Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Wine Club Reviews Updated

Latest Wine Club Reviews Update is here

But pasted below as well (I recommend using the link, though).

Up to the age of forty eating is beneficial. After forty, drinking. --The Talmud Never been much of a drinker: I never really cared to lose control of my surroundings. Also, I am pretty cheap. Never much of a wine drinker: while I might be a skinflint, cheap wine is not (in) my (brown) bag. In the course of my profession in recent months, however, I have been treated to some fairly fine wines (strike that, some stupendous wines)--and it turns out I like wine--good wine, anyway. In my quest to secure good wine AND remain cheap, I signed up for several wine clubs simultaneously (penny wise, pound foolish): 4Seasons Wine Club Wine Insiders (formerly A Taste of California) My Wines Direct Wine Library Wine Woot Addendum: Wine Buyer: free shipping section and sort by rating: some real bargains there! Addendum the Second: Wines 'til Sold Out! is like Wine Woot for the ADD crowd; instead of one deal a week, the site offers one deal a day, shipping included. Offers reviews and tasting notes, as well as retail value and "Best Web" comparison.

Following are my thoughts, my wine club reviews, or at least my review of wine clubs in which, so far, I have participated. I will update as I drink more (although my typing may deteriorate). I started with discount wine clubs, but have moved up the scale a bit in terms of price and quality. As it stands now, I am bumping up against my supply/demand limits (i.e., I am cheap by nature, and wine ain't cheap).Folks join clubs for a variety of reasons: local availability is slim; snooty stores can be intimidating; things are cheaper on line; whatever. Often, newbies are looking to be led by someone with greater experience (regardless of the endeavor), so clubs that tout their expertise and "insider" status and elitism will always have new adherents (uh, like me, apparently). On to the club reviews: Four Seasons Wine Club has, by far, the best marketing (their wine is a different story...). The 4Seasons pitch is that they send a case a quarter (get it? Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter!). To entice new sign-ups, they offer the first case at half price AND deliver your choice of a "connoisseur" wine opener (with wooden box), a tabletop corkscrew, or a six-bottle wine fridge (yes, yes they do!). The also include some really nice write-ups of their wines, the region, the background, whatever. Useful information. The wine, on the other hand, while...serviceable, has been nothing spectacular. Generally, their wines are "private label," that is, 4Seasons (or, more accurately, their much larger parent) contracts with vintners to produce certain wines. (And you thought that only vineyards produced wine! Oh foolish ingenue: grapes are just a commoditized fruit, and fruit can be produced anywhere--and trucked anywhere. Some "vintners" may "consult" to any number of wineries: it's almost incestual.) Also, while I am not sure whether the outcome is intended, this does mean that one cannot G--gle the wines for a review. The wines did not make me gag but, at first, they did make me wonder whether my palate was simply...unsophisticated (more on that in a minute). Wine Insiders niched me, too. They sent a similar advertisement/enticement: half price on a case of "the perfect combination of taste and value," of "both well-known and hard-to-find wines" chosen by "an expert tasting panel" to ensure delivery of "only the best wines." Ugh. Really just...bleh (my apologies for my inarticulateness). I mean, again, I didn't gag (and I have had wine that made me gag), but it was so...innocuous, so inoffensive and timid: it was as if it were afraid to be wine. I could barely distinguish among their (again, private label) merlot, cabernet, and shiraz. And then it hit me: The Emperor Has No Clothes! If one had but little frame of reference, if one were a mere neophyte among oenephiles, tipping that first toe into the ocean that is wine (or, as Homer put it, "the wine-dark sea"), one might be a bit...intimidated to say "But there's no there there." That would be me (was me, in fact--until just last night), had I not benefited from some really great, really (dare I say) moving wines. The swill I was quaffing from WineInsiders and 4Seasons was