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May 29, 2007

Robot Chicken Star Wars - June 17th

More here:

Something to fill the summertime gap. Enjoy.

Posted by Justin at 10:59 PM

PBS Kids Sprout

Having my daughter home with me gives me all kinds of stuff to keep me entertained. Between Jarrett and Lindsey, most of our tv time involves PBS Kids.

The Good:

  • Jakers - The Adventures of Pigglywinks (love this show)
  • Thomas the Tank Engine (Jarrett's favorite)
  • Sesame Street and Barney (oldies, but mandatory)
  • Sagwa
  • Berenstein Bears

The really not so good:

  • Boobah (makes me want to stick a hot poker in my eye and drown myself in the bathtub)
  • Pingu (what is up with squeeking meaningless noises)
  • Teletubbies (because Tinky Winky promotes the gay lifestyle according to Jerry Falwell and even if he doesn't, Teletubbies still annoy me to death)
  • Gerald McBoingboing (not on PBS, but the most annoying cartoon noises ever)
  • The Wonderpets (also not PBS, the lispy annoying voices are almost too much)

Welcome to my world. I work while Lindsey plays in the background and watches PBS Sprout. I sacrifice a lot of potential earning power by choosing not to change jobs and go somewhere that pays more. It lets me go to the condo and telecommute as well as be home when the kids get here. I am only tethered to a DSL line or wirefi hotspot. Today, Lindsey and I went and grabbed our Starbucks (as we always do), got the mail, mailed a package, went by the bank, and hung out. Next week, I am planning to work from the condo. Being able to watch PBS with my kids (even though Erich says the Republicans in Congress want to defund it and kill Big Bird) is probably the coolest thing about life.

Here is a picture of Jake, Jarrett, Lindsey and Jackson. Note that the only reason they aren't fighting over which two get the Xbox360 controls is because Jarrett has the PSP.

Posted by Justin at 02:57 PM

May 28, 2007

Jeep Work Weekend

OK, the last two weekends were loads of fun. Last weekend, I replaced the oil pan in the Wrangler with dad and this weekend, we installed the new Skid Row Engine and Transmission Pan skid plate.

For all the pictures of the Wrangler Rubicon Unlimited, check the 06' Jeep Gallery page. Here are a couple pics of the new skid plate. In the gallery, you can see the front and rear bumpers, the winch, and the Rubicon Express 3.5" lift.

Here you can see the shiny new oil pan and tranny pan protected by the skid plate.

Posted by Justin at 05:30 PM

Memorial Day

Remember the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and thank them for their sacrifice. And remember those that fought and died protecting us. We owe them all a debt of gratitude.

memorialday.jpg

MURFREESBORO, TN (h/t wizbangblog)—Heather Southward Golczynski pulled six more letters out of her mailbox Tuesday, sent from across the nation by people touched by her husband's sacrifice and her son's courage.

Her husband, Marine Staff Sgt. Marcus "Marc" Golczynski, was killed in Iraq on March 27. At his funeral in April, Daily News Journal photographer Aaron Thompson captured Marc Golczynski's teary-eyed son, 8-year-old Christian, accepting a U.S. flag from his father's casket.

It was a picture of a moment that moved many Americans and stirred national interest in the Golczynskis' story.

There is nothing more honorable than being in service of others. Our military members don't get paid much (I still remember trying to make ends meet as an E-3). They work long hours. They do dangerous work. And far too often they get called upon to make the ultimate sacrifice.

When you see them, thank them for their courage and remember those that weren't so lucky.

Posted by Justin at 04:35 PM

May 27, 2007

Official Seal Generator (h/t Willisms)

Got a cool link to a seal generator from willisms.com. Had to try it out.

ski-blog.com official seal

Posted by Justin at 10:45 PM

May 22, 2007

Pre-fight Staredown... Improper Form

Good Stuff.

