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Silicon Valley veteran doing Technical Community Management. Photographer with a strong interest in birds, wildlife and nature who is exploring the Western states and working to tell you the stories of the special places I've found.
Author and Blogger. They are not the same thing. Sports occasionally spoken here, especially hockey. Veteran of Sun, Apple, Palm, HP and now Infoblox, plus some you've never heard of. They didn't kill me, they made me better.
Person with opinions, and not afraid to share them. Debate team in high school and college; bet that's a surprise.
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Yearly Archives: 2002
Thanks to Clapton, some more musings on music….
I’m just coming off of a number of years (1…2…3…many…) where I’ve basically tuned out to music. The radio market here in the Bay Area really, really sucks (thanks to ClearChannel and their friends, that suckiness has been franchised nationwide, too). I found very little that spoke to me. About the only station I listen to is KUFX, a “classic rock” (all pink floyd, all the time) station, but even that’s spotty, and that pretty much defines where my personal tastes in contemporary music are (or more correctly, stopped).
As a kid, I was very involved in music. I picked up clarinet early, played it until the orthodontist nuked it while I got the teeth straightened. That led me to look for a suitable replacement. I played some oboe, until the tooth doctor found out and nuked that, too. Tried tuba, and for the first time in my life discovered extreme boredom while performing (blat blat, sleep ten bars, blat, up a third, blat). Switched to trumpet decided that I just don’t connect with the brasses. I don’t have the coordination to set up a drum set, much less play it. I tried guitar a few times, just never got into it.
So in junior high, I more or less dropped playing. My parental units threatened me a few times with piano lessons, but we never had that fight. High school I got involved somewhat in drama, which got me involved in musicals, which got me to the point where I’ll puke before the second act of Oklahoma! if I’m within a timezone of it (but it also introduced me to more interesting fare, such as Man of La Mancha and Gilbert and Sullivan). I quickly decided that acting wasn’t for me and went tech. I was also heavily involved in athletics, so I got to listen (whether I wanted to or not) to the music played in school locker rooms at the time — in my case, fortunately, it was headbanging metal, not country…). hence my retreat to the days of Zeppelin and Black Sabbath, I think.
I worked disneyland from 1976 to 1980, mostly offstage, mostly swing shift or graveyard. It was an interesting environment – as a corporation, it was falling apart (I was there for the first strike, which involved people I worked with, and I had to cross the picket line because I was a different union and ther were no-strike clauses), and it was very much “How did Walt do this?” at taht time. But one of the things they did every summer was run a swing series in Carnation gardens — and it was the names of the movement: Basie played there every year, and both of the travelling Glenn Miller orchestras. And others. So once a week, I got in the habit of spending an off day in the park, at the Gardens, listening to whoever was in town that week. I don’t think I realized until later just how special it was to be sitting 25′ from Count Basie for three sets every summer until much later — but I definitely innoculated with a love of swing, whether it’s Basie, Ellington, Buddy Rich, Glenn Miller or (of course) Benny Goodman.
Since that time, I’ve sort of wandered. A few groups have caught my attention (Police, Cars, Stray Cats, as have individual songs or singers. I’ve discovered new, non–mainstream music (of all things, bagpipes and steel drums, but not at the same time. Honest). I picked up an appreciation for Webber and Fosse (and if you can figure out a pair that different, bless you) in theater, but most theater today leaves me pretty cold. It’s gotten too big, too commercial, to blockbuster, and yes, I know Webber has a huge chunk of the blame for that, thank you.
When I played, I was a technical musician, the kind of musician you find doing first chair in the orchestra, not wailing out at the club. I’d practice, not rif.
Craft, not art. Story of my life, actually. And that’s not a gripe. Lots of good stuff being an honest craftsman. Much better and more honest than a lot of the self-called artists who aren’t. What’s an artist? what’s a craftsman? that’s some other piece…)
A couple of months ago, for some reason, I started shifting back into music. I don’t know why, I just did. I’m probably the last Apple employee to fire up iTunes, but now all my CD’s are burnt. After macworld, I’ll probably buy an iPod for more convenience. And I’ve been wandering through my collection, re-acquainting myself with it. And that’s giving me the playing jones again.
This journey is just beginning, but I’m looking for suggestions — I’m looking for something that’s nicely programmable and which I won’t outgrow too soon, a good keyboard, and I can connect to MIDI (and my macintoshes). Any thoughts? And what OS x tools do I want to go with it?
I’m still 3-6 months out on this project, but I’m always researching what’s next while implementing my current project (the woodshop…). And the nice thing of going to a keyboard synth is I can slap on headphones and only annoy myself, and it’s osmething I can work on in the evenings, which seems to be the only free time I get….
I’ve thought about going back to clarinet, but it’s been so long. I just don’t think so. But I’ve been intrigued since the 70′s with synths, so I’ve started thinking about buying one. Finally, after all those years avoiding piano lessons, learning a keyboard. Since a good synth can be programmed to do bagpipe (and steel drum. Maybe at the same time!), it gives me access to things I’d like to do, but I like my neighbors too much to actually practice here.
So, if I were to look at a high end hobby or low- to mid-range prosumer keyboard/synth, what do i want to get? What software tools do I want to get to support it? thoughts, anyone?
doesn’t seem to translate to blogging a lot. Although the link collection continues to grow. Be scared, be very scared…
On the plus side, we brought the first of the xServes to help out (and eventually replace) the Sun boxes. It’s definitely helped with some of the capacity issues I’ve been fighting, and I’m seeing 4X or better performance compared to the E250. Not bad, and there’s definitely room to tweak.
On this beast I’ve been living with (which, unfortunately, I still can’t go into detail on. soon. I hope), we’ve been having, well, I’d like to call them birthing problems, but in reality, I miscalculated some key capacity assumptions, and then our Xserves didn’t come on line quite fast enough, and we stuffed everything on a mostly-full E250. 8 pounds of stuff, five pound bag. Been interesting getting stuff to work right. And time consuming, since we’re also rolling out added functionality, while managing the holiday glut and prepping for MacWorld.
