Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Metaphorical rules

Memorandum to all residents of 44 Hill street:

Please be advised that the snow parking rules will be in full force and effect... (their emphasis added)

I just read this note in my elevator and it reminded me of how much we use physical and spacial metaphors in language and not realize it. Here the enforcement of a parking rule is represented as physical force. It's not actually a matter of force when you think about it but the phrase still makes sense. Although when the landlord wakes you up to move your car he does knock kinda forcefully, haha.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Monday, November 23, 2009

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Skepticism in the workplace

Recently, I was helping out on a training program at work for auditors. The main message was to help auditors avoid problems in their reasoning/judgement that would impact their work. These problems included confirmation bias, overconfidence, and anchoring. All of these common psychological tendencies in humans are serious problems when it comes to interpreting financial data with clients. It was a very strange experience for me actually. Usually during a virtual class, I am tuned out to what the presenters are saying and more focused on the tech support side of things. But in this case I actually felt like I was back in critical thinking class in college. Personally, I think skepticism is very important. It provides a clear method to evaluate the truth of a claim.

For example, it's important to understand why there isn't an invisible leprechaun in your closet. There are no conditions that would falsify your Irish comrade being that he/she is invisible. We are all susceptible to these errors in thinking. This is why the majority of people believe in supernatural things: astrology, psychics, ghosts, angels, demonic possession (maybe not everybody haha, but I know people who do ok), medicine (new age and any for that matter), claims made by people on Oprah etc. I am not saying all of these things are not true. Just that without proper evidence, the best we can say is "I don't know." Of course the things that are testable in principle and failed when we did so would get a "No." Certainly our knowledge will change over time as we make progress. But this is the most practical system to ground belief and provides the clearest picture of what we can know at any given time.

So it's great to see that skepticism is valuable in my job. I am not an auditor, but I do support them with virtual training. It's good to be part of something that encourages people to think critically and raise awareness about common errors in thinking even if it just pertains to auditing stuff. Is it weird that I am thinking it might be cool to be an auditor?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Talent Show Video

I participated in a talent show last Friday night at work. There was quite a wide variety of acts including: Full rock bands, modern dance, opera, vocal, and instrumental. It was a very positive experience for me even though I did not win. Specifically, I was able to remain in a more "giving" state of mind (as opposed to being critical and nervous while performing). It was really fun actually! I would like to thank everyone for coming and being incredibly supportive! Below is the video of my performance:

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Annoying phrases series post 1 - "It is what it is"

I thought about starting a series about annoying phrases we say/hear day to day. The purpose would be twofold: namely to determine whether these phrases have value or not, then if not to come up with an alternative phrase to take its place. There are several other advantages as well besides the wonderful opportunity for me to bitch, which should not be overlooked :) You can also suggest particular phrases that annoy you as well and we can bring those to the discussion. Yay! So before I begin let me first say that my intentions are not to single anyone out here. There is no "It is what it is" person that I am referring to specifically. All of these phrases are pervasive enough that they go beyond any particular person.

Alright so lets get started. I am sure everyone is familiar with this one, but let me lay out an example of how I typically hear it used. After all this is my blog. It is what it is! Oops, I jumped the gun there. Sorry about that. Anyhow, the times I most often hear "It is what it is" (lets go with iiwii from here out) are when someone is discussing a less than ideal situation that must be accepted in its current state. There is no opportunity to change things for the better. iiwii signifies the proverbial throwing in of the towel. For example, say you are a sports fan and your team is doing terrible this season (if its football, please read the MG article comparing it with dogfighting 2 posts ago). Your team keeps playing poorly and losing game after game, even with teams they usually beat. There is no chance they will make it to the playoffs or whatever the appropriate Harry Potter-esque final showdown is. IIWII!!!!!!! Theres always next season. I am sure you could think of countless other examples as well where iiwii would be appropriate.

My observation is that nothing is added to the discussion by dropping the iiwii. You have to set some context with someone before you pull an iiwii on them. If you just walked up to your best friend and iiwii-ed them, they would probably be like, "What the hell are you talking about?" or "Thanks buddy, it most certainly is what it is. Unless of course one of the "it's" is the shadow-self of the other "it" and is actually the evil it" A situation must be laid out clearly first. iiwii is grammatically correct but actually meaningless. I think it would be more effective to lay out the situation. Then, replace the iiwii conclusion with "We/I just have to accept it/this." At least then you are taking it a step further in terms of content and also communicating more effectively. Unfortunately that is more characters and words than iiwii. Hey, It is what it is...

