Sunday, October 30, 2005

Fun beer game

Jim Small sent this fun little beer game. Enjoy!

No news is good news

This weekend has been very low-key and no news to report. Yesterday Doug and I went to see the movie North County, which was really good. Other than that, he played poker and watched football while I did homework.

I turned in my final draft of my book chapter for Instructional Comm on Thursday. Glad that project is over; it frees up a bit of time while my other class is starting to heat up. Just a little over a month until the send of the semester. I am so looking forward to the spring.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Making headway on my thesis

Not sure how, but I have a bit of time to breathe this week. This means I have was able to finish and post my survey for my thesis. The survey examines the reliance on the Internet as a source of news and information. This survey will take less than 10 minutes; if you could take it, it would really help in completing my thesis.

What would be most helpful, however, is if you could forward this survey to people that you know, people in your address book, and mailing lists that you might be a part of. The issue of doing surveys regarding the Internet is that there is no centralized database of Internet users. As such, the academic community generally conducts what is called the "snowball technique" with these types of surveys -- basically asking people to forward the survey on to others. The fact that I don't know who you send it to, and that it can go anywhere, allows this survey to be more random. However, this only works if you forward it to others, and ask the people you send it to do the same.

All responses will remain confidential; I will not know who takes the survey.

I appreciate your assistance with this.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Texas state of mind

It's 10:30 a.m. and I am driving down the "highway of death" (aka I-35); I'm just south of Austin on my daily commute to San Marcos. My mind is racing, thinking about school and an issue that I have to deal with. My brain wanders, thinking about what I will do after I finish grad school. As I play out various senarios, I suddenly realize that ZZ Top is on the radio. The song is "Tush," and at this point I have to crank up the stereo. The song takes me to a completely different state, the state of Texas, where being is all that needs to be. A smile crosses my face and my problems seem to fade. I look at at the road ahead of me and I notice what a blue, clear sky it is today. At this point, I crack open the vent on my sun roof; I don't even mind that there is still a nip in the air; temperatures in the 40s feel nice, especially as it will warm by the afternoon. I am happy and content. This is what is great about living in central Texas. This is what I would miss if we ever moved.

My mind begins to wander again, this time thinking about how great a band ZZ Top is. I have loved them since I was a teen, but appreciate them more now that I am older. You hear parents today talking about bad lyrics in songs, but let's face it, ZZ Top was the worst. Not that parents ever knew it. Heck, even as a teenager we had no idea what they were talking about.

I remember when my friend Mary first told me what a pearl necklace was. I think we were seniors in high school. After I spent a minute thinking about it, I asked Mary "do you think that's what the ZZ Top song was about?" Mary answered that she wasn't sure. Of course the next time we were in the car and the song came on, we turned it up and sure enough, that was what the song was about. We thought that was so cool.

I don't remember how old I was when I realize that "La Grange" was about the Chicken Ranch. I must have been in my 20s. Even today I get into discussion with folks about the lyrics. I'll admit, part of the problem is that they are singing "home out on the range," and unless you know the title and know about the history of the Chicken Ranch, you don't put two-and-two together.

I'm tapping the beat with my fingers on the steering wheel when the song ends; I come back to reality. I don't want the Texas state of mind to leave, so I start punching the buttons on the radio to find the right song. Nothing works. The CD has John Mellencamp -- mid-western boy is just not the same. I realize that the Texas feel-good moment was fleeting and now it's gone. I turn down the radio, as what is on is not worthy of being blasted through the speakers, and I close my sunroof. I slip back to thinking of the issue of the day. Tomorrow I have to remember to grab a ZZ Top cd and put it in the car.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

If you don't like October in Texas you don't like Texas

Believe it or not, I'm actually quoting former UT football coach Darell Royal, which I know could cost me my Razorback card. However, Coach Royal's saying is true -- October in Texas is the best. The weather is perfect today. Doug and I took his parents to Lucy's Boathouse Grill for dinner on the pier. I could sit here forever.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Who do Sudoku?

It seems as though the French family has gotten caught up in a craze, and Doug and I have become a part of it. A few weeks ago Doug's mom emailed us that Aunt Margaret had gotten into sudoku puzzles and told Doug's dad about it. His dad bought a few books and was hooked. Doug's mom thought Doug might like it. Doug, ever looking for another hobby, downloaded a few puzzles; when he found an online electronic version, I got hooked.

Sudoku is a puzzle with a series of boxes, numbered 1-9. A few numbers are filled in, and you have to deduce the rest. I like the electronic version because I know right away if I made a mistake or not. It's like crosswords, but with numbers.

An article in Yahoo today said that Sudoku is really taking off and the books are selling like crazy. Nice to know we are trendy in something.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Dissecting the blogosphere

As part of Mass Comm Week we are have folks talking blogs. It's quite interesting.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Late nights, early mornings, long days and wrong shoes

I am exhausted and my body hurts. There is not enough time in the day to get everything done, especially this week. Monday night I had a midterm; it was three, 2-page essay questions and a 1-page bonus essay. Dr. R thought we could answer each question in a half hour and be out of there by 8. I'm glad she didn't hold us to time. In my effort to be complete, my essays went over two pages and I had to ask for a second blue book. My hand hurt. I also stopped to talk to someone on the way out, so it was after 9 when I left, which is normally what time we get out of class. No biggie.

