NYRampage

Happiness. Short-term, stupid, self-interest.

Family Fun Night

My wife came up with this absurd idea of “Family Fun Night”. Every two weeks, we reserve a week night evening to do something together as a family. We already sit down to dinner together each night. Like I’m not already busy enough. I figured I’d humor the idea long enough to show that it is too hard to pull off every two weeks, too much time, too expensive, and really not much “fun”.

I can publish those words because I get to eat them along with a bowl of crow.

Turns out, every Family Fun Night has been fun, and it doesn’t really cost that much. The first time we went to Chuck-E-Cheese, and with practically no one there, we had a blast, especially with the air hockey tournament. Another night, we went miniature golfing; another night we made these Crayola sugar cookies from a some kit we bought to support my daughter’s ballet; and last night we went to see Disney Pixar’s “Cars.” (Using some cheap Entertainment tickets)cars.jpg

Ice Cream also seems to be involved frequently, but who doesn’t like ice cream? For that matter, who doesn’t like Oreo’s? I think I’ve identified two universally loved foods.

But back on topic, “Cars” was great, just as all the Pixar films have been. It started off slow, but soon the magic came and it was great. The animation was nothing short of amazing, with the water, reflections & lighting. Am I the only geek who watched the entire second DVD of the making of The Incredibles?

Trivia: What is the name of Pixar’s lamp logo? (no cheating)

The voice acting in “Cars” is what stole the show for me. Paul Newman as Doc. Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers made an appearance in their first movie. Larry the Cable Guy played Mater the tow truck. And of course it was filled with the subtle little puns from, the “Bugs”, a Lincoln Continental breakfast, the 1969 WV van “I’m telling you man, every third blink is slower”, to Mater’s “now that’s more fun than a tornado in a trailer park” (now, I don’t care who you are… dat’s some funny stuff right ‘dare)

June 30, 2006 Posted by | Family, Movies, Tech | 3 Comments

Tech Valley

The capital region in upstate New York has been given the nickname of Tech Valley, referring to the vast number of technology companies settling in the Hudson and Mohawk valleys.

In recent news, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD, which Intel’s biggest competitor) will build a manufacturing plant in Malta, NY; just south of Saratoga Springs.
 AMD
AMD adds itself to the list of cool tech companies already here, like Albany Molecular, Plug Power, Optimal Robotics, MapInfo, Intermagnetics General, and Vicarious Visions; not to mention GE, Verizon, Time Warner and IBM.

The companies are attracted to the already installed base of software and hardware tech companies, the recently renovated Albany International Airport, incentives by local politicians, and the decent smattering of colleges in the area. (Albany Institute of Nanotechnology and Applied Sciences, RPI, Union, Siena College, St. Rose, U of Albany, & Skidmore)

The region is growing, for sure, though I still think of it as “smAlbany.” Saratoga County continues to be one of the fastest growing counties in the nation and real estate values continue to climb at leading rates.

Not all is good… traffic problems will increase, which brings me to another favorite subject of mine, trains. Politicians are talking more about light rail service between Albany and Saratoga and high speed rail between Albany and Buffalo. Not well known is that Amtrak’s most profitable service is already their Empire service, the run between Albany and New York City.

Connect that with the historical Adirondack Railroad for a ride up to the lakes and it sounds like I have another blog entry to write.

June 29, 2006 Posted by | Life in general, Tech | Leave a comment

World Cup: It’s a Shame

The referee's in the 2006 World Cup have been awful through the opening rounds of play. So bad, that it is making it not fun at all to watch some of these games.

The main problem is that they aren't letting the players play. The yellow cards are coming way too quickly. A lot of the calls should just be fouls, and there are many that shouldn't even be called at all. It's just two guys going for the same ball, 50-50, and someone is going to lose. Shame on the ref's for not letting the game continue at the fast pace it should. I don't blame anyone who doesn't like watching soccer for all of the stoppage time.

I'm not saying the ref's are morons. The Oscar winning performances of some the players don't make it easy for the ref's to determine what is real and what is not. I say "shame on you" to the countries that make faking fouls and injuries a part of the game. I can proudly say that the American's generally don't stoop to this level of play.

Speaking of the American's, they got ripped badly by the ref's. The yellows and reds in the Italy game were bad, turning the match into a game of hanging on for dear life. Then in the Ghana match, the "foul" against Oguchi Onyewu in the penalty box was no foul at all. Few will disagree. That's a bad call equals a goal for the opponent; not good. With bad calls like these, you don't really know who would have won these games, and if the U.S. should have 6 points, or zero.

That said, I don't think the U.S. deserves the second round anyway with the way they played. They put no pressure on the Czech's, couldn't score a goal against Italy, and made KEY mistakes in each match. Mistakes that were punished badly, particularly simple mistakes like clearing the ball defending our goal. Shame on the U.S. for such a poor showing.

