Friday, January 30, 2009

ColinFest in Review

This is a post I have been meaning to get to for almost three weeks. On January 10th, Maureen and I attended the 3rd Annual ColinFest, a party thrown for Colin, by Colin, of the Colin. Right before we went to the event, I posted an autobiography of Colin to help you to conceptualize the reasons for ColinFest. Since the 10th, the masses (mostly Colin) have been clamoring for a write-up of the event, and since it is one of the more unique Michigan-related activities in which I have participated, I would be remiss to not spend at least some amount of time reflecting on that day.

Saturday afternoon of January 10th in the greatest snowstorm (to date) of 2009, we climbed into my front-wheel drive coupe and slowly and fishtailing-ly made our way to Craig’s house in Ann Arbor. Sometimes you don’t appreciate how many small hills do exist in places until it takes you 10 minutes to make your way up a snow-covered one in your vehicle. After much apprehension and safety concern, we finally showed up to Craig’s house at about 2:30. Ironically and coincidentally, we showed up about 30 minutes late – exactly at the same time as Colin for his own event. He was a little bit miffed that he was late, so we helped him to unpack the structured activities, food, and raffle prizes from his car and carried them into Craig’s house. The party consisted primarily of Ultimate players from the University of Michigan. Ultimate players are the most crazy and dedicated individuals you will ever meet. They live and breathe the game, even though it will never provide them any sort of personal income. They also tend to be a group living in dichotomy – they love granola and being slightly hippy-like with long hair, but at the same time most of them wear North Face vests and drive decent vehicles. Over the years I’ve accumulated a few contacts within the Ultimate world, but Maureen and I only knew a few people at ColinFest.

Upon arrival, we signed up on the attendee sheet to indicate our presence as well as to participate in the numerous iterations of the raffle. The food was plentiful, and almost entirely provided by Colin and his family. Snacks included plentiful and picturesque cookies (chocolate chip, peanut butter, one other kind I can’t remember), loaves of quick breads with embedded chocolate, pork, punch, brownies (gluten-free and with extra gluten), waffles, and lemon cream pie. The punch had ice cubes molded into the likeness of Colin for the brief period before they melted, the waffle iron had a Colin imprint, and their were coasters with Colin's face stamped onto them. There were also a series of games set up in the basement which primarily consisted of throwing something and something else and trying to get that first thing to land in or around the second thing. Champions of the games were awarded chocolate suckers also shaped in the likeness of, you guessed it, Colin. To this point I've also ignored the T-shirts with his picture on them and the Colin temporary tattoos. You'd like to think I'm kidding, but I'm not. On top of all of these festivities, there were several rounds of a lotto-style raffle in which the winners were awarded a variety of prizes from the prize table, some of which also included some variety of a likeness of Colin.

Our participation in ColinFest 2009 ended after the Colin theme-song contest, in which participants wrote three different three songs dedicated to the life, myth, and eventual death of Colin. Lyrics included gems like "Colin McIntyre, you set my heart on fire." I have a link so that you can download the song, but I've temporarily lost that and will update this post once I get my hands on it again (update: here's the link to the song. You'll have to trust me that it's not a virus).

All told, I've never been at such a celebration of oneself, invented, advertised, sponsored, and funded by that self. It was a fantastic afternoon of food, fun, and things shaped like Colin. It would be very easy for you to assume that I'm making this entire thing up, but again, I am not. If you're lucky, maybe between right now and next year you'll have the opportunity to meet Colin, become friends with him, and have the good fortune to make the short list for ColinFest. Enjoy this video of some of his highlights, as well as him doing something else ridiculous (he's the one originally with the cake).

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Benefits of Cold #1 - Zip It Up

Like most dudes and dudettes in Michigan, I am regularly confronted by the greatest friend of winter and enemy to basic decency, the cold. The month of January has brought near-record cold to Michigan and the cold streak seems to be enduring forever and ever and ever (amen). Walking to and from one’s car for work or errands is painful enough, let alone my incredibly stupid running adventures in the dark when the weather is 15 degrees and the ground is coated with ice or snow. One of the things people most regularly knock when they knock Michigan (it’s an artificial insult, but an insult nonetheless) is that it’s just “too cold” in Michigan. You’re right, cold-hating individual, but there are some significant cold-related benefits that I feel you are overlooking. Today I begin the first in my new series I have affectionately titled “The Benefits of Cold.” I don’t know how long the series is going to be because right now I can only think of one main benefit, but that is enough for today.

Have you ever really looked closely at the functionality of a zipper? Zippers are amazing. In one second, they provide no barrier or containment whatsoever, and one moment later with the virtual flick of a wrist, the zipper is locked with extreme enforcement and can go miles in keeping you warm. Zippers also keep your valuables relatively safe from prying hands and suitcases would be far more annoying in the absence of zippers. They are the perfect device – simple, useful, and interlocking.

However, there is an evil side to zippers. That side is the (hopefully) rare instances in which a gentleman gets distracted by something, and accidentally forgets to return the zipper to the “up” position. It is a silly and harmless occurrence, but it still provides embarrassment, and it is almost impossible to take someone seriously if he has happened to leave his zipper down. It happens.

And this is where the cold saves the day. More than a few times over the past couple years, I have stepped outside to walk to my car and things have felt a little extra…breezy and cold. The containment field has been breached, and the additional cold highlights the error of my ways. Sure enough, I glance down to try to figure out why I’m feeling a little extra chill in the bones, and sure enough, it is because I have left my zipper down. The relative warmth of non-winter does not alert me to this emergency situation because the zipper area is generally far more accustomed to this type of warmth. There are many reasons to love the warmer seasons, but only winter reminds me I need to do a better job of keeping the business warm.

