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Laid back; chilled out.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013


It all started a couple of years ago, and it was purely by accident. It probably was in the middle of the night too, back when I used to stay up till 2 or 3am for whatever reason. I must've been sleepy, since it was late, but I was instantly awake when I glanced at the TV.

The first thing I noticed is how unbelievably quick everything is. I mean, it's ridiculous. It's like watching a fast-forward of a video game.

Yes, I'm talking about Formula One. And from that moment on I was hooked.

Like any new sport, you learn something new every day, and I'm far from an expert. Shoot, I learn something new pretty much every race. Of course I knew what F1 was - pretty much every other person does too - but its sheer technical intricacies were unknown to me.

First of all, allow me to try and explain just how intense it is:
  • 0-300 Kph in ~ 8.5 sec.
  • 200 - 0 Kph (braking) ~ 1.9 sec., while experiencing 5 times the force of gravity. (5G)
  • Cornering - up to 6 freakin' Gs!

The average driver loses 2kg in the course of one race, (one Grand Prix) with the heart pounding away at about 190 beats a minute. They are quite possibly some of the fittest people on the planet, and are certainly the best drivers in the world. (Next to WRC drivers, but that's a story for another day)

Yes, Fernando Alonso can crack a frickin' nut with his neck! Put a mere mortal in one of these cars and their neck would start hurting in a few corners, if their neck can even support the forces exerted on their heads. You'd be bobble-heading in a quick minute. Every time you'd brake hard the air in your lungs would be forcibly exhaled due to the sheer forces, if you didn't pass out first.

And you'd have to think about who's up front, who's behind, who's faster, how to react to every situation...There's way too much technical detail here, but it can basically be summed up as such:

What if someone gave you this...


...told you to get in here..

 ...and while sitting like this the entire time,

 ...tell you to get in this 200-300KPH mess...

...and beat 21 other rabid maniacs for the win.
Oh, and don't crash, please. Thanks.


And the egos. The testosterone. The politics, the strategies. Oh, and so much more, all make for one hell of a show, and some really glum podiums sometimes. You'd think they'd always be happy to win, but not even close; everyone thinks of what could've been. Magnificent.

Wait, when's the next race, the Chinese Grand Prix? Crap, guess I'll have to get up real early on Sunday next week to watch it live. And love every minute of it.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


In case you haven't watched it already, or you've been living under a rock, here is the latest iteration on Ken Block's Gymkhana (5), the most viral video this year, maybe ever. (5 million+ hits in 24 hrs). If it's even possible, it's better than the previous 4, especially the cinematography.

Oh, and bandwidth/hardware permitting, watch it on 720p or 1080p.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


This is the commencement speech at a high school in Massachusetts by David McCullough, Jr. - son of the famous author – who is an English teacher at the school:

