Friday, July 30, 2010

A post

For the last several months, I've been working on a big huge project for work. Well actually for pay. It's not volunteer work. I have been unmotivated to do much else. The project is now coming to an end.

Tomorrow and the next day, I'm going to work at the Cox Classic. A Nationwide tour event out in West Omaha. If all goes as I plan I will get to walk 18 holes with some pros. It is volunteer work.

I have been putting in some hard efforts on the bike for about the last 10 weeks or so. The addiction has returned somewhat. This week is special in that it is the first week in over 2 years that I've put in more hours on the bike than I have at the driving range. Don't get me wrong ... I was put on this earth to golf. However, we all lose our way sometimes. Plus, there's nothing like the feeling of holding that 90% MHR for a couple of minutes. I'm getting there.

Now go ahead Chinese symbol name guy, comment with a bunch of dots that link somewhere.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Proudest Moment, Part two

“Ready for another?” boomer asked.

“Waiting on you, Boomer.” Cube said.

It was Friday afternoon. Boomer and Cube had just finished the longest hottest gruelingest work week of their lives. They were beat. They were sunburned from the waist up. In fact, cube was now so dark that were it not for his fine brown hair that the sun had bleached nearly blonde, he might have been mistaken for someone other than “the whitest guy ever”. After sweating it out all week, swinging a sledge hammer 40 hours in the blistering sun, they wanted nothing more than the relief that only an ice cold American lager could provide. But not yet.

Boomer filled cube’s empty cup and then his own.

“Cream? Sugar?”

“What’s the score?” Cube Asked.

“3-2, you.”

“Bullshit. I totally won that last one.”

“You only say that because the speed of sound, proximity of your cup, etc.”

“Fine, 3-2” Cube was worried. He took the first 3. Boomer, the next 2. Boomer was catching cube and cube was losing confidence. The first one to 5 wins. However Cube felt a forfeit coming on. He really did not want to slam any more coffee. His forehead was drenched with dirty sweat. Strangely, the nice cool air-conditioned Village Inn didn’t seem to help.

“Can’t we finish this with beer?”

“So you want to quit? I understand if you do.” Boomer was bluffing his ass off. He felt if he had to drink one more cup of coffee, his already bleeding throat was going to send it all back up, still scalding hot, onto the table.

“Fuck it,” Cube said, digging a dime (the wager) out of his pocket, sliding it to Boomer. It all started with some sort of “Dime fawa cup of coffee” joke neither one of them understood. “You win Daniel,” Boomer’s real name. “Let’s get over to “Louis’”

Louis’ (pronounced Louie’s) was not a person. It was a bar. It was well-known in town as the primer bar. If you were young and didn’t have a lot of cash, you started at Louis’. You could get good and “started” for about 3 or 4 bucks. Then you could milk it at the highfalutin places like the Dundee Dell or Trovato’s or whatever.

The boys worked as “Instrument men” at a local architectural firm. It was summer work. An instrument man was the second best of 3 jobs on a surveying crew. Rodman was a distant third. First place was for the guy who went to school. He carried around and interpreted the blueprints. He got to drive the vehicle. His title was “Prick”.

Normally, the work is not bad. Normally, boomer and cube didn’t work together. They were on separate crews. But this week, everybody (except Prick) was pounding in property pins.

A property pin is a steel rod about an inch and a half in diameter and 2 feet long. It is placed gently in the ground via sledge hammer, to mark the corner of a property line.

The problem with the ground where new construction is happening is that it tends to get packed down by all the big heavy yellow machinery driving around, moving dirt, etc.

On the previous Monday morning, Boomer and Cube reported to work only to be told they needed to put in all the property pins for Oak Street between 165th and 168th by Friday. At this point, Oak Street was just a well-worn dirt trail. It had recently been wilderness. The earth movers were done grading the street. The property lines had been drawn. All that remained was to have a couple of dummies with a sledge hammer and a shitload of steel pins pound them into the ground on the hottest driest week of the summer. Some college boy had already gone by and tapped some 16 penny nails (with bright orange plastic ribbon tied around their necks) into the location for each pin. Thanks dude, we owe you. Don’t get me wrong. The nails could not be pushed into the ground. It was too hard. A hammer (lighter than a sledge) was required for even this job.