On that note, I have written more about pants over the last two days than the aggregate total of the rest of my life up to this point.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Things I Learned Today #7 - Floodpants Redux

Being 6’5”, I am often pants-conflicted. Don’t get carried away with the phrase “pants-conflicted.” I know which gender type of pants to wear and typically have a good sense of how to insert myself into the pants. At one point I did try on a pair of women’s pants after store closing when I worked at Eddie Bauer, but I was left with little doubt that men’s pants are the best overall route for me. Women’s pants were just way too tight in the thighs.

The pants-conflict to which I refer is a constant struggle I have with the correct length of my pants. In a perfect world, I would wear a size 35 length, but they do not sell this pants length anywhere at normal retail outlets and rarely online. There are plenty of 34s, a few occasional 36s, but 35 is not an option. 36 pants are a good length but a little too long, and so the pants suffer from horrendous fraying within a few months of purchase. 34 pants are a wee bit too short so if I go the 34 route, I need to pick a pant with a larger waistband so I can do my part to pull the pants down just a little bit so the bottom of the pant sits correctly on my shoe. Due to periodic weight fluctuation, the too-big waist methodology for size 34 pants breaks down on days like today, and I’m stuck with a pair of pants that barely reaches the top of shoe. That is embarrassing enough – not much looks worse than pants that are too short. While floodpants do a good job of keeping your cuffs dry in the event of an actual flood, today I also learned that short pants are seriously conducive to snow falling into your shoes. This is particularly bad when you are brushing all the snow off your car in the morning before you drive in to work and you are left with some cold and wet feet. Overly-short pants are a threat not only to fashion, but also to one’s ability to thermally regulate his temperature. They must be stopped.

Does anyone else have additional reasons to hate on or love on short pants? (not shorts, shorts are both functional AND fashionable)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Government 1, Citi $40B

On the heels of the news yesterday that Citi would be acquiring a new jet costing in the vicinity of $50M, there is an update today that the U.S. government called Citi and said "Dudes, not cool", and now there is no more jet. This is one of those instances where I feel dumb to have been mad about nothing. Being angry is very psychologically and physically draining, and now I'm going to figure out a way how to invoice Citi for my loss.

I've been conversationally commenting with my friend Nick since my post yesterday, and he knows much more about the airline industry than me because, well, because he's an airplane pilot. His point of view (with which I agree) is that it is easy and wrong to overlook some of the benefits, reasons, and potential cost savings from private flight for corporate executives. On top of that, many corporations and their board of directors have policies that CEOs, CFOs, CIOs, etc. utilize corporate fleets for safety concerns. This is all understandable and I think in most instances, these policies do make quite a bit of sense. It is just a little easier for Senators to appeal to the indignation of the American public by raising this issue above all others to highlight the "wastefulness" of corporate U.S.A.

For now, it seems like some sense of fairness has prevailed, and I'm left with a useless blog post. From now on, it would be prudent for me to perhaps wait a few seconds to see how a story plays out before expressing my opinion about that story, but I just don't think that would be any fun.

Monday, January 26, 2009

What Do They Win, Rod?

Just in case you missed this small but interesting piece of news, Citigroup today verified that they will shortly be accepting the delivery of a $50M private jet. But it's OK, because if they didn't take delivery of the jet, they would have to pay a penalty of a couple million dollars - plus, then they wouldn't have a jet!

Understandably, our Congressman Carl Levin is more than a little bit upset about the fact that Citi is going to be bringing this new toy into the corporate enterprise. It's not a long walk to comprehend his (and my) displeasure. You see, Citi has thus far received $45B in federal funding with zero to negative strings attached. That's one financial institution taking hold of more than 2x the taxpayer money currently supporting GM, Chrysler, and the corresponding jobs. For the time-being, this money is a blessed gift to our auto companies and our state has not yet collapsed mostly because of it, but it burns immensely that the executives of these companies were publicly and embarrassingly punched in the face over and over again for flying on their jets to D.C. It was a fantastic opportunity to publicly ridicule these men and the industry they represented. Despite this, though, Citi is going to stick its middle finger just a little higher into the air toward the U.S. from the comfy chairs on their new airplane.

Being a Mall Cop Pays $20M / Week

To beat a dead horse, yet again Paul Blart: Mall Cop was the number one movie at the box office last weekend bringing in $21.5M. Holy jeez, that makes me sad.

On another note, Maureen and I were high rollers this weekend and went to the $1 showing of Role Models at the Briarwood 4 Movie Theater. I expected big things from Role Models, and I was not disappointed. That movie was hilarious, and if you happen to be in the Ann Arbor vicinity, consider dropping 100 pennies at the Briarwood Theater. Try not to go at the same time as a Madagascar 2 showing because the children and their exasperated parents are out in full force.

More important and exciting stuff from me for you to read hopefully later today, but for now I'm going to put in an application at Somerset Mall in the hopes that they can license my story as a mall cop and I can become some sort of a zillionaire.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The End Will Come

With some luck, the end will be a good thing. The end I am referring to, of course, is the end of the economic situation terrorizing just about everyone around the planet. Day after day, people by the thousands and tens-of-thousands are losing their jobs and I don't know very many people who feel absolutely safe and secure that their job will be around in 52 days or 52 weeks. Psychologically, it is a very damaging time and at this moment, from this vantage point, the bottom seems nowhere close. Banks continue to take billion dollar write downs every single quarter and typically impenetrable companies like Sony are expecting losses in the low billions. This is the first major recession of which I have been professionally aware. The last major recession, the dot-com situation, happened in the early 2Ks and I was safe and sound as a student not particularly caring about much beyond whether or not the Bursley cafeteria would be serving Broccoli and Cheddar Soup for dinner. That soup was the best - like injecting a salt solution directly into my bloodstream. The next most recent recession took place from 1990-1991 when I was 9, so it did not matter to me all that much as long as I could still watch You Can't Do That on Television.

