Monday, October 30, 2006

Pumpkin Carving

FS Pumpkin lightEV Pumpkin darkInstead of the traditional scary pumpkin carving, we did some logos this year. Dianne did the logo on the very upper left of this webpage and I did the lightbulb logo in the lower left of the screenshot on the same page. We cut some areas completely through and other areas we shaved part way through the flesh from the outside to get a 2 tone effect. It was fun and we kept the seeds for the birds. You can see light and dark versions of both pumpkins on Flickr.

Super Roll Sunday IV -- Cincinnati Rollergirls

It was a packed house last night at Castle Skateland for the last set of matches of the Cincinnati Rollergirls exhibition season. Both matches were very exciting, seesaw battles.

In the first bout, the undefeated Dames took on the Corsets. Going in I thought it would be a good match….but it turned out to be a very exciting match! They were just a couple points apart one way or the other the whole match. The Corsets seemed to kick it up a notch to try and knock off the Dames. Although always strong defensively led by Collier Mama, there was a lot of blocking teamwork going on. They were not only trying to take out the Dames’ jammers, but also trying to box in the Dames’ blockers so the Corset jammers could get through the pack quicker. The Dames were doing the same thing however, so it made for a rough skate in the pack. Sk8 Crime had some great jams (which made her mom very proud), but Blu Bayou, Bex Pistol, and the Librarian (and others?) were all contributing jammers. The Librarian deserves a most improved skater award as it seemed she picked up her speed a lot since SRS III. She was really sprinting hard off the line and even from the outside position she beat some of the Dames jammers through the first and second turns. In the end, with Sadistic Sadie as jammer for the last two jams, the Dames edged out the Corsets by a couple points.

In the second bout, the Riots skated against the Sundaes. I’ve been pulling for the Riots all season, but they’ve had a tough time. I was hoping they could pull off a win and in another close match they edged out the Sundaes. Congratulations to the Riots for their first win! This was a high scoring match and also a close match most of the way. The first jam after the half, the Riot jammer was put in the penalty box (I missed the reason why). This put them behind. A couple jams later with some of the Sundae skaters in the penalty box, Gummilove had a 17 point jam that got the lead back for the Riots. With some tough jamming and hard takedowns in the later jams, the Riots held on to their lead to beat the Sundaes.

It was nice to see a full crowd in the stands. The crowd was into it which added to the fun. There was a lot of cheering during the jams (especially for the Dames) as well as collective gasping at some of the hard hits and falls. Some spectators dressed in costume (especially kids) and the Rollergirls were passing out candy and other items which was nice. Maybe it‘s an illusion because the Skateland venue is smaller than the other rinks, but it seems like you’re closer to the action there – I’m guessing their floor is more narrow than the other rinks. That’s nice. I also liked the new pair of announcers last night. Finally, Sk8 Crime and L’dia did a very nice a cappella version of the national anthem.

I didn’t talk to Miss Print, but I hope she continues providing Rollergirl updates on her blog during the off season and I hope the league continues. Thanks to all the Rollergirls for bringing some hard hitting roller derby action to the Cincinnati area!

Friday, October 27, 2006

This I Believe in Cincinnati

One of our local public radio stations, WVXU, is starting a Cincinnati version of "This I Believe" segments where people share core values and beliefs that guide their lives. The segment aired today on WVXU was written by Lisa Dunlap, a person I've worked with on several projects. It's a great essay on giving and receiving that is a true reflection of her character. You can read her essay here or click on the play button to hear Lisa read it.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Embed a Flickr Slideshow

I just read a post on the download squad site on how to embed a slideshow in a blog. Here is a test from my autumn leaf set of photos. For some reason I couldn't get the photoset option to works, but the tags option seems to work fine. I'm curious about the load time. Let me know what you think.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Interview with Omega 3

As Dianne pointed out in a recent post, the fourth and last exhibition season bout for the Cincinnati Rollergirls on October 29th is approaching fast. Tickets are now available through the Cincinnati Rollergirls site. The start time is a bit later so all the Bengals fans can watch the game and make the match. I just noticed the Roller Derby Diva’s blog had a link to an interview that Randomville did with Omega 3, the Rollergirls’ coach. It’s a short interview, but it explains her choice of Omega 3 as a nom de patinage a roulettes (OK…it’s not as catchy as nom de plume for a writer).

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Flying on Sunday

I flew a bit this afternoon. It's nice flying when the temperature and humidity are lower. The performance of the plane improves a lot when the density of the air goes up. I notice it most on climbing. It was a bit cloudy so the light wasn't the best, but you can see from the photo below (taken about 2500 feet above the Caesar's Creek area) that the trees are looking very pretty after several cold mornings.
Caesars Creek2

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Bloglines and Google Reader

I read a lot of blogs – probably too many. I look at a wide range of topics such as news highlights, gadget/tech info, science, humor, and recipes as well as family and friend sites. To keep up with the posts, I use RSS feeds rather than visiting each blog. It’s a quick way to scan through all the posts and pick ones to read in detail or mark for further comment. My RSS aggregator of choice is Bloglines. I’ve had posts about Bloglines here and here. It’s been relatively stable, it's easy to set up, and has nice features. However, I’m always willing to try something new.