And lest you think I’m griping — I’m not… In the spring, I went to my management and said “I think I’ve had enough of doing yet another email system. I’m bored, I’m not challenged. Time to do Something Else”.
And they offered me, well, something else. It still involves email, sort of. But where my previous preference was doing the Lone Wolf project and handing stuff over when it was finished and running the machiens and servers and generally having my hands in everything, this beast and tendrils everywhere. I’m technically and administratively managing three people, doing some coding, but primarily at a much higher level, architecting, playing at DBA, working with people all over the company, trying to tie together all the details and make sure everything integrates (which it does, mostly). it is also a project I’d been trying to get built for a while now, and couldn’t get funding.
It got funded. Of course I agreed to do it. It’s been a huge mental and technical stretch, forcing me to break old habits and rethink pretty much everything I do. Which means I’m occasionally screwing up, guessing wrong, or simply wrong. There have been major, nasty deadlines, lots of stress, various moments of “it’ll never work, I’m a loser”, moments of abject fear, depression and the occasional thoughts of suicide (real, virtual, and/or professional). 60 hour weeks aren’t atypical…
I’ve been having a ball. It’s been a real stretch. Sometimes, we barely made it. but we did. When the first pieces shipped, it was about a C+ beast. Now, it’s in the B’s somewhere. I’ve always been someone who talks about the need to understand and work as an ambassador of your customer’s needs, but this is the first time since I stopped doing customer support I’ve really had to get so deep into that.
There’s really no other way to describe it, it’s been one hell of a hack. Even though maybe 5% of the code is mine. Maybe 2%.
but it hasn’t always left much time for other things. While I finished christmas shopping (as much as a self-defense out of a last minute time crunch as a preference to shop early), I’ve decided I simply don’t have time for christmas baking. the last couple of years, I’ve taken time out to do some holiday cookie and candymaking as a way to break away from the grind and get in the christmas mood. This year, I was finding trying to find the time the grind, so I nuked it. Maybe I’ll make divinity in March, or maybe not. but it made no sense to fight and be grumpy about something that’s supposed to be relaxing and fun.
My goals for between now and the first are pretty simple: get caught up on e-mail again (I was, for about two days), catch up on all those links I want to talk about “as soon as I get a free minute”, and find my desk in the piles of “stuff” I have waiting for me to do something with (a chunk of it aimed at this place; for instance, my long-delayed guide to Victoria, which I’d like to write before we make our next trip…)
And have fun. Did you know stress could be fun? well, it’s not, actually. But as part of a larger mosaic….
According to a report by Kevin Dupont in the Boston Globe, the NHL has opened its books to the players association. Assuming this is true, it’s a significant and hopefully positive development in the upcoming negotiations for a new agreement iin 2004.
according to the report, four teams (Boston, Montreal, Buffalo and Los Angeles) allowed the union access to their books. They were the teams the union requested.
This might help break the logjam between the league and union over the “we’re going broke!” “No you’re not” lack of discussion currently going on. it’s also, I think, an indication that the league really isn’t crying wolf over escalating salaries. Watching the continuing disasters in Calgary and buffalo, and the struggling teams in Atlanta also seem to lend some creedence to this….
Time to start throwing out names. Laurie and I batted around names tonight trying to figure out where Lombardi might turn. Mid-season, getting permission to interview assistant coaches is tough, so that further limits options.
In speculating about the coaching changes, a couple of options need to be considered:
1) stay the course? or are we changing directions in coaching philosophy?
2) good cop? or bad cop? player’s coach? Or (ahem) not?
I won’t speculate on the latter, I don’t know what the players have been telling Lombardi (yet), or what he feels is needed. So I’ll avoid that. but I tend to think Lombardi is looking to stay with the basic coaching philosophy, not changing directions very much. So we should look for coaches that have similar ideas of how to play hockey as Sutter does — discipline, defense first, physical play. Someone who’s strong with veterans and good with kids (but if you can’t get both, strong with veterans).
First candidate, who wins on the “continuity of the system” basis: bring up Roy Sommers from Cleveland, let Wilson and RAeder assist, and see how the season goes. A lot of sharks know and like/respect Sommers, Sommers has been more or less mentored for this shot by the Sharks, and he knows, understands and believes in the “sharks system”. And Lombardi si loyal to those loyal to the franchise and likes to develop and promote from within. I’d give Sommers a 40% shot at this. Depends on whether or not they feel he’s ready and whether the sharks feel they want to continue the system or bring in a new voice.
Ted Nolan (won’t happen)
Barry Smith (asst. Detroit; unlikely at best)
Kevin Constantine (might actually be a good choice; could both sides find where the hatchets are buried?)
Rick Ley (leave your resume at the door. Next)
Robbie Ftorek (Dan is already called Lombardi to lobby. Intriguing choice, but…)
Bill Barber (Ha. hah hah. heh. giggle. sorry, I needed a good laugh…)
Ron Wilson (proved he could coach in Anaheim. Proved nobody can coach Jagr in Washington)
Bob Murdoch (okay, why am I mentioning HIS name?)
Herb Brooks (as mentioned by Melrose. hmm)
Cap Raeder (not likely)
jean Perron (hi, vickie! don’t choke)
Roger Neilson (asst. ottawa)
that’ll give a few names for folks who are trying to remember who they wanted to suggest….
My short list:
I wouldn’t at all mind seeing them bring in Sommers for the season and see how it works out. but if they look outside the organization. my short list is Ron wilson, Pat Burns and Roger Neilson, if we could convince him. I think Bob Gainey would be a great choice — except I don’t for a second think he’d consider it. Herb Brooks is an intriguing choice, epecially short term, especially if Lombardi wants a bad cop in there. And I think Constantine could do the job, if the, um, outstanding issues could be resolved…
I’m not holding my breath on that, for some reason…
Shows what I know. Less than 24 hours after saying I didn’t think he was the problem, Lombardi fires Darryl Sutter. that’s why Dean Lombardi is GM, and I’m writing speculation in a weblog….
From a posting from the sharks list today….
speculation here, pure speculation.
