Saturday, February 28, 2009

What am I interested in? Fountain pens, though I like normal, mainstream stuff, too.

Snowboarding, cycling, working-out, going out, dancing without caring if I look like an ass, golf, driving German cars, Tennis, reading, movies, Studying, finishing my MBA, Emailing and Texting, spending time with family and friends, Traveling, running, Xbox 360, live music...Foreign policy, International Relations, foreign affairs, foreign languages, foreign cultures, sport, travel, Formula 1, Art, Music, cinema, Literature, economics, diplomacy, political risk analysis, intelligence, anything that appears in The Economist (except for Bagehot), IWC watches, watch appreciation in general, fountain pens (admiring, writing with, and - when I had money, collecting), philosophy, not being pretentious, imagining what it would be like to have a Rhodesian Ridgeback, cycling, writing, relationship building, finding new reasons to wear my still-new tuxedo, creating opportunities to toast with champagne, reconciliation, poetry, knowing enough about Steelers football to be conversant, building sustainable relationships based on trust, not being a wuss, properly addressing text messages, Truthiness, Stand-up Comedy (because you have to be able to laugh at the end of the day), proverbs in foreign languages (but FFS - if you don't know what they mean, just ask me first, ok?), etc...

Seriously though, right now I really am back into fountain pens - writing with my old ones and admiring the newer ones that I'd like to own. Collecting them is a different story, and will require the completion of the MBA, and then the securing of a salary commensurate with an MBA-level position in a pre-meltdown economy, but I did make a list of the brands I want in my collection, and some specific models from each range. I bought my first pen in 1995, a Waterman something-or-other that I still have (Thanks, Kat Campbell!!), and own a few nice examples of German and Italian models. I like my Pelikan M800, which is *Claaaassic* (inside joke: say "Claaaassic" in your best Danny Chew voice), and I really like the green Aurora Optima that was the third pen I picked up (around 2000 or 2001). Pens are cool because I am a romantic, and sometimes I fancy myself a writer so, if not typing, the writing must be done with an implement, and a fountain pen is a pretty neat tool for the job that blends simple functionality with incredible aesthetics...and I love my aesthetics! Not me, personally, but I'm a fan of sensory or sensori-emotional values.

And Formula One Championship Edition for PS3 is funnnn!

Me drive fast.

But I'm definitely looking forward to Codemasters' new F1 game! And the guys who appear in the podcasts below are, too! (I love that it's OK to publicly admit to liking - and playing - car racing video games after age 15 - definitely one of the perks of being a guy)!

To bring it all back around, in case you were wondering, here is a picture of my first fountain pen, a Waterman something-or-other. Thanks, Kat!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


TWITTER? When did I sign up for Twitter? Was this during one of those moments quaintly referred to as an "Ambien-induced-episode?"

Twitter Wed, Feb 25, 2009 at 9:58 PM
Hi, joepa01 (joepa01).

burked12 (burked12) is now following your updates on Twitter.

Check out burked12's profile here:

You may follow burked12 as well by clicking on the "follow" button.
Turn off these emails at:

Can someone tell me what the hell is going on? Do

Monday, February 23, 2009

FS: Four (4) Enkei Sportline Rims + Tires

Rims are a 4x100 lug pattern (very common with imports); and possibly 4x115.

The rims are in fairly good condition with some rash. The tires are almost new, all are Yokohama 205/40/17, but 3 are A520's while 1 is an ES100ZR.

Price: $350


Local (15232) Pick-up only - no shipping.

Clue #7 - Blood Values from Back in the Day

The Go-Go Days Lasted Long after Gewiss-Ballan went 1-2-3 at Fleche-Wallonne, 1994.

Clue #6

Pappillon Publishes a Pen Ad - Coincidence or Fate?

Clue #5

Limited Edition Pasture Butter

One of a kind, baby. One of a kind...

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Dead End in Detroit for White-Collar Workers

Dead End in Detroit for White-Collar Workers
Published: February 17, 2009

"The resolve of Detroit’s white-collar workers has given way to grim resignation as General Motors, Ford Motor and Chrysler have announced more and more job cuts."

This article is sobering... My dad was a white collar GM worker. He died back in 1989 when he was 52, so he'd have been retired by now, but still...I love cars and I love the auto industry and this is a crappy time...

