Saturday, February 20, 2010

Today's most frequently asked questions

I've been answering these questions (or more polite versions of them) from a bunch of folks for a few days now, so I thought I'd save myself some time and share the answers with all of you.

What's up with that damn book anyway?

I'm still working on Children No More.

When will you finally finish it?

When I'm done.

What's this cool idea you mentioned last Sunday?

I'll tell you as soon as we've worked out all, or at least most, of the details. I do, though, think it's pretty cool.

What other new, original material will you include in Jump Gate Twist?

That will all depend on scheduling, but if time permits, I'm hoping to write something I think Publisher Toni would really like.

What is that thing?

I'm not ready to tell you.

Are you aware that asking you questions about your work is a pretty frustrating experience and sometimes you can be a little bitch about answering them?

Why, yes, I am.

There, don't you feel better with all these fine answers?

Friday, February 19, 2010

UFC 110: Picking the winners down under

Last time, Kyle and I did very well in choosing the winners of a UFC PPV event, but I felt our job was easier than usual because most of the fights were fairly one-sided. This time, though, several of the fights are intruiging match-ups that the oddsmakers have very close. I expect some strange turns, so don't be surprised if our average dips after these fights are over.

That said, this event marks a first for us: We agree on every choice! So, we're reduced to fighting over who guessed most accurately the form of victory.

As is our custom, we'll begin with the undercard fights.

James Te Huna vs. Igor Pokrajac

Mark: Expect the night to open with a boring decision victory by Te Huna, who will put Pokrajac on his back, keep him there, and gain the win.

Kyle: Te Huna should be able to follow the model established by Vladimir Matyushenko at UFC 103: put Pokrajac on his back and grind him down to get the win.

CB Dollaway vs. Goran Reljic

Mark: Reljic is an undefeated fighter who walks around at about 220 pounds and won his last fight against a strong opponent, Wilson Gouveia. Then, he was out for almost two years with back trouble. Unless he's not fully healed, I expect him to dominate Dollaway and win handily.

Kyle: Goran Reljic is undefeated in eight fights with a ground-and-pound victory over the capable Wilson Gouveia as his most recent victory. Dollaway is an Ultimate Fighter also-ran who isn't as good as Reljic either standing or on the ground. Unless Reljic has been permanently crippled by the back problems that kept him away from fighting for the last twenty months, he should score an easy victory.

Chris Lytle vs. Brian Foster

Mark: Foster impressed me greatly in his last fight. Lytle is a gamer with enough power to always has a chance to win by knockout. I don't think he'll get that chance against Foster, however, because Foster is a disciplined, skill fighter who will grind on Lytle for a while and then win either by TKO from on top or by submission when an exhausted Lytle gives up his back.

Kyle: In Foster's last fight, against veteran welterweight Brock Larson, I predicted that Larson would be better in every aspect of the game. Instead, Foster manhandled Larson and beat him down for a tapout victory in the second round. Now Foster takes on another veteran, Chris Lytle. Lytle has 49 professional fights on his resume. He has solid striking and underrated jiu jitsu skills. But he's not likely to ever be a championship contender. Lytle knows that as long as he puts on an entertaining fight he has a steady job in the UFC. Foster, on the other hand, is in this fight to win it. He's going to use his advantage in wrestling and control to do just that. Expect this to look like a replay of the Foster/Larson fight.

Stephan Bonnar vs. Krzysztof Soszynski

Mark: Stephan Bonnar fight wit Forrest Griffin on the finale of the first season of The Ultimate Fighter is now the stuff of MMA legend, and I expect that even after he loses to the bigger, stronger, more skilled Soszynski he'll still have a job. I'd like to believe Bonnar has a chance, but I don't. I expect Soszynski to dominate him en route to a win. The only question is whether the win will come via knockout or submission.

Kyle: It's a shame that the UFC cut Mark Coleman, because he would have had a better chance of surviving this fight than Stephan Bonnar does. Soszynski by brutal KO.

Now, on to the main card.