Posted by Justin at 10:18 PM | Comments (1)

May 21, 2007

Jeep Repairs

Pictures of the latest Jeep trip are up in the photo gallery. I have set an account up so that the folks that go jeeping with me can post their pics to the trips section. Waiting on more pics including the one of me winching myself over the rocks that caused the damage.

Damage Totals are as follows:

Not the worst way to spend a Saturday, but we had some major problems. First, the exhaust flange bolts where the exhaust manifold connects would not come off. Not only that, but they are in a disasterous location. Second, we had to loosen the exhaust at the cat to get enough clearance to remove the pan. Third, we had to remove the starter. No big deal on that. But here is the kicker--Quadratec sent me a bad oil pan with a huge hole in it. And I ain't talking about the drain plug.

So there we are trying to find a new oil pan at 4:00 PM on a Saturday with my entire Jeep torn apart. Thankfully we were able to get one at Moore Jeep before they closed. The oil pan skid is ready to bolt on, but I cannot get the Lower Control Arm nut off without an impact wrench. Gotta do that then drill three holes and the underside of the Jeep will be much closer to bulletproof.

It is kinda nice to work on the Jeep and certainly fun to do it with my dad. The Jeep has some nice dings underneath, but nothing damaging. Just character building. The Skid Plates help a ton and some of them are scratched pretty good. The Transfer Case skid has a nice big dent in it. But it is a Jeep. If your Jeep doesn't have some dings, scratches, and dents underneath, you ought to consider owning a minivan that gets better mileage or an H2 with 24" rims for driving around town. They are rigs for offroad, not for sissies.

Posted by Justin at 05:45 PM | Comments (3)

May 16, 2007

Jeeping Adventures

I took the Wrangler and both boys to Crown King via Lake Pleasant this weekend. Good news and bad news of course. Good news first, I got to test my winch and do some amazing crawling on one of the turnouts over some crazy rocks. Bad news is that I get to purchase a new oil pan and transmission pan.

When I did the suspension lift, the factory tranny skid plate interferes with the new driveshaft angle for the front axle. So what does one do when that happens? Well, the folks at Four Wheelers simply removed the skid and didn't tell me. I ordered a Warn tranny / oil pan skid when I did the lift, but they told me that the Warn wouldn't fit a Rubicon. They neglected to recomment the Skid Row skid plate that would.

But it is not all bad. Nothing leaked but the damage (mostly a large dent in the oil pan) was right where the drain plug is which makes changing the oil a PITA.

I'll post pics as soon as I get them back from Matt, Scott, Tom, and Ray. It was a great trip and the boys thought the winching was awesome. Tera stayed home so she didn't see what I did to "her" jeep. She thinks the Jeep is designed for her to drive back and forth to work as opposed to a Rubicon being made for offroading. As long as I clean it and don't tell her what I do with it when I am up wheeling, she is OK with me driving her Jeep. Small price to pay for selling her Jetta that she loved so I could have a Jeep. I did allow her to pick the color though so that counts for something.

Posted by Justin at 01:26 AM

May 15, 2007

What's All the Fuss Aboot?

I would strongly suggest that when people want to get physical with the best player in his respective sport, Steve Nash needs to drive about 15 miles west on the I-10 and turn north on Loop 101. Take the Glendale Ave. Exit and turn right into the new Westgate Center. Proceed directly to the Coaches office.

There happens to be another Canadian resident of Phoenix who can give some advice.

I guess since we are playing Hockey Rules with hip checks and all, why not let 'em drop the gloves? Knees to the nads. Hip Checks. Kicks to the legs. Grabbing guys and twisting ankles. This is not "Dirty", this is "Hockey". That is what Phoenix gets for relying on a Canadian as their superstar.

Ask the Great One how to handle these types of physical confrontations, eh. The Suns need Marty McSorley when Nash needs rescued from a fight.

Posted by Justin at 12:50 PM | Comments (1)

May 14, 2007

Bode Says F-U to US Team, Would Rather Party

PARK CITY, Utah (AP) -- Former Olympic medalist and World Cup champion Bode Miller is leaving the U.S. ski team, ending his contentious relationship with the federation that oversees the sport in this country.

