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Greg Nilsen Posts

Dumb Luck

What a long night it’s been! I think I’ll do an illustrated version of it…

I started the night celebrating the changing of jobs with some All You Can Eat wings at Quaker Steak & Lube with my wife.

When we got done, we found that the car battery had died. It was so bad that the locks wouldn’t even work.

I had known that the battery was dying for a while now, but just hadn’t replaced it yet. Fortunately, there was a Wal-Mart next door and we walked over to get a new battery.

I came back and installed the new battery in the freezing cold, got the car to start and drove back over to pick my wife up at the warm Wal-Mart. When I came back out and tried to start the car again, the power worked but the car just clicked.

So we called up our good friend Pastor Paul and had him come and take my wife home while I waited for a tow truck.

Thankful

The tow truck came and we took my car to the local Toyota dealer while my wife got nice and warm at home.

Tow Truck

However, once we got to the dealer, I found out that he couldn’t give me a ride 2 miles up the road to at least near our apartment around midnight with below freezing temperatures.

So Greg got to walk home.

Forty minutes and 2.1 miles later, I finally made it home to my relieved wife.

Home Frog

However, now I have to go in to the Toyota first thing in the morning to take care of my car, and I have no way of making it to my first day of work at my new job by 8:30am!

Eek

Which has left me in a sticky situation…

So it looks like I’ll just have to go into my first day late, and I’ve already sent an e-mail to my new boss to let him know what’s going on.

Oye! What a night!

Tourney Time

It's that time of year again! After the normal lull which follows theDunk Super Bowl (which was buoyed by the Olympics this year, thankfully) we get back to games that matter and captivate the country. The first round of the tourney is probably my favorite, but it's been a little different since I started working. Last year I got the March Madness On Demand so I could watch games live online, but I'm not sure that will be an option at my new job. Oh well, I guess that comes with growing up…

Anyhoo, there has been some grumblings in the media about the tournament seedings for this year. While there are some surprises with every bracket, there are some notable oddities this year.

  • George Washington, the team with the best record in the field at 26-2, got stuck with an 8 seed.
  • Tennessee (21-7) got a 2 seed even though it did not win it's conference's regular season title (LSU, a 4 seed at 23-8) or tournament (Florida, a 3 seed at 27-6).
  • UCLA getting a 2 seed out west with a 27-6 record, while Gonzaga, who's been better ranked all season and has one of the most dynamic scorers in the counrty, got snubbed by getting a 3 seed in the same region with a 27-3 record.

On the flip side, there were finally some omissions that were warranted. Cincinnatti, Michigan, and Missouri State were all left on the outside looking in. These teams lost at-large bids to smaller conferences who have caused some noise in the past, which I think is a good trend. In the past, these small conferences played all season, but the only thing that mattered is who won the conference tournament for the automatic bid. Meanwhile the 8th seed in a power conference could lose in the first round of their tournament and still have a shot at making the big dance (and often getting upset by one of these smaller conference champs). This new approach seems to be looking to create a more competitive field from top to bottom instead of leaning on the reputations of the large conferences.

Well, tonight things begin with the play-in game (Monmouth v. Hampton in Dayton, OH), but the party starts this Thursday. What player will come through in the clutch this weekend to fuel your Monday water cooler discussion? Well, we'll just have to wait and see!

Did You See That Movie? Yea, Me Neither!

Ah, the great minds of our time who reside in Hollywood are once again complaining about poor box office returns after a fall of 6% from last years sales. And this was in a year where ticket prices rose 3.2%! So, in essence, they lost about 9% of their viewers.

How could this possible happen? Just look at all the gems that are in the theatres right now:

  • Failure To Launch – A movie about a guy who lives with his mama. Yea…I’ll pass on that one.
  • The Hills Have Eyes – All I know is that it’s a horror movie and the only ad I saw for it was a poster in the theatre.
  • The Shaggy Dog – Been there, done that.
  • 16 Blocks – Looked like it had some promise, but I’m not spending $7.50 on a “maybe”.
  • Aquamarine – Let’s see…I’m a male older than 13, so no thank you.
  • Ultraviolet – Think The Matrix, with all the effects and none of the plot.