Dr. Wong, Dr. Keough, Mrs. Novogroski, Ms. Curran, members of the board of education, family and friends of the graduates, ladies and gentlemen of the Wellesley High School class of 2012, for the privilege of speaking to you this afternoon, I am honored and grateful. Thank you.
So here we are… commencement… life’s great forward-looking ceremony. (And don’t say, “What about weddings?” Weddings are one-sided and insufficiently effective. Weddings are bride-centric pageantry. Other than conceding to a list of unreasonable demands, the groom just stands there. No stately, hey-everybody-look-at-me procession. No being given away. No identity-changing pronouncement. And can you imagine a television show dedicated to watching guys try on tuxedos? Their fathers sitting there misty-eyed with joy and disbelief, their brothers lurking in the corner muttering with envy. Left to men, weddings would be, after limits-testing procrastination, spontaneous, almost inadvertent… during halftime… on the way to the refrigerator. And then there’s the frequency of failure: Statistics tell us half of you will get divorced. A winning percentage like that’ll get you last place in the American League East. The Baltimore Orioles do better than weddings.)
But this ceremony… commencement… a commencement works every time. From this day forward… truly… in sickness and in health, through financial fiascos, through midlife crises and passably attractive sales reps at trade shows in Cincinnati, through diminishing tolerance for annoyingness, through every difference, irreconcilable and otherwise, you will stay forever graduated from high school, you and your diploma as one, ‘til death do you part.
No, commencement is life’s great ceremonial beginning, with its own attendant and highly appropriate symbolism. Fitting, for example, for this auspicious rite of passage, is where we find ourselves this afternoon, the venue. Normally, I avoid clichés like the plague, wouldn’t touch them with a ten-foot pole, but here we are on a literal level playing field. That matters. That says something. And your ceremonial costume… shapeless, uniform, one-size-fits-all. Whether male or female, tall or short, scholar or slacker, spray-tanned prom queen or intergalactic X-Box assassin, each of you is dressed, you’ll notice, exactly the same. And your diploma… but for your name, exactly the same.
All of this is as it should be, because none of you is special.
You are not special. You are not exceptional.
Contrary to what your soccer trophy suggests, your glowing seventh grade report card, despite every assurance of a certain corpulent purple dinosaur, that nice Mister Rogers and your batty Aunt Sylvia, no matter how often your maternal caped crusader has swooped in to save you… you’re nothing special.
Yes, you’ve been pampered, cosseted, doted upon, helmeted, bubble-wrapped. Yes, capable adults with other things to do have held you, kissed you, fed you, wiped your mouth, wiped your bottom, trained you, taught you, tutored you, coached you, listened to you, counseled you, encouraged you, consoled you and encouraged you again. You’ve been nudged, cajoled, wheedled and implored. You’ve been feted and fawned over and called sweetie pie. Yes, you have. And, certainly, we’ve been to your games, your plays, your recitals, your science fairs. Absolutely, smiles ignite when you walk into a room, and hundreds gasp with delight at your every tweet. Why, maybe you’ve even had your picture in the Townsman! And now you’ve conquered high school… and, indisputably, here we all have gathered for you, the pride and joy of this fine community, the first to emerge from that magnificent new building…
But do not get the idea you’re anything special. Because you’re not.
The empirical evidence is everywhere, numbers even an English teacher can’t ignore. Newton, Natick, Nee… I am allowed to say Needham, yes? …that has to be two thousand high school graduates right there, give or take, and that’s just the neighborhood Ns. Across the country no fewer than 3.2 million seniors are graduating about now from more than 37,000 high schools. That’s 37,000 valedictorians… 37,000 class presidents… 92,000 harmonizing altos… 340,000 swaggering jocks… 2,185,967 pairs of Uggs. But why limit ourselves to high school? After all, you’re leaving it. So think about this: even if you’re one in a million, on a planet of 6.8 billion that means there are nearly 7,000 people just like you. Imagine standing somewhere over there on Washington Street on Marathon Monday and watching sixty-eight hundred yous go running by. And consider for a moment the bigger picture: your planet, I’ll remind you, is not the center of its solar system, your solar system is not the center of its galaxy, your galaxy is not the center of the universe. In fact, astrophysicists assure us the universe has no center; therefore, you cannot be it. Neither can Donald Trump… which someone should tell him… although that hair is quite a phenomenon.