Boomer proudly pockets the dime, grabs his pack out of a small pool of coffee spilled on the table, wipes it dry, and shakes a Kool from it. He offers one to Cube, who respectfully declines. Cube has his own smokes, but Boomer is trying to convert him over to the dark side (menthol).

Boomer had a new trick he was working on. If he ever mastered it, he was sure to get a tumor. He would lay the unlit cigarette in his hand, cradling it in the crease between his middle and third finger. By slapping the wrist of the hand holding the cigarette, Boomer could nearly always catapult the cigarette directly to the right of his open mouth, sending it neatly into the Cobb salad of the person in the booth behind him. This time, by some miracle, it actually landed in his mouth. It was almost as amazing as his reaction, “What? I never miss. What?”

“So, you want to head over to Louis’ then? I need a shower first,” Boomer exhaled, minty fresh smoke escaping from his tar filled lungs.

“Yeah, I’m going to head home. Pick me up in an hour,” Cube, working on his own trick, lighting the match from the book with one hand, and burning the tip of his thumb in the process.

Then Boomer had an idea, “You wanna catch Rocky Horror tonight?”

“Naaw, it’s at the 6-west now. I heard it really sucks. They don’t let anybody dress up or throw anything. All you can do is yell,” Cube informed.

“That’s all we ever did anyway.”

“Yeah, but I liked watching the freak-show too.”

“True. I say we clean up, head over to Louis’, then to The Homy for a while (you can’t finish at Louis’), Then I’ll ask you about it again. Deal?”

To be um, yeah, I’m not writing any more tonight, so …

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Proudest Moment of Someone Else’s Life, Part 1

It was the familiar wonderful sound and smell of fried eggs, bacon and coffee that woke Officer Jack Hughes from his blissful dream-state. She’s making my favorite again. As he made the dreamy transition out of his deep slumber, he realized he was lying flat on his back in bed, smiling. He was happy about something, but could not immediately remember what it was. Some vague feeling of great accomplishment. “I must have made a good bust last night. I always feel this way after a good bust.”

Let’s see, what was it? No wait. I’m retired. Crap. Dread filled Officer Hughes’ mind at the painful realization he was no longer on the force. He hadn’t made a bust in over 5 years. He hadn’t had bacon and eggs for breakfast for at least 2 years. Not since that 27 year old “Dr. Snotnose” told him he’d kill himself if he didn’t get his LDLs and triglycerides down. “But I’ll die without my bacon and eggs,” he pleaded. “Dr. Snotnose” would hear none of it. Louise, Jack’s better half conspired with the good Dr. “I still need you to fix things around the house. I’m afraid it’s oatmeal and grapefruit from here on out, snookems.”

Death by fiber, Ex-officer Hughes thought. Why couldn’t I have just died in the line of duty? Heroes eat bacon. That’s what it’ll say on my gravestone.

But now bacon, eggs and coffee is exactly what he smelled. There was no mistaking it. Is this some sort of dream, he wondered. He opened his eyes to see his bedroom ceiling. The old familiar Mississippi river shaped crack running southeast from the ceiling fan. No. I’m really here. I’m really awake. I really smell bacon and eggs, and I’m really happy. But why?

Sitting up on his elbows, looking beyond his feet he saw his current work uniform draped over a bedroom chair near the vanity. It all came back to him. The bacon and eggs were still a mystery, but he now remembered why he’s so happy. The next thing to do is casually go into the kitchen and tell Louise about last night. He relaxed for a moment back into his pillow, fingers interlocked behind his head. Big old grin on his big old face replaying the past evening’s triumph. He carefully framed the events into a lucid story designed for maximum breakfast entertainment value. The goal, as it had always been, was a sweet “My hero,” and a light kiss on the cheek from Louise. Of course she was being sarcastic, but Jack loved it. He knew well the great depth of her love.

Once he was ready with his story, Jack reminded himself to walk into the kitchen casually. No whistling. That will spoil the surprise. It will be difficult to refrain from skipping like a schoolboy into the kitchen. But it was a challenge old man Hughes was willing to accept. He had no choice. Also, he wanted to find out why that evil old woman was cooking his favorite breakfast when he could no longer enjoy it. “Louise, you got some ‘splaining to do,” as their old joke went. Louise never failed to back him up with her best Lucille Ball, “Waaaaaah!”