But… given that sutter threw a hard practice at the guys this morning, one has to think if the Sharks were going to make a move today, they would have made the move BEFORE practice. So it seems to me the decision to make the change was made sometime after practice started. Also, Barry Melrose said on ESPN he talked to Raeder two days ago (Friday, I guess) and Raeder had no idea anything was going to happen.
The fact that they’ve called in Wilson and Raeder to mind the store implies this is a last-second, weren’t planning for this, thing. Especially if Raeder wasn’t even in town for the change, as seems to have happened.
Which means, IMHO, that Something Happened.
here’s one thought on this.
Lombardi was clearly not happy with team performance. He wasn’t happy last night. Sutter calls practice for 10:30 and skates them hard for a couple of hours. During that time, or immediately after practice, Lombardi starts talking to the players (either that, or he saw something AT practice that made up his mind…). It evidently didn’t take long for him to decide to fire Sutter — at 10:30, he’s a coach, at 4PM, he’s an ex-coach. In the meantime, Lombardi has to find Greg jamison, make his case, get the approval, get Wilson and Raeder on the phone (and onto planes), find Sutter, let him know, and then call in the media staff and players to make the announcements. busy afternoon.
So something the players were saying made Lombardi decide to do this today. It seems to have happened so fast he couldn’t even work out having Roy Sommers come up temporarily to coach, he cobbled up something he could do immediately.
So however it happened, it seems to have happened very quickly, with no planning, and no notice. Makes one wonder, but at least Lombardi’s not being indecisive….
Now, as to coaches? Stay tuned.
I was going to wait a couple of games into the homestand to decide about this, but I’ve seen enough.
As a friend of mine in Toronto is wont to say — time to throw the bomb in. Although in all honesty, I don’t think a bomb is necessary, just a couple of firecrackers.
This Sharks team is broken. It’s not talent. it’s not leadership, unless you honestly believe Gary Suter was the guy who kept everything together all last season (and if you do, I feel sorry for you). I don’t think they’ve tuned out Sutter, although honestly, I think that question is legitimately in play now.
But this team simply isn’t gelled, and by this time, it has to be. The chemistry is wrong. Not sour, just off. Each player seems to be trying — but it’s a team of individuals, not a team. Nobody’s playing in sync with anyone else, nobody seems to understand their assignments, or at least how to get where they ought to be when they ought to be there. Can an entire team catch the “annual vinnie damhphousse slup” flu? maybe they were on a disney cruise?
Whatever. Last year, the Sharks found a way to run the amp to 11 almost every night. This year, they seem to max out about 9.5. Which ain’t bad (you want bad? You want a team that’s told the coach to go to hell? tune into Calgary, folks, and remember the fond days of Jim Wiley. This is not a team that’s told Sutter to piss off, it’s just a team that’s lost and unsure of itself).
So I’m not calling for Lombardi To Do Something. I’ve had enough turkey for the holiday, thank you, I didn’t need another helping stuffed down my throat tonight.
What? Time for this team to get a kick in it’s chemistry. that means — trade. it’s a trade aimed at shaking things up and try to salvage this season. Could it backfire? Sure — but hell, we’re back in the cellar of the division, and you know what? We deserve to be. If you do nothing, and simply hope it fixes itself, will it? 1/4 of the season says no. So toss in a couple of firecrackers. And you do it realizing that it might not work, and it might well cause the team to implode. But the risk of not doing it is now worse than the risk of tinkering.
Who? I don’t think this will be solved by re-arranging the deck chairs on the fourth line. At the same time, though, this team doesn’t suck and doesn’t need to be rebuilt, just retooled and slapped around a bit. So I don’t trade my core group.
So who’s on my list? Two defensemen, three forwards:
o Bryan marchment: doubt Lombardi would do it, but he’ll be a free agent at the end of the season, and in all honestly, he seems a step slower and less effective this year.
o Marcus Ragnarsson: take his cousin Magnus, too. He’s looking older and less effective. Hannan is taking his spot in the depth chart, and I think Marcus is a clear candidate to have his deck chair re-arranged.
o Mark Smith: because I’m always expecting him to fall off the depth chart, and he’d make a useful piece to finish a deal.
o Nicklas Sundstrom: He’s a useful player, but doesn’t seem to have the snap he used to, and I just don’t see him as a core player into the future.
o Vinnie Damphousse: Patty Marleau has finished his growing up, and while Vinnie has taken his move to LW with charm and is playing well there, long-term, he’s expendable. And trading Vinnie would be making a major statement on the “we have to shake things up” meter.
What would be get back? I dunno. I don’t care. In some cases, probably kids or prospects. For Vinnie, something significant, I’d hope. If we could find a way to upgrade the top to forward lines, great. but this season is rapidly turning into a hash (Hockey Night in Canada tonight during pregame declared the Sharks a disaster, and nobody could figure out why. My thoughts exactly). So I’m more looking at reloading for next season and maybe shaking this team out of its funk, in that order. If we salvage this season, fine. If not, make sure you don’t screw up the future trying to fix this year….
A couple of other thoughts:
The Jeff Jillson Question: do we send him down? IMHO, no. Will he learn down there? I’m not convinced, and he’s not the problem. As bad as everyone is playing, I hate picking on him. On the other hand, another couple of brutal turnovers tonight. But riddle me this: Are those turnovers brutal because he’s botching the play, or are they brutal because he’s passing to where someone else on the team is SUPPOSED to be — but isn’t? Because the sharks were three or four feet slow on their assignments all night tonight, and one can only wonder whether the turnover was the fault of the passer, or the guy he’s supposed to be passing to being in na-na land and late to his assignment (again?) — Jillson, being less experienced, has to depend on other players supporting him more than a more experienced player, and if players simply aren’t, what’s he supposed to do? Rathje got hung out to dry any number of times tonight, too, once being completely left out with the recycling until he got the puck picked for a good scoring chance.
And no, I’m not saying Jillson is blameless. Far from it. But if Rathje’s getting racked up because he has nobody to pass to, or his outlet pass is three seconds behind where he’s supposed to be, what else can you expect from Jillson? He’s not nearly as good at Rathje under pressure yet…. So before we simply dump it all on Jillson’s shoulders, ask yourself if the guys who were supposed to be there to help out really were, or was Jillson hosed by sloppy, lazy play by his linemates?
