Friday, April 28, 2006


Success is the series of confident decisions you make.

Saw that one at the airport on some ad with a golfer.


New virus locks up computer and demands ransom in exchange for unlocking it. This finally brings hackers and virus creators into the realm of "understandable."

Heroine Legal in Mexico

From this story:

Under the legislation, police will not penalize people for possessing up to 5 grams of marijuana, 5 grams of opium, 25 milligrams of heroin or 500 milligrams of cocaine.

People caught with larger quantities of drugs will be treated as narcotics dealers and face increased jail terms under the plan.

The legal changes will also decriminalize the possession of limited quantities of other drugs, including LSD, hallucinogenic mushrooms, amphetamines and peyote -- a psychotropic cactus found in Mexico's northern deserts.

It'll be interesting to see how this affects a)the mafia-backed drug trade, and b)drug users.

They're deciding to go after dealers instead of trying to treat users. We'll see how this strategy develops.

Immigration Protests

My mom asked me if I was going to go to work on Monday. I had no idea, but amidst all the immigration issues in the news right now, there is going to be a big "day without Hispanics" throughout the country. The idea is for people to not go to work so that employers can see how important those workers are. Whether or no it will work I don't know, but it reminded me of that movie "A Day Without Mexicans" and so I was intrigued.

Plus I could get out of work with a idealistic excuse.

Then I read about what the people behind the protests want: Full amnesty.

That's when I started getting a little lukewarm on the idea.

Here's what I think:

I think that, if you want to come to a new country, you should learn the language. It's on you to adapt to the place you're going to. Most people don't do this, but a lot do.

I think that, if you do decide to come here illegally, you put yourself into a very precarious situation. Is it worth it? Damn right it is, look at the numbers: economically and the sheer amount of people that come across (or try) tell you that it pays off for latin american countries and for the people sacrificing themselves to come over.

But full amnesty? The system is broken and it needs to be fixed. But no matter what, people are going to want to come here if their home lives are shit. That's the way it is. Granted, we don't want to have The United States of all of America.

I guess the only real answer is for those countries (Guatemala included) to really get down to business and make them a better place for people to stay and live. It'll happen eventually.

It's a complicated situation, but you can't come to someone else's country and start demanding things because you want a better life. I'm sorry. It may sound shitty, but that's life. Some of us are lucky and some of us aren't, life isn't fair.

Mariotti on Noce

Nocioni revs up the crowd

Let Shaq swim in foul trouble and play in a 34-year-old daze for his $20 million salary. At $2.7 million, Nocioni was the bass beat behind a victory that pumps life into a series that looked over in Miami.


Not quite like the old chants for Jordan, but poetic enough.

Noce is a one-man electric power plant. A United Center that was subdued as Game 3 began, through the Alan Parsons-flavored introduction that should have been retired with the dynasty, was rocked by the verve of an Argentinian devil who plays basketball like a heavy-metal guitarist. He isn't the most talented Bull or anywhere close to being the highest-paid Bull. He runs with elbows flailing and legs kicking in all directions, like a guy who shouldn't spend time in grocery-store aisles. The Heat also might call him the dirtiest Bull, the one they'd like to take out with a forearm shiver to either his goatee-covered chin or his helmet-haired head.

But I would submit he is the most indispensable Bull, the player most important to any fantasy of beating the Heat and advancing to the next round. Sunday looms as the most important basketball game in Chicago in eight years.

The Bridge

This documentary filmed the Golden Gate Bridge for a year and got footage of people jumping to their deaths. The article deals with some people's outrage towards the movie and compare it to a "snuff film."

It must be really eery to watch, though.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Iran Gets First North Korean-Made Missiles

Monday, April 24, 2006

Hijacked Browser

So Im in Guatemala and there is an annoying quirk in Explorer that I dont care for. Or maybe its just the way it is, but I dont see this happening with Firefox. There are some websites that check the IP address and, if its from a hispanic country like Guatemala is, than it takes you straight to the spanish version. It pisses me off. Im sitting here typing this in and all my blog controls are in spanish. MSN did it too.