“Here he comes,” thought Louise upon hearing the floorboards announcing Old Man Hughes’ approach. “Funny, he doesn’t seem to be skipping,” she suppressed a giggle as she pulled the fresh squeezed orange juice from the icebox. “He’s got a story for me. I’m not making him eat that wretched oatmeal as he tells me his first new story in 5 years. Who knows how many more stories there will be?”

Louise understood the old man pretty well. Forty to fifty years of paying attention will do that. Retirement had been extremely difficult for Jack. His job had meant the world to him. He’d put his life in the hands of his comrades on countless occasions as they had in him. Since retiring, he’d slowly come to feel like he was no longer a part of the gang.

For the first few months of retirement, Hughes life had changed little. He still spent most mornings at the same old coffee shop, arguing sports with his old pals before they reported for duty. He still went down to Ugly Tom’s every Friday night to toss back a couple brews with the same group, swapping war stories. Lamenting how bad the kids these days are getting. Unfortunately, Jack’s stories were all beginning to start with the phrase, “Did I ever tell you about the time …”

His pals didn’t mind. They loved the way Old Jack crafted a story. The way he brought it to life. But Hughes minded. He felt now that he’s done contributing, he’s done talking about it. So he stopped going. His friends would call every Saturday, “Missed you last night, old pal.”

Jack had his excuse ready, “You know, Louise has been pestering me to take her to the fish fry,” or “Junior was passing through town, a break from school.”

Eventually the calls stopped. Jack became depressed. He rarely left the house. He rarely got out of his pajamas. His health started to fail. When Louise realized he was killing himself, she suggested he find a hobby. “I’m only good at one thing. I only ever enjoyed doing one thing. That ship has sailed, baby cakes.”

“Then go get a job,” Louise said.

“I’m not going to get a job. I’m retired. This is what I waited my whole life for”

“How’s that working out for you?”

“Dammit Louise, why do you always have to be right? What am I going to do? Flip Burgers? Some high school kid for a boss?”

“There’s always …”

“Don’t say security. I’m not going to be a rent-a-pig. What would the guys say?”

“Whatever they say, it’ll be better if they’re not saying it at your funeral. Talk to Bob. He’s always looking for a hand. I’ve never seen you this way. I’m worried.”

Bob was Jack’s best friend and first partner. He was about 10 years older than Jack, but you’d never know it. He had always stayed busy. About 5 years before Bob retired; he started moonlighting as a security guard. Eventually, he bought the security company and built it into a lucrative little empire. Bob asked Jack about a half dozen times if he wanted to make some easy money. Making reference to an old “dirty cop” joke from back in the day. Jack always declined, citing the joy of retirement. Bob knew it was more likely pride. But He also knew better than to push Jack too hard.

Louise also had a slightly selfish motive for wanting Jack to get some sort of diversion. Jack was wrong about one thing. He was not only good at police work. He was the best story teller she had ever known. When Jack was telling a story, he was reliving what he loved. He was happy. Louise was happy when Jack was happy.

Since retirement, the stories were fewer and farther between. Jack barely spoke at all. He was restless. He tossed and turned all night. When he was on the force, he slept like a baby.

This was how Louise knew a story was coming as she heard the floorboards creek. Last night he had slept like he hadn’t in years. When she woke and saw him peacefully on his back, goofy old grin on his face, she decided it was time to bring out the bacon and eggs. “I’ll bring the bacon, you bring the adventure, my hero,” had been her agreement with Jack from the time they were kids.

Jack had been at his new job as Mall Security for about 2 months. Because he was the “newbie”, he got the worst shifts. Even so, he had already gained a hint of spring to his step. The job did give him some purpose, but was mostly unfulfilling. He never said anything other than, “It was fine.” His shift started at 10PM and ended around 2AM. Only the movie theater was open after 9PM. It was closed at 11 on week nights. There was very little interesting happening. For most of his shift, he was alone. Certainly nothing to inspire a famous “Jack Hughes story”. To Jack it ended up being about the same as sitting at home, but with a little bit of cash.

Just as Jack was about to abandon hope that the new job would ever bring excitement, he heard a rumor. There was an old, beat up Movie Theater in midtown that was closing. For years it had survived off ticket sales of its weekend showing of the cult classic “The Rocky Horror Picture show”. The movie was shown at midnight and had a huge following. The rumor was that the Six West, which was the 6-plex at the mall where Jack worked, had agreed to pick up where the old theater left off. The old theater had allowed its patrons to yell and scream, throw things, dance around in the aisles and dress in costume. Jack had no idea what “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” was. All he knew is that the crowds tended to get a little rowdy. Not on my watch, Jack thought.

