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Paul Nicholson
Nashvegas TN
Digital Marketing Manager at HealthTrust. Social media junkie, strategist, and app idea guy. Hockey fan, photographer, and father to 2 awesome boys.

(Opinions expressed here are not those of my employer. Heck, they might not even be mine.)
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Friday, December 29, 2006

christmas update

I know Christmas is, strictly speaking, just one 24-hour day. However, in the modern age of defining Christmas by seeing family and the present giving/receiving, Christmas for us usually lasts from a few days before, all the way until New Years day.

For us this year, it started by Christy and i going to see some of her extended family in KY. We saw her aunts and uncle and grandmother. It was a good visit. And a it was made a little nicer this year by the recent removal of toll booths along the route. The trip now cost us $2.80 less than usual. Yippie!

Christmas day itself was just Christy and i. Rather nice really. Just got to hang out and relax. OH - and open Christmas presents for each other of course :-)

Day after Christmas we did with Christy's mom/dad and brother (sis-in-law was too sick to come). That was a lot of fun. Only bad part was this was the first time we had to give envelopes as gifts... Our order from Amazon (made two weeks prior to Christmas) did not arrive until later. So had to give several people envelopes with pictures of what they will be getting. (Note to all who await presents: They have arrived. Our house/pet-sitter got them for us. They will be mailed out to you all as soon as we get back to TN) The funny thing this time was that we actually had Becca's gifts, but she was the only one not there. The three who were there (mom/dad/Matt) just had to open envelopes. Oh well. We (ok... i) spent the rest of the evening playing Guitar Hero (which Matt was kind enough to bring up from Birmingham). That game is fun! He got Guitar Hero II that night, but we just played Guitar Hero I for now.

The other attention getting present for that evening had to be Christy getting her Rhapsody edition Sansa. I was quite jealous, though excited. She played with it a little, but i then proceeded to steal it and play with it more as she worked on other people's presents (she crocheted several gifts this year - very proud of her, they looked great). I am sure this drove her crazy. I didn't mean to steal her present, but these things are cool and i didn't have one...yet...

The 27th we drove. A lot.
We actually made really good time and drove straight from Nashvegas to north San Antonio in one shot. Wasn't too hard at all really. Having a TDI (diesel) car that is really comfortable helps. We did the whole thing on a tank and a half of gas and rarely had to stop.

The 28th we hung out at my Mom's sister's place for a while and played on their new Wii. That thing is a lot of fun, though you do have to be careful that you don't smack your friends in the face while playing.



That afternoon we did Christmas with my dad's family in San Antonio. Much fun. Ate lunch, did presents, and then played board/card games together for...oh...4 hours or so i think. After a while we realized it was 8:30pm (thanks to my cool new watch) and we hadn't eaten dinner and we were all getting a little tired. So we packed up and headed to Taco Cabana for our first major dose of Texas tex-mex. Good stuff.

Then we headed back out to my mom's sister's and did presents with my mom's side of the family and my parents/sister. Much fun and many good presents there... and i got my Sansa! I congratulated Christy on biting her tongue and not giving away that i had one coming (she knew).

We also got a ton of DVD's (from many different people) and video games and board games, etc, etc, etc... I'm not going to try to name or comment on them all (hope no one is offended). I really have enjoyed (or will enjoy) all the gifts so far. I honestly feel very blessed and grateful. We have a lot of generous family!

More important than the gifts, of course, is getting to see everyone. We've had great fun this year visiting and playing with everybody...and more of that to come. For the first time in several years, we are going to be here tomorrow for the big "family Christmas" with my mom's family. Expected numbers are somewhere near 40-50 i believe. Should be much fun.

Anyway...last note is to say that the pictures included in this post were courtesy of my cousin Carly's new camera. It is equipped with WiFi and she can email straight from her camera. How insanely cool is that! When we got back to the hotel last night and checked our email, we had pictures waiting for us that were less than an hour old. Cool. Thanks Carly!

Monday, December 25, 2006

no respect

The Nashville Predators are a great team.
So why doesn't anybody know it?

The Nashville Predators are currently ranked 3rd in the league overall, 2nd in the Western conference, 4th in the NHL in wins, 2nd in the Western Conference in goals. That much is easy to see. We are a very good team.