(reality, IMHO, dictates “some of both”).
Other thought: Cheechoo and Lloyns. Remember them? Sent down for one game for conditioning and minutes? They still seem to be in Cleveland. Makes one go Humm. What might cause that? Laurie’s thought — Cheechoo didn’t take the demotion in a, well, team building way, and he’s now getting used to playing in the AHL, with Lloyns as collateral damage. It doesn’t hurt that Kraft hasn’t exactly made me scream ‘get him off the ice!”, anmd since he hasn’t earned any kind of demotion, the Sharks don’t need to be in a hurry. But other than taching someone a lesson in attitude, why are the sharks leaving them down there? (and if it was Lloyns, well, nobody would think twice if they left Lloyns down there and brought Cheechoo back up, especially with kraft playing pretty well. But leaving the pretty-boy high draft prospect would cause questions to be asked. So Lloyns basically plays the beard hiding an object lesson to Cheechoo here. Ohwell.
At least, that’s what we think…
it’s the quarter point of the NHL season, and people, as usual, are starting to chatter that the refs are giving up on the new interference rules. Such chatter is common this time of the season — and sometimes, it’s correct.
Not, IMHO, this time. Please allow me a contrary view…
I’m watching 10-12 games a week right now (spread across about 15 different broadcasts; sometimes I only see 1 or 2 periods of a game). About 70% of that involves one or both being Western teams, but I’m watching eastern games, games played in Canada, pretty much a good cross sample of what’s going on with the league, not just Sharks or Sharks plus ESPN.
Yes, I have no life, thank you. At least I’m able to work nights at home where the TV and dishes are.
There are a number of things going on here. it’s not as simple as “the refs are backing off again”.
First, and foremost — the players have adapted. Which means they aren’t getting themselves into nearly as many situations where the refs have to call the interference type penalties. This is what the league wants: not to call penalties, but to make the players change behavior so those penalties don’t happen in the first place. Too many pundits simply count up how many penalties a game and declare the refs have gone back to normal. Not true. The players have gotten a clue, and are now skating the new style game.
Second — the league has evaluated the pre-season and first 15 games, and it’s adjusted some things. They made some decisions that some things were being called too closely, or shouldn’t have been called in the first place. So they got the refs together on conference call, sent out some memos, and adjusted the reffing.
Because of a combination of these two things, people are starting to say the refs are going back to normal. Not close to true. The game is still pretty wide open. A lot of the “wrap them in a carpet and sit on them” crap from previous years is dead, gone and buried. Since the players have adjusted, there are fewer of those early season penalties to call — and since the refs have adjusted, some things they called early on in the season are now being done by the players and NOT being called.
That doesn’t mean the refs have given up. It means both sides have compromised. I like the middle ground. The players have a little more leeway in certain situations where they were calling things a little too tight, but they still can’t play the grab and hug game. it’s still much better hockey than it was a year ago.
Third factor: while some folks hoped it might, it didn’t kill the trap. Coaches have figured out how to adjust the trap to work with the new system. it’s still more wide open and flowing, there’s a lot less center ice congestion (now, basically, the trap defends the defensive blueline instead of the center line) and it’s easier to break the trap — but the trap still exists and still works, although who wins depends a lot more on which side is working harder each shift. You’re also seeing a lot more and a lot more aggressive forechecking and pressuring of goalies playing pucks. All of this, I think, makes for BETTER hockey.
Fourth factor: not all refs are “with the system”. Some of the senior refs seem to be struggling with figuring out how to call this new system, or aren’t bothering to try. it’s hard to tell which is which. Think “Teemu before he figured out what Sutter wanted” here. So when these refs show up, games get a bit retro, or confused, or simply botched. Don’t think because some refs aren’t holding up to the new standards that the standards have been thrown out.
Fifth factor: the baby refs. not all of the baby refs are cutting it. Some are coming up to speed, some are really struggling. Some have good and bad nights (some only have bad nights), depending on how hard the game is to ref. the sharks have been, well, blessed by a couple of games in a row where the reffing has been challenged by the game (ahem) they’ve been made to ref. It’s not easy to ref at the best of times. it’s especially not easy to figure out how to ref when the system changes on you and you’re doing it in a fishbowl (think, oh, scott hannan’s second season, folks?). But a badly reffed game is a badly reffed game, not an indication of a change of policy.
About three weeks ago, I started seeing referees call diving. Not hook and a dive, not trip and a dive. diving. it seemed to be three or four senior refs who generally know the new system pretty well. Rumor has it from people I talk to that last week the NHL held a conference call with the refs to go over the first 1/4 of the season. At that conference call, they were told explicitly to keep up with the new system, and to start calling diving as a standalone penalty, and to crack down on people attempting to take advantage of the new system by diving. it looks like that first round of diving was, effectively, a beta test, and the league is now telling all of the refs to get serious about diving. I’m starting to see more and more dive calls, but not all refs seem to have the guts to call it stand-alone. But wander through the box scores. You’ll see it. it’s happening.
(as a complete aside: hook and a dive IS a legitimate coincidental penalty, no matter what folks like Drew says. The problem, and it’s a legitimate one that the league deserves criticism for, is that if you never call diving EXCEPT as a coincidental penalty, the diver never really gets penalized, so there’s no reason t NOT dive. so they do. the league seems to have figured this out. If the league gets serious about it, and if divers go to the box, you’ll see the one major problem with this new style of hockey bee cleaned up. And frankly, if they hook a player AND the player dives, send both. I’m fine with that. just make sure that if a guy dives when it’s at best a marginal penalty, you send the diver away alone. that’s how you stop the growing problem with diving. Calling everything involving diving coincidental solves nothing, and discourages nothing. you have to call dives when they dive, and put teams on penalty kill for it).
