Friday, November 30, 2007

Red, Red Rhine

To celebrate the Bambis (yes, named after THAT Bambi), the German pop culture awards, the Dorf hired out ludicrously large lasers to turn the Rhine river into the world's largest red carpet. Unfortunately, the first night was kiboshed due to an incredibly rare atmospheric disturbance -- the air was too dry. But tonight, it was on (like Donkey Kong).

I'm not sure what the random water jet was, but it was Dorf-tastic!

To be honest, it kind of looks like a lot of the crappy "special" effects from the old "Doctor Who" show on the BBC -- and that generally had a budget of $20-$30 per show.

The rain drop helps the mood a bit, I think. At least you get the redness. Still, it's a pretty crap-tacular red carpet.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

"Let's Take It Offline"

With my involvement (complicity?) with our monster systems conversion project, I go to a lot of meetings. Sorry, a LOT of meetings. And, like any meeting, the amount of time is not proportional to the number of attendees -- it's proportional to the number of attendees SQUARED (a conservative estimate). Invariably, things get taken off topic to someone's particular pet issue ("We need to know an accurate balance for each customer!" or some such BS). This will drag on for 3-4 days before you hear the magic words, "Let's Take This Offline". I ALWAYS smile when I hear this; I now think it's a Pavlovian response, independent of conscious thought.

I like it so much, I've started to use it socially. At a party and someone rambles on about some boring topic? "Let's take it offline." Chatting up an attractive, cool woman you want to get to know better? "Let's take this offline." Credit card rejected & waiter embarassing you in front of others? You got it! "Let's take it offline."

Monday, November 26, 2007

Time to Get Back on the Horse

I hadn't eaten Moroccan food since I returned from Africa and I figured it'd been long enough. Sure I was sick for a week, but it'd been 6 weeks. I was ready. SO, on Saturday I ordered some couscous to go (it seemed prudent) and headed for home. As I got closer to home, I began to panic. What if it was a spice or something else in the food that would trigger a relapse? I decided this was mostly insane and went ahead and ate. No problems, but I will say, eating in the bathroom might've seemed like a good idea, but it sure killed the mood. And my date was VERY underwhelmed.

I was, of course, kidding about the date. She totally understood.
The Worst Part About Mopping Is...

Finishing, seeing the bucket of disgusting water and thinking, "I REALLY shouldn't have claimed the '5 Second Rule' on that potato chip." The best part is thinking, "I guess the next one will be fine!"

Sunday, November 25, 2007

No More Snacking Before Bed

Like most people, my dreams tend to be riffs on what's happening in my life or what's on my mind. Every now and then, my subconscious feels the need to flush out its system and I get a bizarre, out-of-nowhere dream. Like this morning.

Mom, dad & I are watching TV. It's possibly the worst nature show ever, just a camera watching some British (in the dream it was clear to me the thing was from England) carnivore eat various smaller animals. It looked kind of like a cat, but had paws that were good and grasping and holding squirming animals. But there was no blood, just crunching noises. Anyway, at some point we start arguing over exactly what it's eating now. Dad thought it was a mouse, but I said, "no, it's a mole -- you can tell by the feet" (which were dangling from its mouth at the time). Dad said that either way, it was cool (not a typical Dad comment), and I said, "not if it's your bag the parts are dropping onto." At this point it was no longer TV and this thing is in the living room, placidly chowing down, liberally spilling rodent chunks onto my gym bag. As it was time for my workout, I went over, picked up the bag, shook off the parts, and headed out, cursing disgustedly. This is the point I woke up.

I'm thinking this was random mental garbage, but just to be safe, I'm cutting out the midnight snacks for a while.

Friday, November 23, 2007

See. It. Now.

As the 2008 election grows nearer, no movie is more timely than Undercover Brother -- the story of an average black crusader against The Man, trying to save the black former-General Presidential candidate from a career running fried chicken restaurants.

Conspiracy Brother: "You know he does have point about that Colonel. I never trusted the Colonel. Slaves cooked that chicken. Aint no white man know anything about herbs and spices and gibblits."

