Sunday, August 15, 2010

Summer project - the deck

This summer has been a busy one around the house. For much of it we have been camping in our living room while we fixed up the kitchen. I'll share the details and lessons learnt in another post. Yesterday I completed refinishing the deck. The last time it got sanded and painted was about five years ago. While resting my back today I can claim victory and have a nicely painted deck, ready for the rains in the fall.

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Sunday, July 11, 2010

Worldcup summarized

  • Best team in the final: EspaƱa!
  • Best goal: Giovanni Van Bronkhorst, Tevez against Mexico and Forlan against Germany
  • Best teams: Germany and Uruguay
  • Best team to watch: Germany
  • Most exiting finish: USA - Algiers
  • Best channel to watch the game: Univision, Republica Deportiva con Fernando Fiori
  • Most cursing, loudest cheering and most tears in a single game: Argentina - Germany
  • Best sideshow: Diego Armando Maradona
  • Best Off-FIeld Distraction: Sara Carbonero
  • Worst karma from celebrity supporter: Mick Jagger
  • Best beer tasted during the worldcup: Bersalis, Beersel, Belgium
  • Best quote during the world cup: "nice iPad", my son. (while the adults at the party where checking out worldcup WAGs on the iPad)

Monday, June 14, 2010

The case against basketball

Waka Waka! This time for Africa. The first games of the FIFA World Cup in South Africa, with true world participation, are behind us. The important results in our household: Argentina won against Nigeria and USA equalized with England. The best game so far was Serbia - Ghana.

At the same time, the Los Angeles Lakers were trying to win Game 5 of the NBA Finals in Boston against the Celtics. I caught the last 1:15 minutes of the game. And somehow felt that I hadn't missed much. I used to play several years basketball in high school in Belgium. I followed the NBA closely. We were all big fans of Magic and Bird. I even got a small backpack from the LA Lakers, a rarity at the time in Belgium. So how did my enthusiasm dwindle for the big NBA teams? Especially now that I live in the US, with easy access to watch the games on television, or even watch the Golden State Warriors in person at the Oakland coliseum.

My admiration for the game still exists, especially for a well executed pick-n-roll, a fast break or a full court press. However, it is the flow of the game which makes the game less attractive for me. (Unless of course you are playing in the game.)

This is not a soccer game where anything can happen any time, so you better don't miss it. The same is true for the america's favorite pass time: baseball. What is often heralded as excitement is actually the contrary: a high scoring basketball game can be more boring that watching a bowler throw strike after strike.

You only have to watch the first 2 minutes and the last 2 minutes of a basketball game to catch the excitement or lack thereof. Either the game is close and it will be decided over a 10 minute period during which the 2 minute game clock is stretched by time outs and fouls. Where's the excitement in that? Or the game is long been decided and one team was obviously the better of the other, and you didn't miss anything either.

NBA games need a little more unpredictability, like the NCAA basketball tournament. Until then, I'll be waking up early to catch The Netherlands beat Denmark tomorrow morning in South Africa. Waka Waka!

Monday, May 31, 2010

No Treasure

View of San Francisco from Treasure Island
During this Memorial Day weekend, we visited unexplored San Francisco territory: Yerba Buena island and Treasure Island. Yerba Buena island is a real island in the middle of the Bay Bridge, which connects San Francisco with Oakland. Connected to Yerba Buena island, you find Treasure Island, a man made island. Treasure Island has a long history, including having served as an airport and home to several movie sound stages. Most importantly, it was known as a US Naval Base during and after world war II.

We had never visited Treasure Island. And after having heard for years, after it had been decommissioned as a Naval Base, how it is being transformed, we decided to stop by. From what it looks, we are about 10 years too early. The place looks like a dump. Many buildings are in shambles with all its windows broken. You can tell in some sections, baracks have been converted into low income housing. However living there must not be easy, as the island appears to lack a lot of infrastructure. For example, from the main roads I could not find a single (grocery) store.

The masterplan ( plan) ( article) looks promising, yet so far into the future.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Count down to April 4th

Counting down to April 4th 2010: De Ronde Van Vlaanderen -

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Ambient light

Have you ever noticed how many of toddler toys have a high and low sound switch on it, but rarely an off switch. The high/low switch was added after parents complained about ever increasing sound levels from toys, trying to get your attention in the toy store.
It is time that electronic gadgets come with an light off switch. Let me make an inventory of some of the devices lighting up my bedroom.
First of all, because the phone line ends in my bedroom, I have a DSL modem. In steady state, three LEDs are lid up. The wireless access router next to it has an equal amount of LEDs.
Normally we charge our cellphones on our side table : two more LEDs. And what's worse is that the new Nexus One phone has an LED trackball which glows when there is a message. As if someone is shining a light in your eye all night.
Add to that two charging Apple laptops with a glowing Apple sign, a cordless phone and naturally a digital alarm clock, and you can imagine how much ambient light there is in the bedroom. (Other rooms are not much different.)
And yes I have covered the devices, or moved them to other rooms. I have even pulled out the airline eye cover for a pitch dark night of sleep. But it is about time there is a simple way to turn of all ambient light of a consumer device (and dishwasher, and microwave, and Wii and cable box).

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Fixed Gear

The bicycle culture in the Bay Area has been heating up. Or more likely: where was I? Last fall, I came across the San Jose Bike Party. It started as a couple of hundred cyclists getting together on a Friday night in San Jose and going for a 20 mile ride. Last time I joined (when the weather was still warm), there must have been several thousand riders. It was a crazy experience.

Another sign of the times are Fixies: Fixed gear cycles are very much in fashion ( You see them everywhere and often with very narrow handle bars, making it even more dangerous to ride them. I haven't understood the attraction of a fixed gear cycle. They are cool looking but why would you not want breaks on your bike on public roads, or why only one gear. I guess I'll have to try one.

Today I came across a great video of a bunch of friends on fixed gear bikes traveling to Japan to ride from Tokyo to Osaka. Looks fantastic.

Tokyo to Osaka Teaser from John Murillo on Vimeo.

Picture and video from