So what you’re seeing here is the league finding a comfort zone with the new system, not a league giving up on it. You call it really tight early, forcing players to adapt. the players DO adapt, so those really common mistakes and penalties go away. the refs decide where they’re calling too tight, and back off. And players take advantage of that (because players will take advantage of everything), and if you don’t look at the bigger picture, it looks like the refs have given up.
they haven’t. In fact, they’ve succeeded. A lot of the crap is gone from the game, so there’s no reason to call it. Something I think people forget about refs. their job isn’t to call penalties. their job is to call penalties if players are stupid enough to commit them. What the players and league wants is the same thing here: for players to not commit them in the first place. Once players adapt to the new rules, the penalties go away. not because the ref stops calling them, but because they stop happening.
And lots of fans — and media types that should know better — don’t seem to notice that part.
I’d been meaning to review Attack of the Clones, since now that it’s out on DVD, I finally got around to seeing it. I found myself amazed at the technical elegance of the film, and bored out of my skull by the movie.
This led me to thinking about why Clones was so different than Pixar’s Monster’s Inc., which I’d finally seen a couple of weeks ago. Both are technically challenging, state of the art films — so why does one work so well, and the other one leave me cold?
Well, trust James Lileks. In his bleat, he discussed the same issue, and he pretty much nails it. So he saves me all that typing…
but I do have a couple of extra comments.
Part of the problem with Clones, I think, is that it is so digital. Most of those actors were working against blue screens, in isolation. There’s very little interaction between the actors and anything — and in many cases, what they’re attempting to interact to simply doesn’t exist, except amybe as a big sign offscreeen that says “I am a huge, nasty monster. Act scared”. I think as filmmakers have moved toward the digital realm they’ve seriously underestimated how hard it’s going to be for actors to find a way to hook into a story emotionally when all around them is blue screen and computer graphics (to be added later). No wonder most of the acting is so wooden. (this doesn’t, however, explain why Annakin and the Senator’s love trysts have all the chemistry of, say, 3 day old linguini in the fridge. Sometimes, wooden and badly acted is just wooden and badly acted).
Monster’s Inc wasn’t about the animation. It was about the story. The story wasn’t anything fancy of apocalyptic, essentially, it was a buddy movie, and if it’d been made in the 40′s or 50′s, it could well have starred Crosby and Hope. It’s a fun, extended romp, and you almost have to remind yourself to stop paying attention to the story so you can watch the animation.
THAT is how to use advanced technology. it’s the foundation, not the whole.
With Clones, one of the first shots in the film is of the Senator’s space ship.
It’s chromed. Why do we have a chrome space ship? So we can show off all those really great rendering effects.
At that moment, I knew we were in trouble with the movie. I was right. There are cute moments and some interesting story elements, but they’re overwhelmed by look at me effects. As the movie went plodding along, I got the distinct feeling that I heard George Lucas muttering in the back of my head “we’re in trouble here. Better punch up the effects”.
The modern day equivalent of the 70′s sitcom director turning up the laugh track to try to hide the reality that the show isn’t funny. bad acting? lame story? no chemistry or charisma? let’s blow up more stuff, so they won’t notice!
Hey, George — we noticed. The first Star Wars trilogy was a pretty darn good story backed by state of the art moviemaking. This trilogy — is state of the art moviemaking, but most of the characters are at best forgettable (new Chewbacca, no Han Solo, no Alec Guinness — nobody you bloody CARE about), and the story is, well, weak and lame. Worse, we already know how it’s going to come out, which makes for a nasty cinematic problem. When telling a pre-story, you have to build your tension out of how you get there, not what’s there when you arrive, and so far, Lucas is botching that completely.
The failure of Star Wars isn’t about Jar-Jar, any more than the Ewoks made or ruined the first trilogy. This is a failure of everything, including forgetting that the technology doesn’t make the story, it makes the story better. Lucas and his crew have set the laugh-track to 11, and seem to think we’ll find the result amusing.
I don’t. I’ll watch the third part of the trilogy when it comes out, but I’m now in contractual obligation mode, not because I really care how it comes out. After all, I know how it comes out. I was just hoping to enjoy the journey.
Go thee and enjoy Monster’s, Inc. for the story, and then watch it again to revel in the quality of the animation (and then again for the in-jokes). Attack of the Clones is for completists only. Not even Ninja-Yoda is worth investing time in this turkey.
An interesting article on Smart Mobs on using technology to help referee soccer games, especially on an issue as subjective and controversial as offsides.
My only real worry — a few years ago the NHL went to a “no tolerance” rule for in the crease to protect goalies, and started using video replay to judge marginal issues. The end result was a total disaster on any number of levels.
We complain and moan about referees, but referees play a significant and not-well-understood role in games. their job is not only to call penalties, but to know when to not call a penalty because it’s irrelevant within the flow of the game. As they say in football, you could call holding on every offensive play (and if you ever break down video of a football game, you’ll find out that they’re basically correct).
There are areas of a game where objective decisions are critical to keep the game fair and correct. But fans don’t go to games to see penalties, and a purely objective, no-judgement calling of any sports game would be an unmitigated disaster. The good referees know how to call a game to keep it going, without allowing one player or team to take an unfair advantage of the other.
Would objective refereeing of offsides in soccer be a good thing for the game? I dunno. Where else could something like this be used in sports, and would it make the game better?
In hockey, honestly, I don’t want to see the subjective evaluation of the referee reduced. Referees are human and imperfect — but as the in the crease rule showed, the alternative can be a lot worse….
15 years ago tonight, Laurie and I exchanged vows and agreed to spend the rest of our lives together.
When we first met, via (of all places) rec.arts.comics, I was here in the Bay Area, she was in Indiana at Purdue. My first marriage was ending (mutually and respectfully — we both simply realized our lives had gone in different directions), but don’t let anyone ever tell you divorces are painless. I was a bit of a basket case (god knows how people survive breakups that get nasty).
That may seem pretty normal these days, but this was 1983, and USENET was still primarily modem-based, and long-distance online romances were still rare. Eventually I had a chance to travel east on business, and routed myself so I could spend a weekend in Lafayette. The following spring, she graduated from Purdue, packed and came west.
I can only imagine the courage it must have taken to do that, even though we both felt a strong connection. Moving to a new part of the country, uprooting everything, having no fallback position if it didn’t work? And patience — waiting for the divorce to be final in 1984, waiting for me to get my act together enough that I could consider re-marrying.