To be continued ...

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

To Absent Friends

When you ask most people what they consider their proudest moment, they might say something like, “The day I got married,” or “The day my first child was born,” or “When I graduated from college.” Etc. For me it was the day I got to teach Northern California how we do things back in little old Nebraska.

When I was in high school, my bestest goodest buddy, Greg was a fan of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. He had been to it maybe twice. I had not seen it. I had seen it advertised as the Friday and Saturday midnight movie at the Admiral Theatre for years. I really had no Idea what it was.

If you don’t know, The Rocky Horror Picture Show is a Science Fiction Musical Satire of cheesy Sci-Fi movies from the early to mid 1900s. The story is told from the point of view of an innocent young couple Brad Majors (ASSHOLE!, Major Asshole, to you) and Janet Weiss (SSSSSSSS). They are recently engaged and are on their way to visit their old Science Teacher (Great Scott!) to tell him the news, when a flat tire on a dead end road on a rainy night changes their plan. They run into a transvestite, Dr Frankenstein character from another planet (Transsexual) in another galaxy (Transylvania) who takes them in and um, liberates them.

As excellent as the plot sounds, the real reason people went to see this movie was to yell and throw stuff. When Greg and I started going to see the movie, we were pretty primitive. The only thing we yelled was “Fuck her, I did!” when Janet discovers Rocky weeping in his aquarium in his gold lamé undershorts.

But as the months went on, we became true craftsmen. Thinking about ways to creatively add to the RHPS experience. Once, Greg and I constructed a cardboard plaque with a drawing of a mouth full of teeth on one side and a nice long neck drawn on the other. This turned out to be one of the awesome-est things ever. When we were being frisked at the front door to make sure everything was kosher, the kid asked about the plaque. We showed him the neck and told him what it was for. He nodded approvingly and said (I’m not kidding) “What about the teeth?” He just about fell over laughing when we showed him the other side.

So yeah, normally, you needed toilet paper, newspaper, toast and a spray bottle of water if you wanted to go the equipment route. We just had the plaque. But I’m not here to talk about the plaque.

After a couple of years of fairly regular attendance, we were officially RHPS experts. At least that’s what we thought. We knew every line (in Omaha). I knew the whole script. I knew all the songs (including the ones not on the Soundtrack album). I knew the Roxy Theatre version of all the songs. I had the picture disc. Etc. etc. But still, there were plenty of blank spots in the movie where you could actually hear some of the dialogue. No one had an answer for a good 20 percent of the film. At least not in Omaha.

So one Halloween night in Palo Alto California – I went to see the Rocky Horror Picture Show. It was either that or go see "The Cure" live in concert. I know. I should’ve seen "The Cure", but then the proudest moment of my life might be something I'm less proud of than what I'm about to describe.

My plan was to show these California people that I knew as much about this movie as any of them. I was so wrong. This was 30 miles from San Francisco. I’m going to teach them about Sci-Fi transvestite movies? Whatever. Hey, I was a dumb kid.

In Palo Alto, on Halloween, there was no dead air through the whole movie. I could not yell a word in edgewise. People were yelling hilarious stuff all the way through. It was amazing. Most of it was completely new to me. My tired old lines sucked compared to theirs. But I just yelled mine anyway. It was still fun. And with so many people yelling, no one could know for sure who the guy was, yelling the lame lines from the 70’s.

Then it happened. Totally unexpected. Much like when you’re telling a friend about your embarrassing rash in a noisy bar just as the really loud cover band abruptly ends their song. I could not hear what was being said in the movie, but I knew my cue without having to hear it. Dr. Frankenfurter says: “ …and you shall receive it. In abundance!”

So before I realize what is happening - as I’m yelling *my line at the top of my lungs, it gets real quiet. I’m the only person yelling – and it’s the only time there was only one person yelling. Yes! There is a dead spot in Rocky Horror Picture Show in Palo Alto on Halloween! And I just fixed it. There you go Northern California. You’re welcome.

Me: Hey Franky, what’s your favorite high protein drink?