Mirko Cro Cop vs. Anthony Perosh

Mark: Anthony Perosh, who is stepping in on about two days of notice for the sick Ben Rothwell, hasn't fought in the UFC since 2006, when he went 0-2. Where I expected Cro Cop to beat Rothwell after some hard work, I now belief he'll destroy Perosh without breaking a sweat.

Kyle: Anybody who takes a fight on one day's notice is unlikely to be the next UFC heavyweight champion, and Anthony Perosh is no exception. He's 0-2 in the UFC. He's more used to fighting at light heavyweight, at which weight he recently lost to UFC 110 undercard fighter James Te Huna. The venue for Perosh's last fight was "Mansfield Tavern, Mansfield, Queensland, Australia." CroCop may have slowed down since his days at the top of the Pride food chain, but he's still got more than enough left in the tank to finish a guy who's used to fighting in bars. CroCop by devastating high kick.

Keith Jardine vs. Ryan Bader

Mark: I generally like to pick Greg Jackson's fighters, because Jackson runs the best camp going, at least in my opinion. And, Jardine certainly has a puncher's chance of knocking out Bader. Unfortunately, I don't think Jardine can stop Bader from taking him down. Once Bader's on top of Jardine, Bader will work hard enough to grind out a decision win in what I fear may be one of the most boring fights of the night.

Kyle: Keith Jardine may be the most inconsistent performer the light heavyweight division has to offer. With wins over Forrest Griffin and Chuck Liddell, he's beaten two one-time champions. But he's lost to Houston Alexander and Stephan Bonnar, men who are as far from winning a 205-lb. title as anyone in the UFC. Now, for the first time in his UFC career, Jardine is going to be facing a capable wrestler, Ultimate Fighter winner Ryan Bader. Bader's shown himself to be a smart, disciplined combatant, and this fight will be his to lose. Expect him to take Jardine down and grind on him for the fifteen minutes it takes to win a decision.

Joe Stevenson vs. George Sotiropoulos

Mark: I really want to pick Sotiropoulos. He's amazing on the ground, he's an Aussie fighting at home, and he's an up-and-comer. The problem is, Stevenson is a Greg Jackson-trained fighter who's among the lightweight elite. Though there's always the chance of Sotiropoulos pulling off the upset via submission, I have to go with Stevenson winning via decision.

Kyle: Stevenson and Sotiropoulos are both grappling wizards. Sotiropoulos probably has the edge in jiu jitsu, but Stevenson has superior striking and the wrestling skills to determine whether the fight will take place standing or on the ground. Stevenson could win with strikes or he may take Sotiropoulos down and control him on the ground.

Wanderlei Silva vs. Michael Bisping

Mark: Bisping continues to evolve as a fighter, while Silva shows at most gradual improvements. Bisping, though, doesn't really have knockout power, and Silva does. As long as cutting to 185 hasn't weakened The Axe Murderer too much, I think he'll be able to punish Bisping and secure the win. Silva by TKO late.

Kyle: Wanderlei Silva once looked unbeatable, but as with Mirko Filipovic, the mileage has taken its toll and left him a shadow of the fearsome figure he used to be. Michael Bisping has put together an impressive win-loss record, but has come up short both times he actually had to face a top-ten opponent. This is a very tough fight to call. Bisping's quick, but short on striking power. Silva should have plenty of power, but has slowed down with the years. This is Silva's first fight at 185, which may help his speed, or may cost him his power. In the end, I pick Silva to win. My questionable reasoning: It took Dan Henderson three rounds to beat Silva and only two to beat Bisping. Surely that must mean that Silva's the better fighter, right?

Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Cain Velasquez

Mark: The oddsmakers slightly favor the younger and undefeated Velasquez, but I think they're wrong. Unless he's lucky enough to knock out Nogueira, which I don't think he will be trying to do after the first three minutes, the fight will end up on the ground. Velasquez is the better wrestler, but Nogueira is a far superior BJJ fighter and has an amazing ability to absorb punishment. I expect Velasquez to leave an arm open or maybe even his neck, but either way, I see Big Nog winning by submission.