What do you think? Convince me to end this annoying phrase series, haha.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Thursday, October 22, 2009


I have learned a few things from the following NPR story:
  1. If you have a hedgehog, its important to get it health insurance.
  2. You will ALWAYS need the anti-psychotics more than your hedgehog ever will.
  3. If you do get insurance for your hedgehog, please make sure that Tails is covered as well.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Malcolm Gladwell: How different are dogfighting and football?

Pete Disclaimer:
Sports are not my cup of tea to put it lightly. Especially football. I can not understand how people can be so fascinated by watching people run/throw a football around on TV, maybe they have money on the game? They are just sitting there NOT playing. Whatever. People like different things, I get it. So along that line of thinking, when I saw the MG article below, I must say that he kind of just became my personal hero. Comparing football to dogfighting is genius.

Malcolm Gladwell: How different are dogfighting and football?
: "One evening in August, Kyle Turley was at a bar in Nashville with his wife and some friends. It was one of the countless little places in the city that play live music. He’d ordered a beer, but was just sipping it, because he was driving home. He . . ."

Friday, October 9, 2009

Books : Z.E.O. - A Zombie Guide to Business

Books : Z.E.O. - A Zombie Guide to Business: " Learn how to govern your workforce the zombie way.A guide for any CEO or even us regular folk on how to be a better leader in business. Using tried and true zombie teachings and philosophy, you'll become the ZEO your company has needed. And then you'll get a(head)! $11.99"

Perhaps AIG or Citi were using this model??????

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Weird Wonders: 15 of the World’s Strangest Animals

These are insane! Check them out.

Weird Wonders: 15 of the World’s Strangest Animals: "


They may not win any beauty contests anytime soon, but the weird wonders of the animal world are infinitely more interesting than any mundane and adorable little creature. The Earth is full of rare and bizarre fish, amphibians, mammals and more that shock us with gigantic teeth, creepy gelatinous skin, retractable claws and parasitic mating habits. From the dark depths of the sea to the treetops of Madagascar, these 15 strange animals are quite a sight to behold.



(images via: Courier Post, Duke University)

The depths of the ocean are literally swimming with creatures straight out of your weirdest nightmares, and the Viper Fish is among the scariest. This grotesque-looking creature has teeth so large, they don’t fit in its mouth. It swims at high speed toward its victims and impales them upon its sharp teeth

Sea Pig


(images via: funster.us)

With its pallid pink flesh, the scotoplane – known as a sea pig – resembles some kind of tumorous growth that was just excised from somebody’s abdomen. But, this strange creature is actually a type of sea cucumber. Sea pigs look and act sort of like slugs, feeding on organic materials that settle on the ocean floor.



(images via: The Telegraph)

Few mammals are as weird looking as the endangered Aye-Aye, a lemur found only on the island of Madagascar, but – surprise! It’s actually a close relative of humans. With big protruding eyes, super-skinny fingers and a huge bushy tail, Aye-Ayes are pretty unique. Their bat-like ears allow them to detect insect larvae squirming inside trees, and they’ve also got a sweet tooth for coconut and sugar cane, which gets them in trouble with farmers.

Horror Frog


(images via: New Scientist)

It’s called a ‘horror frog’, but this amphibian isn’t the star of a b-movie. It’s so named because of its ability to actively break its own bones to produce claws. Hairy and bizarre, the horror frog – also nicknamed the wolverine frog, after the comic book character – can break its bones so that they puncture its toe pads, producing extendable claws on demand when threatened. This Cameroon native, which is often roasted and eaten, was discovered in 2008.

Giant Isopod


(images via: Wikipedia)

If you’re afraid of bugs, you’re really not going to like the Giant Isopod. It resembles nothing so much as a cockroach the size of a guinea pig, but it’s actually a crustacean related to shrimp and crabs. These scavengers roam the cold, dark sea floor from 560ft to 7,000ft below the surface of the ocean, eating mostly dead whales, fish, and squid.