built for the fattest part of the American market, i.e., it was not very challenging; not bad (but not good, either), just...nothing special. Really, I might as well have been drinking water. Both of the clubs above do not sufficiently exceed my local shoppes 3/$20 special; I would *never* pay full price for offerings from these two (and have cancelled). For value-oriented clubs, that leaves MyWinesDirect. My Wines Direct sends real-label wines (so one can research actual reviews), often pre-packaged in "themes" (e.g., Barbecue Bests, Red Gems, etc.). They do not market themselves as a discount purveyor, but G--gle can find dollars-off coupons and Fatwallet delivers Fatcash (discounts), so one can realize something approaching 30% off fairly easily. So far, their wines have been...good; definitely better than the other two. I am not ready to declare them stupendousextrasuperspecial, but as discount wine clubs go, they deliver real wines with real tannins and real structure and real grapes. I have only worked through three bottles, but I have already ordered my second half-case, and give them a cautious bottoms-up. They at least exceed my local 3/$20 comparison. What I really like about My Wines Direct is that they limit their selections, giving at least the impression that their offerings are, indeed, carefully selected. 4Seasons, for contrast, offers over 200 wines (research shows what we all know: consumers are overwhelmed with choice), making no choice "special." Wine Insiders limits their offerings, but I don't want to drink what they have! (Oh, and their shipping is super slow and their customer service, while pleasant and responsive, takes a long time to fix any problems...). The real winner here is Wine Library. I love Wine Library TV; Gary Vaynerchuk is a hoot! And he is a great marketer: very believable, makes you think that $60 for a bottle is the STEAL OF THE CENTURY! Funny thing is: he's RIGHT! When he tells you a wine is massive, the thing is freakin' MASSIVE; when he tells you to cellar a bottle as an investment, by gum, you would do well to buy half a case! The downside? Did I mention the $60? Or the $30? Per bottle? NOT a discount seller--more of a guide to "the good stuff." And they do have sales. Shipping isn't cheap, but it's fair. They have earned my (occasional) business, especially for the special. Lastly, there is woot! (or, more accurately, wine woot!). I have not yet ordered from them (I am still in the research phase), but they seem, for the most part, to dig up little-known West Coast wineries. Their format is to offer one deal (or "woot") a week. The best part, though, is that in their forums the winemaker will answer any and all questions (some quite sophisticated--ranging anywhere from business questions to sun/slope equations). The forumites are a wealth of knowledge and amusement. I also recommend the main site: W00T! which offers one (usually tech-geek) deal per day. So, there you go. If any of you (two) are looking to join a wine club, you can take my experience (for what it's worth). I'll report back some day when I have tried Woot! [ed. note: at this time, I have finally begun receiving my woot purchases, but, to pervert the words of John Paul Jones, I have not yet begun to drink). And if I come across any other clubs, I'll let you know [ed. note: see below]. UPDATE--Clubs in the Pipeline: Doorstep Wine (http://www.doorstepwine.com/) Cellar Brokers (http://www.cellarbrokers.com/) I have signed up for the above two clubs' email hot-deals; once I purchase (and drink) something, I will update the review. Hmm... I wonder whether I should begin adding exactly what I am drinking here... BTW, I have never really had an addictive personality (too cheap for that), but this whole wine thing has really begun to bump up against my rev limiter. What does this have to do with the search for man's essentiality? I am not sure (and I may be simply justifying some nascent alcoholism), but I think a man should know something about wine. Search terms: woot (wine.woot.com) wine til sold out (winetilsoldout.com) wineinsiders (wineinsiders.com), mywinesdirect (mywinesdirect.com), 4seasonswine (4seasonswine.com) I tasted - careless - then - I did not know the Wine Came once a World - Did you? Oh, had you told me so - This Thirst would blister - easier - now - --Emily Dickinson

The Ant and the Grasshopper


Æsop. (Sixth century B.C.)