The fiercely independent Miller has been at odds with the association for years, and there long had been rumblings that he would leave the team. U.S. officials have been unhappy with Miller's late-night partying and his outlandish public comments...

The 29-year-old Miller won two silver medals at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, but was shut out at the 2006 Turin Games despite being a favorite in nearly every Alpine discipline. He was criticized for spending too much time in local clubs...

Miller told U.S. men's coach Phil McNichol of his decision to leave the team following a meeting at the headquarters of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association in Park City.

"Bode is a great athlete and we hope he will continue to have athletic success," U.S. Alpine director Jesse Hunt said in a statement released Saturday by the federation. "We had a serious discussion with Bode about his responsibilities as a team member, and he later advised us he was choosing not to join the team."...

"There have been a lot of specific issues out there -- the RV, alcohol issues and so forth," Kelly said in a telephone interview. "None of those were talking points in this meeting. This was about the philosophy of the team, what it means to be a member of the team."...

"In my mind, I'm better than any other racer," he said. "I've been racing against those guys for five, 10 years. Given equal conditions, I feel I can beat those guys any day."

He criticized the association for not coming to his defense at the Turin Olympics instead of offering a public apology for him.

"Everybody parties," Miller said. "There's too much emphasis on winning."

Miller entered the Turin Olympics as a major focus of attention, as much for his attitude as his talent after saying on CBS' "60 Minutes" program: "If you ever tried to ski wasted, it's not easy."

Although a flop on the slopes, he left the Games in an upbeat mood.

"It's been an awesome two weeks," he said at the time. "I got to party and socialize at an Olympic level."

As a skier, Bode is phenomenol. As a person, he leaves much to be desired. As a teammate and representative of our nation, he is a piece of trash.

He has a show on Sirius and spends his time talking about how much he likes European culture and prefers it over the US. A man that travels the world, shows no respect for his sport or the uniform he wears for the US, and would rather show up wasted than dedicate himself to upholding his reputation as a role model and most recognized US athlete in the sport is perhaps the reason why the world views Americans with so much disdain. Bode has it all. Money, fame, and so on. Yet instead of feeling privileged and greatful to his fans and country, he chooses to party his way through life.

What happens when he leaves skiing and there is absolutely no reason whatsoever to respect him? What happens when he fails to be a great athlete and is nothing more than a wealthy, famous American that does nothing but party?

Bode is Tara Reid, Paris Hilton, Courtney Love, and Robert Downey Jr. all rolled up into a skier. It is a disgusting waste that such a great athlete offers my kids who love skiing absolutely no role model at all.

Jeremy Bloom is someone to look up to. Bode is just an a-hole kid blessed with a lot of athletic talent. Maybe Dennis Rodman is a better comparison.

Posted by Justin at 12:33 PM

May 08, 2007

Changes in the Ski Industry

A few months ago, I posted about the top skiing innovations. There is an article in the Spokane Review (registration required) that talks about some other things that one futurist sees coming:

In his new book, "The History of Modern Skiing" (University Press of New England), Fry addresses the past: "Americans produced many of the innovations that transformed the sport — including the chairlift, the metal ski, the plastic boot, the modern ski pole, snowmaking and grooming, professional head-to-head racing, the waxless cross-country ski, the freestyle movement, and snowboarding."

He offers only one look ahead: "There are strong indications that some skiers who took up snowboarding will be going back to wide, short skis that can carve a turn. That was the big attraction of snowboarding in the 1990s — you could arc a pure curve turn on the snow. Now, you can do that with skis."

Here is where it gets interesting for me:

Imagine a skier from 50 years ago surveying the scene in a modern lift line. What would he think of iPods wired into jackets? GPS wrist units? Cell phones with cameras? Digitally scanned lift tickets? Polarized contact lenses designed to cut snow glare? PDAs that allow skiers to check in at the office while they're on the lift? These innovations have shaped the sport and will continue to do so, believes Jim Carroll. Carroll, a noted futurist who lives outside Toronto, says the concept of a work/life balance is a major trend that will continue.