Yeti Crab


(image via: National Geographic)

With its long, furry appendages, the newly-discovered Yeti Crab looks like some kind of sea sloth. It was discovered on the floor of the Pacific Ocean during a deep-sea diving expedition in 2006 and is so unusual that a new taxonomic family had to be invented for it. The Yeti Crab is blind and white, with fur that supports colonies of bacteria. It lives near hydrothermal vents 7,540 feet under the surface.

Spanish Ribbed Newt


(images via: National Geographic)

Another creature that intentionally injures itself to produce weapons is the Spanish Ribbed Newt. It looks pretty unremarkable until it’s threatened, and then it does something pretty wild: it punctures its skin with its own sharp rib bones to create spines, which are coated with toxic skin secretions. These poison spears do not emerge from permanent openings; they must rip holes in the skin each time they’re deployed.



(Images via: Wikipedia, EarthGuide, OceanExplorer and Nat.Geographic)

The anglerfish’s appearance is scary enough, but its mating habits truly set it apart as among the weirdest of the weird sea creatures. The male anglerfish bites into a female’s skin, releases an enzyme that digests the skin of his mouth and her body to fuse them together, and then atrophies into nothing but a pair of gonads, becoming a parasitic sperm factory.

Dumbo Octopus


(image via: The New York Times)

Strange as the Dumbo Octopus may be, some people actually think it’s pretty cute – hence the Disney-inspired name, given for its two fins which resemble ears. ‘Dumbo’ can be found in the dark depths of any ocean on Earth and grows up to 20cm in length. It swallows its prey, made up of mostly worms and crustaceans, whole.

Gulper Eel


(image via: National Geographic)

Where the gulper eel lives – way down at the bottom of the ocean – there isn’t exactly a buffet of meal choices. Luckily, this creepy creature has a gigantic jaw that allows it to eat pretty much anything it comes across, regardless of size. At the end of its very long, whip-like tail, there’s a light-producing organ called a photophore that it uses as a fishing lure to attract prey.

Long-eared Jerboa


(images via: The Telegraph, Science Blogs, Metro UK)

Shaped somewhat like a tiny kangaroo, the nocturnal mouse-like Long-eared Jerboa uses its elongated tail and hind legs for jumping. The endangered rodent, found in the Gobi desert of Mongolia, has ears that are about a third larger than its head and eats mostly insects. It’s so extraordinary that it’s the only species of its genus.

Indian Gharial


(image via: Crocodopolis.net)

Most of us have grown accustomed to the prehistoric appearance of alligators and crocodiles, but for those unused to looking at it, the Indian gharial seems like something transported straight from the age of dinosaurs. This severely threatened native of Indian rivers has a very long, thin snout fitted with a row of sharp teeth. Scientists suspect that heavy metal pollution in the rivers is causing debilitating gout and making gharials susceptible to infection.

Long-beaked Echidna


(image via: Wikimedia.org)

Is it a porcupine or an anteater? Neither, actually. The long-beaked echidna is a rare egg-laying mammal found in Papua New Guinea. This nocturnal critter is a relative of the platypus, but lives underground where it uses its tube-like snout to search for invertebrate prey like insect larvae and worms. It has to eat soft foods, because it doesn’t have any teeth. Hatchlings are known as ‘puggles’, and they reside in a sticky pouch to receive milk from mammary patches on the mother’s body.



(images via: OnlytheMost.com)

When you pull up your fishing net to inspect its contents, the last thing you want to see is a gelatinous mass of pale flesh peering up at you with dull bluish eyes. But, fear not – catching a blobfish is extremely rare. These bizarre fish live in the depths off the coasts of Tasmania and Australia. They don’t have any muscles, but since have a lower density than the water, so they just sort of float around.

Naked Mole Rat


(image via: National Geographic)

Its wrinkled pink skin, piggish nose and protruding teeth don’t exactly make the naked mole rat the cutest animal around. Colonies of these hairless rodents live in underground “palaces” led by one dominant rat – the queen, which is the only female to breed and bear young. As with bees, naked mole rats have roles in the colony, including workers that dig the tunnels and gather food. Most naked mole rats are found in the sandy deserts of sub-Saharan Africa.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Friday, September 25, 2009

Food for thought...

Is it weird to prefer instant oatmeal to the real stuff? I really do and think it tastes better every single time I have tried it. Please weigh in on this kerfuffle.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Monday, September 21, 2009

Troeg's Java Head Stout

Andrea and I give this beer 4 thumbs up! Read about it here.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Beatles

In support of all the new Beatles stuff on the market (CDs, games, etc), please add this to your collection as well...