The Ant and the Grasshopper

IN a field one summer’s day a Grasshopper was hopping about, chirping and singing to its heart’s content. An Ant passed by, bearing along with great toil an ear of corn he was taking to the nest.
“Why not come and chat with me,” said the Grasshopper, “instead of toiling and moiling in that way?”
“I am helping to lay up food for the winter,” said the Ant, “and recommend you to do the same.”
“Why bother about winter?” said the Grasshopper; “we have got plenty of food at present.” But the Ant went on its way and continued its toil. When the winter came the Grasshopper had no food, and found itself dying of hunger, while it saw the ants distributing every day corn and grain from the stores they had collected in the summer. Then the Grasshopper knew:


One bright day in late autumn a family of Ants were bustling about in the warm sunshine, drying out the grain they had stored up during the summer, when a starving Grasshopper, his fiddle under his arm, came up and humbly begged for a bite to eat.

"What!" cried the Ants in surprise, "haven't you stored anything away for the winter? What in the world were you doing all last summer?"

"I didn't have time to store up any food," whined the Grasshopper; "I was so busy making music that before I knew it the summer was gone."

The Ants shrugged their shoulders in disgust.

"Making music, were you?" they cried. "Very well; now dance!" And they turned their backs on the Grasshopper and went on with their work.

There's a time for work and a time for play.


The ant works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building his house and laying up supplies for the winter. The grasshopper thinks he's a fool, laughs, and dances and plays the summer away.

Come winter, the shivering grasshopper calls a press conference and demands to know why the ant should be allowed to be warm and well fed while others are cold and starving.

CNN, CBS, and the NYT show up to provide pictures of the shivering grasshopper next to a video of the ant in his comfortable home with a table filled with food.

America is stunned by the sharp contrast. How can this be, that in a country of such wealth, this poor grasshopper is allowed to suffer so?

Kermit the Frog appears on Oprah with the grasshopper, and everybody cries when they sing "It's Not Easy Being Green."

Jesse Jackson stages a demonstration in front of the ant's house where the news stations film the group singing "We Shall Overcome." Jesse then has the group kneel down to pray to God for the grasshopper's sake.

John Edwards exclaims in an interview with Peter Jennings that the ant has gotten rich off the back of the grasshopper, and calls for an immediate tax hike on the ant to make him pay his "fair share".

Finally, the EOC drafts the "Economic Equity and Anti-Grasshopper Act," retroactive to the beginning of the summer.

The ant is fined for failing to hire a proportionate number of green bugs and, having nothing left to pay his retroactive taxes, his home is confiscated by the government.

Hillary gets her old law firm to represent the grasshopper in a defamation suit against the ant, and the case is tried before a panel of federal judges that Bill appointed from a list of multi-generation welfare recipients. The ant loses the case.

The story ends as we see the grasshopper finishing the last bits of the ant's food while the government house he is in, which just happens to be the ant's old house, crumbles around him because he doesn't maintain it.

The ant has disappeared in the snow.

The grasshopper is found dead in a drug-related incident and the house, now abandoned, is taken over by a gang of spiders who terrorize the once peaceful neighborhood.


[Your thoughts here.]

Broken Marriages, Broken Homes

I went running with Daughter A this morning (she, on her dump-drawn bicycle--instilling frugality where I can). At one point she went on about the husband she was going to marry, how he was going to be a woodworker so he wouldn't have to leave the house to go to work.

And I got to thinking about single-mother parenting (and, yes, I am focusing on single MOTHER because the corollary is relatively rare). Might as well apply it to lesbian parenting as well (ditto the corollary). Without a man in the home, how does a daughter model her opinions/impressions of males? From the thoughts of the available matriarchs (who, more likely than not, made bad choices or eschew men generally)? From their adolescent colleagues (who, by their nature, are nasty, immature, brutish, and probably a bit slow)?

BTW, I am not saying that I am a perfect role model (indeed, I hold forth that reacting/rebelling against role models is a valid response), but the set-up in my household provides stabilty and predictability (both financial and emotional).

Yes, I am a cold-hearted batarde, bearing small sympathy toward unwed mothers (and a lower opinion still of the offending "father of my baby" types). Bad choices for all. In fact, I almost think it is selfish (rather than the oft-cited "selfless" moniker); why? It dooms both parent and child (childhood obesity being one other obvious dooming, but that is not today's topic).