The list goes on, but those are the 6 that are being pushed the most right now. So, I think it’s pretty clear that the problem is that too many lousy movies are being made right now. Too many people have been disapointed in the theatres now and are being more discressionary. However, when the public has changed it’s viewing habits, Hollywood has not changed and tried to make the experience more worthwhile, but instead continued to do more of the same. And then they complain about the fall in revenue.

Well Hollywood, here’s some suggestions that might get you back on your feet:

  1. Make Better Movies – Seriously, instead of spending a billion dollars on making 30 questionable movies, spend it on making 10-15 quality movies with the best writers, directors, actors, and production values you can.
  2. Make New Movies – I’m almost ready to hear an announcement for the Matrix being redone next year because it did well the first time around. Some remakes are fine because they’re a generation removed and out of date, but others are still great movies (like The Shaggy Dog and Herbie The Love Bug) and don’t need to be redone. Many times, this just makes people upset if the original was a great movie (like The Longest Yard).
  3. Don’t Force Your Agenda – Can we cast more movies with people who can act instead of the star of the hour? If the actor/actress becomes a joke or forgotten between the release of the movie and the DVD release, then they probably weren’t worth having in the first place.
  4. Advertise What Your Movie Is About – If I have no clue what a movie is about from it’s ads, then I’m probably not going to go see it. If I go to see a movie and felt mislead by the ads, I’ll probably avoid those types of movies in the future.

Ok, I think that’s enough to get you all started. Now straighten up before I give up on the theatre and subscribe to Netflix!

Microsoft Origami – No Need For Paper

An Origami DeviceA few days ago, Microsoft revealed it's Origami device, an Ultra Mobile Personal Computer (UMPC). While I've never been a big fan of many of Microsoft's "innovations", this joint effot device seems very intriguing. It includes a touch screen, wireless connectivity, and the hardware specs of a mid-level laptop, but all in a sub-2lb package. The battery life may be a little short, but that is sure to improve over time.

Now, I used to have a Dell handheld device that I initially thought was really cool, but I really didn't find many situations where it was usefull because it's functionality was so limited for a serious computer user like myself. However, these Origami devices have the power of a full laptop and should be able to overcome those hurdles that I encountered before. Add to the fact that they are keeping the price in the very reasonable $500-1000 range, and this device has the chance to be a real winner. And being fully functional in just two hands, these devices could find niches with both those on-the-go as well as the home user who doesn't want to be tied down to a table or desk with either a laptop or desktop.

I'm really looking forward to seeing one of these things in action. Depending on how it works, these could either be a real winner, or they could be a monumental flop.

Gettin’ The Family Together

Following up on the success of last year’s Diary of a Mad Black Woman, Tyler Perry brings us another one of his moving stories in Madea’s Family Reunion. I got a chance to see this film last Saturday, and it was a very strong follow-up to Diary.

Following the stories of three women struggling with the lives they lead, Family Reunion covers perspectives from all walks of life. The main story revolves around Lisa, who seemingly has it all…a rich and reputable husband, who beats her behind closed doors for her “lack of dedication” to him for things like leaving her cell phone behind for the day. Her half-sister Vanessa is struggling with a mother who doesn’t lover her and relationship struggles while fending for herself as a single mother. Lastly, there is Nikki, a foster child with a bad attitude and little confidence, taken in and finally shown love by Madea.

The great thing about Perry’s movies is that he runs the gammut of emotions. You’ll laugh at the jokes, you’ll grow at the villians, you’ll feel the sadness of those supressed by their circumstances, and you’ll reflect on the journeys that all the characters take. Probably the most refreshing thing about these movies is the Christian undertones that permeate throughout the movie. They don’t jump out and scream “This is a Christian movie!”, but they are undeniable nonetheless.