After these difficult times, the U.S. always pulled itself out of the hole and found the way back to growth and prosperity. This growth was typically fueled by bubbles of various types (except for the best bubble of all, that formed by gum) which often led to bigger and better problems down the road, but for at least some period of time, the upside seemed limitless and the future was profitable. Because I was unaware or didn't care about the recessions, I was unaware of the recoveries. They tell me on TV and the internet that we always come back and there is nothing more resilient than the American economy, but it's hard to believe when I've never truly lived through one of these terrible things before. They also say that when the bottom seems unreachable, you're getting close to finding it. Every day seems just a little bit worse than the last, with continuing stock market drops, layoffs, and corporate catastrophe of some form or another. These times are hard and scary for everyone, but I present the argument that they might be most difficult for people of my generation acutely feeling the difficulties for the first time in their lives, with no personally-experienced evidence that things will turn around. They tell me to hold on and things will get better, and I choose to believe them because the alternative is worse than forgetting to TiVo the season premiere of Lost.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Obama Rhymes with Llama

Yeah it does. Bet you haven't thought about that one..

As a disenfranchised Michigan voter in the Democratic primary, I pretend voted for Hillary Clinton. I felt like a big boy going to the voting place and checking off a box on a piece of paper which, at the time, literally counted for nothing. It was a good practice round for real voting when my rights as an American citizen were re-instituted. Ever since that time, I've been impressed by Obama in many respects, but I always harbored a bit of a grudge against him. He had said some things with which I disagreed and he did not want to defend my vote in the primary until it was clear that he was going to win the nomination independent of my wishes. I felt a little burned and angered by the whole process.

None of that matters at this point. Obama proved himself to the American public, won the election, and has been able to consistently generate enthusiasm, pride, and all kinds of other warm and fuzzy things that make people happy. The inauguration yesterday was a momentous event and we'll hold it in our collective consciousness until the first Martian is elected President of the United States. All the children on my basketball team watched the inauguration in their classrooms at school and one girl's parents actually took her out of class to attend an inauguration party. How lame would yesterday have been if McCain won?

Anyway, despite my preliminary dissatisfaction with Obama, I am convinced that he will be the greatest President of all time. This is because he does not have any other option but to be the greatest President ever. If he fails, we will continue to fail and fall further into the well out of which Lassie can not save us. Regardless of your political affiliation, you need Obama to be the best leader in the history of the United States, lest life continue to suck hard.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Safest Place in Detroit

Saturday evening, I was lucky enough to catch the Joel McHale show in downtown Detroit at the Fillmore theater with the lovely ladies Maureen and Heather. Can anyone tell me what the deal is with the apples in the big basket at the Fillmore? There was this big huge basket of what looked like real red delicious apples with the sign above the basket "Take One...or Two". I was incredibly tempted, even though I don't much care for red delicious apples (too tart for standard consumption) and because I was more than a little bit hungry and intrigued by the prospect of free produce. Produce works best as a noun. The only thing bigger than the laughs this evening was my valor in driving to Detroit from Ann Arbor and back in yet another of the snowstorms taking place this winter. I'm just about done with that.

Joel had a fantastic opener named Shane Mauss (pronounced moss), who will be back in Michigan at the Ann Arbor Comedy Showcase at the end of March - definitely check him out if you have the chance. Joel is quite funny and trained in improvisation and is well known for hosting The Soup on the E! Television network, but I thought Shane was a better true stand-up. He just had a little bit of a better way with a joke and holding the audience outside of pure manic energy. Joel M. is definitely a rockstar, but I would say his act should be characterized as a show.

While none of that matters, I did discover one very important thing on Saturday night. That thing is that the main floor of the Fillmore theater (particularly the first 20 rows) is the most secure, safe, and security-enforced piece of land in Detroit, if not the planet. This experience was bizarre. There is one checkpoint where you have to show your ticket to a burly man just to get into the general area of the main floor. Then as you pass the bar on the main floor, you have to show your ticket to another burly gentleman to enter the seating area. Almost there - no you're not. There are then about 5 or 6 little stairs as the seating area tiers toward the main stage, and at each and every one of these stairs, someone different would look at your ticket, hand the ticket to another worker, and say "Jim will take you from here." By the time we had finally arrived at the seats, our ticket and ourselves had passed through no less than 6 security checkpoints and hand-offs. It was seriously weird. If Barack Obama ever comes to Detroit again, I have no doubt that he would find complete comfort and security on the main stage of the Fillmore theater. If you're looking for political asylum, I recommend considering the Fillmore. Finally, if you've insulted Paul Blart: Mall Cop and the masses are clamoring for your head, seek comfort and protection within the inner sanctum of this magnificent and secure structure.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

It's Not Me, It's You

There are quite a few creative people in the world, and this creativity takes all different forms. Some people create music, others are stand up comedians, handsome Michigan residents blog, and the best of the creative types participate in America's Best Dance Crew. I think all creative people are inextricably linked through the personal belief that their efforts are broadly undervalued. No matter what, not enough people are enjoying your craft and they absolutely should appreciate all that you bring to the table. Everything you say and do is a jewel and it only gets better with age.

