On Ferguson

As someone who knows folks married to or friends with cops, it’s frustrating to see the defensiveness about speaking about Ferguson. If you know a good cop, THAT IS AWESOME. There are TONS of them. That does not mean that what is happening in Black America is not real, or that racism is dead.

It is OK to hate the system that makes black people more likely to be shot by cops while appreciating the good things that so many of our police do every day to keep people safe. Most cops are doing good work, and the failure of the system in Ferguson is an insult to THEM.

Railing against police brutality is not an indictment against all police officers, just as railing against sexism is not an indictment of all men. I’d like to think we’re all just trying to do good, and right by our families, friends, and fellow humans, and we should all be trying to break down the system that causes us to unconsciously treat others differently.

I’m a white suburban man, I’m (as John Scalzi says) running the game of life on the “easy setting”, and that’s why I feel it’s even more important for people like me to speak out and say we stand against failures like this.

Darren Wilson was not on trial. The grand jury’s only job was to determine if it was worth having a trial, and the conflicting reports make it pretty damn obvious there should have been one. I don’t know if Darren Wilson did everything right or everything wrong. I don’t know if Mike Brown was a perfect human being or a “thug.” Neither does any of us. The decision last night means that the evidence won’t even be evaluated in a proper trial, and the release of the complete transcripts means the evidence has been exposed and has tainted almost anything that could be done about it in the future.

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November 25, 2014  Tags: , , , ,   Posted in: Editorial, Personal  No Comments

He Went To Jared (And They Lied To Him)

Yes, yes, I know the commercials are kind of annoying, but I think I’d never actually seen one of them before I’d visited Jared for the first time. Cynthia had gotten jewelry at Jared (The Galleria of Jewelry!) in the past, and been happy with them, so that’s where I went.

I got Cynthia some jewelry at Jared as a gift. They were friendly, and helpful, and I gave no more thought to it beyond that.

Then, last year, Cynthia lost the jewelry. It was just an accident, these things happen. I’ve certainly lost my share of things and I know how frustrating it is. I felt bad for Cynthia feeling bad more than I was bothered that she lost something I got her. Regardless, it is always heartbreaking to lose something with sentimental value.

So, I called Jared’s customer care. Explained the situation, asked if they had a replacement. They said this:

Jared: We’re showing that item as having been discontinued. It shows in our system as being recalled and returned to the vendor [that made them for Jared].
Me: Ah, well OK, so at least maybe they still exist, can you contact the vendor and see if it’s possible to still get one from them?
Jared: No, I’m sorry, if they’re marked as being recalled, we can’t do that.
Me: Oh well, can you at least let me know the vendor and I’ll see if I can work something out with them? I can certainly get other jewelry for my wife, but I’d like an exact replacement, if possible.
Jared: I’m sorry, it’s our policy to not disclose our vendors to customers.
Me: I see, so there’s no way for me to get a replacement, even though it’s reasonable to assume that one exists somewhere?
Jared: I’m sorry, I can’t help you.

Grargh! That’s a stupid policy. I tried calling a couple times, and tried going up the chain to managers, but didn’t have any luck. I can understand, as a middle-man, not wanting to give away business, but this was ridiculous.

So, that was frustrating, but well, it’s their policy, there’s nothing I could do about it. It’s a stupid way to treat a customer, but it’s their right.

<time passes…>

Months later, in mid-December, I thought, “well, maybe I’ll give it one more try…” I contacted customer care, and I got Dennis, who was the total opposite of the blockading folks I had talked to previously. Things went way better this time. I explained my story, and he put me on hold for a bit. When he came back, he had this to say:

Dennis: So I know it shows as recalled, but I do actually see 1 left among all our stores. Usually this is just because someone didn’t update inventory right, but I called the store, and they actually have it! Now, in Customer Care we can’t initiate a transfer ourselves, the stores have to request it. But, they are going to do so and have it sent to your local Jared in Cary. Since the holidays are coming up, they may get a little slammed, try giving them a call next week to see if they got the transfer request, and they should let you know when it comes in.