Smart Brother (when Undercover Brother is faced with eating a white bread sandwich with mayo): "if you're ever forced to eat this mayonnaise, simply press the button on this side of the watch. It delivers a rather liberal spritzing of hot sauce. One blast should be enough to make Caucasian food edible. (but, apparently, not german versions of asian food, or, dear God, mexican food)

If you haven't seen it, logon to Netflix and put it at the top of your queue. Not afraid to confront racial stereotypes, from whites' love for the Fresh Prince to blacks' dream of dating a white girl, it faces them all with a sense of humor. While you're at it, order a Nappy Meal from the General's Fried Chicken. It's dumb, but in a smart way. Who can dislike a movie with a character called White She-Devil?

The Boss: "Hell, no man can resist low-interest loans and non-fat lattes forever. And white women."

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Then Why Is The Seat Always Up?

The restroom at my physical therapist's office (I'm fine, don't worry). Note the sign to the right of the toilet.

I'm fairly certain that only guys work in this office, and so it's not surprising that the seat is ALWAYS up on the facility. And if the guys running the show aren't obeying their own sign, then why should I?
Thanksgiving? First Day of Christmas Markets!

Full moon, clear weather -- a perfect night for the Christmas market

Missing out on turkey, dressing, pies, and, worst of all, family & friends sucks. This year the suckitude is lessened by the Christmas markets opening today. Roasted almonds & chestnuts, crepes, waffles, and everyone's favorite: glühwein (pronounced "glue-vine") -- hot, spiced red wine. Mmmmmm...glühwein. Gotta go, the Weihnachtsmarkt calls!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Only Choice for Citigroup's CEO

Citi needs a CEO with the following qualities:
- Strong financial experience across a wide range of products and services
- Strong moral and ethical principles to guide him/her through a difficult period in the company's history
- Ability to stand and fight to preserve the company.

Who does this sound like? In my mind, there's only one person for the job:

Batman. That's right. He's obsessed with the law, wildly successful in both financial and legal arenas AND he has his own car -- no need to give him 5 years of a car & driver service if he fails.

Of course, there will be naysayers. Let's take their points one-by-one:
1. He'll attract a bunch of lunatics that will drive Citi's share price down: Citi just announced it was invading Iraq* in a bid to IMPROVE its share price. I doubt the Joker & Two Face will change that. And the chance of Catwoman showing up at a shareholder's meeting all but guarantees Richard Branson will become an investor.

2. Batman is all wrong. This is a job for Superman! Ummmm, no. Did Superman, or even Clark Kent, ever show financial acumen? His solution will probably be crushing coal into diamonds, and that will DEFINITELY get the SEC to look into Citi's books.

3. He's fictional. Talk about negativity. This is a minor issue for today's go-getter multinational firm: Darth Vader's brother is working at a grocery store, GE hired Dogbert and Halliburton is waiting for Lex Luthor to return from sabbatical. The climate has never been better to overcome the reality-bias of HR departments (ok, so no HR dept. has never been accused of a bias FOR reality).

In short, buy Citi, vote Batman.

* They didn't, but it made you think, "Maybe I should check"
Paganello & Milan -- Finally

Jules and Brendan are going to be soooo disappointed when they see this. Apparently I didn't take many photos at Paganello at all. In fact, I took 0 at the fields. Oops. Anyway, I spent a day in Milan before heading down to Rimini for 5 days of ultimate on the beach and sensible amounts of alcohol (in a cultured, mature setting of a wine tasting, of course). Here's the basic schedule:
Wake up
Complain about how freaking early it is.
Curse loudly at how freaking late we are.
Hastily throw clothes in a bag and run to fields/beach.
Make one of the following comments AT LEAST every 5 minutes: "Bend over and I'll show you" (JT), "I'm not not licking toads" (Brendan), "Step 1: Cut a whole in a box..." (Jules)
Eat a fabulous dinner.
Have a bit of the old courage.
Go out.
Have a nightcap.

Some thoughts. First, Brendan and Jules are the best roommates one can hope for. Well, except for 2 beautiful masseuses. But NJ and Angry Benny're a close second.

Our coach, Simon, is awesome. If you haven't played for him, you should stop slacking and get to it. I learned a lot from him, but I was able to hide it under a constant stream of smartass comments and Simpsons quotes.

Our captain, Martin (partly hidden behind the blonde, Joyce), rules. He will catch anything. Seriously, he's like a hypochondriac in Central Africa. Unbelievable. Also, he puts up with my crap better than I have a right to hope for. I would play for him again in an instant, if he hadn't learned the line "I like your hustle. That's why it was so hard to cut you." from Brendan.