Would it be better to place the child in a stable, two-parent adoptive home? Maybe. I don't know, really. Probably. Especially given that MOST unwed mothers are not the affluent power-moms portrayed in the media.

[ed. note: How nice for you.]

(WARNING: Tangent ahead.) Geo Washington, Ben Franklin: two men who "created" personas then spent their lives living up to their created ideals. So unlike today, where young men are more like Popey ("I yam what I yam"), content grubbify their bodies with ink + dirt, their minds with games + smut, their lives with D-rwin knows what... [ed. note: Yes, yes: believe me I am no angel, but I do know how to wash, chop wood, change my own oil, run a 10k, rebalance my 401k, bake a cake, and much, much more.]

The degeneration of girls, ugly as it is, is at least slower than the headlong rush to meaningless that describes the descent of boys.

I have no idea where today's rant was going. Just a lament in response to my eldest's simple fantasy of a woodworking husband...

[ed. note: one of the things that makes me nervous is that I really am a "put your money where your mouth is" kinda guy, and the idea of, e.g., foster parenting is calling more strongly--I don't really WANT to take on a foster child (or any other adoptee), but the pull is beginning to reach the level of "duty," and that could present a dilemma.]

Non-sequitur: been seing a lot of newsstories regarding children dying after being left in hot cars (various angles, to include racism in the justice system). I also saw an article regarding how "a simple sensor" could help prevent such deaths. My cynical side implicates the auto lobby (or, more accurately, auto PARTS lobby), angling for increased sales.

Non-sequitur the second: state gummint officials are contemplating state aid for homeowners facing foreclosure: WHAT?! Once again, rewards to the grasshoppers, burden to the ants. The state wants to make it more difficult for me to pay MY mortgage to subsidize those who chose "too good to be true" mortgage terms. Un. Be. LIEV-able. Also, one of the reasons I predict that I will be forced to support Social Security into perpetuity, but never benefit from the program. "Provide, provide!"

I had something else to whine about, but I forgot what it was.

BTW: my theory is that this blog represents a form of catharsis: you, dear reader, are exposed to my vitriol in order that my family see only my bright-and-shiny side. Doesn't always work out, but the children seem happy with what they get.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Social Conservative

I do not believe in rehabilitation or, more accurately, I believe the costs of rehabilitation outweigh the risks of mercy. What gives me shivers, and why do I believe in "two strikes, you're out" of the gene pool? Here is but one example.


In my previous post, I bandied the terms Liberal and Conservative about pretty carelessly. I should be clear: political Liberals annoy me, mostly because they want to steal my stuff and, via redistribution, squelch in others the natural motive desire to build/acquire stuff of their own. But I should be clear: Republicans (i.e., self-proclaimed Conservatives of a political bent) annoy me as well, given that a little taste of power makes them drop their principles within a few months. And Christian Conservatives bug me, although I admire their adherence to principle and their predictability.

Weird to think that I ridiculed Barry Goldwater as a youngster...

And folks are usually surprised at my voting record.

And I condemn our current President, but not for the usual reasons.

In any case, there is no way to corral politicos into an easily identifiable group (gee, a lot like race, really), but it is fairly safe to say that the very act of becoming a politician calls into question one's motivations and principles.

Mostly I am scared of groupthink; indeed, I consider it (usually) a given that if the bulk of people are thinking/doing/saying one thing, then that thing is likely sub-optimal (almost by definition: the mu is equal to the average, i.e., the mediocre).

Also, as I re-read my post, I was sorry to have brought the subject up. When I see the friend of whom I wrote with his baby, I see just a Poppa (okay, I see a fit, smart-ass, financially savvy, maritally committed, runner-type Poppa, but that's about as far as my descriptors go or need to go or care to go). I like him because, well, because he is Just. Like. Me. He is trying to "figure it all out," trying to discover what is really important, trying to save for the future (and for his offspring), trying to make best use of the gifts he has been given.