GM will keep at least one loyal customer, though unfortunately she's not one who the company stands to make much money off of: my mom. She can buy GM cars at "employee cost" through the GM Family First employee purchase program (as can my brother and me), but really - in this market? GM dealers are hardly working off of big margins and it's not like there is a lack of supply that is boosting up prices. Rather, the lack of demand for GM products has ground the price of GM's offerings into the dirt. Sad, sad days.

And with Bob Lutz bowing out as head of GM's global product development at such a watershed moment... It's now only a matter of time until the company is compelled to declare bankruptcy, though hopefully something viable emerges from the ashes. Poorly managed for too many years with endless production runs of vehicles that did not appeal to a wide enough market segment? Yes. But still, this company is close to my heart - it was the company in which my father (God rest his soul) built his career. It deserves better than what we're seeing.

Slip of the thumbs

Slip of the thumbs: When sending a text message and the recipient of the message was not the intended recipient. Alternatively, when you try to reply to one person, and another message comes in just as you're about to reply, and you end up replying to the wrong person. This issue can have detrimental effects.

Girl to married guy: "Hey, what are you up to?"
(Guy is getting ready to reply, when he's distracted for two seconds, during which time, the following message hits his phone."
Wife to her husband: "I made it to Dallas."
(Now husband, thinking he's replying to his girlfriend says)
Husband to his wife (slip of the thumbs): "Nothing, my wife is out of town if you want to sleep over tonight."
Wife to husband: "WTF!?!?!"

Urban Dictionary

Monday, February 16, 2009

Is there a difference between envy and jealousy?

Although sometimes used synonymously, envy and jealousy have different meanings.

Envy is the desire for something that someone else has, or a feeling of ill will over another person's advantages in general:

My envy of your success has made me bitter.

Jealousy is a resentful suspicion that someone else has what rightfully belongs to the jealous person:

Out of jealousy, he followed his wife.
The favored treatment of the daughter created jealousy in the son.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Sensible Fiesta

"Jeremy responds to a reader complaint about us not doing proper car tests by landing a Ford Fiesta on a beach and being chased through a shopping centre..."

This clip is pretty amazing...well, at least the final portion is (the beach assault). If you're not in the UK you won't be able to view it w/o taking the measures I detail here. But trust me, it's worth it...especially for the moments when Clarkson squeals with delight to one of his commando passengers: "Hey look at that!! The smoke grenades fit perfectly in the cup holders!" before asking, "The glove much ammo can you get in there? Just two mags?"

See it here.

Run DMC -----> Run DC (lol)

Cinelli-OPD without 2009 licence


Frank Vandenbroucke, Jörg Jaksche and the rest of Team Cinelli-OPD have to look for new employers after the team manager, Nico Mattan, heard Thursday afternoon that it will not receive UCI licence.

"With 99 percent certainty, I will find a new team for myself, the other four Belgian riders," he said to He explained that he will get in touch with other Continental teams.

He noted that he will use his contacts, along with bike manufacturer Cinelli, to find a team with which they can merge.

"Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne is in only three weeks. Frank Vandenbroucke and Bert Roesems will be at the start." (SW)

(F'U! Biasci!)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Is Your Child a Tagger?

Hijacked Arms Ship Limps into Port

In follow-up to my post late last year about Piracy on the High Seas, we have this exciting news from Africa:

Hijacked Arms Ship Limps into Port

"MOMBASA, Kenya — The Ukrainian arms freighter held by pirates off Somalia’s coast for more than four months docked at port in Mombasa, Kenya, on Thursday, escorted by American and Kenyan Navy vessels and greeted by cheering crowds of thousands.

The ship experienced engine trouble on the final segment of the trip, and limped into the harbor at around 4 p.m., flanked by two tug boats.

Spectators shouted and whistled, and some even waded into the water, pumping their fists in the air as the ship blasted its horn in greeting. American Navy vessels had accompanied the ship, called the Faina, from Somalia and the Kenyan navy took over as it came into Kenyan waters.

“We are very happy to be here,” the acting captain, Victor Nikolsky, said at a welcoming ceremony in the port.