I may seriously buy this because its that awesome.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Kurt Vonnegut explains drama

I thought this post below was very interesting:

Kurt Vonnegut explains drama:

Something to look forward to, haha

Vital Signs: Aging: Moderate Drinking May Help the Brain: "People over 60 who consume moderate amounts of alcohol have a reduced risk for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, according to a large review of studies.


Etudes(12), Op 10: No 12 in c "Revolutionary" (arr organ)

I heard this on WQXR this morning and luckily there was a YouTube clip available. Typically this piece is played on piano, but this version is arranged for organ by Cameron Carpenter.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Top beers on the planet...


It's not a coincidence that 7 out of the top 10 beers on the planet are russian imperial stouts (my fav). However, there are ALOT from Russian River and other US breweries on top of this list. Maybe this list was reviewed by people in the US primarily. Has anyone tried any of these?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Classical Guitar Store experience

I recently had an interesting experience at the Classical Guitar Store in Philly that I wanted to share. It was there where I purchased my classical guitar (Giambattisa G6 Cedar model) in 2005. Since I have had it for 4 years now, I had convinced myself the action needed adjusted. Acoustic guitars can be damaged in low humidity over time. So I brought it in, and the owner of the store (who is notoriously precise about the setup on ALL the guitars he sells, this is why I went to trouble of bringing it into downtown Philly etc), puts it up on the table and measures it for me....

It was perfect!!?! He said not only is the action is exactly the same as it was in 2005, the guitar is in great shape and very well taken care of. Needless to say, he then moved on to ask me to play for him so he could hear how it sounded (ugh). This turned into a discussion about how great my guitar projects sound and how I wasn't playing it correctly, haha! So in a nutshell, I am the problem. Not my guitar (which as it turns out, humans are MUCH harder to adjust then guitars). I had been planning this visit for months and it was really amazing how convinced I was it needed fixed. This is just more testiment to the awesome power you have to BS yourself. What ELSE could I be BSing myself on you wonder? No idea! I will have to get back to you on this, because I still currently believe it all.

All in all, this was a great experience. It was very humbling and inspiring. I did more research on technique, sound, and also have gotten back into practicing. I am so glad that I went in there, albeit for all the wrong reasons :)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

You fell to your death...

In Halo 3, there are a lot of challenging new maps that are constantly being added. This is pretty cool, but it has the added consequence of occasionally jumping off a cliff when you are in unfamiliar territory...

In multiplayer mode, there is a penalty of waiting an extra 10 seconds before you respawn. So my question is, what do you do with this extra 10 seconds? Personally, I reflect on the black oblivion that is death...

Then next time, I hope to rejoin closer to a rocket launcher :)

This American Life

We just recently started watching this show on Netflix Watch Instantly. Andrea said that starting with the TV show was blasphemous and we should probably go back and listen to the original NPR program that the show was based on. This may be true, but either way it is a really great program. The show is almost like reality TV. Instead of the typical trash though you get a window into someone's actual life story. So far we have seen a band play to a staged audience unknowingly, a man get gored by a cloned version of a bull that he originally loved, and a guy in Utah that finds homeless bearded guys to pose for his paintings of Jesus. It's pretty much awesome.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Fall beers available now

I recently went to my local distributor and found that there were several pumpkin and Oktoberfest beers available. It's never too early to get started with some fall beers. Respond with your favorite fall choices. Of the ones I have tried so far, I like Brooklyn Oktoberfest and Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin ale the best.

Sidney Harris science cartoon

Friday, August 14, 2009

Tori Amos in NYC

Last night we saw Tori Amos perform in Radio City Music Hall. It was excellent! She is still one of the best performers I have seen and is still writing really good music. We were on the first level balcony and had a good view. She played a great set. I really liked the sound in this venue too. Not to mention its right next to a Heartland Brewery...

