Preparing for the Big Game

Tonight is the Final game of the 2008 NCAA Men’s Bas­ket­ball Tour­na­ment.  The Uni­ver­si­ty of Kansas, where I live (and where I am new­ly employed!) is play­ing in this game, against the Uni­ver­si­ty of Mem­phis.  Tip off is at 8:21 pm, our time.  That means the boys will be in bed, and we can watch it live, with the radio guys announc­ing along­side.

I am ter­ri­bly ner­vous.  Our game on Sat­ur­day was awe­some, and fright­en­ing, and shows exact­ly what our team can do, both good and bad.  We need the good to show up tonight, not the bad.

I am doing what I can to help them.  I am wear­ing a new t-shirt today, but I’ll put the oth­er one on before the game.  That’s the one I’ve worn for each game this Tour­na­ment.  The boys both have new t-shirts they are wear­ing (I think I have yet to see a sin­gle per­son today who is not wear­ing some sort of KU mer­chan­dise).  We have our flag out front (the house came with a flag sock­et).  I have a new hat (one that fits, yay).

It’s all I can do, except wish them luck.

Skipping my first day of work

Today was to be my first day at work. But I resigned from that job this past Fri­day. Because I have anoth­er new job now.

The big news first, I guess. I have secured an hon­est-to-good­ness, full-time job at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Kansas. First, I’d like to thank my moth­er, who pro­vides the open­ing ice­break­er for all my inter­views. When they read my appli­ca­tion and call me Robert, I tell them to call me Dan­ny. Then I say with a smile, “I blame my moth­er, for nam­ing me one thing and call­ing me anoth­er.”

I’d also like to thank my ref­er­ences, who always tell me they sing my prais­es from the top of the near­est moun­tain. Except for Tobias, who always tells me he tells them I’m a right bas­tard. But I think he’s lying to me. Thank you, Colette, Mol­ly, and Den­ny. And Tobias, sure.

Here’s how it played out.

Back in Jan­u­ary I applied for two KU jobs at rough­ly the same time.  One was a half-time posi­tion.  But that’s what you do when you’ve been look­ing for work for ten months.  You apply for every­thing.

Two months lat­er, after hear­ing very lit­tle from those jobs (so go the wheels of HR in High­er Edu­ca­tion), the half-time job called me.  They want­ed to hire me.  Yay!  But I had to tell them that, since apply­ing, we had decid­ed to put our lit­tlest boy in the most expen­sive day­care (that’s how we roll), and the half-time salary (which was gen­er­ous for half-time) was not enough.  I could take the job, but they had to know I would con­tin­ue look­ing for full-time work.  They were incred­i­bly gen­er­ous and kind, said that would be fine, and start­ed work­ing hard to find anoth­er half-time posi­tion to make up the dif­fer­ence.  In the mean­time, I signed a let­ter to start work­ing for them half-time.  Today was to be my first day.

Then last week it all bub­bled up.  The half-time job found full-time fund­ing (by adding half-time in anoth­er unit) and the full-time job inter­viewed me and almost imme­di­ate­ly offered me a job.  It took some delib­er­a­tion, but in the end the new job won out.

It was a very sur­re­al Fri­day last week.  I heard from the new job that they want­ed me, and I accept­ed.  I called HR to ask how to resign a job I had not yet start­ed.  “I don’t want KU to have to cut me a check for $8,” I said.  The HR woman thought for a sec­ond, and said, “Well, if you don’t show up for work…”  Prob­lem solved.

Then I emailed the orig­i­nal job’s two direc­tors (the two half-times) that I was quit­ting, which seemed an odd thing to do since I hadn’t start­ed, real­ly.  Through it all, their staff has been so kind, and under­stand­ing, and gen­er­ous with their time and effort.  I am gen­uine­ly sor­ry that I won’t be work­ing with them.

I’d spent ten months get­ting reject­ed and reject­ed, after work­ing at places where peo­ple loved me (well, except for Tobias!), and it has been so nice to have peo­ple want me again.

I am excit­ed to start work­ing.  This week­end we went and bought a ton of clothes for me (to replace two years of jeans and t-shirts).  I am excit­ed to have col­leagues again, and to be part of a Uni­ver­si­ty com­mu­ni­ty again.  And I know things will have to change (I’ll have to get up ear­li­er, for one) but it will be nice to have the mon­ey num­bers going up, instead of down.

Yay me!

KU plays the game of its life to get to the NCAA Final

Best head­line so far this morn­ing is from the local guys, “KU cools heels.”  Fol­lowed close­ly by the sub­head, “Kansas beats tar out of UNC.”  I’m sure sports­writ­ers who cov­er Car­oli­na all the time have used these before, but this was my first expo­sure to it.