Take solace, creative types. It's not that you're not as good as you think you are, but rather that millions and millions of Americans are apparently total idiots. I'm talking to you, morons. No empirical evidence has ever proven this hypothesis better than the fact that this weekend, the movie Paul Blart: Mall Cop made freaking $33.8M and was #1 at the box office. This also means that about 3,380,000 people are incapable of reading because this movie is rated at a truly craptacular 26% on Rotten Tomatoes. Looking for more evidence? How about that According to Jim has been on TV for one million seasons. We're better than this, America.

If you find offense with this thought because you saw and (more importantly) enjoyed this movie over the weekend, this might be the extremely rare instance in which I kindly request you stop reading my blog. I fear almost nothing more than the statement - "You know what's funny? Paul Blart: Mall Cop and"

Friday, January 16, 2009

BSG - Big Super Good

40K people remain of the human race, and those of us who survived the attack are on a ragtag fleet trying to find a mythological planet called Earth. On our super fun voyage, we're being constantly chased and killed by robots, some of whom look like robots, some of whom look like humans, who really do not like us for some reason. Our primary food source is algae and British people speak with American accents.

I should be in marketing. I can't think of anyone who wouldn't be sold by the phrase (particularly girls and the elderly) "we're being chased and killed by robots who look like robots and humans." It's almost like poetry. I am, of course, referring to the general plot of the greatest show ever in the history of television - Battlestar Galactica. I have made mention of this show in my blog several times in the past, and today I am about as excited for a television show as I have ever been in my entire life. You see, Battlestar Galactica returns this evening at 10pm on the Sci-Fi Channel for its final 10 episodes after a whole year hiatus between the first ten episodes of season 4 and today. Frakking writer's strike.

This is one of those rare instances where if you have not watched the show prior to tonight's pseudo-season premier, I recommend you DO NOT WATCH tonight's episode. You will ruin the whole awesomeness of the first 3.5 seasons, and thus you will never be able to fully appreciate life and what it means to be human. Instead, you should go rent, buy, or borrow (from me) the first few seasons on DVD and commit every waking moment of your life to the show until you are caught up with show. Here's what I'm thinking - if you start today and take work off next week, you will probably be caught up to watch next week's episode.

I'm not alone in my praise, which is important because very few people take what I say seriously anyways. Check out these thoughts by noted TV critics Alan Sepinwall and James Poniewozik (formerly of Michigan) and begin to grow your anticipation for watching your new purpose in life. While I can't deny that I have the tendency to be a bit exaggerative in many of my thoughts, I really do believe this is the greatest show on television of all time and I have never been more excited for a TV show (with the close contest of Season 2 and 3's premier episodes). Set your balls to stun and open your mind to a little science fiction.

So say we all.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Updated Appreciation of the Auto Show

Like many dutiful Michigan residents, I have made the cold winter trek to the auto show many years of my life. As I have noted before, I am not much of a man, so I don't really fully understand and appreciate all of the intricacies of the automobile. I know that some magical explosive force propels it forward and some other magical force stops the forward momentum. There are also several enjoyable knobs and levers that make lights blink, sounds come from the round things embedded into the doors and pillars, and switches that open and close pieces of glass attached to the car. When people pop open the hood of a car to look at the engine and men stand around admiring and whistling at the inner workings, I do my absolute best to fake that I understand what the heck they're whistling at. Look at that bump! And wow that thing is shiny, I wonder how they got so much power into that 3-D rectangular-shaped thing. That is me.

Yet, because I am Of Michigan and enjoy having something to do, I would go to the auto show. I would go with family or co-workers or friends and walk around and enjoy the displays and marvel at the concept cars or pretend I was driving a Corvette or Dodge Caravan. My current co-workers understand cars and when I went to the show with them last year, they talked about engines and torque and could knowledgeably compare and contrast many aspects of the cars and I stood there and nodded or stared blankly at one of the giant LCD screens. I loved that the event brought press to Detroit and people converged on Cobo from all parts of Michigan and the world. It makes that part of downtown alive for the weeks of the North American International Auto Show.

I never really got it. I would go, but I did not understand or appreciate what the show represented. I would go nutso when Channel 4 (NBC) would have a week long auto show preview that preempted Jeopardy at 7:30. I mean, come on, every single day in the run-up week to the public? My favorite part of the cars was how smooth they felt from all of their turtle wax (though my guess is that the show's workers were not big fans of people like me).

This year, for the first time ever, the auto show genuinely matters to me. The bright, innovative, exciting, and environmentally-friendly picture the automakers must successfully paint of themselves to the world is, suddenly, of utmost importance. I find myself rooting along with each new product introduction, genuinely hoping that a concept car makes its way to final production assembly, rising and falling on the positive and negative words made by auto execs to the local and international press. Oh man, did you see Ford's new Taurus model and their automated parallel parking assist? How about that Cadillac Converj? It matters to me, and I'm a little ashamed it took the events of the past year to finally push me into the appropriate level of enthusiasm. The show is probably the best opportunity of the year for the companies upon which Michigan was originally built to make the case for their future. I always feel the obligation to throw in the standard statement that it is necessary to diversify our economy etc., etc., but the auto show is a symbol of our past, a recognition of the present, and the image of a viable, desirable, and dreamfully exciting future.