Dr. Frank N Furter: Come. We are ready for the floor show!

Uproarious laughter. Joy from freaks in California all around. People moving back into the seats near me. Admiration from the real pros. At last. The 2 seconds of the movie not filled with screaming fans will soon be but a memory. I couldn’t believe it. How do you not do something with “come”? Seriously Northern California, I thought you were better than that.

Anyway. That was the proudest moment of my life. And my dad’s. Oh yeah, he wasn’t so thrilled about my obsession with the transvestite movie. Don’t dream it, Dad. Be it.

*The line was not my invention. I believe it was Charles Cox who penned it. At least that’s who I heard it from. Of course that name might be wrong, too. Anyway – this Charles guy forgot more about RHPS than I ever knew. He also told me that Princess Leah was Luke's Sister about 2 minutes after Yoda said "No, there is another." Of course I didn't believe him. Everyone knew Yoda was talking about Lando Calrissian. But they kissed! we protested. Anyway. He was right about that too.

In case you haven't heard.

Note: This post was written on 9/12/2008. I never published it. I don't know why. I actually have a new post about the proudest moment of my life that I will publish in a couple of hours or so. But I've decided to post "The lost Blog posts" from time to time. There are a lot of them.

And now, the very first "Lost Blog Post", In case you haven't heard:

There's this one guy who's white (John McCain) and running for the office of the president of the United States. He's a racist, though. I know this because he publicly says bad things about a black man (Barry Obama) every day (except on 9/11 day). It sounds worse than it is though, because the black man that he says things about is a sexist again. He stopped being a sexist for a few days. He decided to be the bigger man and bury the hatchet, so to speak. He actually worked very hard to make amends to all of those he'd hurt with his disparaging comments toward a certain woman (Mrs. Bill Clinton, who was also a racist, by the way). And let's face it, his target was a human being worthy of great respect and honor. A great American. A woman who weathered an unbelievable battle against incredible odds, and who demonstrated the sort of grace and humility in defeat rarely witnessed in the political arena.

Well It seems like no sooner does Obama patch it up with Slick Willy's old ball and chain, than he starts picking on another woman (also white - and also a racist). But it's worse this time, because many people seem to think this new woman he's picking on is "hot". The great american from earlier (Hillary) gets no such accolades. In fact, when her husband (The Right Honorable William Jefferson Clinton, Esq.) was running around on her publicly, most people weren't saying "Oh that poor woman ". It was more like, "He's cheating with that heavy girl? He can do better."

Now maybe your method of foot massage differs from mine, but hot and Sarah Palin is not the same thing. [skip ahead] Ain't no ball park neither. Sorry for the brief S. Jackson moment.

Anyway, because you can't read, I'll list the reason that I will no longer look at the news until after November:
I know what the Republican Vice Presidential candidate's daughter's name and age (17) is.
I Know that the daughter is pregnant.
I know what the guy who got the daughter pregnant's name is.
I know that he is a hockey player.
I know that Lindsay Lohan had advise for Sarah Palin's daughter of some kind.
I know that the 17 year old is now engaged to the Hockey player.
I know that Sarah Palin has a child with Down Syndrome and that it was rumored for a while that that kid was actually the daughter's.
I know that if you put lipstick on a pig it is still a pig.

Funny thing about me knowing all of this is that I have not read even one article about any of these things. Just the headlines. So yeah, there's no reason to read the news. I might be tempted to read if the headlines started out with the word "Umm".
Not the word "Umm" like I'm trying to remember something. But the one that always preceded the words "I'm going to tell" when I was a little kid. It's like the news writer people are a bunch of tattle-tales. As readers, we should spank them for it and send them back outside to figure out a way to play nice with everyone. But we don't. We read the story and then we say "Umm, Hillary's aid called Obama a terrorist. Umm."

Friday, March 19, 2010

Here's an idea

I was thinking about this after Shim posted a brilliant comment. So mini people have a problem with the difference between your and you're, we should all just start using the universal 'yer'. Unlike the first too (2), 'yer' is appropriate fer either usage. If you wanted to say two someone "yer pudgy", the meaning is clear. They're's no ambiguity their. Of course occasionally, yer meaning may not be clear. If you walked up to someone and said "Charlie Brown, I used to wonder if you were crazy, but now I can clearly see yer nuts ..."

