Monthly Archives: June 2006

Soccer and the American Psyche

Recently on NPR, someone observed that American sports are all about winning. Football, baseball, and basketball always have winners. There is no such thing as a tie.

Hockey with a long tradition of tie’s was tweaked by the new NHL to ensure that there would be fewer ties. Everygame now ends with a penalty shootout so that at the end of play a victory is declared.

Soccer is not like that. In soccer a great many games end in a tie. A great many games end in a 0-0 tie. Appreciating tie’s is critical to appreciating soccer.

I wonder if America’s winner-take-all attitude can ever permit a sport where tieing is an integral and unavoidable result.


Peet’s Coffee: Sumatra

A very smooth coffee, not very acidic with little bitterness. It has a slight chocolaty aftertaste.

The coffee when it enters your mouth creates an intense flavouring in the center of the tongue that then calmly dissipates. After the dissipation, the mouth feels empty. This suggests that the coffee is memorable.

Sumatra is not as strong as Kenyan but is very similar in taste. Stronger than Guatemalan, and less bitter than Major Dickinson.

US Becomes a Soccer Nation.

Today the US became a soccer nation.

What are the key attributes?

First your team underachieves in the opener. The press reaction to the underachievement is hysteria. This is proof, the press says, that your country is incapable of ever playing at a serious level. That the team is overhyped, the players underachievers, and the coach a buffoon who should not be allowed to run an elementary school checkers team never mind a World Cup Soccer Team. A soccer nation is never happy about playing in the world cup. The whole point is to WIN the world cup.

Second, against all odds your team then defeats or ties a world powerhouse in an improbable way. Down two players with almost 45 minutes to play you still manage to create the best offensive oppurtunities. And instead of celebrating the result everyone is talking about how you were robbed. How the referrees altered the result. How they stole the game from you. A soccer nation is not surprised about a stunning result. Of course the Americans tied Italy. And if the ref hadn’t robbed the American team they would have won.

So today when the US team played Italy to a 1-1 tie after being excoriated by the press for losing 3-0 to the Czechs, the fans and the players and the announcers and the press were not talking about triumph achieved but triumphed denied by poor refereeing….

Maybe Soccer is Universal.

The Lawn, again.

Yesterday my wife and I re-planted the lawn.

Strictly speaking we over-seeded. The difference between re-plant and re-seed is about whether you decided to throw out all of the old grass, or just add grass.

So here’s what we did:

  1. First we raked the lawn completely, both to remove stuff off of the lawn and to dig up the dirt.
  2. We levelled the lawn further with a normal rake and this really cool oversized rake.
  3. We applied seed (Scott’s High Traffic Tall Fescue)
  4. We applied fertilizer (Scott’s Starter Fertilizer)
  5. We applied top-soil (Kellog’s Top Soil)
    1. Trying to add a layer of top soil on top of the seeds so that the seeds don’t get disturbed was a bit of a challenge. It works best with two people. One person drops the dirt in a pile, the other spreads it out gently using a rake.

The last thing we did got us an 30-40% coverage of the lawn. I am hopeful that this more methodical approach will get me closer to 80-90% of the lawn.

If that fails, the nursery I bought the tools from sells sod at 0.40$ a square foot. The total cost for the sod would be 100$ + some amount for installation. I have not yet given up hope.

Topical blogs

An old and dear friend of mine whined recently that my blog is not topical.

His rant was not just directed at my blog but at the blogosphere in general. He observed that there were a wide variety of folks who used their blogs to just make random nonsensical remarks that had no point. That their blogs were an excuse to write random crap that was of no interest, not even to the author 5 minutes after they got posted.

I thought about that.

So my first observation is that my blog’s title is Day to Day Nonesense: Kostadis Roussos’ musings on a random world. The readers is warned that the blog contents are going to be both random and nonesense. Am I off-topic then if my blog is full of nonesense and random contents?

But that’s a cop-out. The real question is: Is a blog with my topic worth having on the web? Is the world serviced by such a blog or is it just my vanity? Am I like the annoying person at the dinner party that talks and talks and talks about something no one else cares about?

The meta-question is, would it be better if I had a topical blog? What if I picked a topic and focussed on it for a long time?

I ran into two challenges.

The first is that the time investment in a blog has to be small. I have a life. I have a wife, dog and friends. A column is a significant investment of time and energy.

The second is that I am not sure what I would talk about. World Affairs? Software? Technololgy? Maybe something very narrowly focussed like storage management and data management. Or maybe a hobby? Again, I am not sure one more blog on these topics would add much more value than my current blog. Dave Hitz’s blog adds a lot of value because he is the EVP of NetApp, the other horse in the two horse race in the storage market. His opinions carry weight because of his role and because of who he is. Knowing more about how Dave thinks is a proxy to knowing more about how NetApp thinks. About the only topic I add weight to because of my role is storage management and I can’t talk about that …

But I agree with my friend. A random blog about random topics is not generally interesting to most people.