It sucks.

Never mind that the keyboard Im typing on is American and the Windows version Im using isnt, so that means I press the dash key and get ' instead. Which means no apostrophes and other special characters, unless you want to see ´, which is not a real apostrophe.

That is all for now.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Mark it

Another important date coming up in my calendar: Tomorrow George Saunders releases his latest collection of short stories titled In Persuasion Nation. Oh and I also go to Guatemala for a few days.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Walks DO matter

OK, you here it all the time, and you’ve heard it even more vociferously since Moneyball came out a few years ago: walks are an important part of the game. Some would place OBP among THE most important stats in baseball.

The backlash was to be expected. “I don’t get paid to walk, I get paid to hit” is the common response a lot of the more simple-minded players came up with to defend their approach at hitting. They surmise that it isn’t necessary to draw walks if you want to be a good hitter.

Until recently, I would’ve gone either way, even though I am a fervent OBP supporter—I think it’s a great way to measure a player’s ability and hitting style (if he sticks to making contact with two strikes, if he swings at bad pitches, if he’s patient and not afraid to hit with two strikes, if he has a good enough eye to know which pitches he should and shouldn’t swing at, etc.). Since I can’t be there to watch all the games, OBP becomes incredibly useful. It brings me closer to the action.

Walks play a big role in OBP, but here I want to talk exclusively about walks. I went to (a great resource, by the way, for minor league numbers and career numbers for all players of all eras) and looked up some career numbers for some great hitters: Ruth, Foxx, Mantle, Ted Williams (my favorite), Bonds, etc. They all have something in common besides their incredible career batting averages: walks. TONS of them. Not only that, most of them have a disproportionate amount of walks compared to strikeouts (read: they walk WAY more than they strike out). Walks ARE important.

These great hitters fall into one of two categories: either they strike out a lot (80-100) and walk a lot (80-100), or they walk a good amount (60-70) and strike out VERY rarely (20-30).
And these are the greatest hitters of all times. Look at the ratios for some of these guys, it’s incredible how rarely they strike out and how often they walk. You don’t see these kinds of numbers every day. In fact, in an unscientific search I ran, very rare contemporary players met the criteria: Pujols, Bonds, McGwire, Todd Helton, Brian Giles, etc.

So next time you hear a guy say that walks don’t matter, look up their career average and you’ll notice that, while he may be OK, he ain’t nowhere near great.

Best Jobs

This little feature on the best jobs out there is pretty cool. There are features on the top 10 and there are small profiles for the top 50. Of interest to me personally:

#2 College Professor: Seriously in the running. Creative Writing or something similar. Have my Masters and just need experience. May be doing it later this year on an adjunct basis.

#3 Financial Adviser: More of a longshot and has only come about within the past year. I’d have to get certified, which means going back to school. Eh…

#11 Advertising Manager: Probably my next career move, but we’ll see. It’d be nice to put the copywriting and editing skills to a more creative purpose. One that is meant to sell, which is challenging.

#19 Editor. Could do it now if someone hired me. I’m good at it. But it’s tedious as a motherfucker. Plus I’d be jealous of the writers giving me their work.

# 25 Writer. The ultimate goal and the one I should really be aiming at with all my might instead of even considering the ones higher up on this list. But what can I say? I’m a moron. Hopefully I’ll come to my senses. (This isn’t just novel writing, it includes magazine writing and feature reporting).

Be Kind to the Waiter you jerk

From an article in USA Today:

Office Depot CEO Steve Odland remembers like it was yesterday working in an upscale French restaurant in Denver.

The purple sorbet in cut glass he was serving tumbled onto the expensive white gown of an obviously rich and important woman. "I watched in slow motion ruining her dress for the evening," Odland says. "I thought I would be shot on sight."

