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Soccer

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Today was Tyler’s first day as a member of the Alameda Soccer Club. I have to say that they take things a bit more seriously here. It certainly isn’t Pee Wee soccer where the kids basically all run around chasing a ball or picking dandelions when they get bored. The uniforms are the first indication but there’s also a full set of rules and a very enthusiastic group of parents as I found out when I volunteered to play referee for the one of the games. In the photo Tyler’s in a drill but during the 10 minute games (they played two) he did quite well and the team got the hang of working the ball down the field and basic concept of zone defense.

UPDATE – a summary email just arrived from the coach.

We’ve completed our first game. It was definitely a little chaotic out there. As the season progresses, it will hopefully become a little more organized. Each week I’ll try to introduce a new skill. For this week, I will be focus on dribbling the ball. In addition, emphasize which goal our team is trying to kick the ball in.

Subject of the note was “Stinging Wasps” which reminded me of the vote on the team name at the end of practice. We narrowly missed being called the the “Singing Bears”

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Current Events

North Korean Nukes?

Mushroom Cloud Reported over North Korea – do we have another member of the nuclear club, was it an accident or a test? Or is it just a forest fire?

What disturbs me more than anything in this ever-connected world is that no on knows for sure and this is something that happened on Thursday!

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Fairyland

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I’ve posted a few photos from our Labor Day outing to Oakland’s Fairlyland.

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Office

Monitoring Blogs

The San Jose Mercury News did a piece this week on companies turning to new tools to track consumer opinions on blogs. More and more people are beginning to realize that the right blogs, if monitored correctly, can serve as an early warning mechanism for the PR flacks everywhere. With their finger on the pulse of “the next big story,” the more popular blogs can amplify little known facts and points of view to the point where they can get picked up by the popular media and broadcast to the world at large.

So how does a company keep track of the sentiment of what’s being said in the blogsphere about their product and brand? One of the more interesting tools highlighted in the article is Blabble. Founded by Rochester, NY based web designer, Matt Rice. The concept is called “thought parsing” using natural language processing to aggregate opinions expressed about a set of user-defined keywords to get at overall sentiment.

Existing software products aggregate listings from blogs, but require the user seeking a view of overall trends or opinions as represented in blogs to read through all the blog listings to make that determination manually.

Rice says Blabble goes a step farther by incorporating natural language processing that parses blog listings returned in a search into parts of speech so as to extract from them words, phrases and constructions that indicate opinion. “50,000 people may write about a topic, but you don’t have time to read 50,000 listings,” says Rice. “And I probably don’t care about one individual opinion; it’s the aggregate that I care about.”

Internet Retailer.com

UPDATE : as of January 2006, the Blabble service will no longer parse the blogosphere. According to the site, “we don’t know what we’re going to do with the technology.”

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Current Events

Balloons

The presidential campaign is not even over but I think they’re right to say that this is the dumbest quote from the 2004 campaign:

“Go, balloons. I don’t see anything happening. Go, balloons. Go, balloons. Go, balloons. Stand by, confetti. Keep coming, balloons. More balloons. Bring them. Balloons, balloons, balloons! More balloons. Tons of them. Bring them down. Let them all come. No confetti. No confetti yet. No confetti. All right. Go, balloons. Go, balloons. We’re getting more balloons. All balloons. All balloons should be going. Come on, guys! Let’s move it. Jesus! We need more balloons. I want all balloons to go. Go, confetti. Go, confetti. Go, confetti. I want more balloons. What’s happening to the balloons? We need more balloons. We need all of them coming down. Go, balloons. Balloons. What’s happening balloons? There’s not enough coming down. All balloons! Why the hell is nothing falling? What the f— are you guys doing up there? We want more balloons coming down. More balloons. More balloons.”

–Democratic Convention producer Don Mischer, overheard on CNN having an apoplectic seizure when the balloons failed to drop from the ceiling of the Fleet Center in Boston

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Current Events

Try, Try Again

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Launched in August 2001, NASA’s Genesis was a delicate unmanned spacecraft designed to collect solar wind samples for further analysis on Earth. The pod was to enter the atmosphere and deploy a chute to slow down it’s speed and while drifting to the ground was going to be intercepted by trained helicopter pilots who would snag the pod mid-air and bring it down safely without damaging it’s delicate sapphire collection plates.

I knew about this mission because the retrieval methods were covered by NPR on the radio when they interviewed the helicopter pilots who were actually stunt pilots from Hollywood. NASA usually turns to the military for such tasks but they decided that the stunt pilots would be better experienced for such a mission.

Things did not go as planned. Hopefully they can piece things together enough so the mission isn’t a total loss.

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From the ground up

The price of homes are so high and the opportunities for massive appreciation on the sale of a restored Victorian that those with time and money on their hands are buying old run down houses and giving them a complete makeover. We met one couple that had this dream and they would drive the streets looking for old houses in need of repair, noting the addresses, and then looking them up at City Hall. If the house had the same owner for more than 30 years, they would write the owner and ask if they were interested in cashing out their home equity by selling. They wrote over 100 letters before they got a positive response.

One problem with the old Vics is that they were often build on a brick foundation which is crumbles over time. Modern building code suggests concrete foundations with the house bolted into the concrete which is what’s going on with this house which is down the block from us.

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Blood Check

Tyler went to the doctor on Friday to get a checkup for Kindergarten. Along with various shots and pokes, they also pricked his finger and took out some blood to test for various things. Lots of yelping, screaming, and, on the way home, sniffles.

Yesterday we told Tyler we have to go back to the doctor to pick up some test results. He then asked, “Are they going to put my blood back in?”

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Dekka Ranger

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Because all of our stuff is in storage, we have to make do with whatever we have and invent what we don’t have. Here’s a bit of “inside the box” thinking by Tyler who wanted a mask so he could play out his favorite super hero, Dekka Ranger.

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Current Events

Dancin’ In the Streets

Songwriter for The Grateful Dead and, more recently, The String Cheese Incident, cattle rancher and co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, is organizing spontaneous outbreaks of senseless dancing in and around the Republican National Convention. It’s become a movement

We just had another brilliant expedition into elephant country. We encountered many of our quarry, converted a few, and made the rest so nervous you would have thought their thin smiles might shatter their faces. One of them said that he knew we were mocking George Bush. “How are we doing that?” we asked. “By dancing,” he snarled.

And that, my pesky friends, is paydirt

Dancarchy Reigns!