Never mind. I just wanted to say that punch line. I don't really care about anything else.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010



I weighed in at 199.3. I still weigh too much to make 190 by Shim’s April 1 2010 deadline. I might be able to get down to that target weight by the end of April, though. Then I can get to the serious work of putting all the weight back on. Mmm, that’s going to be delicious.


P.S. Brady, My official handicap index for the start of the year is 23.3 - maybe I should post how that number increases/decreases throughout the year as well ...

Thursday, March 04, 2010

A friend of a friend of Bryan's interviewed me while driving today

I was driving. He was interviewing. Well, I wasn't really driving. I was hitting some irons. I was at Miracle hill on the driving range. He was there too. But he was not driving. His name is Matthew Hansen. He is a writer for The Omaha World Herald. He told me he wants to write a story about hard-core outdoor Omaha people. "Ok", I said. Then he wrote a story. Then he put it in the paper. It's kind of like when Brady got his bike back. Except nobody wants to take my photo (Golfer's Physique). So I says, "Hey - Do you know Bryan Redemske?" Then we talked about what a great guy he is for a while. We both sounded like we believed it, too. Wierd.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

I talked to Spence while spinning today.

Well, Spence was spinning, I wasn't. I thought I was going to be spinning an hour later, but it turns out today was "National Spin for 2 hours for a donation of 75 dollars" day. Ok, maybe that's wrong. It's just that when I asked the front desk person if there was a sign up sheet for the 8:15 spin class, I was informed that there was no spin class today because spin class was filled up with people who had paid 75 bucks to spin for 2 hours for some fund raiser. Don't get me wrong. I don't think Spence paid the 75 dollars. He was just on one of the bikes alone in the spin bike/aerobic room, spinning. He looked like he'd been there a while too. All sweaty and stuff. So I stopped in and chatted with him for a while. Turns out, you don't necessarily need an actual class to spin. As long as there's no step-aerobics or anything going on, nobody's going to say anything to you for mounting one of those bad-boys and going for a quick ride. Sweet.

Anyways I had a back up plan. I always do. You never know if spin class will be filled up or there will be a national "spin for 2 hours to save the whales" day. So I suited up and hit the basketball court. Good thing too. After I warmed up a bit, I was hitting 3-pointers (I mean like honest-to-goodness, nothin' but net, swishes) like a mad man. It was as if I had some sort of Baset-ball Jones ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh wee. Tyrone Shoelaces would have been very impressed. My top.

Thursday, February 25, 2010


Less than a stone away from my goal (goal: 13 Stone 8 lb). I put the big pants away for next winter. Now losing weight on pace with Jan Ullrich during a TDF.

My secret? Well, I'll tell you.

First, make a big plate of your favorite food. It doesn't matter what it is. Get as much as you want. Pile it on. For me, it's a double meat, philly with extra cheese and extra mayo and a family size curly chili cheese jalapeno fries (extra spicy) from Tony's All-You-Can-Gorge Cow-Flesh and Cheesecake eatery. Mmm. I wish such a place existed.

Anyway, before you sit down to eat your delicious meal, take one flintstone chewable vitamin to slightly curb your hunger.

Next - and you cannot skip this part - take a clean plate and divide the meal in half. This does not have to be exact, but it should be close. Try to divide each part of the meal in half. Now you have 2 decent sized meals in front of you. Take the one that looks slightly larger (be honest, otherwise you're only cheating yourself) and throw it in the trash. I know it sounds horrible, but you were going to eat it. And that's even worse for weight loss.

Now you can sit down and enjoy a good meal, except, no you can't. Are you kidding me? That's still too much food. Scrape the other plate into the trash too and go smoke a cigarette. That should take care the hunger for a while. Later on, you can have another Flintstone chewable if you're good.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

I’m using my degree … finally: A book review.

Note: This review may contain spoilers. Where possible I will point them out in advance.

A few weeks ago, this guy I work with, we’ll call him “Sam” came to me and said, “Here’s a book I want you to look at. It’s got some stuff in it about flexible pattern matching in strings.”

I looked down at a bright yellow book, called “Flexible Pattern Matching in Strings”.

“Ok, Sam.” I argued.

Sam continued, “Once upon a time I implemented the “Set Horspool” algor …”

You know what? Let’s call him “Ted”. “Sam” is just not working for me.