Usually on Tuesdays I can sleep in, but not yesterday. I had to be back at school at 8 a.m. for a meeting regarding a group project. That means leaving the house by 6:30. Unfortunately this week is a lot of early mornings just to fit everything in.

Yesterday I went to lunch with my friends G and R; we walked to a Chinese restaurant across from the university. For whatever reason, G decided to cut across the grass and go down a muddy hill -- the closest point/straight line theory I guess. I was wearing these open-toe slip-ons and my feet got caked. R laughed and said no one would notice because no one did when I wore different shoes.

A couple of weeks ago it was a busy Thursday morning and I went to slip on a pair of shoes. I have two open toe-shoes I like, one is black with two straps and one is navy with one. I put on the navy shoes, or so I thought. Once I got to campus I looked down at my feet as I walked to my office and noticed I was wearing two different shoes. One navy and one black. I was mortified. Just the day before I left my work clothes at home when I drove down to work out with my trainer at the campus gym; I ended up doing a short workout and driving an hour back home, getting ready, and driving an hour back. I might have cancelled class if I didn't have guest speakers.

But here it was the next day and two different shoes. There wasn't enough time to go home and get shoes. I knew Doug couldn't bring me the right shoe. I was embarrassed, but I decided I just had to live with it. Once in my office, R came in to visit. I pointed it out to him my two different shoes, but he said he hadn't noticed. Later, I taught and had a guest speaker, so I didn't stand the entire time in front of the 55 students. That night I had class, but we sit around a conference table and no one can see my feet. I went the entire day, at least 9 hours, and no one said anything about my mismatched shoes. I didn't have to die from mortification!

Until yesterday. I worked to get the mud off my shoes, but there is always a residue. At least they matched. As the students arrived, one of the girls who sits on the front row noticed the shoes and asked what happened. I explained, making the comment how no one noticed when I wore two different shoes the other week. "Oh, I did," said one girl. "I thought you were just doing it to see if someone noticed." Yeah, I'm doing an ethnographic study...I don't think so. "I noticed too," the first girl said. Evidently my students did notice but just didn't say anything. I was so embarrassed to think that everyone saw my fashion faux pas. Obviously I am just too exhausted to pick the correct shoes.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Brew your own damn wine and beer

Yesterday we saw a business idea that at first blush, seems great. It's Water 2 Wine and they call themselves a custom winery. I'm not sure if that is accurate, but what you do is make your own wine. The store wasn't open yet, but the guy let us look around. The set up is a tasting room, where they say they have more than 100 wines from 12 countries. You get to taste wines and when you find the one you want, you can make it. Since they are technically selling you grapes, there is not the taxes.

We didn't get to see the process, but we think they are selling wine kits that have the crushed grapes. It's almost as simple as adding the yeast and there you go. The store takes care of the primary and secondary fermination for you, so you simply come back in 45 days and your 5 gallons of wine is ready. You pick out your bottles, make labels and you have 2 cases of wine.

Doug and I thought this was a great business idea and started working through the idea. Basically we do the same process at home when we make wine (from the kits -- although generally we make it from scratch, where we have to crush the fruit). For folks who aren't homebrewers, they could get a taste of what it is like to make wine without being worried about equipment costs or being intimidated by the process. We actually pictured folks getting together like at a Paint Your Pottery place and making their own wine.

Then we did the numbers. The cost for wine kits, yeast, bottles, etc. Would run about $150. Of course that's retail, but that's what we had to go on. The store would almost have to sell the process at $200 per batch. That's not unreasonable, but the store would have to do quite a few $200 kits to pay for rent and turn a profit. We just started wondering how many folks a week would be willing to pay $200 to make their own wine. Of course, we didn't talk prices with this guy so we don't know what they are actually selling the wine for. We still think it's a great concept, we're just not ready to start our own store.

On the other hand, Doug is taking the beer brewing to the next level. He wondered if he could started a brew your own beer business, but I reminded him there is a cooking process involved and it's a bit more complicated. Not that he couldn't do it, but with wine, you can get that going in a matter of minutes, not hours. Anyway, Doug and Robert are going to take the final step and go to all grain brewing. Right now they do what's called mini-mash, which is some grain and some extracted. Robert is building an all-grain set up which will be brought to our house Monday. In the meantime, Robert has bought a fridge that he is going to turn into a kegerator for his house. That means that we are getting his two tap kegerator here at the house. Doug says that will get the kegs out of the extra fridge we have in the garage.

I was happy about that until he told me that freeing up the fridge will allow them to use it so they can make lagers. Somehow he is pulling one over on me because when he brought that fridge home he told me we would use it to chill wine and soft drinks and that I could use it for food storage when we had a party. I can't even fit a tiramisu in it, much less party trays. Oh well, who needs to serve food when you have beer. In fact, I think we now have beer in some form or another in every room in the house except our bedroom and the bathrooms. I'm sure if he thinks about it, Robert will figure out a way to but a kegerator in the bathroom as well.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Favorite study spot

Today is beautiful day, temperatures in the 80s. I have some time before I teach so I in to one of my favorite restaurants, River Pub. I can grab a bite, work on the paper due tomorrow and enjoy the serenity of the river.