In case you missed it, read this recap of the game by Stew­art Man­del of SI.  And this arti­cle by Pat Forde of ESPN is an excel­lent sum­ma­ry of the good and the bad of the game.

We could hard­ly believe it.  Those first fif­teen min­utes were pure agony.  Kansas end­ed that run up 40–12, and Tiffany and I were hor­ri­fied.  All sea­son we have had a way of blow­ing huge leads like that, of get­ting incred­i­bly slop­py and near­ly los­ing games.  Of show­ing how ter­ri­bly imma­ture we can be.  So a lead like that ter­ri­fied us.  And right­ly so.

But unlike all those years at Iowa, when Steve Alford would take a bad sit­u­a­tion, coach his guys, and make it worse, Bill Self is actu­al­ly a good coach.  He reset the game after UNC’s stun­ning come­back, and had the guys play­ing well again.

I admit that I have not seen Mem­phis play all year, but from what I read and hear, they can beat us.  And maybe they even should beat us.  Just like Car­oli­na.

On the “We Hate Roy Williams” front, even after being beat­en by his for­mer team, he report­ed­ly spent a while on the Riv­er Walk in San Anto­nio last night, pos­ing for pic­tures with Kansas fans and even spend­ing a lit­tle time at a Kansas-fest­ed restau­rant, chat­ting with any and all.  If noth­ing else, that shows the idio­cy of this sup­posed bit­ter­ness.

See you Mon­day night (or Tues­day morn­ing, more like).

Dolly Parton week is bad for everyone, on American Idol

So this last week on Amer­i­can Idol was a bad one.  Nobody sang par­tic­u­lar­ly well, the songs were not par­tic­u­lar­ly mem­o­rable, Brooke got few­er votes than Jason, and then… then there was Dol­ly Par­ton.

I know she’s a leg­end.  I know she’s writ­ten over 3,000 songs, and even wrote the Whit­ney Hous­ton sig­na­ture song, “I Will Always Love You.”  She may have been a good men­tor, I don’t know, as we didn’t see any­thing but the fawn­ing.  But this was not a good week for Dol­ly her­self.

On Tues­day night, they showed a clip of her before every singer, talk­ing about them.  She was death­ly pale and sport­ed Jack-Nichol­son-as-the-Jok­er lip­stick.  On Wednes­day night, she got to sing a song from her new album, and she was down­right awful.  The out­fit was ter­ri­ble, a sort of white knick­ers and wed­ding-dress com­bo with sequins.  The song was noth­ing spe­cial, all about Jesus, and the singing was ter­ri­ble.  Seri­ous­ly, she has no voice left.  At times it seemed like she was just talk­ing, not singing.  She was like a tent revival spouse, warm­ing up the crowd for the preach­er.

Amer­i­can Idol has done this before, rolling out the most­ly-not-dead-yet leg­ends.  Tony Ben­nett pops to mind imme­di­ate­ly.  It’s not a good move.  For any­one, Idol includ­ed.

Any­way.

Some of my thoughts on the per­for­mances:

Per­for­mance of the Week: I’d have to give it to David Cook, who sang “Spar­row.”  In the pre-song inter­view, he con­fessed to sourc­ing his inter­est­ing arrange­ments from oth­er artists: Whites­nake, Dox­ol­o­gy, and Chris Cor­nell.  This was nev­er hid­den, but it was not made explic­it by Idol either, and had caused some stir on the Inter­net.  With that off his chest he not­ed that tonight’s song was arranged by him, only him, and sole­ly by him.  And it was good.  He clear­ly real­ly, real­ly, real­ly wants this. Arriv­ing: On the upswing this week was Michael Johns (for­mer­ly code­named “Aus­tralia” here, but I like “The man with two first names” bet­ter).  He has suf­fered from the judges nev­er being quite hap­py with him until last week and now this week, with his blues-touched cov­er of “It’s All Wrong, But it’s All Right”.  He’s chas­ing David Cook (and they are both on a dif­fer­ent track than David Archulet­ta) but he’ll have to keep work­ing to keep up. Slid­ing: Sye­sha grabbed the bull by the horns and got gored.  She chose to sing “I Will Always Love You” and just couldn’t quite reach the heights.  Plus, the judges round­ly crit­i­cized her for even try­ing.  So dicey, doing the diva with these judges.  This year, espe­cial­ly, they have been down on the diva music.  Which is all right by me.  Sye­sha needs a good per­for­mance next week.