However … I have a large distributed family that reads my blog. I can use the blog as a convenient way to share information about my life to them. And they seem to like it.

So I’ll keep with my blog. And as for my friend … well he’ll probably ignore this blog entry, but he has a point, I really should create a topical blog. Focussed on a narrow topic that might be more broadly interesting than the 30 or so folks in my family who read this blog.

In the wierd shit moment category

In 1995, while I was still a student at Brown University, my parents were visiting the US. They had arrived in Maryland so my dad could accompany a Greek dignitary during the dignitary’s stay at John Hopkins Medical center. My parents wanted me to come to Baltimore to visit them. So I hoped on a plane and flew down for a couple of days.

Oddly enough, another friend of mine was on the plane. She had called up her dad and said she wanted to come home that specific weekend. Her dad asked why, and she said that she just wanted to. To which her dad replied: If my daughter wants to come visit me for a weekend who am I to say no?

Neither of us knew we were flying together but when we bumped into each other at the airport in Providence we decided to sit together and chat.

When we got off of the plane, we were chatting like old friends. I was about to leave the boarding gate so I gave her a hug. At that point, however, I noticed her mother, father and brother staring at the two of us. The young brother’s mouth was open, the father was pale and the mother was freaking out. At the time I weighed 265 pounds, had hair that went below my shoulders and generally looked unkempt. My friend took me to her parents and introduced me. Her dad then promptly grabbed me by the shoulder and started to grill me. My friend, her mother and brother walked significantly slower behind the dad and I. It was only then that I realized what was going on: he thought I was the reason his daughter wanted to come home. And he was worried that I was a recent addition to his family (and worried that he had a grandchild on the way as well….). His daughter was wearing very baggy clothes so…

When I realized what was going on, I promptly said: I’m here to visit my parents, and I am dating someone who is not your daughter.

The father then stopped walking, re-acquired colour in his face, and seemed significantly less interested in knowing who I was, what my career plans were and what my parents did for a living.

Re-doing the lawn: an update

So it turns out that if you are going to spend 8 hours digging up the lawn during a hot sunny day, you may want to consider devoting the next day to actually planting the seeds.

Once we finished digging every thing up. And then bagging the excess dirt so it could be thrown out. And cleaning up the tools … we had no energy left to actually plant the seeds.

So we did a marginal job of planting seeds.

Okay a poor job.

Turns out that to plant seeds you need to level the ground.

Then put the seeds.

Then add some kind of top soil (not dirt but top-soil).

That would have added 2 more hours to our day… And we were too wiped to contemplate that.


So I am going to try to salvage the lawn by doing some leveling, some digging, some seed planting and some top-soil depositing.

If that fails… I may have to call in professional help.

Peet’s Coffee: 40 year anniversary blend

Peet’s 40 year anniersary blend is unfortunately, not memorable.

The blend is modestly bitter, with a slight nutty taste and a modest body. The coffee attempts to be inoffensive, but offends with it’s lack of punch.

For those who favour a smooth light coffee with no aftertaste, this coffee may be more appropriate.

However, there is something particularly disatisfying about a coffee whose taste is gone from your memory only seconds after it swishes down your throat…

Lemony Snicket’s: A Series of Unfortunate Events

Adaptations of children’s novels are always a tricky beast. The problem is how do you make what is a children’s tale appeal to adults without destroying the children’s tale.

Lemony Snicket’s: A Series of Unfortunate Events tries to bridge the gap between childhood and adulthood by focusing on sets, serious acting, and the darkness of the tale. The movie begins with a little happy elf song that is darn creepy in it’s happiness, and then quickly shifts to every child’s nightmare: orphanhood. However, it manages to avoid being just creepy and scary by demonstrating how the children are able to survive and outwit the villainous evil through their own wits and self reliance.

The movie has a collection of sets that remind you of a Tim Burton film. They look almost normal. And yet there is something that is wrong with them. For example, there is a car phone, but it’s a real phone in a car. The home of Aunt Josephine is normal except for the fact that is precipitously attached to a cliff.
The film stars a collection of children playing against some great adult actors. And that’s unfortunate, because unless you’re a great actor you’re going to look silly playing against Merryl Streep. Even Jude Law as the disembodied voice of Lemony Snicket has more presence than the children.

There is one really creepy moment in this film. The fourteen year old Violet marries Count Olaf. It’s really disturbing to see her take on this impossible burden to marry the creepy Count Olaf. There is something especially disturbing about a film that has a 40+ year old man marrying a 14 year old child. Especially when it’s a leering creepy Jim Carrey. I wonder how the censors let that one through.

The critics panned this movie. A Tim Burton fan might enjoy it. Definitely worth renting.