Not to overdo it, but I had my Joe Montana in the '82 NFC Championship Game moment -- it's all on the line, and this is your time. You've worked all season for it, waiting for your chance. The scenario: After saying "bend over and I'll show you" (my second favorite Chevy Chase line*) at the slightest hint of applicability ALL weekend, I had my opening. Steve unwisely said, "Do you have a canned comment ready for everything?" and I replied, not missing a beat, "bend over and I'll show you!" I almost cried, it was so perfect.

As for ultimate, we beat our seed, won a game on ultimate point with TWO game-saving ho blocks in the endzone (I threw the disc away after the first to show we weren't intimidated), but Julie was clearly the MVP. She was solid. Wow. Rock steady rock star.

As for Milan, it kind of sucks. Great cathedral, crap city. Like Cologne, actually. But the cathedral? Best nap spot in Europe. You get up to the roof after a meal of risotto, boar and gelato, and there's no resisting the lure of the horizontal. The warm sun, light breeze and faraway murmur of traffic is like a tryptophan injection. mmmmm.
Chase, to his boss: "We're in a gray area."
Boss: "Ok, well, how gray?"
Chase:"Um, charcoal?"

Monday, November 19, 2007

Citi's Subprime Task Force

'"In addition, a new unit, the sole focus of which will be on
managing the assets related to sub-prime mortgage securities and their
resultant exposures, has been established. This unit will be separate
from the other parts of our capital markets and banking business," Mr.
Rubin said.' From Reuters

And who is this task force?

" If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire... The A-Team."

"The task force is in a garage in suburban Los Angeles welding together a solution to this subprime crisis. The matter should be resolved within the hour. No casualties are expected, though they've purchased several thousand rounds of ammunition and several pounds of plastic explosives. All that's left is to drug BA, get on the plane, and return to New York," said Robert Rubin, Chairman of Citigroup.

*Image copyright

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Belated Prague Photos

The city at night. It's amazingly beautiful, since it somehow escaped bombing in WW2.

A very common sight during our 4 days. Czechs drink more beer than anyone else, and we wanted to fit in. This was a great dark beer from the oldest brewery in Prague. Only 400 or so years under their belts. No Egyptian Brown Ale, but still a decent history

The interior of the Prague cathedral. I love the play of the light on the blah stone.

Due to a variety of factors, I never posted my photos from my trip to Prague with Chad in March. So, check it out! They're at

After 8 months, my enthusiasm for a trip summary is negligible. Suffice it to say, the city is wonderful & we had a great time.

Finally, Oktoberfest Photos

Oktoberfest Beer: The Original Big and Tasty

Looking good with the SCA Frauen

It starts in September, is called "Oktoberfest" & so I thought it appropriate to talk about it in November.

It was a blast. Skip the first Saturday, unless you have a table reservation -- you're not getting into the tents. Sunday we hit a few tents, rode some rides, and had fun. Check out the photos at (most of my other photo albums are there now, too).
The Perfect Christmas Movie!

Checking out coming attractions, I see this:
Dec 25:
Alien vs. Predator: Requiem The warring races square off again, this time in a small town.

Nothing quite says the spirit of Christmas like Alien vs Predator...
Timing is Everything

At a party, it's all about making a good entry. Last night an Italian friend had a dinner party with 8 Italians and me. The party started midway through the crucial Italy-Scotland match, with Italy needing a win in Scotland to advance to the European championships. At 1-1 and in injury time, it looked hopeless. But in walks JT, the Italians score a goal 10 seconds later, and I'm now the talismanic hero of the evening. 30 seconds later and I'm the late jackass, but instead I'm now required to attend all Italy's matches. At least for 10 seconds or so.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Ironing Day!

Today is my regularly scheduled ironing day. In other words, I woke up this morning with almost nothing to wear. fortunately, no meetings today, so I could stand to be somewhat wrinkled. That's how much I hate ironing -- I weigh 3 minutes of ironing a shirt versus being caught for the lazy slob I am. On the bright side, it does add a dash of danger to my morning. Sure, it's not the same as being James Bond, but my Double 0 license was revoked earlier this year...

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Hooray For Random Holidays!

I guess if you're Catholic, it might not be random, but it is for me. No matter your religious beliefs, having the day off is still nice. These are the only Saints I knew, so here you go.