Thursday, June 21, 2007

Going pro

My success in the amateur ranks has been well chronicled, so I won't bore you with the details of my many achievements. At this point in my career though, I feel like it's time to start getting paid for my talent. It's time to start signing those endorsement deals. I think I'm roughly one win away from a major shoe deal, and the word on the street is those shoes will only have a little bit of Velcro on them. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't excited.

This past week I became a member of the USTA (United States Tennis Association). Once all the paper work was finalized, it was revealed that I am now ranked 22,568,217th in the country. That's only a slight drop off from my #1 amateur ranking at my parents house. ( That's actually pretty impressive when you think about it. At one point in time, there were as many as 6 people and 3 cats living there. If a number one ranking with that kind of competition doesn't impress you, you need to lower your standards. You are an elitist, and nobody likes to hang out with you.) Regardless of that drop off, that means there's only 22,568,216 people in this country that are better than me. That makes me pretty much unbeatable. What are the odds that I'll run into one of those people on the court?

It's been about 8 years or so since I last played with any regularity, but I feel confident that all of my skills will return 10 fold and I will be playing in this year's US Open come September. Just to give you an idea of how serious I am, I went to my old stomping grounds (aka, my old high school tennis courts) to get in a little practice. I took not one, but TWO, brand new cans of tennis balls. That's 6, completely untouched, happy-tennis-yellow, tennis balls with which to practice. If that doesn't scream professional, I don't know what does. There were a lot of people down at the courts that day, and I dare say each and every single one of them was intimidated by my presence. When you're 5 feet, 6 ¾ inches tall like I am, that happens a lot.

I'll keep you posted on my progress, but if you watch any kind of national sports coverage, that should keep you in the loop too. Don't think for one second that this will have any effect on my softball career. That has been well established and is currently being funded by the company I work for, so I don't see that slowing down any time soon. Summer season starts next Monday.

Lastly, and as a bit of a side note, I was brought up as a bit of a skeptic, so when I'm out and about, I'm always looking for the angle. This isn't always necessary, but there are times in life when it helps. For example, when buying a car at a dealership, it helps to be a bit skeptical of all those extras they are trying to throw in. See the below picture for what I'm talking about.

Somethings I thought were just common sense, but as I recently learned, that is not always the case. Every time one of those slick-dealing car salesmen tried to slip the optional bee hive into the package, I just rolled my eyes and said, “no thank you.” First of all, the upkeep on these things is horrible and you can pretty much forget about driving your car in the winter. It never ceases to amaze me what some people will do in order to make an extra buck or two. Selling some schmuck on an optional bee hive just seems low to me.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

One Hundred Grand

So, even after I added in the punchy soundtrack, this still strikes me as one of the least impressive milestones I’ve ever recorded. It would seem as though the digital odometer lacks both the drama and excitement of the older, analog odometers. To be honest, I’m not even sure I trust it. I could be way over, or way under that mark. It’s all just a fancy, electronic, guessing game.

One thing I never thought I’d see though, upon uploading this to youtube, I instantly became grouped with a large number of people that have recorded the exact same event. I’m not really proud of that. I’m not ashamed either, I just think there are apparently a lot of us out there with the time, the ability, the equipment, and the belief that someone else might actually care about seeing this otherwise 999999X repeated occurrence.

In the last 100,000 miles, I’ve changed the oil, the tires, and one slave cylinder for the clutch assembly. Oil and tires don’t count, and the slave cylinder was $70 from the manufacturer, and it took me around 25 minutes total to swap out the old one with the new one. Not bad as far as I’m concerned. Here’s to another 100,000!!

Monday, June 04, 2007

The one where I use the word "braggadocio"

I accomplished things this past weekend. Not many things, but important things none the less. Long time readers may remember that about a year and a half ago or so, the motherboard inside my home PC kicked the bucket and required replacing. Those exact same long time readers may also remember that I run Windows XP on my home system, and Windows XP does not like having certain parts swapped out without at least two weeks notice and an application filled out in triplicate for said swapping. It's kind of annoying like that. It took me about a week and half to sort out that mess last time, ultimately ending in me reinstalling XP and crying myself to sleep.

That was last time though. This time, forms were filled out and notice was given. It was time for an upgrade.

Quick note for anyone that's planning on doing this: Lock up all of your fire arms and hide the keys. This is important because when you upgrade your motherboard, you then have to do a repair install of Windows XP (but not the first repair option when you boot up from you XP installation CD, you select the regular install, then when it detects an existing installation, it asks you if you want to repair, then you say yes.). When you do that, it basically reverts back to the original version, meaning no Service Packs or updates to the OS of any kind. It will however, retain upgrades to certain programs like Internet Explorer. This is where you will be happy that you've safely locked up all of your fire arms and hidden the keys. It turns out, IE7 requires that you have Service Pack 2 installed, however, in order to get Service Pack 2, you need to go through Windows Update using IE 5 or later. Windows will not allow you to un-install IE7, nor will it allow you install an earlier version as it will only tell you that a newer version is currently installed, thus aborting any pre IE7 installations. It's a bit of a catch 22. In my humble opinion, this was a very, very bad idea on Microsoft's part. The only way I got around it was to download the IT version of SP2 using Firefox, which is approximately 277 MB. Not impossible to do, but not as easy as the updater usually is.

I managed to perform this whole operation in about 12 hours. I'd say it was probably around hour 8 that things got particularly nasty. I was staring at a desktop with no icons, task bar or start button and several error messages about not being able to access the entry point for any number of programs. I'll admit, I wasn't very optimistic at the time. But 4 hours later, I had my baby back up and running normally with all of my programs and personal settings intact. Only now, I was running a dual core processor with 2 gigs of RAM. Was it worth it? I'm obligated to say yes because if I don't, I will immediately be nominated for Biggest Tool of the Year, but really, it was worth it. I'm looking to do some more multi-tasking these days, and I believe this will help.

I performed no less than 2,030,205,200 reboots during the whole process and I can honestly say when I performed the final one and was immediately informed by my computer that it was now out of date and that they offer quad core processors, I felt exceptionally good about myself and what I had accomplished. Normally I'm not such a braggadocio, but this time, I think I really did something nobody else on the planet has ever accomplished. I brought my personal technology right up into 2006.