SCORE! He took my number, and assured me that the item would have my name on it, and the store should be able to call me when it got in. (ominous music starts…)

I let it sit over the weekend, and called the local Jared the next week. They said they didn’t have the item in yet, but they would contact me as soon as it did. They reiterated what Dennis said, that during the holidays things get pretty busy, but transfers usually come through in a week or two, often sooner.

<a little more time passes…>

Needless to say, between the holidays, a server crash at work that took a week to repair, and some other emergency stuff that came up, it wasn’t until this week that I even had a thought to talk to Jared. I gave the local store a call yesterday, asking if it had gotten in yet, and they said… (ominous music comes to a crescendo…)

Jared: Oh, that? Uhh… It got here on December 16th, and sat here since then. We got a request two days ago that it was needed for a customer service issue in Florida and sent it to them. We don’t have it anymore.


You (customer care and Cary Jared) assured me it had my name on it, and that you’d contact me as soon as it’s there. WHAT THE F**K!?

Needless to say, I was pretty much speechless. I pushed them for more details, but they didn’t really have more. The guy I spoke to was a salesperson, not the one who deals with transfers, so he didn’t know much. He did say he would try to find a photo of it and see if he could find the same thing in their special order catalogs, since sometimes they’ll get a different vendor to make the same items.

I still had Dennis’s extension, so I hung up with the local Jared and called him instead. His demeanor was entirely different this time around, much more like the first time I talked to Jared customer care. He told me it was too late, that the item was “lost,” and that there wasn’t anything he could do about it. He said they may be able to make it as a custom item, or if I wanted to go to the store and flip through their catalogs for special orders (ie, what the guy at Jared Cary was doing for me), there might be a match there.

In other words, if I want a replacement, I can have one custom made.


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January 7, 2012  Tags: , ,   Posted in: Personal  No Comments

You, YES YOU, Can Shave My Moustache!

(Well, not literally.)

As you may or may not know, I’ve been participating in Movember. You may not know, because I’ve been pretty slack about “marketing” my lip-caterpillar. So, like a kid who does his homework on the bus on the way to school, I’m gonna DOUBLE DOWN and try to get all those juicy donations on the last day of Movember.

Here’s my proposal: If you are the top contributor to my Movember page, I will shave my moustache tomorrow however you tell me to. Options are limited to what I can perform with my pretty sweet facial hair trimmer system thingy.

The rules:

  1. You must be the top donator.
  2. If there is a tie, the first person to donate that amount wins.
  3. I will notify you tomorrow by 3PM EST if you have won.
  4. I will post pictures by Friday morning.

So GO TO MY MOVEMBER PAGE NOW and bid, and help raise money for cancer research!

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November 30, 2011  Tags:   Posted in: Stunts  No Comments

The Mentorship Vacuum

Note: this is all my personal opinion. I have no special insight into the team other that being a fan that has learned a lot about hockey in the 5 years he’s been watching it, and has watched this Hurricanes team closely in that time. Cynthia and I have talked about this stuff a lot on our own, but generally have attempted to avoid the craziness bouncing around the net where it comes to Maurice leaving.

I haven’t said too much about it before other than the occasional snarky Twitter post, because the mental exhaustion from the “Mo Must Go” drumbeat was too frustrating to put together coherent thoughts, but with Muller coming in I have a chance to start fresh, just like the team. =)

I think Muller coming in will give us the kick in the pants we need, or at least a good chance for it, and I do think it is good that he has been at multiple levels as a player, captain, and coach and that it will help bring in some new perspective… but I don’t think that’s actually what went wrong in the locker room, or that it was necessarily Maurice’s fault. (Certainly not only Maurice’s fault.)

The Mentorship Vacuum

I think that when a lot of our veterans rolled off the roster, we ended up with a lack of mentors.

Now, I am definitely not saying that Staal is unable to be captain, or unable to lead. Only that we had a lot of even-keeled veterans on our team, and we don’t have as much of that anymore. Many of our most “veteran” players are really players that should only be coming into their prime now: Ward, Staal, even Harrison and Pitkanen. Notice anything about that list? Harrison is 29, just getting into what should be his best years as a d-man. Ward is 27. Staal is 27. Pitkanen is 28. They’re good players, and they’ve seen their fair share, but they’re not yet at the place that someone like Brind’amour was at, or Wesley.