“But, Dave,” you cry, “Walt Whitman tells me I’m my own version of perfection! Epictetus tells me I have the spark of Zeus!” And I don’t disagree. So that makes 6.8 billion examples of perfection, 6.8 billion sparks of Zeus. You see, if everyone is special, then no one is. If everyone gets a trophy, trophies become meaningless. In our unspoken but not so subtle Darwinian competition with one another — which springs, I think, from our fear of our own insignificance, a subset of our dread of mortality — we have of late, we Americans, to our detriment, come to love accolades more than genuine achievement. We have come to see them as the point — and we’re happy to compromise standards, or ignore reality, if we suspect that’s the quickest way, or only way, to have something to put on the mantelpiece, something to pose with, crow about, something with which to leverage ourselves into a better spot on the social totem pole. No longer is it how you play the game, no longer is it even whether you win or lose, or learn or grow, or enjoy yourself doing it… Now it’s “So what does this get me?”
As a consequence, we cheapen worthy endeavors, and building a Guatemalan medical clinic becomes more about the application to Bowdoin than the well-being of Guatemalans. It’s an epidemic — and in its way, not even dear old Wellesley High is immune… one of the best of the 37,000 nationwide, Wellesley High School… where good is no longer good enough, where a B is the new C, and the midlevel curriculum is called Advanced College Placement. And I hope you caught me when I said “one of the best.” I said “one of the best” so we can feel better about ourselves, so we can bask in a little easy distinction, however vague and unverifiable, and count ourselves among the elite, whoever they might be, and enjoy a perceived leg up on the perceived competition. But the phrase defies logic. By definition there can be only one best. You’re it or you’re not.
If you’ve learned anything in your years here I hope it’s that education should be for, rather than material advantage, the exhilaration of learning. You’ve learned, too, I hope, as Sophocles assured us, that wisdom is the chief element of happiness. (Second is ice cream… just an fyi) I also hope you’ve learned enough to recognize how little you know… how little you know now… at the moment… for today is just the beginning. It’s where you go from here that matters.
As you commence, then, and before you scatter to the winds, I urge you to do whatever you do for no reason other than you love it and believe in its importance. Don’t bother with work you don’t believe in any more than you would a spouse you’re not crazy about, lest you too find yourself on the wrong side of a Baltimore Orioles comparison. Resist the easy comforts of complacency, the specious glitter of materialism, the narcotic paralysis of self-satisfaction. Be worthy of your advantages. And read… read all the time… read as a matter of principle, as a matter of self-respect. Read as a nourishing staple of life. Develop and protect a moral sensibility and demonstrate the character to apply it. Dream big. Work hard. Think for yourself. Love everything you love, everyone you love, with all your might. And do so, please, with a sense of urgency, for every tick of the clock subtracts from fewer and fewer; and as surely as there are commencements there are cessations, and you’ll be in no condition to enjoy the ceremony attendant to that eventuality no matter how delightful the afternoon.
The fulfilling life, the distinctive life, the relevant life, is an achievement, not something that will fall into your lap because you’re a nice person or mommy ordered it from the caterer. You’ll note the founding fathers took pains to secure your inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness–quite an active verb, “pursuit”–which leaves, I should think, little time for lying around watching parrots rollerskate on YouTube. The first President Roosevelt, the old rough rider, advocated the strenuous life. Mr. Thoreau wanted to drive life into a corner, to live deep and suck out all the marrow. The poet Mary Oliver tells us to row, row into the swirl and roil. Locally, someone… I forget who… from time to time encourages young scholars to carpe the heck out of the diem. The point is the same: get busy, have at it. Don’t wait for inspiration or passion to find you. Get up, get out, explore, find it yourself, and grab hold with both hands. (Now, before you dash off and get your YOLO tattoo, let me point out the illogic of that trendy little expression–because you can and should live not merely once, but every day of your life. Rather than You Only Live Once, it should be You Live Only Once… but because YLOO doesn’t have the same ring, we shrug and decide it doesn’t matter.)
None of this day-seizing, though, this YLOOing, should be interpreted as license for self-indulgence. Like accolades ought to be, the fulfilled life is a consequence, a gratifying byproduct. It’s what happens when you’re thinking about more important things. Climb the mountain not to plant your flag, but to embrace the challenge, enjoy the air and behold the view. Climb it so you can see the world, not so the world can see you. Go to Paris to be in Paris, not to cross it off your list and congratulate yourself for being worldly. Exercise free will and creative, independent thought not for the satisfactions they will bring you, but for the good they will do others, the rest of the 6.8 billion–and those who will follow them. And then you too will discover the great and curious truth of the human experience is that selflessness is the best thing you can do for yourself. The sweetest joys of life, then, come only with the recognition that you’re not special.
Because everyone is.
Congratulations. Good luck. Make for yourselves, please, for your sake and for ours, extraordinary lives.