If you are not a car person, that should not deter you from trying to make your way to downtown Detroit for the event. The show runs for the public from Saturday the 17th to Sunday the 25th. Bring some excitement, and show your support for your city, home, and industry. Pretending to drive cars is more fun than you remember. North American International Auto Show Homepage


This evening after youth basketball practice at the Ann Arbor YMCA, Craig said to me "Dude, I was reading your blog today and it's gotten all emo. You're like wah wah wah poor me nobody reads my blog."

Craig, where have you been? I haven't become emo - it's been this way since the very beginning! I can't remember one day not lamenting the misery of being an underappreciated blogger. If it weren't for my fiancee and family and job and friends and dogs and relatively good health and not-yet-thinning hair and extensive television knowledge and fantastic dinner from The Macaroni Grill tonight I would probably be the most unlucky person in the world, if not the universe.

And how dare you say I'm emo. That hurts my emotional feelings. Why doesn't anyone like me and life sucks and I need to go buy some bracelets and listen to The Juliana Theory.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Me - In Percentages

A work acquaintance and burgeoning blog reader and fan gave me the following quote the other day.

"Simple minds discuss people
Average minds discuss events
Great minds discuss ideas"

The quote is most often attributed to Hyman (probably caught some crap for that name in grade school) Ryckover, former US Navy Admiral (to make up for all of the name calling). Reading this quote made me try to figure out if he was trying to imply something positive, negative, or none of the above toward me and the words I write here. Am I great? Yeah, probably, but I don't know if I would go so far as to say "great". Am I average? Also, yeah probably - I spend a ton of time thinking and writing about the events of the day or specific things that have affected my life. Am I simple? Definitely, but not all of the time. I've had a few less than nice things to say and write here and there about people that are on my mind.

If I had to break all of this down in terms of percentages, I would say that I spend about 20% of the time writing about ideas and 80% of the time being average or subaverage. Breaking down these percentages into just one word, I would say that I am graverage. Those percentages and letters almost break down perfectly, and it kind of sounds like gravy which makes me hungry and is almost always delicious. If I were super clever, I would come up with some sort of Venn Diagram with three circles for greatness, averageness, and simpleing and have them overlap in hilarious and insightful ways. I can just not picture it would be hilarious if it existed.

The goal, of course, is to aspire to greatness and to be flush with ideas to share, but that is not always within reason. And in case you were unaware, doing so requires effort! What do you think this is, something I care about? You'd be right, but that still doesn't mean I'm capable.

Friday, January 9, 2009

The Great and True Story of Colin

Several weeks ago, my friend Katie celebrated her birthday. We started out the evening with some ZapZone lazer tag, and finished the night out with some cake, food, and games. One of the games we played was Boggle, at which point I found out that one of the party attendees, named Colin, is an international Boggle champion. No kidding. In a room full of about 10 people, the Boggle match was 9 vs. Colin. It's hard to keep score in a game of 9 vs. 1, but Colin either won or barely lost. That doesn't matter, but was fascinating to me was that one person could beat an entire room full of people at Boggle. I like to think of myself as a bit of a wordsmith, but I was shamed by this Boggle evening. I found out that Colin was born and raised in Ann Arbor, and as such, I requested he write up his biography for me to post on my blog. The timing works great because tomorrow, Saturday, marks the very real third annual event called ColinFest, created and organized by Colin - a celebration of food, games, prizes, Colin, and more Colin. I urge you to read all about Colin, star of ColinFest. With respect to length, he went a little ape-padoodle, but that is why people who love Colin love Colin. Our Boggle player will beat your Boggle player. Here it is:

In Ann Arbor, Michigan in the fall of 1979, Devin John McIntyre was born. Four and a half year’s later, Devin’s younger brother, Colin James McIntyre was born. Colin often followed in his brother’s shadow. For example, both boys played soccer and baseball until it became apparent (at around age 10), that neither was very good. Having realized their full potential in real sports, each turned to other activities. Devin excelled academically and graciously defeated Colin in nearly every activity (all athletics, most board games, etc.) Colin continued to hone his skills and developed a hunger for the ever elusive victory.

The McIntyre family played Boggle with some regularity. Colin eventually became competitive and overtook his parents and sibling at the age of 10. This was the beginning of his success. For the next seven years, Colin carefully honed his skills, winning a giant alligator at a ring toss carnival game, becoming a decorated horseman and developing a deep admiration for Zorro. In 2001, Colin organized and won the first and last Pioneer Boggle Tournament at Ann Arbor Pioneer High School. During that same academic year, Colin won a state championship in tennis, became a National Merit Finalist, contributed to the creation of a nine hole disc golf course at the school, began playing Ultimate Frisbee, won the “wacky wire” carnival game at Cedar Pointe (earned giant Scooby Doo) and recorded the first volume of his life’s goals.

Since graduating high school in 2002, Colin’s achievements have come in an avalanche. Actually, very little happened from 2002-2004 and so much has happened since then that it would be impossible to describe it all in a single blog entry. Perhaps a bullet point list of awards and momentous events will be best.