Even as a white male raised in the suburbs, I can’t help but enjoy the journey and the messages of Perry’s movies. While both movies have been hammered by critics, people are speaking up at the box office and voting with their dollars. Granted, the movie won’t win any Oscars, but it will resonate with many of those who take the time to go see it.

NFL Sees The Light

It was very good to see that all the owners and players association representatives finally came to their senses and worked out a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) through 2011. While a relatively minor story the past few weeks, there was a lot at stake for everyone involved.

  • Owners were arguing amongs themselves about revenue-sharing plans. Owners in smaller markets wanted to see sharing of local market profits to go along with the national TV and radio contracts, while owners who did not have publicly funded stadiums wanted to make sure they did not get shorted on the deal.
  • The players were facing a decertification of the player's union if the new agreement was not reached.
  • The league could have encountered anti-trust lawsuits if the players union was decertified.
  • Both sides were facing an uncapped season in 2007. For the players, the could mean the freedom to go anywhere that could afford them and demand outrageous contracts. For the teams, this meant that the richest teams could sign the best players. It could potentially have been the death knell to parity in the NFL as we know it.

Thankfully, both sides made concessions and ultimately did what was best for the future of the league. It just took them a little while to figure it all out…

What a load of Bull!

Aparrently the MLS has a name thing going on. Following Monday’s announcement that the newly relocated Houston franchise would be renamed from the 1836 to the Dynamo, the NY/NJ MetroStars have now been sold to the makers of Red Bull energy drinks…and promptly renamed the New York Red Bulls.

Team members seem to be amused by the new team name, or find the blatant marketing so unbelievable that they can’t help but laugh at it. Or maybe they just found out that, when completed, their new stadium will be called “Red Bull Arena”. Regardless, Red Bull New York will continue in the fine traditions of the company’s other soccer teams, such as Red Bull Salzburg.

In a small league already struggling for nationwide credibility, this kind of move just seems to be the wrong one to me. Could you imagine a team like the New York Yankees being bought by Gatorade and being renamed the New York Gators with yellow uniforms with green pinstriping? Even as a Red Sox fan, I would find that blasphemous. In a country where brand names are still mostly on the outside looking in at sports, with even stadium naming rights being by-and-large ignored by many fans, naming a team after your product just would seem to drive fans away…

At least until one day when I shudder as I hear some little kid say “I wanna be a Red Bull!”

A Curious Triumph

A few weeks ago, my wife and I took our pastor's six year old daughter out to see theCurious George Soundtrack Curious George movie so that they could have a date night themselves. While the movie was both fun and rather funny, I found myself singing many of the songs in my head.

A few days later, I decided to purchase and download Jack Johnson's "Sing-A-Longs & Lullabies for the Film Curious George", and I must say that I enjoy it thoroughly. From the first track (the upbeat and catchy "Upside Down") to the last (the heartening "Supposed To Be"), its songs are great compliments to one another that just make me feel happy.

So if you appreciate simple and happy music, then pick up a copy of this wonderful soundtrack. Even if you haven't seen the movie or have no interest in seeing it, you'll probably find this album worth your while.

Lame Duck

For those who don't know, last week I was offered a Database Administrator job in the Pittsburgh area, and I decided to leave my current position for that new job. Now halfway through my two-weeks notice period, I've been having a very interesting experience. I've only been at this job for a year and a half, and I'm amazed at the amount of knowledge I have to impart on those I'm leaving behind. It was only 7 months ago that I was on the getting all this extra info as my supervisor left for another job, but this is much different for me this time since I am passing on the information.

Some of the things have become so routine, I almost forget I do them. Other things come up so rarely that I can barely remember how to do them. I'm going over everything I can think of, but I know I'm going to forget something.

However, my mind keeps drifting to the fact that I am moving on, and how I look forward to it. My time here has been a great experience as I've learned a lot and improved myself as a worker by leaps and bounds, but I'm ready to do more that is inline with my career goals, and that's what the new job will give me the chance to do.

Well, I'll just keep the countdown timer rolling in the meantime…7 days and counting.