We will be seeing her again this Saturday in Philly!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Monday, August 10, 2009


I have really been enjoying this audio book lately. There are many great examples of how 2 factors can be corelated. But then they will have a completely different 3rd cause you didn't expect when the data is examined. It originally reminded me of "Predictably Irrational" by Dan Ariely, which is also really good. Thanks to Zack for the recommendation!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Stanley Kubrick

Today is the birthday of
Stanley Kubrick. Do yourself a favor and watch anything of his.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

"Why we can find our way to the Moon but get lost in the mall" NYT book review

Check out the article here. I thought this was pretty cool. Is anyone surprised that desert ants are better at spatial reasoning than we are? I rest my case. Also, the part about casinos is very interesting. I frequently get lost in them and now I know why!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

David Lynch sings

This album and photos are pretty cool. David continues to be the man. I also love the James Mercer, which is not surprising. Everything he writes is amazing. For the record, Andrea found and posted this first, but I don't care. It is that cool.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Loantaka Park 6-27-09


Photo Crops

Here are some cropped versions of my previous photos:

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Is good food too much to ask now that we can take good beer for granted?

Thanks to Andrea for this NYT article. Anyone want to check out some of these places? Let me know and we can make it happen :)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

New song posted

Here is a renaissance piece by John Dowland:

Lady Hunsdon's Alman

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

New pictures posted

I got some good nature pictures with my new lens! Check it out.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Paul Krugman + stout = awesome

My favorite political/economic commentator apparently also likes good beer as well...

Here is the link to the post.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

NY Visit with Jeff and Ashley

Here are some pictures from our visit to the south street seaport and Brooklyn:

NY Visit with Jeff and Ashley

Thursday, May 21, 2009

First morning practice

I have been reading on the classical guitar blogs that mornings are the best time to practice.  Also it's easier to make progress if you practice more frequently rather than doing a marathon session on the weekend.  Usually I do not feel like practicing after work and if I do its not very focused.  So this morning I woke up early, started the coffee, and practiced.  I really enjoyed it!


Tomorrow I will be traveling to Montreal with Andrea.  It should be exciting!  Expect a photo gallery sometime next week.  I have only previously been to Niagra and Toronto. Has anyone ever been to Montreal? Recommend things to me if so... 

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Work as Play by Alan Watts

I found this video on a classical guitar blog and thought it was very interesting.  I am not sure I agree/follow everything he says (or sings, haha!) but you have to admit that this is a very cool outlook on life.  We discussed him in my eastern philosophy class in college and I still have his book, "The Way of Zen."  Maybe I will check it out.  If only I could make a "dance" out of the dishes as he suggests.  I will give it a shot next time, haha.  Check out parts 1-3 if you have a chance:

Monday, May 11, 2009


If you use an RSS blog reader (I use Google reader), and are a fan of beers, I would reccomend the following beer news site.  I have been reading it lately and they have updates about upcoming festivals and new beers being released in the US.  Let me know if you have found any other good beer news sites.  

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Tommy Emmanuel

This is a really cool song.  Check it out.  


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Monty Hall problem explained

When I was in college, we discussed this problem in Critical Thinking.  It showed how we are not always so good when it comes to estimating the probability of things.  This YouTube video explains it well though.  Even though the announcer is a bit weird, haha.  I have tried to explain why its not 50/50 in regards to staying or switching to several people unsuccessfully.  So this is helpful!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Your input needed...

I wanted to start an open thread regarding the best songs of all time.  Please respond with your all time best song.  I am not putting any specific criteria on this, but here are a few hypothetical questions to consider incase one doesn't spring to mind right away:

If the music police (or the Thought Police from 1984 if you prefer, haha) just layed down an ordinance limiting the amount of songs to which you could listen, which one would you choose?

If you had the responsiblity of explaining music to extraterrestrials, what song would you play for them?

If your life was edited into a movie, what song would roll at the credits?

I think mine might be Imagine by John Lennon, but it is tough to decide. Brandenburg  Concerto? I don't know, haha.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

New song

Hey guys, here is a new song demo.  Let me know what you think.  

Friday, May 1, 2009

Un Sueño En La Floresta - John Williams

I was listening to Pandora this morning and this happened to come on.  Barrios is arguably one of the best guitar composers of all time and this one in particular is quite moving.  Do yourself a favor and check out this classic played by John Williams.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Net Effect

This is a very interesting podcast from "On The Media." Check it out here.  Is Google making us smarter or more stupid?  Greater access to information changes the way we think and interact with people.  I am not sure either way, but its an interesting question.  Whatever you do, don't Google it........

Ok you can Google it, but be aware that it will change the way you think, haha.  Thanks to Andrea for this.  

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Ants are sweet...