“… Algorithm, but lost the source code. I want you to read this book and find the best way known to man or beast to search for any of a list of strings within a target string,“ Ted went on to explain.

At first, the idea of reading what looked like a textbook didn’t appeal to me. But Ted sweetened the deal by telling me there were algorithms described inside the book. I love algorithms. Ted knows that. “What the heck, give me that book Sam. I mean Ted!”

Several white board drawings and unrelated personal anectodes later, Ted left me alone with the little yellow book.

A voice inside my head said, “This is your chance Freddie. The opportunity you’ve worked for. Don’t blow it.”

I swiveled abruptly in my office (cubicle) chair. I hadn’t immediately realized the voice was internal. “What do you mean, “opportunity”?

Voice: You know as well as I do what I mean.

Me: Then why don’t you fill us both in?

Voice: Seriously?

Me: Please?

Voice: No.

I may never know what the voice meant. But I knew that this was a chance to use my formal training in computer science. Taking a closer look at the book, I notice it’s not bright yellow, but more pale. Hmm. Must be the lighting. I carefully open the book. Ted is pretty anal about his stuff so I don’t want to get spaghetti sauce on it or anything. As I begin to read, I realize what a profoundly wonderful book this is. Well, after about 1 and a half chapters. I had to kind of skim over chapter one, the elementary crap about bit-parallelism and bit operations and the labeled rooted tree and trie crap (yawn) and get right to the good stuff in the middle of chapter 2. This is where the author struts his stuff. Showcasing his talent, he masterfully paints the tale of flexible pattern matching history. From its humble beginnings in a sleepy midwestern village where the controversial Knuth-Morris-Pratt idea came to prominence all the way up to jaw dropping discoveries like Boyer-Moore, Horspool etc. From start (1 and a half chapters in) to finish (about chapter 5 or so) You learn the truth about algorithms you've heard about your whole life but never believed actually existed.

SPOILER ALERT!!!: Turns out, Horspool is an improvement over the original Boyer-Moore idea. I know, right?

Let me tell you, if you’ve ever had a need to match patterns flexibly, or even if you just consider yourself a weekend flexible pattern in strings matcher, here’s your book. I’ll warn you, though. If you do get this book, keep your eye on it. People will be “borrowing” it from your cube on a regular basis. Yeah, It’s that good.

Whatever you do, don’t skip the section on the Backward Nondeterministic Dawg Matching Algorithm. I won’t spoil it for you, but I will ask that you thank me later for the heads up.

BIG HUGE SPOILER ALERT, AND THE REASON FOR TED’s VISIT IN THE FIRST PLACE: Though the Horspool Algorithm is great for finding one particular substring, its multiple string version, “Set Horspool” sucks ass. Thankfully, there’s an answer. In the late 80’s, early 90’s a couple of guys by the unfortunate names of Udi Manber and Sun Wu describe what turns out to be one of the most efficient ways to find any of a set of substrings within a certain string. It is named after its inventors. By now, it should be obvious I’m talking about the “Wu-Manber Algorithm!” Ok, be honest. Who thought it was “Manber-Wu?” Silly reader!

So I read the book. Got the info I needed and wrote a program that reads in a list of words and looks for their occurrence in some text. And it does it really really fast. Thanks Little Yellow book!

By the way. The reason Ted wanted this thing? Well, here at the company, we have lots of information. We also have a list of potentially offensive words. We like to run the information through looking for these 400 or so words. I ran this blog post through it. Results below:

ix = 0, match found: CRAP
ixTemp = crap
ix = 0, match found: CRAP
ixTemp = crap
ix = 1, match found: HATE
ixTemp = hatever
ix = 0, match found: SUCK
ixTemp = sucks
ix = 0, match found: SUCKS
ixTemp = sucks
ix = 0, match found: ASS
ixTemp = ass

Friday, February 19, 2010

Call me a skeptic

I have this brother-in-law, let’s call him “Lane” who has helped Jill and me with all sorts of menial labor type tasks over the years. He’s helped us move at least 3 times without complaint. So when he moved into a new house a while back, it was unfortunate that it was at a time that I was unable to help, due to not wanting to. He also built a rock wall one time and was looking for help, but alas, I had to go for a bike ride or something.

I’ve always felt kind of guilty about the uneven favor balance, so when I heard he was going to move his backyard fence to the north about 23 feet (7 meters), I vigorously volunteered to help. Mainly, to alleviate the guilt. But it also seemed like it could be some good exercise.