Flipping the bird

Nothing too exciting this week. I have just been busy as heck. I had a presentation and two summary papers due Monday and tomorrow I have a 20 page book chapter due. Friday I am guest lecturing for my friend David Cohen in his Info Gathering class, talking about PR data sources. Then Monday I have a mid-term. No wonder my brain hurts!

Yesterday I flipped off my class, giving them the bird several times. I had them laughing. The lecture topic was clear communication and I was trying to get it across the idea that you have to be careful when communicating to other cultures because words, symbols and gestures have different means in different cultures. The example I was giving was that in some countries a thumbs up is the same thing as when we hold up our middle finger. "In some places, this [doing a thumbs up] means the same thing as this [flipping the bird]." They all laughed. In fact one of the students said his roommate, who is from Europe, said that the two finger, "V" peace symbol, is also flipping the bird if you show the other person the back of your hand.

We also had an interesting conversation about discriminatory language. I gave an example of a person calling a young, rookie African-American baseball player a boy (as in, "that boy can hit") and getting in trouble for it. One of the white boys in my class said, "I don't get it." Immediately, one of the black guys in my class spoke up, "I do." He was quickly followed by a few other black students who said "I do." I used that as an example to illustrate that you have to be aware of your audience and how they will perceive the communication.

The students had me laughing so hard yesterday. I am giving the same lecture in today's class. I think I'll flip them off as well.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Razorback in Longhorn country

I truly think that burnt orange is the ugliest color that God ever created. Yet living in Austin the color is everywhere. Being from Arkansas you learned from a young age to despise the University of Texas, and all their evil, underhanded doings on the football field. Frank Broyles was God, Darrell Royal was a want-to-be.

At times it's difficult being a Razorback in Longhorn country, but no time more than this weekend -- Texas/OU weekend. The capture of Bin Laden would go unnoticed if it happened during the game. And it doesn't matter if the Longhorns win the Rose Bowl if they don't beat OU, which they hardly do. This is the first time in years that it looks like they have a chance.

Being a Razorback since the age of 2, I secretly root for the Longhorns to lose, especially for OU. Of course, in public I say nothing, as I don't have a deathwish. "Do you want to come watch the game?" folks ask. I tell them we have plans. Doug knows he has to sneak out to a bar because for some reason we can't get UT football on our TV. Heaven help him if he ever wears a t-shirt with something less than derogatory about the Longhorns on it. Back home that would be a valid defense for stabbing him 54 times in the heart.

Unfortunately I live in Longhorn country and this is OU weekend. It's a good thing I have a ton of homework. There will be little opportunity to venture out to the sea of burnt orange.

Fall weather

We think autumn has finally arrived in Austin. Two days ago the temperature was in the 90s and we were running our air conditioner. Today the high is 69 and the windows are open. In fact it was down-right chilly last night. We are, however, enjoying this weather.

Strange, but we don't really get much of the 78-82 degree temperatures around here. The joke is that central Texas has only two seasons. The first lasts 8 months and it's called HOT. The other is 4 months and it's called Not Hot. We probably have about another month of being able to wear shorts and then we will move to the Not Hot season.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Here kitty, kitty

Robert is trying to talk up into adopting one of his kittens. He brought this tiny thing over the other day, but as expected, it didn't work out. She wasn't being mean, but Allegra wouldn't leave it alone. She held it between her paws and wouldn't stop licking it, rolling it over and over on the floor with her tongue. Finally Robert took the slimy mess away from Allegra and took the kitten home. Allegra was noticeably upset and waited by the front door an hour for Robert to bring back her kitten. Alas, it will be status quo in the house for awhile.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Fall Sundays

I really think fall is Doug's favorite time of the year. Not because of the cooler weather (meaning 92 instead of 102 degrees), not because of all the various activities, but because of football. Specifically NFL football. I think he would allow me to be in grad school indefinitely if it meant that I would leave him alone on Sundays. Somehow he can watch five or more games on any given Sunday, and what he doesn't watch on Sunday, he watches later during the week.

He has this ritual where he gets up Sunday mornings and reviews the games and the players. Then he makes his picks for the various fantasy leagues he's in. Then comes the noon kick-off. Later in the fall, when the weather is right, he'll cook chili to go along with the game. I'm usually in the other room, studying away, but I can tell when one of his players scores, as I can hear the cheers. He'll watch the games most of the afternoon and then go play poker in the evening, remembering to set the DVR for the night game. After poker, he'll come home and stay up a bit to watch one of the games. Monday nights I have class and inevitably when I come home, he's watching Monday Night Football. At least by that time he's willing to pause the game to spend time with me.

I think some women might get upset at their S/Os for spending so much time with football, but I don't mind. As it is, I'm busy and I actually look forward to Sundays myself. At least if he's busy watching football I don't have to feel guilty spending all day with the books.