So three things surprise me:

  1. We get little to no media coverage (within Nashville or outside)
  2. We will likely send no one to the All-Star game this year
  3. We have the lowest road attendance draw of any team in the league
1) Media Coverage:
We also don't get very much press from the main hockey media outlets, or even major sports outlets (ESPN, etc). And honestly, we get very little at home too. Usually the only time i see us mentioned in major hockey articles is when they talk about us being a good franchise to move because our attendance is so low. It used to be horrible i agree. But 1) It is improving rapidly, something many NHL teams cannot say. 2) This year there are 7 teams with worse attendance averages than us. That is still hard to brag about, but i've never heard anyone mention moving St Louis or New Jersey, even when they consistently average attendance far lower than ours. Honestly the Scott Nichol incident was probably good just for the publicity. At least people have heard of us now. (The only major piece of press we've gotten lately that i could find was this article on Paul Kariya from NHL.com)

Many writers say that we are in a weak division. That we get more easy points against teams like St. Louis, Columbus, and Chicago than other teams do in their divisions. That is true to a degree, but so far this year we actually have a loosing record against Chicago (not something to be proud of). So we are clearly getting those points from other teams across the league.

I will also admit that we still have a few teams (San Jose, Buffalo, Anaheim) that we just do not seem to match-up well against. That too will come.

2) All-Star Selection:
The All-Star issues is an easy one to address, and not that big a deal. We are too well balanced. Buffalo has the same "problem". Thanks to injuries to top players and the constantly rotating lines of our mad-scientist coach, we don't have any 50+ point players like some teams do at this point in the season. We have two of the best goalies in the league, and an amazing spread, balanced offense, and decent young defenders with offense prowess of their own. But hey, i'm fine with not sending anyone to the All-Star game. It would be fun, but there less chance for injury and more chance to rest up.

3) Attendance Draw:
This is the most amazing part to me. With everything we have going for us, we are dead last in the NHL in attendance draw. We play against more empty houses across the league this year than any other team.

Why don't fans in other cities come to see us play? We have a fast-paced, explosive offense, and two top-tier goalies. Four former All-Stars (Kariya, Arnott, Timmonen, Vokoun). And are a great "measuring stick" team for how good your team really is. My only guess is that problem #1 (media coverage) makes this one worse.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

a night at the movie theater

Christy and i decided to go see a movie tonight (Christmas eve), courtesy of some free tickets from a bad experience at an earlier movie showing (*see previous post). We chose to see A Night at the Museum. It was great. Just was i was hoping for.

Very fun, fairly shallow, and extremely entertaining. Plenty of slapstick style gags, but not so much as to get tired of them. I also loved seeing Dick Van Dyke, one of my favorite comedic actors of all time, doing his thing again. Ben Stiller was also great throughout. It was smart, touching, but not too sappy. And just generally fun. You'll smile and giggle through the whole thing, though rarely laugh out loud. But you will almost certainly leave in a much better mood than when you went in (if you can let yourself have the fun).

It was also great because this movie was PG and was justly so (save one fly-by use of the "a**" word). There were some scenes that would be scary for little kids, but on the whole it was a very innocent and entertaining movie that a family really could go see, with some good take-home warm-fuzzy morals to the story too.

Recommended: Highly

a better movie experience

Christy and i are becoming quite the movie buffs. We've been getting to go see several movies for free (Charlotte's Web and The Nativity Story) and electing to pay to see others. We also have our Blockbuster online membership. However, having the home theater setup that we do, and watching tons of movies at home via Blockbuster lately - i am really growing to dislike going to the movies. It's not the price of the popcorn or the kids in the front row or even the price of the tickets. It's the fact that i honestly get a better showing of the movie at home with my home theater that cost a total of maybe $1,500 to put together (not a small amount of money i know, but nothing massive either).


The movie we saw tonight had no sound through the first several trailers (including several i hadn't seen yet and wanted to). Then once the sound did come on, it dropped to stereo a couple of times in the movie, then jumped back into surround. There was also a massive green scratch down the middle of the picture for about 2 minutes straight at one point

Add to this the fact that they are still showing movies on film in our theaters, despite having higher-than-HD digital projectors that they show previews on. The film not only has the previously mentioned scratches and hair, but it jumps around. It is part of the nature of film. It never stays 100% in focus and it moves slightly from side-to-side and top-to-bottom occasionally. Digital projectors, while having their own issues (finite resolution and limited color pallet, etc) at least hold the picture steady and in focus through the whole showing.

Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks and Landmark Theaters, has a new company starting up that is trying to promote the simultaneous release of movies to theaters, pay-per-view, and DVD. At this point, i would SO be willing to shell out $25 or maybe even as much as $45 to have a high quality DVD of a new movie (no bonus content) that i could watch with friends at home (say...the upcoming Ratatouille or Transformers) rather than pay $15 to go see it in a theater with only Christy. If i know i am likely to own the movie eventually anyway, i have no problem doing that.

I'd even be willing to wait a few weeks. Make the first week theater, second week PPV, third week DVD. I'd be willing to bet it would actually cut back on all the piracy, too. People could just legally go buy a high-quality copy rather than wait a day for a bad quality camcorder rip to download (a practice i do not partake in or encourage, BTW).