Thirty years have passed, but Odland can't get the stain out of his mind, nor the woman's kind reaction. She was startled, regained composure and, in a reassuring voice, told the teenage Odland, "It's OK. It wasn't your fault." When she left the restaurant, she also left the future Fortune 500 CEO with a life lesson: You can tell a lot about a person by the way he or she treats the waiter.

Good article, read it.

Tom Hanks

Tom Hanks’ favorite movies (again, considering the source, I was curious):

- 2001: A Space Odyssey (can’t debate that, although it gets really slow in some parts)
- Boogie Nights (nice)
- Fargo (great movie)
- The Godfather (a classic)

My problems comes with his number 2 pick: Elephant by Gus Van Sant. He said it was “one of the most moving films I've ever seen.”

What? That was the slowest, most boring movie ever. If Columbine hadn’t happened it would’ve meant nothing to anyone. It’s basically a school day at a typical high school, nothing new or different about it. Then at the very end a kid goes nuts and shoots the place up. Why is this moving?

Sorry, Tom, you missed on that one.

What is Experience?

From the Sun Times:

An ESPN camera Sunday night focused on Greg Maddux talking to Sean Marshall in the Cubs' dugout after Marshall came out with one out in a troubled fifth inning that saw the St. Louis Cardinals recapture the lead 4-3.

Maddux was asked Thursday what he imparted to the rookie, who ended up with a no-decision when the Cubs won 8-4.

"Anytime you see a pitcher screw up, you're like, 'Oh, I did that,''' Maddux said. "You know how you've screwed up in the past. I try to give him and all the guys a heads-up. Experience is screwing up and not screwing up the same way again. That's all experience is.''

I like that: Experience is screwing up and not screwing up the same way again. Plus, considering the source, it's worth paying some attention to.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Iran, Iraq, and Korea

Just read some of the article in the New Yorker about the US government (and Bush, specifically) wanting to do something about Iran, and how they are in the preliminary stages of invasion. The knee-jerk reaction here is to say “Oh boy, here we go again.” With the horrible aftermath in Iraq, it’s an understandable feeling to have.

But as I read the article it hit me that Iran is much more scary to me than Iraq ever was. To be more precise, the Iranian president is scarier than Hussein ever was. He seems to have a bit of a Napoleon complex going and, along with the comments he’s made, makes me a little nervous.

Not that think we should go into Iran or anything, but guys like him and Kim Jong-il (KJ) in Korea are legitimate, scary guys. I always brought that up during the invasion of Iraq: we are going after a guy who is backing down, saying he doesn’t have anything, when the evidence was showing (and did show) that he didn’t have any WMDs. This was all going on while KJ was yelling at the top of his lungs how the US wouldn’t dare attack him and how he intended to go nuclear on his own.

It was always kind of a weird sensation: why go after this guy when the other guy is yelling and screaming that he’s going to get us?

And, even more importantly, the question that is getting some but not enough press and should really be at the forefront of all these discussions: what can be done to fix the underlying issues that have so many of these guys yelling and screaming that they’re going to come and get us?

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Quien Mato al Obispo?

Just finished reading this book about the murder of Juan Gerardi, a bishop in Guatemala about ten years ago. It's shocking how easily certain evidence was ignored and how fake documents and witnesses were produced. I remember when this book came out it was a big deal in Guatemala and I can see why - it uncovers the facts that were buried in order to lay the blame on three people who had nothing to do with it.

The fervor with which the DAs went after these men, knowing full well that they were innocent, just to further their careers, is shocking.

As a read it was also good, kind of has a little In Cold Blood feel to it, without the final sense of justice and certainty of that book's ending though.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Derek Lee with new contract

From an article about his new 5 year, 65 million dollar contract:

"I like it here. Also, I want the challenge of trying to win here. I want to be on that team that wins the world championship here in Chicago and sees the city go crazy," Lee said.

That last line is awfully reminiscent of something Kevin Tapani said back in 2000. He had about one year left to play before retiring and decided that, instead of accepting a trade to a contender to try and win the World Series (he had veto rights), he wanted to stay in Chicago because he couldn't bear to think of Chicago winning a World Series if he wasn't there to enjoy it as a player. So he stayed. It didn't work out for him and I'm pretty sure he also used the word "crazy."