Damn. I just wanted this to be a sentence or two.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


Prefatory addendum: in case you don't read to the end, I reference Harvard's Implicit Association Test of unconscious biases.]

While I do not recall the specific age (I was young, though), I recall well my first instance of "language failure." I was in the woods with a friend and needed "to go the bathroom." I recall hesitating to express the urge, not because of any modesty, but because the language did not fit the situation. And it was not simply that we were nowhere near a bathroom; rather, the problem was that "go the bathroom" was a phrase used exactly as one would use "take a whiz" or simply "urinate," two options not yet available to my young self, linguistically. Clearly "the bathroom" was not a verb phrase; what did it mean? Where did it come from? Why was I at a loss?

Similary, I was thinking this morning about race. Liberals are free and easy with talk about racial gaps and racial inequality etc., etc. But as one who rejects race as a valid classification (a.k.a., a conservative), I am simply at a loss for how to explain things at all, much less explain them gracefully.

I have a good friend whom I like a lot. He is a good running partner, a good competitor, and is ahead of me in certain ways with regard to life goals (and behind me in others). That is to say, we have a lot in common, a lot to talk about, and a lot to share.

I am at a loss as to how to explain how utterly inconsequential are certain skin-tone based assumptions that some might care to apply to my friend (although I would guess that sunscreen is not as critical for him as it is for me). Even writing the previous sentence I am uncomfortable, as it implies that I am even aware of those factors. But, indeed, I am aware; why? Because Liberals, with their constant harping (seriously, can we get through a single freakin' newsday without more stories about rampant racism?), have made me super-sensitive to perceived inequality.

When I meet a man, I assess whether I have anything to share with him, often searching for visible clues:
Is he a runner?
Is he a suit (i.e., a business type)?
Is he reading anything related to finance?
Is he wearing a wedding band?
What is he drinking? (I'm a gin & tonic man, but tending toward wine as of late.)
Does he belong to any clubs?

Negative clues include:
Does he have a skateboard?
Piercings of any kind?
Does his hair need washing?
Are his clothes dirty?
Does he act/look more like a boy or like a man (as I define it, which I haven't yet, given that is what this blog is really all about, i.e., answering the question: what is a man? I am only in the evidence-gathering phase, i.e., seeking clues to the answer).

And while there are definitely cultural aspects that make some people "off limits" for me, they are definitely cultural and not inherent. That said, some (usually liberals) try to conflate the two: as if, say, hip-hop and rap music are the sole purview of those of a particular skin color. ("Bosh!" say I, as I equally disparage and dismiss any and all adherents to any culture of hopelessness, despair, and anger... In fact, I am more a misanthrope, disliking most people generally, and only liking a very few at all).

And it annoys me that my cultural preferences would be deemed by some (mostly liberals) as "racist" or "bigoted" or "intolerant" and so forth.

Look: if you are smart, clean, funny, and a runner, I probably like you. Better yet if you are a smart-ass.

In fact, as I was thinking about my stance, I realized that I need to delete a link or two (specifically some interesting statistical reviews based on so-called "racial" lines; race really is irrelevant and should be disregarded from an "outcomes" perspective).

Harking back to my military days: the most important factor of all is whether my battle buddy is going to cover my ass and get me to a medic if my leg gets blown off. Really, that's it.

Can I trust this man?

That is all. Trust/Untrust. So, what factors influence the decision (or, more likely, the gut reaction)? That is what I am trying to find out.

[ed. note: after harping on about how race is irrelevant, I was reminded how I scored on Harvard's Implicit Association Test of unconscious biases. To the chagrin of certain of my liberal acquaintances, my first time out of the box, I scored a big fat ZERO on this unbeatable, unfakeable test of unconscious biases. As a control, I took some other IATs and, unsurprisingly, I suffer a "moderate" bias against fat folk (duh!) and a slight automatic preference for young versus old.]

[ed. note the second: Reveal your "self-deception," "test yourself for hidden biases," a.k.a., THOUGHTCRIME!