Kyle: This is another tough fight to call. Nogueira is a major step up in competition for Velasquez. Velasquez is younger, more explosive, and better conditioned than Nogueira. Expect Velasquez to take the fight to the ground as soon as he eats some hard strikes. Victory there will depend on staying out of Nogueira's guard. Maybe Velasquez has the grappling skills to avoid Nogueira's submission attempts, but none of his previous opponents and none of his AKA training partners come close to Nogueira's submission skills. Nogueria will take some punishment, as usual, but I think he'll lock in an armbar or choke before the match is over.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Because sometimes we all want to

Go out tonight, that is.

I definitely prefer this original cast version over the Rosario Dawson movie rendition--not that the Dawson one sucks, because it definitely does not. Of course, that may be because I twice saw Rent with the original Broadway cast and just imprinted like a duckling on that version.

When you speak of songs about going out into the night, I think you have to include this one:

This song always reminds me of something I will forever cherish. When Sarah and Scott were small, about five and three, maybe six and four, we would frequently head upstairs to my office, and I would put on this song. I'd play it loud. They'd run in laps around my office, and I'd wait in a designated spot at one corner. I wasn't allowed to leave the spot. As they ran by, I'd reach as far as I could for them, and though I could often touch them, I could never quite grab them. Funny how that worked out. They would shriek and laugh, and I would sing along with the song and laugh and laugh with my children. Sometimes I'd run and laugh, too. Sometimes Rana and Allyn would join us. Sometimes the kids and I would dance to the song.

Every single time, my heart so filled with love for my children and joy in them that I thought it might burst with love and happiness.

I love my children as much today as I ever have, but sometimes I do wish we would all gather in my office, put on that song, run around and around and around the room, and again be as carefree as little children as we laugh and laugh and laugh.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

1,000 posts

Yesterday's entry was the thousandth I've posted on this blog. That's got to be some kind of milestone. I'm just not sure what kind.

On the one hand, it's proof of a lesson I learn over and over in life: if you keep doing something every day, eventually you end up having done a ton of it. Kinda obvious, huh? Yet it never seems to be. At one point, Bill and I had published over a thousand (later, it became 1,500) by-lined pieces of tech journalism, and someone asked us how we did it. All we could reply was, "We wrote an article, repeated, and let time pass."

On the other hand, I could view this blog as proof that I can indeed maintain a journal of sorts, because I've never previously done that. I really didn't think I could journal, much less do it in public.

If I had a third hand, I could cite a benefit of this blog: education. I've learned a lot about the realities of blogging from doing this. Here's the most important lesson: the vast majority of blogs have very few readers. I was discussing this very topic at TEDActive with a person from a large software company. This person's job was to run some blogs. Most months, the readership was very low. This blog's readership is many hundreds of people a month, but not thousands (would that it were!). So, my books vastly outsell my free blog.

Though I periodically consider closing down this blog, I'm going to keep doing it. I'm not honestly sure why; maybe just so I can see what it's like when I hit 2,000 posts.

In any case, you're stuck with me (or not, of course; you don't have to visit). Tomorrow, I'll return to more normal posts.

In the meantime, please enjoy "Bad Timing," a bittersweet Blue Rodeo song with Jim Cuddy crooning about a love that hasn't quite made it.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Spam update

It's been about six months since I reviewed with you the lessons my spam is teaching me, so I thought it was time for an update. In this half year, my spam has mutated in some interesting ways.

For one thing, the spam community has decided I need wristwatches--and lots of them. I apparently lack for Rolex, Tag Heuer, and Breitling watches in particular, but the good news is that my spammers can solve my timekeeping troubles with budget-priced knock-offs that are every bit as excellent as the real things. Some will even sell me the brand-name goods at amazing prices.

German spammers have joined my fan club, and they, too, want to sell me hardware--but of a very different type. They want me to buy circuit boards, lots of them. Unfortunately, I don't read German, and all their messages arrive in it.

My Russian female fans have also adopted a new strategy. Now, they don't just want me to pay them to come here and date me. No, no; these are industrious women. They now want me to pay for them to come here and work at real jobs--and, as the spam notes, if we happen to end up dating, wouldn't that be fine? My company is trying to hire some people, and these women assure me they would relocate for very little cost, so perhaps we're mistaken in our decision not to move people.