I think about my job, and how as we slowly grow, our senior architect is giving me the occasional project to run, rather than just working with me on requirements, or letting me just run with whatever takes my fancy. Someday, the guys who started the company are going to want to retire, and I’m gonna be the one who is less responsible for coding, and more responsible for organizing the junior developers, and frankly, that’s a little scary. I like coding, and I don’t really like managing people. But I know that someone has to do it, and when it comes to it, I’ll give it a shot because I like the folks I work with, and I want our company to succeed. If you can’t grow in what you do, you stagnate.

So Who’s Gonna Be That Guy?

Is it crazy to think that not enough people on the team have stepped in to be that guy willing to take on a little more responsibility? To make sure a few of the young guys are getting the attention they need to feel like they’re an important part of the organization? It’s not enough to score goals and feel good about that — the opinions of your peer group, and the collaboration that goes on in a team that works well together matters just as much as your skill. It’s not enough to make Staal, Sutter, and Gleason bear the brunt of that as captains. Hockey relies so much on nuance, and atitude, and the little things that make that tiny push over the edge which makes you better than the other team. If you’re at the NHL level, you already have the skills. What keeps you going is your ability to be motivated a bit more than the guys on the other team, and to make sure your teammates are with you on it.

Finding Confidence

In a good team, everyone steps in to help out those around him. When something’s not working, it’s not just the coach, or the captain, or the assistant captains, or that one guy in a scoring slump, or even one system or the other. All of those things have to interact together, and be working, for the team to be above .500 and have a chance at the playoffs. Could Maurice have been too stuck in his style to be able to find a way to get the players motivated? Maybe a little. Do I think Maurice was the problem? Not really. Or, that is to say, not any more than anyone else.

I feel like as a team that can’t afford to spend to the cap, we’re less likely to have a large number of veterans filling our roster, so we have to work harder to have that baseline that keeps a team motivated.

Here’s the New Coach

Bringing in a new coach doesn’t automatically make players better team leaders, but rethinking everything may help our players rethink what we really need to be successful.

I feel bad for Maurice having to go through getting kicked out a second time, but he’s a good guy and I’m confident he can land on his feet. I’ll miss his post-game interview snark, and his easy manner, but I’m also hopeful for the future, and looking forward to what Muller will bring. My impressions so far are that he’s solid, and will focus on the right things.

Now about those playoffs…

EDIT: I mentioned this on Twitter; a good example of the mentorship I’m talking about is… (hmm) Erik Cole with Jeff Skinner last year. Everyone talked about how he took Skinner under his wing and really helped him get comfortable in the NHL.

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November 29, 2011  Tags: , , , , , , ,   Posted in: Hockey  No Comments

From Coffee Hater to Coffee Snob, Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bean

I hate coffee.

Or, at least, I thought I did. It turns out that it was only because I didn’t know what I liked. Travel teaches you a lot of things, the most important being that everyone does things differently. There are many wonderful and profound things about traveling, but the one I’m going to write about today is pretty mundane: I do, in fact, love coffee — just not the way we typically prepare it here in America. =)

It Started With Starbucks

Starbucks is the gateway drug. Is it good coffee? Not really. But oh man, it is candy. I still enjoy a Starbucks mocha, but I don’t pretend it’s the same thing as a proper Italian espresso, or a nice Turkish coffee. Starbucks is more like Taco Bell. I don’t delude myself that it’s Mexican food, but sometimes I crave it all the same.

Next Was Travel

In the last few years I’ve been lucky enough to travel to a lot of interesting places. having come to the Starbucks-driven conclusion that maybe I would like some kinds of coffee, I had started trying coffee when I visited other countries.

Cynthia and I went to Brazil with a friend and the coffee in our hotel was spectacular. Sweet and a little bit chocolaty and not at all bitter. I was visiting Germany for the OpenNMS User Conference and a coworker and I would get latte macchiatos and they were great as well — silky smooth. In Spain I tried a caffè macchiato and it was tasty too, like a good dark chocolate. In Italy, we tried caffe con panna, a wonderful mix of espresso and sweet whipped cream. A great little deli right here in Fuquay-Varina of all places, Nil’s, makes wonderful Turkish coffee, thick and sweet.