She moved into my life and my house in 1984. In 1987, I finally could make the committment, and here, 15 years later, we’re still together — and I asked her if she’d allow me to stay another 15 years. Fortunately, she said yes.
I have tried, since she joined my life, to remember just how lucky I was to have found her, and I have tried to never take that luck or her for granted. Not that I’ve always been successful — but I’ve tried.
This year, since Laurie’s been under some stress at work, I decided to not wait for the anniversary — I wandered down to our jeweler and brought home a nice yellow citrine pendant, which I gave her “just because”.
Of course, that was just misdirection. The next night, at a Sharks game (no sharkie, though), I pulled out a second box. This one contained another necklace, this with a diamond. While Laurie appreciates jewelry, her preference is for colored stones, so until now, I’d never bought her a diamond. I felt it was time to correct that.
And then I told her that if I had to do it again, I’d marry her in a minute.
Today, for our anniversary, she got a third box. this one contained a set of signed. hand-carved raven motif argillite earrings from Myles Edgars a Haida artist who lives on Haida Gwaii. I found those through a dealer in Vancouver I deal with a times.
Laurie, bless her, gave me a nice gift certificate at Home Depot (aka “my third home”), which if you think it isn’t romantic, you don’t know me very well, and a gorgeous piece of swarovski crystal to go with our growing collection of shiny glass things shaped like birds. And today at work, a delivery person arrived with a vase full of roses (which engendered at least four instances of “He’d never think to send ME flowers” — grin).
And given how work’s been going, that just made my day. (for the record, I’m still working — but from home…)
What I know is that I can’t conceive of life without her, and I believe the best way to make sure she stays is to never start assuming she will. And that’s something that isn’t buying gifts once a year, but appreciating what you have every day…
To my wife, my love, my life — happy anniversary. And thanks for wanting to be here.
(a note from the sharks list on last night’s sharks/rangers game)
God, I’m pissed. I can’t remember the last time we left a game early. We’ve sat through some real bowsers, but last night, I had it. We split after two, went home and had a nice cuppa tea and I got some useful work done.
The Rangers suck. Oh, god, does that team suck. Where does thyne suckiness start? Slow, stodgy, tentative. did I mention slow? They weren’t kidding when people were saying Messier was their best forward. One can only wonder whether Tom Poti keeps trying to wake up from the nightmare, because looking at him last night, he’s starting to skate like an Ent. it’s rubbing off on him. ugh.
We should have pasted these guys. And in all honesty, I’m wasn’t too unhappy with much of the sharks play, Jillson being a notable exception last night. We *did* beat the Rangers last night, Jillson’s mistakes notwithstanding.
Except that it was one of the most abysmally reffed games I can ever remember watching. Van Massenhoven I generally like as a ref. Brad Meier I don’t know very well, but his performance last night goes down in the crappy referee hall of fame along with Steve Walkom’s first visit to San Jose, pretty much any game by Marc “life achievement award for crappiness” Joanette, and some of Kerry Fraser’s classic Cow Palace moments. And then Van Massenhoven chimed in and started screwing up calls, too, and then he got pissed and started making retaliatory calls that’s make Mick McGeough proud, and….
And I said frick it, I’m not going to stay and watch the refs make a travesty of this thing.
Both teams got jobbed here. I’m not claiming for a moment that they did a number on the Sharks. They did a number on the game, to the point I’m surprised BOTH teams didn’t just suggest they go home and stop wasting their time on the thing. BOTH teams ought to be sending tape to the league office on this disaster in stripes. To name just a FEW of the most blatant mistakes, Kasparitis was shoved into the dasher teeth first from behind, with a ref five feet away. A clear 5 minute major — no call. Then Matt “I’m a turtle and I don’t care” Barnaby initiates against Harvey, who responds, and Barnaby turtles — and harvey is out with 2, 5, 10 and a game? Give me a freaking break. The worst case for what goes on there is Harvey for five. I’d call it Harvey four double-rough, most likely. Or barnaby 2, harvey four. Something like that. But instigator and a game? NFW.
It goes on. They fell for blatant dives. They ignored blatant penalties. It was an absolute travesty. I couldn’t watch. No, I wouldn’t. (and we were trying to think of the last time we left a game early. Even more important, the last time we left a game where one of us didn’t have at least a fever of 102.)
And you know what? the Sharks were going to win that game, beating the Rangers AND the Refs. Despite everything the refs did to screw it up.
Except Kiprusoff turned into Jimmy Waite. First goal? call it a bad luck bounce off the pads if you want, but when a goalie’s been struggling, you can’t have a bad first goal. he had a bad first goal. 2nd goal wasn’t his fault. After that, they got softer and softer. He was brutal. More brutal than Jillson. About as brutal as the refs.
the only reason you send Jillson to the airport is to drive Kipper there, and wait for Toskala’s plane to arrive. Because the Sharks would have beaten the rangers last night, despite Jillson’s mistakes, despite the refs, despite everything — if Kiprusoff had even been merely mediocre.
And he wasn’t. He was horrid. And that rippled out into the team, who ended up playing “protect the goalie” games instead of their game.
And you know what? Despite Jillson’s mistakes, despite a complete meltdown by our goalie, despite some of the most absymally decrepit reffing I’ve seen in years, despite everything — they STILL almost beat the Rangers.
that’s how bad the Rangers are.
And that’s why I’m pissed. We had to work really, really hard to find a way to lose that game. And still almost found a way to win it.
God, am I glad they’re going out on the road for a couple of weeks. grump.
According to TSN, the sharks and stuart have agreed to a deal. Assuming TSN is correct, it looks like obht sides compromised to make the deal happen.
here’s a quick analysis I did of the deal for the Sharks list.
On Tuesday, November 12, 2002, at 05:03 PM, Kirk Nolte wrote:
>If the numbers in the story are accurate ($1.25M this year, minus the games
>he’s missed, $1.5M next year, and +$2M the third option year), what the @#$
>was everybody thinking???
The current numbers are $1.25m, $1.75m the second year. Interesting that it’s BOTH a player and a club option. that’s a cute hack (more on that in a minute).