I have recently become fascinated with ants.  This ant above is a bullet ant.  It has the most painful sting according to the sting pain index.  It is also called the 24 hour ant because if you get bitten the pain will last for 24 hours.  

If you still aren't impressed, please consider the following facts about ants:

  • They have existed for the most part unchanged for about 100 million years (This is over 100 times longer than us)
  • They have colonies in every type of environment/continent except Antarctica
  • They have co-evolved mutually beneficial relationships with other organisms such as: caterpillars, aphids, trees
  • Certain types of ants will enslave other ant colonies and put them to work for their own colony  
  • Ants are social insects that work together like a single organism to support their queen who controls their reproductive success


Monday, April 20, 2009

New photos posted

I am finally home after several family visits and the CAC conference.  It is great to be back in NJ!  After the winter/holiday season, I have finally dusted off the camera.  Here are a few nature photos I took while visiting Andrea's family.  It was such a beautiful day!

Check it out here.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Thursday, April 9, 2009

On Tap? How About Chardonnay or Pinot Noir from NYT

Here is an interesting article about serving wine on tap.  Apparently when wine is served this way there is less wasted.  This reduces the cost per glass for the restaurant and the customer.  They use nitrogen gas (Stouts also use nitrogen) instead of CO2. Thanks to Andrea for the link. 

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Morristown NJ UFO Hoax explained

Recently Andrea found this article in eSkeptic.  2 guys from our area in NJ staged a UFO hoax using weather ballons and flares early this year.  I did not catch this on the news originally but its pretty crazy how much coverage they got. It was on NJ Channel 12, Fox news, and even had something on the History Channel.  They said they did it mainly to show how gullible people can be when it comes to unexplainable phenomena such as UFOs.  At the bottom of the article, you can see the videos of how they setup and launched the ballons as well as the news reactions to the sightings.  

Saturday, April 4, 2009

New song demo posted

Here is another original song.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Irish Guitar Song Posted

Here is my new recording of "The South Wind" arranged by Pat Kirtley.  

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Iron Man vs Bruce Lee

This is a pretty awesome stop motion video. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Gyuto Monks: Ancient Practice, Modern Sound

I heard this on the radio the other morning.  If you haven't heard Tibetan throat singing before, I recommend that you check this out.  The sounds that are made are just amazing.  You can listen to the story at the top and then there are 2 full length songs on the left you can listen to as well.  Put on a nice pair of big headphones and listen.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Undersea Volcano

Check out the pictures.  Pretty crazy.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Five Beginners’ Steps to a Greener Home

Here is the link.

I thought the SinkPositive was a pretty good idea.  

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Friday, March 13, 2009

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Madama Butterfly

Yesterday I saw my first opera ever, Madama Butterfly at The Met.  It was not only beautiful musically but the visuals were quite good as well.  Also, they had the english text displayed on a small screen on the seat in front of you.  This made it easy to follow along.  All in all, it was a very moving performance.  Here is Patricia Racette, who played Cio-Cio San in the production we saw, singing Un bel dì ("One beautiful day").

Can interruptions improve your experience?

I found this NYT article to be interesting.  This is saying that when we watch something on TV or focus on a given activity, we gradually become desensitized to it.  Commercials or interruptions "reset" our attention spans and allow us to start back at zero.  Although they suggested that more engaging activities like working or playing music might not be improved by interruption.  

This reminded me of the 1st chapter from "Unweaving the Rainbow" by Richard Dawkins.  It discusses how we become desensitized to our own experiences and how we are prevented from realizing how amazing they really are.

There is an anaesthetic of familiarity, a sedative of ordinariness, which dulls the senses and hides the wonders of existence.
-Richard Dawkins

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

3/3/09 is square root day!


If you are checking my blog, chances are you are a bit of a geek.  So embrace that today! Thanks Craig!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Planet Earth BBC Edition

I may be slightly biased towards Earth being that its the only planet I have ever been on, but I must highly recommend the above documentary.  This is not the Discovery Channel edition however.  David Attenbourgh is the narrator not Sigourney Weaver.  He has way more street cred being that he has been the voice of British naturalist documentaries for 50+ years and he is a Sir.  He was NOT in Alien.  I would imagine he would also not look as charming running around on a spaceship either.  So anyway this offers an exciting new look at our planet's different environments and wildlife.  The documentary was filmed over 5 years at over 200 locations and had a budget of $25 million.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Kill A Watt Power Meter