I was reading a post on Micro Persuasion that was downplaying Bloglines and talking about a new RSS aggregator product from Google called Google Reader. It praised the new product and included a link to a Lifehacker post that compared Bloglines to Google Reader. Again, it gave high praise and pointed out some interesting features of the Google Reader. The Lifehacker article did point out that it’s a Google Labs product, however it seemed to be very stable. The Google Labs page clearly says these aren't ready for primetime, but I was intrigued by the reviewer's experiences and I like Google Notebook that is also still in the Labs. I should have learned my lesson with my Writely beta experience, but I’m a Google fan, so I thought I’d try it out.

I can’t disagree more with the Google Reader satisfaction expressed in the posts from Micro Persuasion and Lifehacker. I’ve tried Google Reader with both Firefox and IE on two separate computers running Windows XP and have had problems with accessing feeds from both. It always messes up what is read and what is displayed when the feed list is updated – unlike Bloglines that now has a nice update procedure. The Google Reader badge of interesting items didn’t work with my blog either. The page link worked ok, but who wants to ‘pull’ items in this era of web 2.0? After a couple days of trying to look at feeds, I gave up. It was too frustrating. At this point, the bugs far outweigh the added features. I’m happy for those who have the right system to make it work, but I’m not in that list.

Bottom line is I'm sticking with Bloglines! Although the Google Reader features sound interesting, I’m going to wait until it’s out of Google Labs and stable before I even think about switching.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Fall Color

leaf 4

Click here for a few other leaf photos.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Dunbar Number Equals Zero

I posted about Dunbar's Number and the monkeysphere (or ape ball as Dianne likes to call it). Dunbar's theory says the size of the neocortex and it's processing capability limits the number of stable relationships a person can maintain. Since the roots of his theory come from observations of non-human primates, it's sometimes referred to as the monkeysphere. Folks outside of the monkeysphere may be ignored or even treated harshly – as observed with groups of monkeys. On a couple morning commutes last week, I realized that a person's Dunbar number isn't constant. While driving, I think my number went to zero.

My short commute to work usually takes about 15-20 minutes. Traffic is pretty heavy as the interstate exit I use feeds many companies that have large office buildings. When things get snarled, the travel time goes up a lot. Last Wednesday morning a bad accident on the interstate closed a couple lanes for awhile and I heard shut down the interstate briefly so air care could land and transport someone to the hospital. That day it took me about 50 minutes to get to work! Last Thursday morning traffic was slow due to a body found under the interstate bridge at my exit. That morning I almost hit a driver that was changing lanes right in front of me without signaling. He continued lane changing and cutting off others just so he could get a couple car lengths ahead by the time we got to the stoplight at the end of the exit ramp.

The traffic delays didn't bother me – that's an unfortunate side effect created by someone's misfortune. What bothers me is the way people handle the situation. Drivers will accelerate and brake excessively to tailgate in an attempt to block people from changing lanes. That makes folks who want to change lanes even more aggressive. They often don't use signals (that's just a sign of weakness) and will simply ease over and muscle their way in or make a dangerous, sudden move just to get a few feet ahead! When that happens, I can't help but think people driving like that were the people who cut in lines at school or didn't play well with others in the sandbox. The rough commute would go much smoother if everyone would take their turn when merging, drive steady to stay the course, and accept a couple minute delay.

As I was crawling along observing all the crazy driving behaviors, it occurred to me how cars are mostly faceless. When you're going really slow you can see drivers immediately around you, but not well. Instead, the car is the focus -- an unfamiliar object and not a person I have any relationship with. In effect, when I'm commuting by myself my Dunbar number is zero. Generally I have no relationship to other cars on the road as it's rare to recognize a car of someone I know. Without any commuter relationships, folks make sudden moves or cuts to get ahead without feeling bad. I see it as a form of harsh treatment of those outside the monkeysphere. It's every car for themselves in a traffic jam. All respect for others or courteous behavior goes out the window. And yet, I assume, when they arrive at their destination they have normal, civil interactions with coworkers and friends.

So although Dunbar's theory links number to brain size, I think there is also a contextual component as evidenced by the road rage/traffic jam behaviors we've all seen.

Sunday, October 08, 2006


Woodland MoundIt was another beautiful day today. It was perfect weather for an employee picnic for the company Dianne works for. It was held at Woodland Mound park. There was a catered lunch and lots of activities for the adults and kids. I have a few pictures of the cornhole games (a beanbag toss), the water balloon toss, and a couple examples of the pumpkin decorating by the kids. It was a nice picnic and it was nice to meet some of the new people in the company.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Tall Stacks

Tall Stacks_047Dianne and I went to the Tall Stacks event today. For the out-of-towners, Tall Stacks is a riverboat and music celebration held every four years or so to remember Cincinnati's river heritage. Riverboats from all over the country come to Cincinnati for the event. We had never been and went this year thanks to getting tickets from our neighbors. There is a lot to see including riverboats, people dressed in period costumes, food, tents for businesses, a working dock for the period, music, etc. See all my pictures in my Tall Stacks set on Flickr.