Since getting acclimated to coffees I like, I’ve tried drip coffees thinking “Coffee is an acquired taste, right? Maybe I’m just used to it now.” Nope, still not in the same universe as what I make at home now, much less the wide variety of wonderful coffees I’ve just mentioned. Making it myself is not only better, but it’s extremely consistent. It’s hard to make a bad cup if you’ve got good beans.

The AeroPress: A Coffee Geek's Best Friend

So What Was Different?

So let me start out by saying, I am still in no way an expert. I can only say what I’ve found that I like, in my quest for coffee that fits my tastes.

I Googled around a lot and found a number of coffe nerd blogs and forums, and the consensus seems to be that the reasons I prefer European coffee are twofold:

First, the average espresso machine in Europe is better maintained than here in the US. There are certainly plenty of good coffee shops in America with people painstakingly crafting good coffee, but for every one of those, there are 5 with poorly-maintained equipment, or a barista who doesn’t know the craft as well. When I was traveling, though, I found that I could walk into any random place with coffee and it was well-made.

Second, European roasters tend to not roast their beans as dark as US roasters do. This turned out to be the real key.

Making Coffee Myself

With that knowledge in hand, I looked into what it would take to make my own coffee.

First, how do I brew? To make a proper brew without your own espresso machine, the consensus I’ve found is to use either a classic French press or a new contender on the block, the AeroPress. The AeroPress has the advantage that it’s super cheap, and makes a very smooth cup of coffee. Score.

Second, what do I brew? Probably my favorite coffees I’ve had were the Brazilian cafezinho, and the espresso we had in Italy. The first thing I found was Counter Culture’s Toscano, a Tuscan espresso roast very much like what we had in Italy. Cynthia got me the AeroPress and some beans and I was in business. The Toscano turned out to be pretty darn good. Really smooth and good flavor, not bitter at all.

Since I got that first bag of beans, a new coffee shop has opened up in Pittsboro (where I work) – Red Star Coffee. They do a really good job of making espresso, and they get their beans from Bean Traders, who roast a wide variety of excellent beans, and, like Counter Culture, are local. Even better, they have a Brazilian roast, and it’s heavenly. Finding fresh, good beans that haven’t been burned to Hell has definitely been the most important part of this.

I’ve also gotten a burr grinder, which either through the placebo effect, or actual differences in grinding, seems to make my coffee taste better. =)

So That’s It

Nothing groundbreaking. Just a taste for something I thought I had no taste for. I hope you enjoyed my journey into coffee love.

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August 9, 2011  Tags: , , , , , , , , ,   Posted in: Food  One Comment

SBNation Black List Extension

I have a problem. I am physically incapable of scanning past certain types of comments on certain SBNation sites. I really hate to lose the 99.9% of comments that are awesome just because of my inability to look past the 0.1% that frustrate me, and I hate myself more for responding to those people when I should know better.

So, I finally put my coding where my mouth is, and made a browser extension plugin for Google Chrome and Safari that can filter out users on any SBNation blog in the comments section, automatically. =)

It’s non-destructive (if you remove someone from the black list, they’ll pop right back in the display), and I was careful to make it as high-performance as possible. It runs entirely in your browser session, and does not touch anything other than the display of the site as you see it.

It is open-source, you can check out the code at GitHub. It supports Google Chrome, and Safari. (Tested on Chrome 12 and Safari 5.0.)

The official page for it is here.

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July 4, 2011  Tags: , , , ,   Posted in: Uncategorized  No Comments

It’s Hockey Time! Can’t you hear it?

While there was technically one “home” game in Helsinki, tonight is the night for a real home game!

On game days, we usually play our “hockey” playlist, which is made up of all the songs I’ve managed to capture with Shazam on my iPhone.

A few folks have asked for our list so far, so… here it is! If you know of anything I’ve missed, please let me know, and I’ll add it.