• Considered joining Fencing Team. Quit because footwork is boring.
• Cut from the Michigan Ultimate team
• Purchased 102 frisbees with his face printed on them
• Recorded volume two of his life’s goals.
• Created and hosted the first annual Pedal for a Medal Regatta (pedal boat race)

• Horrific bike accident in late October. Miraculously, hardly suffered a scratch on his entire body, except the left side of his face, which was totally wrecked (scraped, broken, etc.)
• Sported a fantastic Two Face costume for Halloween, complete with bloody eye.
• Received over 60 competitive dance trophies in recognition of his timely winning bid on Ebay.
• Neutral Zone Taboo Champion (won $100 in tournament against high schoolers, hosted by local teen hangout).
• SuperMarioKart Showdown Champion
• Fewest Screws Loose Award recipient. Screwed 100 nuts onto 100 bolts fastest.
• Accepted Jonathan Brodhag’s boggle challenge. Defeated Jonathan and awarded him a trophy reading “Colin Beat Me in Boggle and Is More Attractive Than I Am.”
• Beat Sam Cohen in a Bit (5x5) Boggle game to 50, spotting him 49 points.
• College Division Pedal Boat Champion.
• Won a handful of ultimate tournaments.
• Colin McIntyre Highlight Video (Ultimate) created by dedicated fan.
• Ordered 200 more Frisbees with an upgraded likeness of himself, having grown tired of hurtful comments received about the attractiveness of the image on the first edition.
• Met Mr. Henry Winkler at the Philadelphia airport. Mr. Winkler signed a Frisbee for Colin, writing “Stay Cool, --Henry Winkler.” Thus, the coolest of the cool implied that Colin was already cool, which made it necessary to remain cool. Mr. Winkler also graciously accepted a Colin-Face Frisbee as a gift, but insisted that Colin hand-sign it.

• Won some more Ultimate tournaments and awards.
• Hosted first annual Colinfest.
• Hosted Card Sharp Shooter playing card-throwing competition.
• Won the Pedal for a Medal Regatta, which was sponsored by Red Bull.
• Admitted to Law School despite mediocre grades and late applications.
• Graduated college. Began Law School at University of Minnesota.

• Continued Law School.
• Played Ultimate for Minnesota. Won another award and some more tournaments. Joined the Standing Rules Committee. Defeated Michigan, won a bet, cupcaked former teammates.
• Transferred to University of Michigan Law School.
• Joined Michigan Fencing Team. Quickly became one of the best not-very-good fencers in the area.

• Hosted second annual Colinfest. Bigger and better than ever. T-shirts, temporary tattoos, cookies and cakes with his likeness. Defeated teams of five in Boggle. Undefeated in Connect Four.
• International Boggle Champion. Traveled to Waterloo, Ontario and won the Project Read Literacy Agency Bogglemania tournament, earning a $500 shopping spree.
• Won a cornhole tournament.
• The Caking. Caking + Tandem Bike + Video. (Youtube search “the caking”)
• Paid $50 to E-bay Seller.
• Received 68 pounds of kart racing trophies, presumably in delayed recognition of his 2005 SuperMarioKart Showdown performance.

Plans for 2009
• Participate in World Flying Disc Federation Overall Championships
• Tour the country’s best ice cream shops. Also tour the country’s carnivals and amusement parks, winning giant stuffed animals.
• Third Annual Colinfest, bigger and better than ever.
• Complete personal challenge series versus Will Neff and Ryan Purcell (planning for ~2 years)
• Win 6th Annual Pedal For A Medal Regatta.
• Graduate Law School, pass bar, start job.
• Create a bronze bust of self (thereby completing one life’s goal)
• Buy 100 more Frisbees.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Better than Me


I go on and on and on in this blog and try to justify my existence and be creative and thoughtful and funny and supportive of my home state, and I work hard on it for 7 months while still failing in my efforts to bring in more readers, and then Mitch Albom writes one article in Sports Illustrated that is vastly superior in most ways to everything that I've done on my website. You could say that this is a benefit of being a nationally recognized writer who was trained in the craft of writing things about other things. Some people think Mitch is pompous, overblown, and he can also be a bit of a jerk, but to me, he has never been anything but a strong and visible Michigan advocate in both the local and national press.

When you read the article, take note of the numbers 1,2,3 at the bottom of the website, and make sure that you progress through the article. The first time I read it, I missed the 2 and 3 and thought that he was really missing a conclusion or even a well-rounded point. That's what happens when you only read 1/4 of an article. In it, he touches on many of the subjects so close to my heart that I have also tried to address here - the press' negative perception of Detroit and the Rust Belt, the personal sting we feel about the hatred toward the automobile industry, the sadness we experience as we watch the things we love struggle and fail, our love of sports, the fact that some of us are truly "Of Michigan". The following is a super-dee-duper long quote from the article, but it pretty much ties everything I try to express in a nice and nationally-read bow. Does this mean it's time for me to retire? No, otherwise you wouldn't know what I think about the last 10 episodes of Battlestar Galactica.

And yet...

And yet we go on. The Tigers were supposed to win big last season; they finished last in their division. Michigan got a new football coach with a spread offense and an eye on a national championship; the Wolverines had their first losing season since 1967.

But we will be back for the Tigers and back for Michigan and -- might as well admit it -- we will be back for the Lions come September, as red-faced as they make us, as pathetic as 0-16 is.

And maybe you ask why? Maybe you ask, as I get asked all the time, "Why do you stay there? Why don't you leave?"

Maybe because we like it here. Maybe because this is what we know: snow and concrete underfoot, hardhats, soul music, lakes, hockey sticks. Maybe because we don't see just the burned-out houses; we also see the Fox Theater, the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Whitney restaurant, the riverfront that looks out to Canada. Maybe because we still have seniors who call the auto giant "Ford's", like a shop that's owned by a real human being. Maybe because some of us subscribe to Pastor Covington's words, We are somebody because God loves us, no matter how cold the night or hard the mattress.

Maybe because when our kids finish college and take that first job in some sexy faraway city and a year later we see them back home and we ask what happened, they say, "I missed my friends and family." And we nod and say we understand.