We walked across the Purple People Bridge (we saw quite a few people doing the bridge climb) from Cincinnati to Newport and had something to eat and drink in Newport. We also went to see the movie Flyboys at the theatre in Newport. We walked back across the Taylor-Southgate bridge just as the sun was setting. Dianne was a trooper and stuck it out to see the hot air balloon glow. It was a beautiful day to walk around the event. Glad we got to take it in this year.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Fall in the Air

Fall06The mornings are getting cool, it's getting dark earlier, and some of the leaves here are changing color. Here is a view in our neighborhood. It's a pretty time of year. The other night, Dianne and I went for a walk and we were crunching acorns on the sidewalk under our feet. That action brought back memories of Fall as a kid trying to squeeze in some play time in the nice weather -- before having to bundle up for outdoor fun in the winter. The acorns given up by the oak trees in the Fall were not only useful to the squirrels getting ready for winter, they were also good ammo for us in mock battles or as a diversion tool to distract the searcher during a game of tin can alley. Do kids do stuff like that anymore or is that just too crazy in the video game, cell phone, and MySpace era?

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Rollergirls' SRS 3 Photos

TixIn case you missed the Cincinnati Rollergirl action at the Florence Fundome, you can read more about it on the Roller Derby Diva's blog and on Sk8 Crime's blog. Sk8 Crime also has photos of her battle scars. I can only imagine how sore her opponents are today!

As usual, Jason Bechtel has posted some great photos from the match in his Flickr pool. His photos give a good idea of how tough the blocking was. I'm guessing he'll post another set for the other match of the day. Check out all his sets here. He has some nice non-roller derby photos too! His photo below is a nice shot of Sadistic Sadie as a jammer and Collier Mama as a pivot for the Dames with Miss Print of the Riots to the right.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Cincinnati Roller Girls SRS 3

Today was Super Roll Sunday III for the Cincinnati Rollergirls. Dianne and I went to see the matches at the Florence Fundome. The Dames of Destruction took on the Cincinnati Riots in the first match and the Bloody Sundaes skated against the Full Metal Corsets in the second match.

First Match:
The first match was a bit of a blowout. The Dames, even after losing several points after the half for an illegal formation penalty, won easily. Sadistic Sadie was zooming around the track once again. It's amazing how she can weave through the pack without losing her momentum. In the clear, she really zips around the track. There were a couple of jams where she actually lapped the Riot jammer! Besides having some good jams, she was also good at coordinating the team and blocking when she was in the pack. Collier Mama, skating for the Dames, had some great blocks once again. In general, everyone was blocking much better. However, the increased blocking and speed translated to a lot of skaters falling hard. Skinnie Minnie went down hard and hurt her leg (hamstring?).

In the second half of the first match, the coach Omega 3 skated over to the stands to get another view of the skaters. She sat down in the area near where we were sitting -- an area filled with friends of Big Dog Mama (a Dames skater). Unknowingly she sat between some Mama fans and started cheering for the Riots. One of Big Dog Mama's friends leaned over very politely and explained that about 10 people around Omega were Dames fans. I thought it was hilarious she happened to sit in that spot and make some noise for the Riots! Omega 3 asked if there were any Riots fans and I think Dianne and I were the only ones in the area.

Second Match:
This match was much more exciting since the score was closer. The Corsets had an early lead thanks to a great jam by Sk8 Crime but the Sundaes clawed their way back and were within a point with about 7 minutes to go. The blocking was tough in this match as well. Again Collier Mama was blocking like crazy. She was working hard at staying in front of and blocking the opposing jammer. However, a couple times she got going too fast in order to stay ahead and ended up skating away from the pack. Unfortunately, the refs then forced her to let the jammer pass and slow down to rejoin the pack. The worst incident of this match was when L'dia de Muerta gave Blu Bayou (the jammer) a hard block to the outside. Blu Bayou went down and skidded to a stop in front of the Sundae bench. L'dia's momentum took her off the outside of the track as well, but she tried to stop while standing. She couldn't and ended up going into the wall near the bench. L'dia sat out the rest of the match.

Near the end of the match with the Sundaes catching up, Sk8 Crime made a good play by taking out the Sundae jammer to slow her down. Sk8 Crime didn't just block the jammer, she grabbed the jammer around the waist and spun her to the ground hard! Although Sk8 Crime got sent to the penalty box for the takedown, the Sundae jammer was so far out of scoring position at that point the Corset win was assured.

Overall Impressions
We enjoyed SRS III. There was a lot of hard blocking and teamwork in both matches. I'm sure there are going to be a lot of bruised and sore Rollergirls tomorrow! The Fundome, although a bit of a drive for us, is a nice facility and the concessions were managed well. The halftime entertainment was good. Unfortunately, the crowd was probably hurt by the Bengals game that also started at 4. Although it was a beautiful day for a football game, I'll bet some of those Bengals fans wished they had gone to SRS III. They'll have one more chance to catch the action at Castle Skateland on October 29th.