He shares this story: "An engineering company was trying to hire this engineering student in British Columbia, near a bunch of (ski) resorts. He turned their offer down. They called him back and were mystified. He said, "You talk about your 9 to 5 culture; that would mess with my powder time."

The way younger people define themselves has changed, Carroll says. "They don't tell you what they do for a living, but what they do." Carroll sees a ski area in the future "with a lot more people hanging out at the hill with a little portable office, doing their thing."

I cannot imagine skiing for me as being a once a year trip to a resort using my vacation time. Telecommunications has come so far. It enables me to work from home or from the condo seamlessly. I can catch a couple of runs during lunch and check in with the office on my cell phone. (I still don't have a Blackberry yet) Even resorts are getting in on the concept and expanding their business centers to allow folks to keep in touch while on the mountain.

I think that I am a part of several of the new trends in skiing. I am in my early 30's. I work remotely via high speed internet and am a huge consumer of technology. I am a twin tip skier (though not much of a jibber). All of these things are part of the trends we are seeing on the mountains. These things are good for skiing because they help replace the baby boomers with new participants.

I guess the real question is--what will things be like for the industry when Jake is my age in 20 years? I assume that by then I will have had both knees replaced from years of skiing abusing them. I will be semi-retired and live in a nice resort town. Probably wearing a sweater with trees on it and trying to look cool. I am hoping not bald. I try not to think that far in advance though...

Posted by Justin at 12:45 PM

May 05, 2007

Say Goodbye to Independent Ski Schools

Seattle Weekly has this article about local non-resort ski schools:

It sounds like the plot for a bad Jason London movie: A ski mogul with an eye on the bottom line takes over a local resort and cancels contracts with the community-based ski schools that have traditionally served the slopes, then asks the ski bums to join the corporate ranks. Lessons double in cost. Longtime skiers and snowboarders are outraged. The National Forest Service washes its hands of the matter. Will the underdog community schools yield to big business? Can snow-loving families afford the increased cost of lessons? Will the feds step in?...

In a letter sent two weeks ago to a handful of schools that have served the resort since its inception (Crystal refuses to comment on matters directly related to the decision), Kircher states that cutting ties is the result of tough times in the ski industry, with problems including increased fuel costs, lack of qualified staffing, low customer-retention rate, and erratic weather. Herein, Kircher writes: "In times like these we are forced to come up with new and creative ways to manage our business," later adding that the change, "[w]ill allow us to create standards of excellence based on specific skiing/riding models and customer service models." The letter concludes by inviting schools to "[b]ecome part of our family and share the Crystal Mountain experience," an offer the now-unemployed instructors took as an invitation to work for Crystal's in-house school...

For Kevin McCarthy, president of the White Pass ski area (located west of Yakima on Highway 12), which cut ties with its concession schools shortly before he started running things in the early '70s, consolidation is simply good business. "Why give business that's occurring on your property to someone else? You need every penny you can get. They're making a good call." he says.

It is akin to owning a movie theatre and letting someone set up a vending boot inside your theatre and sell popcorn and soda without giving you a cut. Resorts make a huge portion of their money (and an even larger portion of their profits) off of their ski school. Ski schools have little long term fixed assets associated with them meaning that most of their cost model is variable costs as opposed to fixed. This allows flexibility to increase or decrease costs according to demand. In short, this is a necessary and smart business decision, but it hurts locals that don't want to make the $9 an hour that most resorts pay their instructors.

Something that really bothers me though is this:

Further complicating matters is the fact that Crystal is located on government land and operates under a "special use permit" issued by the National Forest Service. In addition to a percentage of Crystal's profits going to the National Treasury, this means that the NFS has a significant say over business decisions that are made at Crystal and other local slopes, to the point that the resorts must seek approval for details as specific as the color and style of their buildings.