Blackberry privacy issues?

I was on the train today and this guy sitting down in front of me was on his Blackberry checking and reading emails. I could see everything he was writing and reading. And it hit me, is this guy's company worried/concerned that any company-specific secrets (or numbers) may get exposed because he's on the train reading his email? I have to think they are.


Went to see the play for the first time yesterday on a spur-of-the-moment type thing (Mindy really likes it). I had seen the movie, however, and thought it was really good. I read a lot of the reviews and couldn't understand why they ragged on it so much. I though it was very powerful and well done. And after seeing this production, I feel even stronger about that. I didn't have my glasses so I was squinting—but that's neither here nor there.

The important part of it was that, as I was sitting there watching these people go nuts singing and performing on stage it hit me, "What the hell are you doing?"

Really simple.

I've made the mistake before of not going after what I want 100% for the sake ofconservativismm and "playing it safe." The first time was baseball—I didn't try everything I could've to make that my career and because of it I never really gave myself a shot. Something I regret but at least I learned the lesson, right?

Well last night I felt like a dumbass: for the past 5-6 months I've been getting really into Finance and Investing—reading a bunch of books and stuff on it. It's interesting, it grabs my attention, and I like it. But it's also the part of me that says, "There is no future in writing, but business is a respectable thing to do." Which is wrong. So I made up my mind to read some fiction, something entertaining, something that gets my juices going again. I've been dry for way too long. I can still do the investing stuff as a hobby, but I've got to get my priorities straightened out.

Thanks, RENT.


Had practice this weekend and someone brought this thing in called the Zip-n-Hit. Check out more about it here. It's awesome, probably the best device I've ever had to practice batting. The batting tee works, but this makes the ball move and is much better. It's perfect to get your swing ready for both fastballs and changeups, depending on you strongly you yank on the chords. Plus you can practice inside, outside, up, down, anywhere. Like the website say, "a perfect pitch every time!"


Check this one out:

'Everything came to pass, did it not?' Woland went on, looking into the
some dark door. And on this door Koroviev softly knocked. Here Margarita
sweat; then, in unendurable pain, he raised his eyes to the sky, following
inflammatory tales about yesterday's unprecedented s ance of black magic.
from the building.


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'Shilka and Nerchinsk ...'[4]
'For instance, Ivan,' Berlioz was saying, `you portrayed the birth of
got half the city here! I met a friend the other day and said to him: "Why
armchair, clean-shaven, with a harried yellow face, a man in a white mantle
about the moon he often adds that of all things in the world, he most hates
don't want it to remain for ever in his memory that I ran away from him in
penetrating than the defiant 'Manuscripts don't burn', this word touched the
Margarita tore the curtain open and sat sideways on the window-sill,
'Is that vodka?' Margarita asked weakly.
today, it will tomorrow.'
'My head, my head! ...'
ballroom, and it was clear that unprecedented hordes of guests were dancing
posters will be ready shortly.'
unguarded vulnerability. Two aphorisms detachable from the novel may suggest
words about the fifth procurator of Judea, repeated aloud in a sing-song

Mariotti on the Bulls:

Look, as much as the Bulls hustle and scrap, this remains a team of overachieving role players that has peaked.

His article repeats the criticism of this team and the move that many think Paxson needs to make in order to make this a playoff-contending team: trade for a superstar like Garnett.

I think I agree with him on this, which is pretty strange. I don't like Mariotti because he tries too hard, saying things that are over the top just to get his name out there and keep people talking. But this time he's going with the flock—this is how a lot of people feel about this team.

I guess one of the things you get when you get a superstar player is consistency, and this team just doesn't have that right now. Their "scrap" gives them an edge other teams don't, which is tied to their defense. But, unfortunately, it's not enough.

Mariotti mentions a scenario where Chandler, Deng, and the number one pick we have from the Knicks goes in exchange for Garnett. That's a sweet deal, as much as I like Deng. We get to keep Ben Gordon and Nocioni. I'd even say trade Chandler and Gordon for him.