More than 100 ships have been attacked in Somalia’s pirate-infested seas in the past year, but no hijacking has attracted as much attention as this one, in large part because the freighter was loaded with arms, including tanks. It stirred fears of a new epoch of piracy and precipitated an unprecedented naval response. Warships from China, India, Italy, Russia, France, the United States, Denmark, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Greece, Turkey, Britain and Germany have all since joined the antipiracy campaign..." Full article

And the I-can't-believe-he-said-it-Quote-of-the-Article:
"He said simply that the waters off the coast of Somalia had become a shopping mall” for pirates." --Alfred Mutua, Kenyan government spokesman.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Tales from La Prima

Apparently, I've become predictable...(paraphrasing)...

La Prima to me: "You always look at the menu as if you're going to order something different, but then you order your same doppio macchiato."

Me to La Prima: "Well you see, my dear, uactually...I do that for YOUR benefit, to keep you engaged and expectant and to maintain your hope that I might order something different."

La Prima to me, with less than loving expression on her face: "But you still order a doppio macchiato - so what, you're cheating me? Deceiving me?"


Gmail Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

Monday, February 09, 2009

PJ Crushes Ashton Kutcher on Qik

My roommate PJ and I have been using this new service, Qik, which allows for live video-streaming from our mobiles. Unbeknown to either of us, the video PJ shot on the South Side immediately after the Steelers Super Bowl victory caught the attention of Qik, who judged his the best. In their words, "We finally chose legend107's brief but powerful video streamed live from Carson Street in Pittsburgh right after the final whistle. What atmosphere!"

Chad Vader Season 2, #1 "The Takeover"

Life is rough for Darth Vader’s little brother.

He has the black helmet. He has the deep voice. But Chad Vader doesn’t command the Galactic Empire. Rather, he’s struggling as a day shift manager at Empire Market, a small grocery store. Chad may have less charisma than Darth, but he has millions of fans, thanks to the Madison filmmakers behind Chad Vader: Day Shift Manager, a YouTube sensation that George Lucas has honored with an award.

More than just another Star Wars parody, each five-minute episode features the challenges Chad faces at Empire Market: insolent employees, an unrequited crush, a demotion to night shift manager, and a general lack of respect despite his light saber and telekinetic powers.

Well, THE WAIT IS OVER! Chad is back! Empire Market has been taken over by corporate chain Red Leader Foods. Chad and company get their first look at their new owner in Season 2, Episode 1:

Lessons from Banja Luka

When a survivor of the fighting in the Bosnian city of Banja Luka approaches your German sedan carrying "Poison" but promises to get you back on the road in a jiff because, to quote him, "I love this car," what reasonable person wouldn't stand aside, take out the CrackBerry, let Kemal get to work and snap some photos and video?

Saturday, February 07, 2009

For Big Collector of Tanks, Panzer Was Last Hurrah

WSJ Online
FEBRUARY 6, 2009, 8:04 P.M. ET

One of the nice things about owning a battalion's worth of tanks is that when you throw a party, you can show off your war machines by crushing a car or two for your guests.

Jacques Littlefield, who boasted one of the world's most extensive private collections of rolling armor, enjoyed that perk. He had a trained engineer's love of mechanical innovation and the leisure to do painstaking restoration, bringing the rumble of martial steel to the verdant hills of Portola Valley, Calif.

Along with a small staff of mechanics at his ranch, Mr. Littlefield restored more than 200 pieces of military equipment, from self-propelled Soviet artillery to a British Rapier missile launcher to 65 tanks. The machines were displayed in a football-field-size garage at his private museum, which welcomed about 5,000 visitors annually.

The pride of his collection was a German Panzer V Panther from World War II, recovered from a Polish river, that his mechanics toiled for five years to restore. One of only a handful of working Panzer V's in existence, it received its finishing touches just weeks after Mr. Littlefield's death at 59 from cancer Jan. 7.

"His was one of the places on your bucket list," notes Reg Hodgson, editor of Army Motors, the journal of the Military Vehicle Preservation Association. While the association boasts 9,200 members world-wide, only a handful have the resources to collect significant quantities of vehicles.

Mr. Littlefield was born into wealth. His great-grandfather having founded the Utah Construction Co., which helped build the Hoover and Grand Coulee dams. His father oversaw a 1976 merger with General Electric Co. that made him a member of the Forbes 400 Richest People in America.

Mr. Littlefield grew up making models and loving technology. "My idea of a fun vacation was to look at factories -- a refrigerator factory in Louisville, a Cessna plant in Wichita," he told the San Francisco Chronicle in 2007. At his ranch was a mile-long track of model railway maintained by local hobbyists, as well as a baroque-style pipe organ he commissioned based on European originals in an acoustically high-tech hall.