> Stuart and his agent wanted Wade Redden money
>($3.6M for two years, and the Sharks were thinking Derek Morris money, $5M
>for three years). It seems to me that neither side “won”. After reading this
>story, I think he caved in too early…
If stuart wanted maximum money, then yes, he caved too early. But Stuart wanted to play hockey. What you see here is both sides compromising. Lombardi wanted him playing. Stuart wanted to play. Both sides made some compromises to make it happen. Both sides therefore won. Isn’t that how it’s supposed to work?
Both of those public names were negotiating points. I think both sides knew reality was somewher in the middle.
Lombardi made a big point that players coming off their first contract accept their qualification contract. Most players do. A few don’t. Lombardi felt that wasn’t negotiable, and that was a huge sticking point here.
and when it came down to it, the sticking point was resolved in a way that allow both sides to save face. If you look at the contract, it’s for more than the qualifying offer (by a couple of hundred thousand), but Stuart will forfeit, oh, a couple of hundred thousand in salary to games lost to the holdout. end result: Stuart and his agent can claim they made Lombardi move from his position, Lombardi can claim that the position didn’t matter, because the dollars work out the same.
In reality, both sides found a way to get what they want here.
Lombardi gives him a decent raise in the 2nd year of the contract. Stuart gets a guaranteed number that doesn’t depend on incentives or performance.
Third year is where it gets really interesting. If Stuart really develops well, he’s going to be seriously underpaid in year three, but Lombardi has an option on that year. So if Stuart really blooms, Lombardi takes the option, which then gives him leverage with Stuart on a longer-term deal. If Stuart doesn’t blossom, then we have a defenseman who’s going to be overpaid. it’s then in Stuart’s best interest to exercise the option, which then means the sharks own him for a third year at too much money, or if things are really, really bad, buy him out of the contract. Either way, Stuart’s had his interests protected here, also. The player option in the third year is effectively a clause where if things *don’t* work out like everyone hopes, Stuart gets a buyout payment that effectively returns to him the money he is giving up this season.
Everyone wins. Stuart gives up money now, for a contract that’s backloaded (which Lombardi wants). If he blooms, Lombardi has leverage on tying up Stuart to a second contract by renegotiating more money into year 3 in return for getting year 4 or 4 and 5. Stuart wins, because he gets to play, doesn’t get the money he wants NOW, but has guarantees in the contract to make sure he doesn’t get screwed later if things don’t work out. he did lombardi a favor this year, to some degree, but lombardi wrote him a little insurance to make sure it works out okay either way.
Sometimes, the best deals are ones where everyone comes away with a piece. Does everyone come away from this happy? Probably not — but everyone won some part of the fight, and everyone gave up some stuff they wanted. Nobody “won”, but nobody really “lost”, either. that’s the joy of compromise.
I like it. both sides seemed to have moved towards the middle here, and there are some interesting innovations in those option clauses to make it work. I like how BOTH sides got this done.
Thanks to Tyler Williams for passing this along. It’s great stuff, and I had to share this…
Everyone knows hockey coaches speak in code. Finally, after years of exhaustive study, that code has been broken. Usually, the coach speaks in code when he’s trying to sugar-coat his assessment of a player or his team. We now know the difference between “what a coach says” and “what a coach really means.”
Here’s a list of the most common “code” phrases used by coaches:
Code: He’s a role player.
Translation: We think he can play a role, we just haven’t figure out what that role is yet.
Code: He’s a “character” guy.
Translation: He makes us laugh, tells jokes and does impressions.
Code: He’s good in the room.
Translation: We should leave him in the room because he’s useless on the ice.
Code: He brings intangibles.
Translation: We’re not sure what he brings to the team.
Code: He’s a competitor.
Translation: He competes every night, he just doesn’t win very often.
Code: He’s gritty.
Translation: He needs a bath.
Code: He’s hard-nosed.
Translation: He’s dumb enough to lead with his face.
Code: He’s good in the corners.
Translation: He belongs in the corner — with a dunce cap on.
Code: He gives us physical presence.
Translation: He takes up space.
Code: He’s a technically-sound goalie.
Translation: His reflexes are lousy.
Code: He’s a reflex goalie.
Translation: He hasn’t got a clue how to play the angles.
Code: He’s a power-play specialist.
Translation: I like having an extra man out there to cover up for his screw-ups.
Code: He’s a stay-at-home defenceman.
Translation: He can’t skate and carry the puck at the same time.
Code: He’s an offensive defenceman.
Translation: He can’t play defence.
Code: He adds toughness.
Translation: He’s here for two shifts a night and start fights on both of them.
Code: He’s an all-round player.
Translation: He doesn’t do anything particularly well.
Code: He’s feisty.
Translation: He chirps at the opposition and takes dumb penalties at crucial times.
Code: He’s got experience.
Translation: He’s lost with better teams.
Code: He has tremendous upside.
Translation: He can’t get any worse.
Code: He’s a “project”.
Translation: This guy was abandoned in the jungle as a small boy and taught to play hockey by the family of gorillas who adopted him. And I’m supposed to coach this?
Code: He’s a grinder.
Translation: It’s 50-50 he’ll miss an empty net from three feet.
Code: He’s got good work ethic.
Translation: He works hard but accomplishes little.
Code: He’s a playmaker.
Translation: He had better pass because he shoots like my grandmother.
Code: We’ve got good chemistry.
Translation: We may be lousy but we all get along.
Code: We’re rebuilding.
Translation: We stink this year and we probably will the year after that too.
I wanted to give this a few games before talking about it, to see how people adjusted to the new nets.
(for those who aren’t hockey fans, last season in Columbus, a girl was hit by a puck leaving the ice, and died a few days later. The NHL has mandated all arenas to add safety netting around the ends of the rink to prevent the most dangerous pucks, those shot at the goalie (at speeds of up to 105MPH) from entering the stands at full speed)
My personal feeling is that the safety nets are long overdue. They’re already in use in many minor league rinks and much of europe, but the NHL has a long history of avoiding safety issues until something really stupid happens.