(The one exception, Clint Dempsey, who I watched from the beginning was the only one fired up from game one. Congrats on his well deserved goal)

June 23, 2006 Posted by | Sports | 1 Comment

Learn How to Park

Those painted lines in a parking lot… the ones all neatly laid out… someone went through all that trouble SO YOU CAN PARK BETWEEN THEM! OMG, WHERE DID YOU LEARN HOW TO PARK?!?!?!?!

I'm pushed one step closer to the loony bin every time I see a car parked crooked, or offset, or even taking up two complete spaces. It drives me nuts! I don't care that you bought a $50,000 oversized shopping cart, or a Ford Monstrosity, or bangin' Civic… learn how to get it between the lines evenly!

Yesterday, it was some non-descript car parked so off center it took up two spaces at the baseball fields where parking is always an issue due to the sheer number of people. This morning, it was at the gym where I was still sitting in my car getting my headphones on when a chick in a Durango quickly pulls in next to me, off-center, crooked, wheels turned, and too far forward. Well, she'll straighten out… … … NO! Apparently that's good enough for her and off she goes.

AGHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

OK, here's how you do it: 1) You need some room to pivot your car in so give yourself some margin before trying to turn in. 2) Swing the front of your car to the far side of the space (as far as you can, but please don't hit my car) 3) Sharply straighten your wheels back out as you finish. This isn't parallel parking, it's very simple. 4) And if you screw up, fix it!

(Don't even get me started on people who can't pull out of a driveway backwards)

June 23, 2006 Posted by | Pet Peeves | 4 Comments

Microsoft – Innovation Not Needed

Some people think of Microsoft as the ultimate when it comes to innovation. I completely disagree; but I do think of Microsoft as the ultimate in re-invention. Just about every product Microsoft leads in market share is a product that has been re-invented. Sure, there are some innovations in these products; but, by and large, someone else came up with the original.

For example, ever hear of Windows? XBox? Internet Explorer? Word? Excel? Yeah, I thought so; but not a one is the original. The poor unfortunate soul who came up with the orignal suffered trying to get the technology to work at all, and, to make money, if at all. Microsoft takes each one (Macintosh, game console, Mosaic, word processor, Lotus 1-2-3) and made them better and marketed them better.

I'm not saying what Microsoft does is wrong, or bad… it's just what they do; and they do it very well.

Ever hear of iPod? iTunes? Recently Microsoft announced a music device and service to compete with Apple's offerings. Killer iPod plans? Some say "unlikely", but before you decide, you may want to look at the record books.

Want to list more Microsoft re-inventions? An innovation perhaps? How might MS beat Apple in the tunes department? (like by not restricting the iPod/iTunes coupling?) Please Comment!

June 20, 2006 Posted by | Tech | 1 Comment

Coaching Soccer for Kids – Part I: Introduction

Introduction

As soon as they can walk, they can start kicking a ball around. At age 4, they can play in recreation leagues. It’s never too soon to start becoming familiar with a soccer ball.

The key skill you want to teach at ages 4-5 (level 0) is dribbling. Use a size 3 ball. The ball size should be in proportion to their leg as a regulation size 5 ball is to your leg. Dribbling is running with the ball at your feet. It is not kicking the ball and chasing it; rather, it is soft touches with your feet to keep it close. And, it's running, not walking.

As the child gets older, watch and suggest trying to use both feet, and using both the inside of the foot and the outside. You want to discourage them using their toe for anything; but be careful not to discourage anything early on, wait until you see them getting very good before correcting this as not only is it very difficult for them, but also you want to foster a love for the ball and sport.

At level 0, you are successful if by the end of the year they can show that they can dribble down the field in the right direction. Most kids will be able to do this; only the very shy, or, lazy assed non-physically active kid will still be struggling with basic dribbling at the end of the season. So, there are other things you can teach as they progress. (see Part II)

What you don't want to teach at level 0 is spreading out and passing. What happens is they will listen… all of them. Then, the team you are playing will be like a stampeed of wild bore running through you. The one exception would be for that ringer; the one kid who looks like he could help out the U.S. world cup team. You might be able to tell him to pass the ball off once in a while; but, he is an exception and these articles are geared toward the norm.

Practicing passing one-on-one in your backyard with your kid is great. So, by all means, teach them to pass. What won't work is trying to line up 4 year olds with the… never mind, I've said enough. (Go and try to line up twenty 4 year olds; and make sure someone is shooting video.)

At ages 6-7 (level 1), you can introduce spreading out and passing the ball. It comes quickly at this age. By age 8, they are even doing fixed plays and learning defensive tactics. Personally, my coaching skills are limited beyond this age due to lack of experience.

Comments and suggestions welcome.

(Next – Part II: Level 0 Practice & Drills)

June 15, 2006 Posted by | Family, Sports | Leave a comment

“Rampage”…? Are you mad at something?