Or maybe because we're smarter than you think. Every country flogs a corner of itself on the whipping post. English Canada rips French Canada, and vice versa. Swedes make lame jokes about Laplanders.

But it's time to untie Detroit. Because we may be a few steps behind the rest of the country, but we're a few steps ahead of it too. And what's happening to us may happen to you.

Do you think if your main industry sails away to foreign countries, if the tax base of your city dries up, you won't have crumbling houses and men sleeping on church floors too? Do you think if we become a country that makes nothing, that builds nothing, that only services and outsources, that we will hold our place on the economic totem pole? Detroit may be suffering the worst from this semi-Depression, but we sure didn't invent it. And we can't stop it from spreading. We can only do what we do. Survive.

And yet we're better at that than most places.

My thanks to John A. and Maureen G. for pointing the article out to me. If you find it touching, I would prefer that you direct your friends and family to this article over my blog (though maybe you could consider doing both).

Wrong About Cash

While in Minnesota, Steve and I enjoyed the penultimate episode of Stargate: Atlantis. This show has been on the air for five seasons and I have completely enjoyed it from the first episode I watched through today. I'm very saddened the show will no longer have a place on my TiVo Season Pass list. This particular episode of the show was set in a parallel universe where the main hero of our story was not in the Pegasus galaxy, but rather a detective in Las Vegas. The whole show took place in the alternate reality, and in the end of the show, our hero, John Sheppard, dies a heroic parallel universe death while a song that is fast becoming my current favorite song plays in the foreground. This song is called "Solitary Man" and was originally written and performed by Neil Diamond and seized and made way more ass-kicking by Johnny Cash in 2000 for his American Recordings album. Wikipedia tells me that some other people have also done covers of this song, but I don't care much about them at the moment.

For no particular reason, I have always been fairly anti-Johnny Cash. Some of his tracks that I'll catch here and there I don't mind, but I always made it a pointless goal of mine to resist appreciating the music. For as long as I have dated Maureen, she has been a pretty big fan - but I think she was just jumping on the Johnny Cash bandwagon so popular with girls when they are in their mid-teens. He's like Brittany Spears or the Pussycat Dolls, only older, a man, much more stripped down, depressing, slightly crazy, and dead. Anyway, thanks to Stargate: Atlantis and their musical choices, I have had the opportunity to fall in love again, for the first time, with Johnny Cash's "Solitary Man". It may be a minor actual event, but this is one of those rare instances in life where it makes me think about what other things I could be wrong about and what else I am missing out on...Thanks to Ken'sTube, here's his haunting version of the song.

If you were not already aware, I am about the biggest dork that you will ever come across.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Things I Learned Today #6 - Power Adapters

At about 5:30 pm this evening, I took advantage of the primary laptop benefit - portability - unplugged my laptop from its power adapter, and carried it upstairs to listen to some internet radio while I worked on a couple things in my room. At 6:00 pm, I utilized that exact same portability, carried my laptop downstairs, and plugged it back into the power adapter. To my great distress, the computer's battery did not begin to recharge, the screen did not return to regular brightness levels, and a high-pitched whine began to emit from within the brick portion of the power adapter. "That's weird", I thought, "maybe I should try a different outlet." I tried another outlet with the same affect. "Huh, maybe I need to check the connections." I unplugged and replugged the necessary wires, stuck it in the wall again, and finally determined that my laptop power adapter had completely died. I am fascinated by this occurrence.

I had absolutely no idea that a laptop power adapter could die. In my mind, it is a wire that transmits electricity from point A to point B, and probably does not contain parts that can break. Apparently not.

However, it does appear that some companies have anticipated this type of failure and know better than me, as is evidenced by the fact that there is an ample supply of universal power adapters with swappable adapter heads at places like Best Buy or MicroCenter. These companies also anticipated that people like me, with meetings tomorrow and tons of data to show on my computer, would be completely under their thumb because I do not have the opportunity to comparison shop or purchase online. All of the available replacement power sources at these stores cost between $90 (my high-end choice) and $200. They take you to the freaking cleaner on this one. For alot of people, that's about 1/3 of the cost of the whole laptop. I would think this should be against some kind of law against screwing your customers. Oh well. At least next time I know that it is probably worth considering buying a backup power adapter before the need is absolutely critical.

Too Freaking Sensitive

On December 21st after the Lions lost to New Orleans (it was ugly), a local sports columnist and TV and radio broadcaster did something very funny. His name is Rob Parker, and after the game during the standard press conference he asked former Lions' coach Rod Marinelli "do you wish your daughter had married a better defensive coordinator?" You see, Jon Barry, the Lion's defensive coordinator, is married to Rod's daughter. The defense has been coordinated incredibly well over the past three years...coordinated FOR SUCKING. HAhahahaha. You're jealous of my wit.

Almost every aspect of the Lions has been disgusting for the better part of a decade now, but the defense in particular has stood out for it's shamefulness during Jon Barry's run at coordinator. It is not a stretch to assume that there was some small quantity of nepotism involved in both the hiring of Jon Barry and the subsequent inability to let him go despite the screaming reasons for such an action. Some very ballsy people are capable of firing friends and family, but the majority of us don't have that strength.

This question from Rob Parker to Rod Marinelli opened up a storm of negative publicity for both Parker and The Detroit News. Rod Marinelli decried the question itself claiming it was a personal attack on him and his family, and when Parker tried to apologize for his error, Marinelli maturely "refused" the apology. The brilliant Terry Bradshaw called Parker a "total idiot" on national Fox coverage of NFL football and then proceeded to stick his head into a Shine-O-Ball-O for his weekly head-shine maintenance.