Friday, January 13, 2012


What I wouldn't give for a spin in the Aventador! Damn near brings a tear to my eye.

Thursday, December 15, 2011


"Hi. My name is |d®| and I'm a recovering electronics junkie."

It's true. Put me in an electronics store with a credit card in my pocket, and I was guaranteed to leave with something. It never got too bad, to the point of getting in debt over it, but I bought a lot of unnecessary sh*t. I'd look at something and be like: Cool. I need one of these.

Which means that a few weeks ago, when I had to move, I was aghast at the electronics junk I've accumulated over the years. I had boxes stacked in the closet full of stuff, believe you me. I'm old enough to be practical so I decided to part with some of my toys, the ones I hadn't used in over a year. Let's just say I threw away three-quarters of everything and I still have a big 'ol plastic container full of Lord-knows-what.

Which brings me to the point of this tale: I've always wanted an iPad since its inception. I mean, who doesn't? They're freakin' amazing. I'd sometimes go to Micro Center, my favorite store, and play with them there, but I soon stopped doing so for a pretty good reason - messing with an iPad would make me want it more. More to the point, there was no f-in way I was gonna pay at least $500 for something I didn't need. I mean, you can do way more with a good ol' laptop, and I had that already. Plus, protective case or not, it was probably only a matter of time before I or someone else dropped and broke it, like I did my dearly departed Kindle.

Which is why I was über-excited when Amazon announced they were busting out their own tablet, the Kindle Fire, and for a (comparatively) measly $199 too. I was sold before I even saw it. Shoot, I even pre-ordered that mofo, and for 3 reasons:

1. I could read Amazon's (or B&N's, or anyone's) books with it
2. Anything else it could do would be a bonus
3. Did I mention it cost less than half the price of an iPad?

A few weeks later it came over, and I love it. It's not as good an e-reader as the original kindle, but I can hold it in one hand; the iPad is a two-handed affair. It's merely OK at surfing the web, and it can be sluggish at times. (Amazon's working on changing that, at the time of this writing)

The best thing about it is that Amazon didn't lock it. In a few minutes you can install almost any old app from Android Market, which I did that first night. And did I mention it cost $199?

Problem is, Jeff Bezos, Amazon's founder, is a smarter man than me. This Kindle is lighting my wallet up, burning my money. No wonder they call it the Fire. For real. Amazon content is right there at your fingertips, and after you read that book or watch that movie it suggests other title for you. Right there. It's freakin' brilliant - for Amazon.

My name is |d®| and I'm an official electronics junkie.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


When I first started working here, our network, or workgroup rather, was laughable. I could see the initial signs of order but everything was in chaos.

Cat-5 cables crisscrossed the building. Inter-departmental networking was non-existent. Sh*t, computers in the same department weren't even connected. To put things in perspective, someone would set up something in Photoshop, save it to a Zip drive and walk over to the computer connected to the printers, plug the drive in and start printing. The humanity! All it would've required was access to a share drive and boom, there you have it.

To make matters even worse, we had dial-up internet. But that was OK, coz they were still laying fiber-optic cables back then, and options were zero as far as broadband was concerned. Only one computer was connected to the web, for emailing purposes. Thing is, everyone else had email addresses too, but only one computer to access them from. And everyone seemed OK with it.

I wasn't having it. From a workflow perspective, it was ridiculous. I'm not even an IT guy, but I couldn't work like that knowing things could be a lot better.

I talked boss-man into purchasing a 10/100 switch with 10 ports, up from a 10MB/s hub. The company was small back then - with less than 10 workstations - and switches were expensive, so we got that one. Otherwise, I would've gone for something with a lot more ports. That made quick work of the networking problem.

Next up was email. Everyone was connected, and everyone had Outlook Express at the very least. There was the small matter of the slow-ass dial-up, but it would have to do. A [relatively] quick internet search brought up a couple dozen internet proxy programs. I tested a bunch of them, settled on one, and that was that.

Over time we acquired more and more computers, but no one seemed to know what to do to get them to talk. Broadband came and only one computer was taking advantage of it. A few more switches and a router and the problems were solved.

Why do I even do this sh*t? I don't get an extra dime for doing all this, which distracts me from my usual workload, but it seems I haven't learned my lesson.

Like, the other day, it occurred to me that everyone & their mama here has a smartphone or tablet, and that the reception in here is next to nil, and that I had a wireless router sitting at home doing nothing. I brought the router over, hooked it up to the network, did all the necessary security stuff, then went and told boss-man about it. First thing out his mouth was: What's it for?


Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Alright, I give up. The blogging juices just don't flow anymore. Blame it on social media or whatever, but the motivation's really low these days.

But then I lay down one night, got up the next day, and realized that I'm still a geek, always been. So, why not talk about geek stuff? It is my blog, after all.

Keep it right here for the new and improved, I hope, content.