Monday, July 23, 2007

More Laziness

Good article on how to overcome concerns regarding the cost of starting a family.

My rant on some folks' criticisms of the article (said criticisms being of the "How nice for you" variety--ho hum...).

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Wicked Busy

Sorry: I am, as they say in local parlance, wicked busy! But given the current state of air travel, I was unsurprised to have an, uh, opportunity to read Boston's local paper from front to back.

The Boston Glob seems to have gone (even further) downhill since its purchase by that epitome of evil empires, The New York Times ("All the News that Fits Our Agenda"). In but its most recent egregiousness, their magazine printed an article (the latest installment of the NYT's long-term assault on marriage) that I just couldn't leave alone. My latest rant there is here

As an aside, I am trying to decide on a snappy distinction between Liberals and Conservatives (ed. note: as distinct from Democrats and Republicans, given that, in this country, the politicians are more or less indistinguishable, once you get beyond dollars allocated to pet projects. G-d I sound like a crank...). So far, it seems to me that:
  • Conservatives assume that everyone is, indeed, created equal and, hence, smart enough to exercise individual judgment, rights, and choices; accepting, of course, the requisite responsibilities and consequences.
  • Liberals assume that everyone (everyone else, that is) is a dumb-ass, needs to be protected, and instructed as to what is good for them.

Not very snappy, I know. But fairly accurate, I think.

Conservatives believe the Constitution applies to everyone; Liberals believe it applies to everyone else.

I dunno; help me out here.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

In On the Joke

It has come to Management's attention that at least one of my two readers (a 100% improvement, I might add) is not IN ON THE JOKE.

a·non·y·mous [uh-non-uh-muh s]
1. Without any name acknowledged.
2. Lacking individuality or distinction.

bosh [bosh]
1. Absurd or foolish talk; nonsense.
2. Pretentious or empty talk or writing.
3. interj. Used to express disbelief or annoyance.

Anonymous bosh is a fairly pedestrian take on the famous Hieronymus Bosch, whose work has always atonished me, especially given that its modern feel and sensibility dates dates from the Middle Ages.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Quickest Post

Why do I run? Same reasons that the stock market runs: Greed and Fear. Greed compels one to maximize what one has; Fear moves one to outstrip the Reaper, or at least to try.

See my new additions in the "Links of Interest" section. Have I mentioned that Lydiard went and died a week before I was to hear him speak? Selfish bastard.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Quicker Post: Six Figure Salaries

I am not sure whether this Six Figure Salaries thread is humbling or inspirational.

Basically, it gives anecdotes of folks earning far in excess of $100k/annum with sometimes little more than pluck and drive.

No wonder I forever feel "behind"; I have calculated that I will not rest easy until I have roughly $1 million in the retirement fund + undergrad/grad for the children + some number of rental-property income streams. Not there yet, in case you were wondering.

Never fear: I am grateful for what I have; nevertheless, I remain mildly uncomfortable that, somehow, I have not fully capitalized on my skills/talents/education. One of my goals is to reduce risk-aversion in my children, such that they may experiment a bit more with seeking self-sustaining (both monetarily and "spiritually," for lack of a better word) pursuits.

Who wants to be a millionaire? A.K.A., how's my driving?

[Last aside: somewhere in my teens, my father had a line on four private parking lots in a metropolitan area. He wanted to know whether I was interested in owning/managing them, which I wasn't. What a fool!

Note to self: do not ask children what is best for them, simply direct 'em to what is best; consider it yet another duty as a father.]

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Quick Note Re: Fiat Currency

Gold bugs (i.e., those in favor of returning to a "gold standard,") historically have annoyed me to no end. The idea that expending capital to dig an element out of the dirt, clean it up, then dig another hole in which to bury the stuff (and hire a security staff to protect it) and then call that "money" has always seemed absurd. "Money" is whatever humans claim can store value: wampum, uncashed checks (e.g., currency in certain parts of Alaska), gold, and, yes, fiat currency (i.e., steadily inflating paper currency). But my goal today is not to rehash my own diatribes against such folk (who have claimed for decades that we are all on the brink of collapse; listen up, buds: post collapse, my shotgun shells will be worth far more than your gold ingots!).