Update 2010-10-29: Added “Don’t Do Me Like That” and “Get Free”

Update 2010-10-30: Added “All These Things That I’ve Done,” “Any Way You Want It,” “Club Can’t Handle Me,” “Drive*,” “Heart In My Hands,” “Let U Go,” “Like a G6,” “Mama Said Knock You Out,” “Meant to Live,” “Shout,” “Smile,” “That’s Not My Name,” “Walk This Way,”

Update 2010-11-24: Added “All I Want,” “American Bad Ass,” “Be Faithful,” “Brimful of Asha,” “Bye Bye Bye,” “California Gurls,” “Cat Scratch Fever,” “Cobrastyle,” “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough,” “Explosion,” “Gimme Stitches,” “Gonna Be a Blackout Tonight,” “Gotta Get Thru This,” “Hands,” “Hash Pipe,” “Hate to Say I Told You So,” “Here Comes the Hotstepper,” “Hey Hey Hey,” “Hey, Soul Sister,” “Hold On Loosely,” “Kick in the Teeth,” “Let Me Clear My Throat,” “Let Me Hear You Scream,” “Lucky,” “No Way but the Hard Way,” “Obsession,” “Oh Yeah,” “Pipeline,” “Right Above It,” “Rock ‘n’ Roll (Part 2),” “Shake Me,” “Shout,” “Situations,” “Stop!,” “Take It to the Limit,” “Travelin’ Band,” “Uprising,”

Artist Name
Unknown* Drive (Cars Cover)
38 Special Hold On Loosely
AC/DC Back in Black
AC/DC Who Made Who
Airbourne No Way but the Hard Way
Airiel Down Hurricane Warning
A Day to Remember All I Want
Alter Bridge Rise Today
Ash Burn Baby Burn
Ashley Parker Angel Let U Go
Billy Idol Rebel Yell
Black Eyed Peas I Gotta Feeling
Blue Öyster Cult Burnin’ for You
Blur Song 2
Bruce Springsteen The Rising
Casper Casper Cha-Cha Slide
Charm City Devils Let’s Rock-N-Roll (Endless Road)
The Chemical Brothers Galvanize
Chickenfoot Oh Yeah
Cinderella Shake Me
Cornershop Brimful of Asha
Creedence Clearwater Revival Run Through the Jungle
Creedence Clearwater Revival Travelin’ Band
Daniel Bedingfield Gotta Get Thru This
The Darkness One Way Ticket
Disturbed Down with the Sickness
Disturbed Shout (a.k.a. Shout 2000)
DJ Aligator Project The Whistle Song
DJ Kool Let Me Clear My Throat
Dropkick Murphys Gonna Be a Blackout Tonight
Eli “Paperboy” Reed Explosion
EMF Unbelievable
Eve 6 Think Twice
Far East Movement Like a G6
Fatboy Slim Right Here, Right Now
Fatman Scoop (feat. Faith Evans) Be Faithful
Flo Rida Club Can’t Handle Me
Flo Rida Low
Foo Fighters Gimme Stitches
Foo Fighters No Way Back
Foo Fighters The Last Song
Gary Glitter Rock ‘n’ Roll (Part 2)
Georgia Satellites Hippy Hippy Shake
Godsmack The Enemy
The Gregg Allman Band I’m No Angel
Guns N’ Roses Welcome to the Jungle
Hanoi Rocks Lucky
Hawk Nelson Bring Em Out
Hinder (feat. Mick Mars) Take It to the Limit
The Hives Hate to Say I Told You So
The Hives Tick Tick Boom
Hot Hot Heat Goodnight Goodnight
Ini Kamoze Here Comes the Hotstepper
The Isley Brothers Shout
Jane’s Addiction Stop!
Jet She’s a Genius
Jet Black Stare Ready to Roll
John Denver Thank God I’m A Country Boy
Journey Any Way You Want It
Junior Stand Up & Holler (Carolina Hurricanes)
Katy Perry (feat. Snoop Dogg) California Gurls
Kevin Rudolf Let It Rock
Kid Rock American Bad Ass
The Killers All These Things That I’ve Done
KISS Lick It Up
The Knack My Sharona
Lil Wayne (feat. Drake) Right Above It
LL Cool J Mama Said Knock You Out
Metallica Battery
Michael Franti & Spearhead Hey Hey Hey
Michael Jackson Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough
Muse Uprising
New Found Glory Situations
Nickelback Burn It to the Ground
Nine Inch Nails The Hand that Feeds
‘N-SYNC Bye Bye Bye
Ozzy Osbourne Crazy Train
Ozzy Osbourne Let Me Hear You Scream
Papa Roach Kick in the Teeth
Plain White T’s Our Time Now
The Pointer Sisters I’m So Excited
Primus Jerry Was a Race Car Driver
Queen We Will Rock You
Rage Against the Machine Renegades of Funk
Ram Jam Black Betty
The Ramones Beat On the Brat
The Ramones Blitzkrieg Bop
The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus Face Down
Rednex Cotton Eye Joe
Rob Base/DJ EZ Rock It Takes Two
Run DMC (feat. Aerosmith) Walk This Way
Saliva Raise Up
Saliva Click Click Boom
Sarah Vaughan Whatever Lola Wants
Scorpions Rock You Like a Hurricane
Seether Rise Above This
Seether Remedy
Shinedown Devour
Shinedown I Dare You
Sky Ferreira Obsession
Stevie Ray Vaughan/Dick Dale Pipeline
Stompin’ Tom Connors The Hockey Song
Superchunk Punch Me Harder
Switchfoot Meant to Live
Teddybears (feat. Mad Cobra) Cobrastyle
Ted Nugent Cat Scratch Fever
Theory of a Deadman So Happy
The Ting Tings Hands
The Ting Tings That’s Not My Name
TobyMac Ignition
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers Don’t Do Me Like That
Train Hey, Soul Sister
Trust Company Heart In My Hands
Twisted Sister I Wanna Rock
Tye Banks Carolina Hurricanes
Uncle Kracker Smile
Village People Macho Man
The Vines Get Free
Weezer Hash Pipe
The Zambonis Great Zamboni® of Devotion
Zombie Nation Kernkraft 400