Sad because I like this team a lot. It's character, it's humility, it's talent, it's "scrap."

It just doesn't seem to be enough.


The fashion of newest creation – the further is ejaculation.

This one's getting a little literary/poetic:

More women than there are branches on the tree with Ultra Allure Pheromones.

I love it that some guy in russia or Bratislav wrote this and it goes all over the world.


Subject Line: Alright :)

Haven't we met somewhere before? :)))

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I've been getting a lot of these lately, with stuff in the body that is random but seems to be copied out of somewhere. Must be some way of bypassing the filters because it made it through my SPAM filter with Yahoo.

Saturday, April 8, 2006


Nice bit on Andres Nocioni in the Sun Times today. I love what he's saying and how he says it. The NBA needs more guys like him.

''I think he is the most-improved player [in the NBA],'' Skiles said. ''I also thought he should have been all-rookie [NBA selection] and things like that. But people look at him as already a pro player. I understand that because he has played professionally for a long time. I know everybody respects him around the league, they just tend to look at him as a long-term veteran, or whatever, even though he's in his second year.''

Nocioni is more modest than his statistics.

''If I want to talk about myself, I'd play tennis,'' he said to the media surrounding him following practice Friday. ''This is basketball, we need to talk about team. This is not about Tyson [Chandler], or me, or Ben Gordon; this is about the Chicago Bulls. Everybody will need to play together if we want to win. I think everybody is playing really good right now and that's because we work.

''I play like this all my life. When I don't play hard, I don't play well. I need to play hard every night if I want to play in the NBA. I'm not a star player, I'm not like a Kobe Bryant. I need to play hard because I think I am a role player."

The hard work Nocioni put in during the offseason to improve his English has helped.

''His personality has definitely come out this year, there's no doubt about it,'' Skiles said. ''He's much more comfortable around the guys. With the coaches, we could always have a basketball conversation with him last year because he understood the basketball terminology. But just as far as other conversations, it wasn't terribly difficult but it's much more easy now.''

Nocioni said his approach to basketball is an Argentine thing.

''There are few guys who play with our passion,'' Nocioni said. ''We feel the sport in the blood. You watch the Olympic Games, [Argentina] plays so hard. It's the same in soccer. It is for the country. I know if I want to play in the NBA, I have to play like this.

''And I think I'm on the perfect team because everybody wants to play hard. From the coach to the trainer, everybody wants to win. That's good for us. Sometimes, I don't think we have the talent of other teams, but I think we play harder. This is the reason why we are fighting right now for the playoffs. Two weeks ago, nobody thought about the possibility of the playoffs. Right now, we are. This is because everybody keeps working every day and is thinking that the team is most important.''

He's right, and that's why the Bulls can be so frustrating. That last game against the 76ers was awesome, they haven't played like that in a while. It's tough to quantify how "hard" you play and try to chart it or work on it when it isn't "there" during some stretches of the game. But when it's there and the fundamentals of basketball are there, we have the pieces to win.

There is a lot of talk that the Bulls are a superstar short of becoming a contending team. A player like Garnett. The problem is, to get someone like that, you need to trade guys like Ben Gordon or Luol Deng and possibly someone else like Nocioni. Then you're just another NBA team again (although you still have Hinrich, Duhon, and Chandler). I don't know if this is the right path to take, but I have faith in Paxson and in Skiles. They sat Thomas when he came over in the Curry trade because he was lazy in practice and wasn't "trying hard enough." That's good, we don't want those guys, which makes me think that, if a move is made, they are going to be really careful about A) who is is B)What they trade away, and C) the effect it has on the team.

Virtual Prositutes

I guess it was just a matter of time, and yes I've heard of websites that dedicate themselves to this, but on craigslist? It shocked me when someone told me that they knew some guys who had just gone on there, clickedy-clicked, then got some girls over to have sex with. For money. Just like that. Forget about the moral implications of all this (although I have plenty to say on that, just not here), how on earth are you risking your health and your freedom on something like this? The guy said he does it all the time, that he's done it around 100 times. Can you believe this?