Some of those same women are concerned, however, about the size and hardness of my personal unit. Again, though, these women are helpers: they will sell me pills, both soft and chewable, that will make me huge and as strong as steel. Even better, these pills are on sale!

Of course, some things never change: many other people share the concerns of these women, and they, too, are offering me heavily discounted pharmaceuticals. Some of those people even claim they are from huge drug companies, such as Pfizer. It's good to know that so many people are looking out for me.

My new favorite type of spam, however, is the government stimulus offering. The messages of this type all guarantee to hook me up with a big fat suitcase crammed with authentic U.S. dollars for me to use to grow my business. The Obama team has always used technology to its benefit; I think it's great to see them involving the spam community in getting out the good government word.

One last trend in my spam is one I've really appreciated at work: the pictures that arrive are now almost never of naked women. Instead, I receive many, many low-res photos of pills. At least you can see those in your email preview pane and not wince at your accidental HR violation. I do appreciate their consideration.

Monday, February 15, 2010

My thoughts on the Sarah Silverman vs. TED Twitter rumble

If you aren't aware of this little verbal tussle, you're probably the better for your ignorance. If you want to read about it, this Washington Post article is a decent place to start.

Short form: Don't we all have better things to do?

Okay, if that doesn't work for you, let me dive a bit deeper.

I'll begin by noting that I have no horse in this race. I like TED. I like it a lot. I've already registered to attend next year. I also like Sarah Silverman. I like her work a lot. I think she's smart and funny and challenging, and I catch her performances when I can.

Putting Sarah Silverman on the TED program was an interesting move by TED Curator Chris Anderson, and I applaud him for doing it. She was bound to make a lot of the attendees uncomfortable, and as far as I'm concerned, that's in the TED spirit of making people think.

When Sarah Silverman took the TED stage, she did what she does, which is to be a controversial, often vulgar humorist. No one who knows her work would have been surprised by her performance. In the course of her talk, she repeatedly used the word "retarded." Though comedians everywhere are doing this right now to poke fun at Sarah Palin, most of them don't have the chance to do it at TED. Silverman did, and she made the most of the opportunity.

Many audience members were, predictably and with good reasons, uncomfortable with this part of her routine--and, judging from the reactions of the people around me, with her performance in general.

That's fine. That's their right.

One of the people who hated her performance was Chris Anderson, who called it "god-awful" in a Twitter post that's now gone.

That's fine. That's his right. I don't even blame him for being upset; he clearly didn't know Silverman's work, and whoever researched her for him didn't give him all the material he needed. The Twitter post was not, however, an ideal move, because getting in a verbal fight with a comedian is at best a risky proposition.

Silverman fired back on Twitter.

That's fine. That's her right. I don't blame her for being upset; she gave the kind of performance one would expect from her, and behind every bit of vulgarity was a shrewd mind and a social agenda.

The Twitter sparring went on a bit, so of course the media picked up the story.

That's fine. That's their right.

Now, though, it's time for all involved to move on to a discussion of something that actually matters. Let's give both Sarah Silverman and Chris Anderson a break, and instead focus all this attention on any of the many issues that TED--and Silverman, however obliquely--highlighted.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

On the road again: TEDActive, day 7

As is usually the case when I have to get up early, I slept extremely poorly last night, awakening at least once every hour. The hotel then made matters worse by forgetting my wake-up call, so I had to rush my shower. Still, we made it to the airport with plenty of time to sit around and chat.

I'm on the plane now, once again enjoying the benefits of bandwidth while flying. It is great to be able to keep current while on the move.

TED is still occupying a lot of my mind as I digest what I saw and heard. I have a great deal to process.

The book proceeds apace, though never as fast as I'd like.

I mentioned a while back a cool idea I had. I hope to close on it early this week and perhaps announce it this week. We'll see.

Because this evening is going to be busy from the moment I land, I'm going to post this now. Tomorrow, life returns to normal rhythms, which, as much as I enjoyed TED, is a very good thing indeed.


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