* Does anyone know who does this cover? I couldn’t find it anywhere.

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October 27, 2010  Tags: ,   Posted in: Hockey  4 Comments


I’ve been planning on writing for quite some time now about our time in Helsinki. Needless to say, it was freakin’ awesome! We had a wonderful time hanging out with the other Caniacs on the trip, having lunch with the team, meeting some Finnish friends, and, of course, winning both games! Someday I’ll put together a full report.

In the meantime, I finally had some time to start working on a proper site for Jussi4ASG. When we get it filled out a little more, I’ll post the design.

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October 23, 2010  Tags: , , ,   Posted in: Hockey  No Comments

Never Forget What We’ve Forgotten

It’s hard to look at Twitter or FaceBook without being reminded of the events of 9/11, and their impact on our society. It is, of course, honorable and important to remember those who have fallen, and to respect those who were and are heroes from that day and now, but it’s hard to look at all those “never forget!” messages without feeling a little conflicted.

The frustrating thing is that we have forgotten. There are so many things we have forgotten since 9/11, it’s hard to believe just how much has changed in 9 short years.

Who is complicit in these things? I know I am. What have I done so far to change it? I elected a President whose rhetoric convinced me he could change things, and instead has perpetuated the policies that took these freedoms away in the name of security, while pretended to make things better and while leaving thousands of “non-combat” troops and contractors in the area.

I guess perhaps it’s time I stop saying never forget, and start saying, now I remember.

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September 11, 2010  Tags: , ,   Posted in: Editorial, Politics  No Comments

Charlotte Checkers iCal

So, in theory, Google Calendar’s “Sports” section has a calendar for the Charlotte Checkers. Unfortunately, it’s listed under “ECHL” still, and has nothing for the 2010-2011 season. So, I went ahead and made a calendar that you can import.

You can download/link to it here — if you notice any problems, let me know.

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August 28, 2010  Tags: , , , , ,   Posted in: Hockey  No Comments