The death of the fan was a horrible thing, but if it were only one death, this wouldn’t be necessary. The reality is, though, that fan injuries at NHL arenas are fairly common. I know a couple of people at San Jose who’ve been injured (pucks to the mouth, scalp cuts). Laurie and I sit three rows off the glass, in a relatively safe area — and we get a couple of pucks a year. In our years watching hockey, I’ve been bruised twice, and Laurie three or four. Laurie’s had the woman sitting next to her have her collarbone broken. In the tunnel next to our seats, they had a puck come through a photo hole and hit a photographer for 7 stitches. We generally get to about 35 games at San Jose every season, and I’d say at 10 of them we see someone taken out of the arena to be treated because of a puck injury.
It’s a different era in hockey — the days of chicken wire or 2′ glass are long gone. today, it’s 100MPH slapshots, and I simply don’t think it’s fair to blame a fan for not being able to duck one of those. So better protection of the fans is long overdue.
Unfortunately, the current netting system the NHL has adopted is a mixed blessing. It solves the basic safety problem, but it creates a new problem with vision. The current nets impact the fans vision, in some cases seriously. Our first game in San Jose, I did a pre-game inspection from the stands, and I felt the visibility loss was unacceptable in the lower bowl from about row 8 to about row 16 or 17. Most of the people I know sitting in those areas agreed, and now a few home games later, most still feel that way.
The general feel I’ve gotten from talking to people in San Jose is that the nets aren’t acceptable. A significant number of high-quality (and pricey) seats have been screwed up by them, and the fans sitting in them are not “going to get used to it”.
that seems to be what I’m hearing around the league, too. my friends in toronto and vancouver and calgary are very unhappy. It looks like in those cities it’s starting to cost teams ticket sales, as I know fans who simply won’t buy obstructed seats now.
In philly, the screaming has been enough for the flyers to try plan b. Unfortunately, gotten negative reviews. From a post on our sharks list by Melissa (our resident Devil’s fan):
The Devils’ game was the first use and according to Doc what was up then is going to be replaced as it “glows” too much with the “glow” making the view very blurry. Sounded like the newer version is on order. The netting that was used was actually altered a bit during that day to improve it as much as possible.
so I think we need plan C. whatever that is. One thought I’ve mulled over is maybe changing the mesh so that it slows a puck down instead of requiring it to stop pucks might be a reasonable compromise. The problem isn’t pucks, it’s fast pucks. so maybe some kind of mesh that might slow a puck as it goes through might give a better compromise between visibility and safety.
I think we have to understand that there will be a compromise here. To make things safer, they’re going ot have to do something involving netting or some other device. And that’s going to impact viewing. The question is where to make that compromise. The current nets aren’t it.
Unfortunately, one thing I worried about in this seems to be coming true. According to Mike Bass, also on our sharks list, the Sharks staffer he’s talked to is indicating that because they’ve already spent all this money, fans are going to have to get used to it. To quote Mike:
Andy Fisk was the one who I spoke to several times at the start of the season. I suggest we all revisit him on this because I’m still of the belief they can come up with something better than their knee jerk solution. When I heard from Andy how much they spent and how if they did find another solution it would probably not be implemented until after *next* season, what I really heard is ‘we spent a lot of money on this compliance solution, and we’re going to avoid spending any more if we can get away with it, until we get some return on our current investment.’ And that sounds like it includes taking the initiative looking for a better solution, as opposed to just playing follow the leader with the rest of the league.
BTW, he also suggested we also communicate our angst to the league directly.
If that really is the Sharks position, they need to reconsider. The current solution doesn’t work. In case folks haven’t noticed, the Sharks aren’t selling out this season. it’s only a couple of hundred seats a game, but even the Rangers game this Monday, normally a tough ticket because of all the Rangers fans in this area, had tickets available as of Saturday. The last thing the Sharks can afford to do now is NOT spend money fixing this solution, because while fixing it will cost money, empty seats cost even more. And it’s clear from my discussions with people that’s what they’ll have. Maybe not this season since so many seats are already pre-sold to season ticket holders, but I’ve already heard from half a dozen in my limited group of people I know who won’t renew if the nets aren’t fixed.
I wanted to give the nets a fair shot. I think we (as fans) have. And it’s clear the answer is — they suck. fix it. Any team that doesn’t is risking a backlash, and here in San Jose with the weak economy, the Sharks can’t really afford to piss off fans and give them reasons to not come to the game.
We’re lucky. We’re below the nets. But there’s a huge swath of fans who suddenly have badly obstructed views, and “we’re sorry, you’ll get used to it” isn’t an acceptable answer.
This got sent to me today. I think it’s very close to real life….
The Natural Life Cycle of Mailing Lists
The Natural Life Cycle of Mailing Lists
Every list seems to go through the same cycle:
1. Initial enthusiasm (people introduce themselves, and gush a lot about how wonderful it is to find kindred souls).
2. Evangelism (people moan about how few folks are posting to the list, and brainstorm recruitment strategies).
3. Growth (more and more people join, more and more lengthy threads develop, occasional off-topic threads pop up).
4. Community (lots of threads, some more relevant than others; lots of information and advice is exchanged; experts help other experts as well as less experienced colleagues; friendships develop; people tease each other; newcomers are welcomed with generosity and patience; everyone — newbie and expert alike — feels comfortable asking questions, suggesting answers, and sharing opinions).
5. Discomfort with diversity (the number of messages increases dramatically; not every thread is fascinating to every reader; people start complaining about the signal-to-noise ratio; person 1 threatens to quit if *other* people don’t limit discussion to person 1′s pet topic; person 2 agrees with person 1; person 3 tells 1 & 2 to lighten up; more bandwidth is wasted complaining about off-topic threads than is used for the threads themselves; everyone gets annoyed).
6a. Smug complacency and stagnation (the purists flame everyone who asks an ‘old’ question or responds with humor to a serious post; newbies are rebuffed; traffic drops to a doze-producing level of a few minor issues; all interesting discussions happen by private email and are limited to a few participants; the purists spend lots of time self-righteously congratulating each other on keeping off-topic threads off the list).
6b. Maturity (a few people quit in a huff; the rest of the participants stay near stage 4, with stage 5 popping up briefly every few weeks; many people wear out their second or third ‘delete’ key, but the list lives contentedly ever after).