I signed up for obopay ($10 bonus in prepaid MC form) today, which now sits alongside my PayPal and ING accounts (i.e., fully electronic, paperless currency). I have no doubt that the reader of this blog is familiar with PayPal--it's common currency on e.g., eBay. obopay is similar, but for cell phones, that is, one can send and receive currency electronically, immediately. Want to buy that neat thing-o? Point your phone at it and press a button (more or less).

And goldbugs are worried about PAPER curreny? Sheesh. Talk about maximizing "dollar velocity" (G--gle it yourself, lazybones: I'm too busy to link EVERYTHING today!).

This may hook up with my other pet theory: that dollar velocity is so high that perhaps we have seen consumer-related mini-recessions; they've just been so quick we haven't noticed.

Various segments of the economy are driving at vastly different speeds, currently. You want to have a surge in Iraq? That'll cost you six months. You want get Tasty Bite lunches at your office? (Use promo code "WL20" for a 20% discount, btw.) Even with the free shipping it is delivered the next freakin' day. You want to understand the iPhone? It was deconstructed before you ever got yours. There's a Bandolier of Carrots over at W00T! you say? It sold out before you could even refresh your screen.

So, maybe the subprime market has already recovered, absorbing the losses and redistributing the risks before the consumer could even remember to refinance the HELOC. Maybe the coming dissolution of GM won't be as bad as we assume (save, of course, for Roger Moore's disgruntled peeps). Maybe the de-equitization of law firm partners will be good at the macro level (despite what it does for stress levels and heart disease of us working stiffs).

Jumbled post and lots of thoughts that, as usual, lack clarity, definition, and destination. Sorry. Feel free to rewrite my thoughts as you see fit.

Friday, July 13, 2007

No One Gets Out Alive

"This made me really think about how inconsequential running is," [Salazar] said. "I could be gone right now, and what would it have mattered? What was my life of 48 years all about?"

Alberto Salazar, winner of three consecutive New York Marathons in the early 1980s—as well as the infamous "Duel in the Sun" with Dick Beardsley—was felled by a heart attack on Saturday, June 30.

He had attributed neck pain the day before to "sleeping funny" on the plane; difficulty breathing he had pinned on a malfunctioning asthma inhaler; dizziness, to a bug. Then he dropped dead. Only quick action by some bystanders (to include the runners Salazar was coaching that day) gave him a second chance.

Mortality a fact about which boys think naught, but with which a man is confronted at various times in his life. If he is lucky, he learns some lessons each instance, thus staving off grim Charon for a bit longer. Crossing paths with Death is not a matter of If, but when. Salazar got a second chance; I can only hope to be so favored in my next brush with Eternity.


Wednesday, July 11, 2007

No Surprises HERE:

You scored as Agnostic, Agnostics consider the possibility that they may be wrong about God's existence, no matter which side of the fence they stand on. Always willing to objectively evaluate the most ridiculous proof, nevertheless, these guys are skeptics to the Nth degree.

Spiritual Atheist




Apathetic Atheist


Scientific Atheist


Angry Atheist




Militant Atheist


What kind of atheist are you?
created with QuizFarm.com

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

One of My Heroes: Martin Demaine

Martin Demaine, Erik's dad:
[Erik] left school at seven, spending the next 5 years on the road with his dad because it seemed like a fun thing to do. His father, Martin, was a craftsman, making it easy to travel and sell stuff at craft fairs. To him it was a very free-form existence. Their movements weren’t guided by anything more specific than “That seems like an interesting place to go.”

Martin Demaine is now artist-in-residence in the electrical engineering department at MIT and an instructor in the glass lab, making puzzles for glass blowers.

His son, Erik, was the youngest-ever professor at MIT (one speculates whether the "deal" included Dad).

In any case, talk about a committed father, one who takes home schooling to a whole new level.

