This story offers a good excuse to use the blockquote tag.

A friend of mine, Y, is spending the week in the jury pool for Cleveland. Every day, he gets brought in with all the other potential jurors. They all answer questions and then the attorneys throw people out that they don’t like.

Yesterday’s trial involved a guy facing 31 counts of child rape — little girls. Y has two daughters, about the same age as the victims. The judge asked if anyone in the panel would have difficulty remaining objective in this trial.

Y replied that he could attempt to apply the letter of the law and follow due process, but he wouldn’t be able to deny his visceral reaction:

“I would be like somebody that graduated from medical school but faints at
the sight of blood.”

That got him put back in the pool for tomorrow’s trial.

Anyway, I thought that was a clever phrase.

It’s Monster Truck season

My hometown paper is running a story about monster trucks. I’ve been to shows in Texas, and I’ve been to shows in Ohio. The ones in Ohio are fun, but the ones in Texas operate on a whole other level. I suspect my feelings about monster truck shows here match how expat Japanese people feel about USian Sumo wrestlers.

In Ohio, I saw a jeep with a jet engine race around, and a I watched a few big trucks crush a bunch of cars. I have lots of photos of Bigfoots in mid-flight right here. I like this one in particular:


Meanwhile, at the show in Houston, I saw a guy set himself on fire and jump from the ceiling of the Astrodome. I watched a 20-car demolition derby that went on for an hour.

In Ohio, at the end, a giant robot dinosaur came out bit an old jalopy in half.

In Houston, a guy jumped his car off a ramp and flew into a tower of old custom vans.

Here’s a few pics of the robot dinosaur for those that were too square to be there:



In summary, I like Monster Trucks.

We’re presenting at the Jump Start Angel Fair!

The First Annual Cleveland Angel Fair picked us to present. This is fantastic news.

In other news, spent the day writing code in the house by myself. The wind is howling outside, and my fingers are shaking because I refuse to turn on the heater. I haven’t gotten so many hours of consecutive geek time in years.

This is the life. I can’t believe that I used to take a shower, put on clean clothes, and interact with humans every day.

Photos from the 2007 potato harvest

When I talked to her this spring, my grandmother told me to be sure to plant some potatoes. I’m glad I did. I bought a bag full of tiny starter potatoes in April, and a few weeks later, I planted them.

My 1962 Time Life Encyclopedia of Gardening recommends digging up half the crop early to enjoy “new” potatoes. I took these shots around the beginning of August when we harvested about half the plants. Here’s our haul:


After digging them all up, and washing them thoroughly, we sliced them up and then roasted them with olive oil, rosemary, and lots of salt and pepper. Here’s a shot of the finished product:


Finally, I took this picture while Charlie and I ate dinner on the back porch:


It is a cliche to claim that backyard vegetables somehow taste better, but these potatoes really seemed different. I could rub the red peel off with my fingers. I swear these remained moist even after roasting them. Within a few hours of digging up these plants, we were eating them. Anything at Giant Eagle is at least 3 or 4 days old, maybe more.

We dug up the rest of the potatoes at the beginning of October. I didn’t take any pictures and this time my wife mashed them up with lots of chives (from the garden) and sour cream (from the grocery store).

I’ll definitely plant red potatoes again next year. The yield was fantastic, and the rabbits and squirrels seemed to ignore them.

Next year, I’ll experiment with a no-dig method I read about where the potatoes get buried in mulch, and over the season, more mulch gets added repeatedly to encourage more growth. I dumped more mulch over my plants this year after I got a tip from a colleague, and that seemed to encourage more tubers to form.

In summary, potatoes are neat.

Thoughts on TechLift Cleveland

TechLift is a non-profit organization that helps out tech firms in Ohio. I went to an overview tonight.

This was the first time I’ve been around a bunch of venture capitalists. The first thing I realized when I got there was that I wasn’t wearing a suit, but everyone else was. I thought nobody wore suits anymore. Now I realize that everybody above a certain level of wealth still wears suits. And the people that want those people’s money still wear suits.

Anyhow, TechLift is interesting — one speaker described its purpose as getting firms ready to collect venture capital. TechLift takes in hundreds of applications, thins the pool down to a few dozen, invites them in for presentations, then picks about five firms and coaches them through the startup process. TechLift prefers to select companies that are already well-developed rather than ones with interesting ideas but incoherent business plans. In the business life cycle of imagining -> incubating -> demonstrating, TechLift focus on firms in the incubation stage.

Meanwhile, to reach out to those companies at the beginning, TechLift started the Idea Crossing site this year. That site is sort of like investment banking meets web 2.0. Startups describe themselves, and the site connects them to relevant mentors, investors, and service providers.

One speaker made a remark that I thought was clever:

It’s easy to forget that the goal was draining the swamp when you’re fighting the alligators.

Habits killed my cell phone

Every day, I pour a mug of coffee, drop my son off at day care, then drive across town to work. I have about a half-hour commute, which is plenty of time to finish that coffee.

Then on the way home, every day, I put my laptop bag in the back seat, plug my cell phone into the car charger, and put the cell phone into the empty coffee mug in the arm rest.

So, yesterday, I took the day off. I still dropped my son off at day care. Then I did not do a drive across town. I met a friend on the east side.

Then at the end of the day when I left to pick up my son, I went through the same routine. Then, when I got home, I retrieved the cell phone from the mug and that is when I realized that my cell phone had spent the last twenty minutes bathing in eight-hour-old coffee.

May it rest in peace.

A few neat night spots in Cleveland Heights and remarks on UFC 76

Watched UFC 76 last night with my friend at Jonny Malloy’s in Coventry. Malloy’s is a big old movie theatre with a bar in the back. It vaguely reminded me of the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin — but instead of playing hipster art-house movies and indie slasher flicks, they play UFC fights.

After that, we headed upstairs to City and East, which the last time I was there, was a place called The Loft that had way too many televisions. Now, City and East is a hookah bar. Sitting on couches and puffing on a hookah is a lot of fun. The place is not pretentious whatsoever. Apparently the Ohio smoking ban allows for hookah bars, which is just fine with me.

So, back to UFC 76.

There were several fights that ended with judge’s decisions. I don’t think a victory or a loss by a judge’s decision should be considered equivalent to a win or a loss by knockout or submission. And split decisions should probably be worth even less.

Anyhow, In the Sanchez – Fitch fight, Diego Sanchez immediately rushed Jon Fitch but couldn’t get him on the mat. Sanchez didn’t seem to have a plan B.

Forrest Griffin performed amazingly in his fight. Rua landed an elbow on Griffin’s forehead that opened a gash spurting blood like something from Kill Bill. In the end, Griffin won with a rear-naked choke and Rua looked exhausted.

The main event was brutal. Liddell really deserves the “iceman” moniker. He walks in the ring like he’s going out to mow the lawn. He doesn’t bounce from foot to foot and he looks like he’s bored when he stares at his opponent. He showed no acknowledgement no matter how many times Jardine landed those bruising kicks to Liddell’s leg and side.

Meanwhile, Keith Jardine must have an incredible chin. Liddell scored with his wild swooping left hook repeatedly and Jardine kept coming back for more, despite a face t that looked like a side of beef at the end of the first round.

Just like with the Sanchez – Fitch fight, if this had gone a few more rounds, anything could have happened. It was too early for a decision to be made. Maybe we should have a tie-breaker round in the event that the judges’ scorecards are not unanimous.

I’m sad about two consecutive losses for Diego Sanchez and Chuck Lidell. They both have distinctive styles and their fights are really fun to watch. The sport needs people that stick around and build up fan bases.