And the Bot­tom Three were:

Brooke, who did just fine with “Jolene”, in my esti­ma­tion.  The judges took her to task for being pitchy, and for hav­ing the band up there, but I think the vot­ing pub­lic just need­ed a third to fill out the Bot­tom Three. Kristi Lee Cook, who sang okay, bare­foot, but didn’t dis­tin­guish her­self, and got the Paula kiss-of-death, “you look love­ly tonight” com­ment.  She brought a place­hold­er with her for her seat in the Bot­tom Three. Ramiele, who picked a bad song, sang poor­ly, and wore an awful minidress/sko­rt-with-sus­penders out­fit.  She is just not sea­soned enough to make it as a per­former.

Ramiele end­ed up going home, suf­fer­ing from a his­to­ry of poor song choic­es, rote singing, and of course, stand­ing next to the inde­struc­tible Kristi Lee Cook, who has been this close to leav­ing… what, three times now?  Giv­en who is left, it may be Kristi Lee Cook’s time to go next week.  But you should nev­er under­es­ti­mate the idio­cy of the Amer­i­can pub­lic.

What did you think of this week on Amer­i­can Idol?

Tattoo as reward

This post is sort of a fol­low-up to my hair shear­ing entry.  My hair is now short.  Real­ly short.  But I didn’t do it myself.  I went back to Super­Cuts and told them to cut it short.  Real­ly short.  And they did.

My new hair style At home, I test­ed the length using my own trim­mer, to see how I might main­tain it now that it is soup-a-short (how would you spell it?), and I have some idea, though it is tricky long in some places and short­er in oth­ers.  (And there’s the Tintin twist in front…)  We’ll see.  And there’s the back, which my dear, beloved wife is going to have to do.

Now that this is done, and it was stu­pe­fy­ing­ly anti­cli­mac­tic, I might add, I’m look­ing for anoth­er some­thing to moti­vate me.  I have a goal in mind, and I would like some sort of reward for when I reach that goal.

I think I’m going to get a tat­too.

The ques­tion is, what?  And where, of course.  (And when, the goal ain’t easy.)  I’d like some­thing mean­ing­ful, but sim­ple.  My aes­thet­ic is not fan­cy, but I do appre­ci­ate craft­man­ship.  I’m look­ing for a Mis­sion style tat­too, I guess.  I need to think on this, but I am tak­ing sug­ges­tions.

As to where, well, what’s the point of get­ting tat­ted if nobody sees it?  I’m think­ing about the hands, wrist, or fore­arm… it’ll depend on the design, no?  I’m not going to go all Mike Tyson or any­thing, don’t wor­ry.

And then, of course, there’s the selec­tion of shops in town.  I guess, when I get to my goal, I’ll have to do some research.

What do you think?

Doc Brown’s “Mr. Fusion Home Energy Reactor” is here!

Kin­da, sor­ta. From last year’s “Best Of” issue of Pop­u­lar Sci­ence comes the Glob­al Resource Cor­po­ra­tion’s mag­ic ener­gy recov­er­ing machine. Read the arti­cle. It real­ly is impres­sive, albeit not quite as ver­sa­tile as Doc Brown’s inven­tion. But if you have an old crushed up car lying around…

They need a bet­ter name for it though, and I humbly pro­pose they snag Doc Brown’s “Mr. Fusion Home Ener­gy Reac­tor,” though it isn’t fusion, but peo­ple will get the idea. In goes trash, out comes ener­gy.  If the Big Oil peo­ple don’t rub him out, first.

Album cover art and torrent download for SXSW 2008

Hel­lo, vis­i­tors from the Intar­webs.  You grace my site with search queries about the SXSW Music con­fer­ence, and I have decid­ed to give you what you want:

  • Here is a link to the cov­er art I made for the SXSW 2008 music.  You may use this cov­er art (a 600 x 600 pix­el jpg file) how­ev­er you like, though I sug­gest using it in iTunes.  Oth­er years are also avail­able in that post, as is prop­er cred­it to Ben Mil­lett, who made the first exam­ple of SXSW cov­er art I found.
Have at them.

Rickrolled by my baby

So YouTube is busy cel­e­brat­ing April 1st by Rick­rolling all the Fea­tured Videos on their front page.  How fun, I thought, I haven’t seen Rick Ast­ley since, well, the Eight­ies.  So, at break­fast, I vis­it­ed YouTube and clicked on a video about a mon­key.  Sure enough, there was Rick, singing in his too-deep tones with ran­dom dancers doing ran­dom Eight­ies moves.  I shut the win­dow and start­ed surf­ing anoth­er site when I heard the dul­cet tones of my own lit­tle song­bird.  He (the two-year-old) point­ed at the lap­top and said, “Again!”  And then, when it was done, “Again!”  And, “Again!”  We watched the video a total of five times this morn­ing, and now I can’t get the song out of my head.  I do believe I have been Rick­rolled, by my baby.