In case anyone is wondering about the name I use here, NYRampage, there is history behind it. If you don’t care, you can skip to the last paragraph. If you’re curious, read on…

Way, way back when I was only 16, my friends and I played a game called Photon. PhotoNYR - PSn, simply, was commercial laser tag. It was a spacey building located in Kennilworth, NJ where you donned a helmet, chest plate and gun, and ran through a psuedo-maze shooting infra-red beams at the other team. Before you entered, you were ID’d and placed on a team of ten, either red, or green. You also got to pick a nickname to use and I always chose Rampage. The computer would keep score and post your stats on a big screen in the lobby. That’s the reason the name exist, but not the origin.

NYR - NFLPut on the spot to come up with a name, I went through a list of names in my head of racing boats from a recent Benihana Race I watched. (Now known as the New Jersey Off Shore Grand Prix) Rampage sounded cool, so i picked it.

Since then, anytime I needed a nick name, I used Rampage. This came up NYR -TMoften in online video games, although you might be surprised at how often I found the name already in use. I also joined a fantasy football league several years back and needed a name. Being I’m from New York, New York Rampage had a cool sound to it and so I’ve stuck with it. Using the NY has also helped me stay unique.

boatNo, I’m not mad at anything; it’s just a name that stuck. As for this blog, NYRampage just sounds cooler than Ron’s blog.

June 9, 2006 Posted by | Gaming | 2 Comments

Yeah, I’m darn proud

I coach my sons soccer team. At level 0 (ages 5 & 6) the primary mission is to acquaint them with the ball; e.g. dribbling.

Practice is red-light, green-light; sharks and minnows, and run backwards. (you’d be amazed at how hard that is for some) I don’t do drills where they have to stand in a line (many don’t know “line”) or drills where they have to wait, because they will end up picking dandelions.

My son has become quite confident and proficient with the dribbling. One of his favorite things to do is play defense. Chase down the ball and steal it. Or, use some form of slide tackling where you kick it away, then fall down. (They just love that) I noticed, however, that to turn around and get going back in the right direction he uses the entire field, often turning, dribbling in front of his own goal, and slowly making the turn back down the right way.

So the next day, I decided to teach him at home how to stop the ball, flick it soccerbackwards, and change direction. It took him about 15 seconds to master the move. I was impressed, but doing it on the lawn and in a game are two completely different things. I never mentioned it again as I didn’t want that move to be overbearing in his mind during a game.

The following week he played a whole game and did well; apparently, not even thinking about “the move”. During the second game, he stole the ball traveling toward his own goal, but continued on for several strides before even attempting to turn, to the point I even heard some parents shout “other way”. I was so proud… I saw it coming. He wanted to think it through the first time.

Soon after I heard parents saying from the sideline, “Wow! Did you see that?”

Now he does it all the time with less thought behind it each time.

(More pictures on “flickr“. Sign-up to become a contact to see private photos)

June 6, 2006 Posted by | Family, Sports | 1 Comment

It’s a war of attrition, and I’m all out of Juicy Fruit

One of my neighbors was out in his backyard last year on his hands and knees stabbing at the ground with scissors. What in the world was he doing? I learned that he was trying to kill moles that were destroying his beautiful lawn. He’s nuts! (I thought, which is not a real stretch for this guy) His antics became the pun of many jokes over the past year.

I have moles in my yard as well, but they tend to stay away from the house and I only get annoying soft spots in the lawn. Then this spring, things changed. They were all over. They left huge mound of dirt, the grass died all over… now I have a problem.

Through research I learned the following:
• Moles eat earthworms as well as grubs, so solving a grub problem will not likely cure your mole problem.
• Moles don’t eat vegetation, so poisons are ineffective.
• Stamping down mole tunnels will only make them burrow deeper.
• Moles are blind and have very sensitive smell, they know to stay away from humans and other animals.
• My cats are more interested in curing my neighbors mole problems.
• Scare tactics are generally ineffective. (Remedies such as pickle juice, broken glass, red pepper, razor blades, bleach, moth balls, rose branches, human hair balls, vibrators, ultrasonic devices, Castor Oil, and explosives may relieve frustrations, but have little value in controlling moles.)
• A ChemLawn representative even told me about the Juicy Fruit trick. The theory is that the moles like the smell of Juicy Fruit gum, will eat it, but won’t be able to digest it. (don’t handle it with your hands)
• Traps are the most effective way to eliminate moles, but they are expensive and they come with their own set of problems. (like checking them, resetting them, finding the active tunnels, having them at the right depth, and getting them to work at all, etc.).

It is literally a war of attrition. You have to eliminate them or they will just keep multiplying. One good thing is that young moles only have a 50% chance of surviving to reproduce. I’ve seen lawns devastated in my neighborhood by moles and I’ve recently been trying to revitalize mine.

I’m not going to lose this war… I own a pitch fork.

June 5, 2006 Posted by | Home Improvement | 3 Comments