Like his father, Mr. Littlefield studied engineering and business at Stanford University. Instead of joining fellow students in war protests, he spent his spare time in the engineering shop and once built a ¼-scale M-60A1 Patton tank with a working flamethrower.

"His politics were a bit different," chuckles William A. Boller, an old friend and colleague who now is president of Mr. Littlefield's Military Vehicle Technology Foundation, which oversees his legacy.

In 1975, Mr. Littlefield acquired his first military vehicle, an American M3A1 scout car, rather like an armored Jeep. Slowly acquiring more, he discovered a love of collecting. "There is a genre of human being like me," he told the New York Times in 2003. "It's like a type of dog."

The end of the Cold War brought a lot of Soviet-bloc armaments onto the market. Mr. Littlefield worked with fellow collectors and agents to import all sorts of hardware, but usually vehicles that represented some sort of technical or functional advance.

He also amassed spare parts, which cropped up from odd places and which he shared with fellow collectors. When he didn't have a spare, his mechanics could usually improvise something, often based on original blueprints that Mr. Littlefield housed in a large library.

The point was to be true to the original specifications, down to the nuts and bolts. Even the textile-coated wiring of an earlier day was replicated. The Panzer V's engine was rebuilt with the original engine block and transmission, even though, Mr. Littlefield said in a documentary for the History Channel, it was too light for the 49-ton behemoth and the gears were vulnerable to stripping.

Photo (c) Bernard Zee

Mr. Littlefield's workshop helps illuminate differences in war strategy. The Germans favored big, complicated tanks in part because they could always transport them to a factory for repairs. The Americans, fighting on battlefields an ocean away from home, built smaller, easier-to-repair tanks from standardized parts. In 2001, Mr. Littlefield told Forbes it took four Sherman tanks to destroy a Panzer, and three might end up destroyed themselves.

Dave Marian, the foundation's curator, explains that "Germans solve problems in Germanic ways. A Panzer tank had probably eight times more parts than a [U.S.] Sherman tank."

Mr. Littlefield didn't lend his vehicles to Hollywood studios, though he did let Steven Spielberg record tank sounds for the film "Saving Private Ryan." He also had a few high-profile items, such as the halftrack personnel carrier Lee Marvin drove in the movie "The Dirty Dozen" and one of the screws from the oceanliner Lusitania.

His collections extracted a personal cost. "It happens to a lot of guys," he told The Wall Street Journal in 1992. "It happened to me. You get a tank, you get divorced. You get divorced, you lose the tank to pay the settlement."

Video: Panther w/ turret first drive!!!!

Photo Collection from Littlefield's museum.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Dupouey, a Tragic End

Former world mountain bike champion Christophe Dupouey committed suicide Wednesday, French cycling officials confirmed.

Dupouey, 40, was reportedly despondent ever since he was sentenced to three months in jail in 2006 for his role in Belgium’s “pot belge” doping scandal. More than 40 people were arrested in 2003 as part of an alleged distribution network. More: Velonews.

Coverage from La Gazzetta dello Sport:

Dupouey, una tragica fine - Il campione francese di mountain bike si è suicidato a Tarbes. Soffriva di depressione. Nel 2006 era stato condannato a tre mesi per un caso di doping

TARBES (Francia), 5 febbraio 2009 - L'ex campione del mondo di mountain bike Christophe Dupouey è stato trovato morto. Secondo la federazione degli Alti Pirenei, la regione dove si trova Tarbes, si sarebbe suicidato. Aveva 40 anni.

Dupouey, iridato nel 1998 e quarto ai Giochi olimpici di Atlanta nel 1996, soffriva di depressione. Nel 2006 era stato condannato a tre mesi di carcere per un caso di doping. Recentemente aveva assunto l'incarico di responsabile del bike sharing nella città di Tarbers, dove viveva.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Los Quatro Caballeros

What is Qik?

I don't know how long I'll hold onto the little "Qik" widget that appears in the right-side menu bar on this blog, but in case you're wondering:

What is Qik?

Qik is a little piece of software that lets you stream video live from your cell phone to the web, where your audience can chat back in real time to your device's screen while you broadcast. With Qik, you can share with anyone and everyone what's going on anywhere and everywhere you go.