I recently just got one of these and it is pretty sweet.  You can see how much power each one of your appliances uses in real time.  This information is really helpful in trying to reduce your monthly power bill.  I was able to get one from amazon.com for about $25.  The top power consumers that I found were our computer (250w), LCD TV (250W), coffee maker (800w), hair dryer (1400w), microwave (1500w,) and iron (1500w).  Some of the more power friendly items included the stereo (30w) and laptop (30w).  I have not checked the Xbox yet mainly because its hard to read the wattage when you are playing gears of war 2.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Man on wire

This is an amazing documentary about Philippe Petit and his tight rope walking across the twin towers.  His personality and life are really fascinating.  Imagine having the nerve to taunt the police as you walk forwards and backwards up there.  He is pretty much the man.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Iron Hill Brewery

This past weekend Andrea and I met up for dinner with friends at this brewery in Lancaster, PA.  It was a great time all around.  Good company, food, and beer.  Their russian imperial stout was my favorite.  

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Decade at Bernie’s

I enjoyed this recent Paul Krugman article comparing the Madoff scam to the current economic situation.  His articles are always very informative about the economy and politics in general.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


If you were previously having problems leaving comments, try again.  I have adjusted the settings and it should work now.  Sorry about that!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A Better Brew: The rise of extreme beer

Check out this excellent article from the New Yorker about Dogfish Head and craft brewing in general.  Thanks Amber!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Paul Gilbert Video

For you guitarists out there, check out this great tapping video by Paul Gilbert.  It got me thinking about new ways to to use the technique.  Also, I recommend checking out his new album "Silence followed by a Deafening Roar."  You can listen to one of the songs, The Gargoyle, here.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Rush video

I thought this video was pretty cool.  Its the 3rd item on the page so scroll down. 

Friday, February 6, 2009

Dr. Strangelove and Emotions

What might these two things have in common?  Dr. Strangelove was an enjoyable cold war satire involving Doomsday Machines and nuclear strategy.  For example, if we recieve news of an attack on us first, should we retaliate and push the button?  Policy has been to do so as a deterrent. But on the other hand, the damage has been done.  Pushing the button will not bring back the American lives lost. But then this is exactly the kind of thinking that encouraged them to attack in the first place.  And so forth..... This is where the Doomsday Machines come in.  If a vast network of explosives are wired to explode on attack, there is no reasoning involved.  No one bothers attacking because it will definitely destroy everything including them.  So this acts as the ultimate deterrent against enemy attackers. 

Our emotions may act in a similar way.  Imagine you are haggling with a used car dealer.  He is asking an outrageous price.  This enrages you as he is clearly trying to rip you off.  Why?  Your frustration is valuable in this transaction because it shows the car dealer that you cannot just be persuaded into taking the offer.  Your anger is like a mini-doomsday machine in that it clearly shows you will not budge.  It is a very effective bargaining strategy.  Emotions can help in any situation where it can be valuable to show that you have no choice.  For example, being helplessly in love shows that you cannot possibly be enticed by a more attractive partner and gives your current partner a sense of security.  Emotions are tough to fake as we are very sensitive to people not being genuine with us.  This adds to the credibility of emotions.  These are just a few examples, but you can probably think of many others.  

I wanted to share the above thoughts from "How the Mind Works" by Steven Pinker.  It seemed to be a very compelling idea about the evolutionary value of emotions.  Let me know your thoughts.

Blind Tiger Ale House

I recently heard about this place in downtown NY.  Their draught list is pretty impressive from my perspective.  Multiple imperial stouts, Young's Double Chocolate, and Ayinger Celebrator.  I would escort anyone interested in trying some beers, haha.  

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Randall the Enamel Animal

I just recently heard about this from a co-worker.  A beer french press? It is hooked up to a tap and beer is filtered through additional hops before it is served.  Pretty cool.  It is only made by Dogfish Head so bars have to order them directly.  They also bring them to some Dogfish Head special events. I definitely want to try it!

Andy McKee - Toto - Africa


This is an awesome instrumental guitar cover of the Toto song.  If you like the original, check it out!  

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Life, the Universe and Everything

I am currently reading The Restaurant at the End of the Universe from the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series by Douglas Adams. These books (not movie) have been extremely funny and enjoyable to read.  If you haven't checked this series out yet, I highly reccomend it. I look forward to finishing the rest!