I was having trouble figuring out the legal ramifications of all this so I went on to craigslist, and under services go to erotic. It's not subtly at all, these girls will have sex for money. Some offer price menus (60 for BJ, 40 for HJ, etc.). I never heard such a blatant thing. There isn't a whole lot out there on this, except for a few brief news stories about cops using the site to trap both prostitutes and johns.

This is one of those moments where I feel I've stumbled onto something big that hasn't been covered before, and I should write something up about it. Maybe I will this time.

Wednesday, April 5, 2006

My Prediction

I thought Hairston was going to win the starting job. I was wrong. The decision was made at the last minute and I wasn't the only one surprised. But so far Todd Walker has been hitting everything in sight (this is through 1+ games, mind you). We'll see if Hairston develops into a supersub, Figgins-ish type player.

"It's pretty good"

71-year-old Felipe Alou is the manager of the San Francisco Giants. Amidst all the steroid-Barry Bonds controversy, they asked him about Bonds's new reality-TV show. He was in his office scanning the channels.

Giants manager Felipe Alou flipped through the channels in his office while talking to reporters before the game, stumbling across women in a hot tub on MTV2 before putting the show on for a few minutes.

"I don't see Barry there," Alou said when he saw the hot tub. "What is that? It's pretty good."

My kind of old guy. Especially with the accent, it must've been hilarious.

Monday, April 3, 2006


For those of you that don’t know what this is, I can explain it to you in the only format I know of it: Major League Baseball. Once a player has been in the Majors a certain amount of time (three years, I think) and his options are out (can’t be sent to the minors again), he can file for arbitration. It means that, for the three years until he can become a free agent, the team he’s on has control over him. He can, however, file for arbitration.

It’s going to court, basically. In front of three independent arbiters, the team makes its case and the player makes his. The player files for the amount he thinks he deserves (let’s say 3.2 million) and the team files its amount (let’s say 2.75 million). Unless they can find a middle ground on their own, the case goes to the arbiters. Teams don’t like to do it because you have to talk crap about your own player. You have to show the arbiters what sucks about the player that he deserves to make the lower salary and not the higher one. Same deal on the players side. You talk up the positives, make comparisons to players that are similar statistically who make that much money, and so on.

I’m super interested in it because it sounds like a great process. Convince these neutral parties and whoever wins gets the amount they filed for. Another negative thing about going through the process is that you can no longer settle for a middle ground. They pick one of the amounts. A lot of the time, teams and players split the difference at the last minute to avoid the nasty process of sitting there and degrading the player.

But sometimes they do it.

I think the process should exist in the workplace. More specifically, where I work. I think it’s a great, fair process. You go in, well prepared, ready to discuss what makes you more valuable and so on. Granted, you won’t like what they have to say (here I’m thinking of stuff like “takes personal calls on company time, spends too much time on email, takes company property home,” etc. etc.). They might not know these things about you now, but if they were going to arbitration you bet your ass they would dig that shit up. Money is on the line.

Why am I so much in favor of it right now? I know I could win my case easily. No doubt about it.

But that’s just me.

My case:

- I’m the only bilingual person working on the Spanish catalog.
- I have a masters degree in writing (for when I do copywriting).
- I’m, by their own repeated admissions, one of the fastest workers (for stuff like this it gets sketchy because they can counter with “We didn’t mean that, it was just to keep him motivated”—which is crap, I’m lightning).
- I’m severely underpaid as it is, and have been since I’ve been here.
- I could get a higher-paying job somewhere else in a matter of seconds (and yes, I know, here the answer is “Well why don’t you?” and maybe I will so just shut up and try to follow along on my arbitration fantasy).
- If I left tomorrow, they would be in DEEP shit. Stinky, stanky, runny shit.
- I’m awesome.

Didn’t I mention I can’t lose?