satisfying for me to do that, maybe even to a fault. I've been known to go into someone's kitchen, either for a holiday or a dinner party, and just sort of dive in, sometimes without really being asked to. I try to catch myself before I get told to leave. This particular weekend, such a bad habit was welcomed, and we all pitched in and contributed to the cause.

I must admit that I did make more snide comments about the "water quality" of the lake than I should have, both leading up to the weekend, and while we were there. I suppose it's partially because we were still fresh off the Canada trip, enjoying glacier-blue water in the Canadian Rockies. For lakes in the Midwest, you get what you get. The lake had received 6" of rain the weekend prior, so I was a bit of a skeptic going in, with comments such as, "I love the smell of dysentery in the morning." Hey, I call it like I see it. But once we got out on the lake on Saturday morning, I finally warmed up to the idea of tubing and floating, which were the main objectives of the day.

We broke in "Super Mable" out on the lake, with most of us getting tossed at various speeds. Once you're on a tube like that, and you're at the mercy of the boat driver, I think you lose the ability to think before speaking, and whatever comes out of your mouth is sort of a stream-of-consciousness reaction to the conditions. Some pretty funny things get said when you're bouncing around on a choppy lake at 30 mph. I guess I had a few of those moments while on Mable, particularly when Mickey was the boat driver. I think we went right through Ridiculous Speed and straight to Ludicrous Speed. The boat passengers thought I looked like I was crying. Actually, that was the G-forces contorting my face, since we had gone plaid.

The Big Float was in the afternoon. It's really nothing more than 8 people rigging life jackets to fit like diapers, so you have the ability to float and still enjoy your beverage of choice. Always entertaining conversation, the Big Float also features music from Yoshi's iPod, which this year was loaded with the entire catalog from New Kids on the Block. Suddenly E. Coli didn't sound like a bad idea. The only casualty of the Big Float was my digital camera, which I knew better to bring down to the dock, but did anyway. Luckily the memory card was intact and in working order, so that helped a little.

Pork shoulder, baby backs, BBQ Beans, and Thad's famous cold cheesy potatoes (not bad this year, Bargie. Good job outta you!!!) rounded out a fine Saturday feast, which ended early after an appropriate viewing of the cinematic classic "Beerfest". (Who's Barry Badrinath?) After Dixon's famous Biscuits & Gravy and a boat ride around the lake Sunday morning, we reluctantly packed up and left. As always, good times were had at Lake Panorama. Huge props to Tammy for running a 1/3 marathon Saturday morning, and partying like a rock star (yes, that song is on Yosi's iPod) the rest of the day. Most impressive! We'll do it all over again next year, which seems waaaay too far away right now. Here's some of the highlights...

Yeah, bad idea. because this......

Leads to this.

The Grand Game makes an appearance. It's better to put the yearbooks away at this point in the evening.

The girls go for a spin on Super Mable, although Derby was far too easy on them.

Hi, Bargie.

You couldn't handle this Man Sandwich, ladies.

And finally, it was discovered that a couple people in attendance had not yet brought a certain joy in their lives that only comes from watching the movie, "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy". While I will not spoil it for said individuals, I would highly recommend that they go see it. But for now, all they really need to glean from the movie is the following....