When, exactly, did the whole entire world forget how to take a joke?

Because of the repercussions of this incredibly inoffensive question placed for maximum levity during another football season of sadness ("a failure pile in a sadness bowl"), Rob Parker has "resigned" from The Detroit News. Of course, we all know that "resigned" means kicked in the balls and then when you're hunched over they push you onto a wheelbarrow and shove you out of the door. With the way the world is now, I am absolutely shocked that anyone found offense with such a silly and stupid question and that it resulted in national attention and the ball-kick wheelbarrow shove of an individual.

Warning: Swears Live Herein

Monday, January 5, 2009

Hi Louis

I've been writing a little bit less frequently of late for a couple of primary reasons. First, the holiday season and all of its related cheer and television watching is quite the deterrent from being productive. Second, as I've noted multiple times before, my sister had her first baby late in December. Steve and I were able to manage a reasonably-priced flight to Minnesota, and we spent the last several days there enjoying some family time and interacting with our new nephew. His father and mother decided to name him after two of his male great grandparents.

I've been working on writing this blog for just over six months now, and this post, when completed, will be my 199th post. That's not too shabby from a quantity perspective, and the only thing more important than quantity is quantity. Having time with Louis and my family over the past four days, I am again reminded why I spend my free time writing this blog.

We no longer live in a world where it easy for family members to always live close to each other. Careers, job opportunities, or lack of available jobs force people to move to different parts of the world. Forced movement is one reason for this scatter, but also in the professional world, people are viewed negatively if they choose location and family over upward mobility and the broad concept of "worldliness." For some reason that I have never been able to grasp, any smart person who does not choose to take the job in Duluth despite the fact that it is the best path to executive management is perceived as making the wrong life choice. For many people, the job in Duluth is the right decision, but are those people inherently better than those who choose other priorities over the work and career? I don't think so, but I know more than a few people who would disagree with me. I regularly have discussion and disagreement with my very bright co-workers about this very subject. They are all worldly, international types and have had great success and joy by traveling, working in exotic places, and generally experiencing many of the exciting things that the world has to offer. Because they have found success and happiness with their life choices, they have trouble believing that there are other, better paths for people who aren't them. They hear the opposing argument, and because they have experienced "so much", they think that the opposing viewpoint isn't based on intelligence or thoughtfulness, but rather ignorance and small-mindedness. There's almost no way to argue against the "you just can't understand" argument. I think travel, working in different places, and other personal challenges are all fantastic opportunities that should not be passed without serious thought and consideration, and in many instances, these challenges will develop you as a well-rounded person. However, there is no universal right choice for everyone. I digress a little bit here because I have had many heated conversations about this very topic, but it is related to my main point.

The implications of separation are even more poignant after having a tiny amount of time to hold and enjoy my nephew. I am sure that we will see him and his parents as often as possible as he grows, but it simply cannot be the same as living in the same state as him (unless we lived in Cincinnati which is split between Ohio and Kentucky). It is not as easy for us, as family, to assist his parents with caring for him or taking him off of their hands so they can spend an evening out on the town. It is critically important to me that, at the very least, Michigan is a state in which people have the option to live prosperously and happily. Without this, it will become increasingly impossible for us to live where we grew up - near family and friends, surrounded by the support structure we have spent our lives developing. It would be pretty ridiculous and hilarious to assume that by writing a blog I can have this type of impact in any way, but these are some of the reasons why the state and its future are so important to me. When I argue for the state, people frequently ask me why I don't just cut ties and move somewhere where weather is more temperate and jobs are more plentiful (when not in a global recession), and the primary reason is because no where else can I get even close to recapturing the aggregate total of all things that are important to me right here.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Was that Weird?

A week ago today, I headed to the local YMCA at 11 Mile and Woodward to sign my parents and myself up for Monday evening yoga classes. My parents convinced me to give yoga a try last session and I found it to be an interesting way to diversify my workout from just lifting weights and running. For a big guy, I'm decently flexible except I hate any time in which I have to sit in a cross-legged or butterfly style. My hips do not point at all out to the side, and whenever I'm supposed to sit with my knees toward the ground, they're more or less pointed straight into the air.

Right behind the front desk at the Y, there is a large collage of photos of people doing fun things at, I assume, the YMCA. There are people working out, doing arts and crafts, swimming, and otherwise engaged in fun community-building activities. The one thing that caught my eye and I found particularly odd was that one of the photos had a young boy painting a word in an artsy style and that word was "Selabit". I thought to myself "I do not recognize that word but when I say it in my head it sounds familiar." A few seconds later, I realized that the word I had in mind was celabite. There were a few things about this picture that are odd, and I'm not sure which is the most weird. First, there is the clear spelling error here. Does the Y promote misspelling and otherwise poor grammar? I certainly hope not. Second, I was unaware that the Y was into teaching this kind of thing to youngsters. I know the Y has a Christian foundation, but it always seemed to me that certain aspects of humanity were not addressed within the Y - at least until children are a little bit older than the kid in this photo. Third, why would this boy choose to make an arts and crafts project with the central theme of "Selabit." He could have art-ed baseball or cheetas or Snickers or SpongeBob, but he made the unique choice and took the project in a pretty interesting direction. Finally, how did the Y choose to put this oddness on their central behind-desk collage?

I have no problem with any of these things and there may be a perfect explanation to all of my questions (possibly the boy's last name was Selabit), but at the very least I thought this little oddity was noteworthy. May I recommend that you go sign up for a class at your local YMCA in the hopes of seeing this great photo.