The first thing we had to do is wait for the guy with the auger, we’ll call him “Mike” to show up. In case you don’t know, an auger is used to dig cylindrical holes for posts for fences, not to be confused with a bung hole borer or reamer.

Once Mike got there, we had the labor-intensive duty of standing around watching him use his 2-man auger by himself. Any of us would have helped, but he didn’t want it. There was one guy, who shall henceforth be known as “Steve” in this story, who sheepishly tried to help Mike by lightly pressing down on one of the handles with a couple of his fingers while Mike drilled into the ground.

I should back up a minute. It should be noted at this time that there were about 5 guys at the fence moving party. We think of ourselves as reasonably smart people. We think we’ve got what it takes intellectually to put some holes in the ground. As it turns out, intellect can be your enemy when it comes to trades such as digging. See, Lane has an underground sprinkler system which complicates the matter slightly. We don’t want to dig just anywhere potentially rupturing a water line so we had to be careful about where we put these holes. Luckily for us, the problem has a simple solution if you believe in magic.

Turns out Mike is a “dowser”. He can divine the location of water under his feet by using bent pieces of wire and walking around until they move. I did not realize what he was doing until it was explained to me. The thinking here is that the sprinkler lines under the ground will have water in them. This highly abnormal concentration (about 1 inch diameter) of water about 8 inches below ground will trigger these handheld bent wires to move together.
“We’ve got a skeptic!” Lane shouted after it was explained to me.
“I’m no skeptic,” I insisted. “That would mean that I doubt it. I don’t doubt it. I know it’s bullshit.”
“Skeptic,” the other four nodded in knowing agreement. It was like they were saying, “How cute. The computer guy doesn’t believe in the science of divining rods.”

“Well ok guys, How’s it work, then?”

Mike was happy to explain:

Here’s the interesting stuff I learned about dowsing.
Only Certain people, let’s call them “seers” can do it. Others cannot. Some are better (more sensitive, Mike explained) than others. Mike thinks it has something to do with the chemistry of the individual somehow mixing with the elements of the earth.

Power lines above can disrupt the reading. He showed us this by walking under power lines and – sure enough, the wires moved together like the closing of a gate, only to open as he cleared the source of interference. I thought of it much like the way you might tune a radio station in (except that there really are radios that can receive broadcasts).
It was really quite amazing. Not the dowsing. The fact that Mike, Steve and to a certain degree Lane all believed that the dowsing practice was smaller than some of the huge piles of shit they’d seen in the past. Fascinating.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A very long story

Well it all started when I, oh crap - I forgot. I have a one o' clock meeting. I'll finish this story later. Bye.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Even though, Shim's suggestion of April 2010 seemed too far away. It now looks like April 2011 is more like it. Thanks for the lovely email, Brady.

I think that even though I'm far too busy to post anything, I'm going to anyway. I'll just type faster and do no editing or proofreading. That should speed things up. Ok, so what is making me so busy I can't sit down for a few minutes and tell a story or something? I'll tell you what. PS3. That's what. Yeah, it took a while, but I'm finally a lazy teenager who sits around playing video games all day long. I'm currently playing "Get A Life 2.0: The routine continues". I can't get past chapter 4 "Higher education". Whew.

I've also been kind of occupied doing nerd stuff. I bought a cheapo computer to connect to my 19 inch flat screen Home theater (theatre) system. That's right! 19 inches (measured diagonally). Hmm? Your parents console was bigger than that? Well, I hate to break it to you, but your parents were compensating for something. It looks really big if you move the couch up a ways. The definition is so good, I can clearly see each RGB pixel.

Also keeping me pretty busy. Snow shoveling. But enough about that.

Oh and there's cub scouts and Basketball. I'm a den leader and coach.

Nocitably absent from the laundry list of chores. Laundry. My clothes are really smelly now. Ahh the life of a teenage gamer. Which reminds me. Why is there no outcry about how horrible "The Who" sounded during the Super bowl. Are they trying to make us wish we never complained about seeing a nipple? You win, Super bowl Half-time entertainment people. There are worse things than briefly exposing body parts. Now bring back singers younger than my grandparents. Thanks.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

I really don't have time right now.

Otherwise, I'd love to post something.