Do I have that level of commitment and understanding where my children are concerned?

More on Erik (by the way, internet items DO expire, Langolier-like, as the disappearance of this original article I first read back in 2002 shows):

Erik Demaine quit school at the age of 7.

If you had run into him a dozen years ago, it might have been in a bus station somewhere between Halifax, Nova Scotia and Miami Beach, on the road with his father, a silversmith and glassblower whose only degree was from Medford High School. And yet, there he was on Friday, lecturing a roomful of scientists on his obscure specialty: computational origami. Demaine, at 20, arrived in the fall at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with the rank of assistant professor - one of the youngest the university has ever hired.

But the thing that is truly unusual about Demaine is the story of the path he took to get there - and of his father, Martin Demaine, who has devoted much of his adult life to educating Erik in a decidedly unorthodox way. Raised among hippies and jugglers and free thinkers, Erik Demaine has found himself at the center of a field where abstract math somehow intersects with street performance. That he is a prodigy is not even a question, say people who have worked with him; the question is what will amuse him.

But eight years ago, when the father and son walked into the computer science department of Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, they seemed to have emerged from nowhere. ''His dad and he walked into our department and just said he wants to join the university,'' said Sampalli Srinivas, an associate professor. Administrators looked at them like they were crazy.

Erik was 12 years old, he had no board scores, and no high school diploma. But they allowed Erik to take advanced courses in abstract algebra and programming languages. The result was clear by the end of the term: ''He aced every single course,'' Srinivas said. ''I recognized him as one of the brightest students I had.''

Over the next few years, a growing number of Canadian academics heard the story of Erik's migratory education. It was a project that kept father and son on the road for five years, eating $1 meals in rented rooms, and strolling into prestigious universities to talk to professors.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Showing Off?

Was the 4C B.C.E. Greek sculptor of this veiled woman just showing off? Probably...

And why? Hmm?

I am getting around to posting some thoughts regarding Pandora; nothing new, apparently. In the meantime and for your amusement or amazement: More

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Collective Wisdom

Some folks theorize that there is wisdom in the collective. In the financial world, we call this "consensus." Consensus is often a price, the nexus of the highs, lows, buys, sells, and various extremes. Consensus is often none too far from the truth.

Dear reader (I think it still too early to employ the plural), if you desire a glimpse into one man's head, then follow a crowd of thoughts. Following is a common question, with a variety of responses and proposed courses of action, from adolescent to well-measured, from action-oriented to contemplative. The interplay of voices may as well be the very voices inside the head of he who posed the question.

The question? Should dotato contact his old girlfriend?

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Wine Club Review

What was once here in now here.

I plan to review those wine clubs that I use, whether they are discount wine clubs, premium wine clubs, or what have you.

Wine Clubs in my repetoire now include (in descending order of preference):
Wines Til Sold Out (http://www.winestilsoldout.com/) Great values, ever changing
My Wines Direct (http://mywinesdirect.com/) ; good wines at great prices (Grab coupons/discounts at http://www.ebates.com/)
Wine Library
Wine Woot! (http://wine.woot.com/) good stuff, but only one deal a week

I still think Four Seasons Wine Club (http://www.4seasonswine.com/) was worth my while, if at least to get a starter kit, some neat chatchkes, to acclimatize myself to actually spending some benjamins, and to find out what I don't like... Great marketing materials, though.
Wine Insiders (http://www.wineinsiders.com/) I have given up on them--lousy wine, so-so prices, slow delivery. Did I mention lousy wine?

Still waiting for an opportune moment to give Wine Monger (http://www.winemonger.com/) a try. Also, The Wine Buyer (http://www.thewinebuyer.com/); same deal.

Now I have gotten into the wine tasting scene; no, I do not bring my own wine glasses! I *especially* enjoy those shoppes that offer an instant discount on wines bought at the tasting (ALL shops should do that, in my opinion). 20% seems a nice round number.

4seasons wine club review: better clubs in the long run (or even your local shoppe's bargain bin).
Wine Insiders wine club review: bleh.