But in the case of the spurned schools, the NFS has chosen not to interfere. "Things we do have say over are safety and what kind of services are provided," says Washington's Forest Service director, Rob Iwamoto. "Obviously, ski school is one of those—but how business is arranged isn't one of those. In general, who provides [the ski-school service] is a business decision. We just expect a level of service to be provided. We are not there to micromanage a business."

You mean any time a business makes a decision that someone is unhappy about the government must choose whether to interfere or not? Well, it is on forest service land that the ski resort has a special use permit for. So surely the special use permit gives the government the right to choose whether to interfere with business operations. The article should have mentioned that the government also chooses not to interfere with ticket prices or food prices in the cafeterias. Typical Seattle type attitude. Before the government concerns themselves with local ski instructors, we need the government to choose to interfere with the price that I pay for a latte from SBC or Starbucks or choose to interfere with how much Windows or MS Office costs. (SBC, Starbucks, and Microsoft being Seattle based companies)

No, the only thing the government needs to choose to interfere with is the amount of THC that is soaking in to this man-ponytail wearing, latte sipping, Seattle based, hippy brain. Damn, dude, put on a flannel, put on some Pearl Jam, and either chain yourself to a tree or protest the World Bank's next conference bro. You gotta be somewhat objective and the use of a single word detracts from the point that the situation sucks for the folks involved. But no business has a "right" to exist. The government does not have an obligation to sit as the judge of which of the two competing business models should be allowed simply because the ski resort happens to be on public land.

Posted by Justin at 08:34 AM | Comments (2)

May 03, 2007

Suns Down Lakers in 5 (12)

I called in to Kevin Ray and Suns Talk last night and will repeat some of my comments after watching the Lakers' season end for the second year in a row at US Airways Center.

First, seven of the eight Suns Players had at least one assist. Second, all eight players scored at least seven points. As usual, Marion, Nash, Barbosa, and Amare did most of the damage, but the Suns got solid performances from the rest of the team. And it started early with Raja and Junior knocking down threes in the first minutes of the game. Third, the Lakers had just seven assists as a team. Sure, Kobe and Odom scored plenty of points, but that is a product of them taking tons of shots. The rest of the team may as well have not shown up.

Final note--the chants of "Kobe Sucks", "MVP", or "Beat LA" are getting pretty old. Actually, about as old as doing the wave.

Now, on to San Antonio on Sunday. Last night was nothing like game seven last year because there was no sense of urgency. Now, every game against the Spurs is critical, but most important is to win the first two at home.

Posted by Justin at 12:14 PM

May 02, 2007

Get Your Lazy Butt in the Gym

About.com has a good article on offseason workouts for skiing:

The most efficient and thorough strength workout is on Nautilus type exercise machines. "Nautilus" has become a generic term for any brand of exercise machine that isolates individual muscle groups. These machines are usually grouped so that moving from one machine to the next is a progression, or circuit of working related muscle groups.

These circuit machines have become very popular and you will surely find them if you belong to a YMCA, or most any modern health or fitness club.

At first the machines may seem a little complicated or torturous looking, but be assured after a short while you will get the hang of bouncing from machine to machine for a some good strength training.

Then more info about specific exercises. Worth reading for some generic info about a good all around workout routine for building the muscles that enable stonger skiing.

I have a couple of very specific weak points. First, and I don't know their exact name, the muscles that oppose the calf muscles on the front of the shin are weak. This causes pain and soreness after a long ski day because you are constantly using your lower legs to shift weight on your skis. Second, my quads get fatigued late in the day.

I have decided for a variety of reasons (read my fat ass) to begin a consistent workout routine. Our local YMCA is brand new, cheap, has great childcare, and is a few miles away. I am trying to spend four days per week there. It is a month now and I certainly feel stronger and more fit. I am also walking and biking more.

I ain't exactly serious enough be calling Victor Conti for the cream and the clear yet, but I am hoping that I can build working out into my pattern during the week. It takes some dedication, but I genuinely feel better lately.

Posted by Justin at 03:04 PM