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

squish the buffaslugs

Christy and i have free tickets to the Predators game against the Buffalo Sabres tomorrow night. They are very good seats, just a few rows from the ice.

So Christy got a great idea for a poster...we just made it:

For background reading on what a "Buffaslug" is, check here, here, and here.
Watch for us on TV!



Update: We had fun at the game, but obviously it didn't turn out the way we wanted. We were very surprised by how many Buffalo fans were there, too. And apparently many of them came from Buffalo - just for the game. I think Christy had a good idea: Hold a Red Wings vs. Sabres exhibition game in Municipal Auditorium, then lock the doors.

Anyway - here are a couple of pictures from the game. We did get on the jumbotron with the sign in the first intermission, but i didn't think fast enough to pull my phone out and take a picture then. Oh well. We were still cool. And the seats were great.


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

new laptop features

Apparently my new laptop came loaded with an interesting new feature...

If you've had a long day or rough time in your last meeting and need to take out some frustration, it comes equipped with an impact-proof "strike zone". Feel free to hit it with your hand in frustration or bang your head against it. I have a feeling that if you really needed to, you could also use it in self-defense by hitting your aggressor (or frustrating co-worker) over the head.

Just make sure to use the Strike Zone. Performance of the laptop is not guaranteed if you use any other portion as an anvil.

Monday, December 18, 2006

my new phone

So, i am finally getting around to tell you all about my new phone.
It is the Samsung t519 "Trace"

Pretty awesome little phone. Emphasis on little.
This thing is small. Really small. And light. Very very light.

I had decided to go for a phone that was as low profile as possible this time. Gone are the days when i was known for wearing cargo pants at all time and carrying around a geek survival kit. With the new job and just style changes, my technology has to move with my style. I needed something super-light and thin (i hate the tale-tell cell phone bulge). Enter the t519.

To try to show you how small/thin this thing is i took a few pictures...


Anyone want a phone that is only as thick as a No. 2 pencil? Shorter than a standard mouse? As for weight: It weighs basically the same as two AA batteries - 2.7 oz. Lightest phone i've ever owned. What is great is it doesn't feel too light or cheap. It feels very sturdy. It also feels good while talking, good ear-to-mouth length.

Besides its size - oh yeah, it's a great phone. Large, bright, high-res screen. Bluetooth. 1.3MP camera. Does great stills, decent video. Oh - and the feature i have barely used - MP3 player...with expandable MicroSD slot. That's right - expandable memory. I could have 2GB plus in this thing if i wanted. Though honestly, with Rhapsody and my Axim, i don't really use the MP3 function, and i don't think i'm going to bother getting an expansion card at this point.

Frustrating thing about it, is that it is so new, no one has really hacked it yet. The downside of this is that T-Mobile ships it pretty locked down. You can only install games and ringtones bought through the T-Mobile store. So i can have MP3s on it, and use them to listen to, or use as alarms - but not as ringtones. I also can't install any 3rd party games or applications unless they go through the T-Moible store, which is a pity since there are a ton of free ones on the web. There has to be a way around this, i just can't figure it out yet.

I like :-)

new toy...er...tool

One of the coolest perks in my new job: i get a laptop! I finally got it today (though i am so grateful and happy to get it i hate to say "finally").

Latitude D620 with 1.83GHz Intel Core Duo processor and 2GB of memory. That part is awesome. I also have a docking station, and extra AC adapter (thank you Dell!) and some other toys. That is where the cool list stops. It's kinda downhill from there if you want to geek out... "Just" a CD-ROM (no RW or DVD), "just" a 30GB hard drive, no bluetooth, etc. But it does have WiFi (802.11b/g), battery life is great (3.5+ hours with wireless on!), and it does everything i need it to for work, plus some. I will certainly take it, gladly.

I think the guy thought my reaction was a little funny when he brought it to my desk. I probably looked like i was practicing for Christmas in a couple of weeks. Oh - and i got a decently cool (and very functional) case too. :-)

Sunday, December 17, 2006

heeee's baaaack

Looks like Mr. Cuban has been back for more.

Honestly though, how narcissistic does this guy have to be that he apparently sits around and googles himself to see what people are saying. That's almost as bad as creating a page where you just talk about nothing and whatever is going on in your life and expecting people to voluntarily come and read it because you are so interesting. Or worse yet, someone who checks the visitor stats on all his websites daily and does WHOIS look-ups to see who is visiting him and how often. Can you imagine?

phone pictures

Yet another place for my fan club members to bookmark: MyAlbum on T-Mobile.
http://www.t-mobilepictures.com/pwnicholson

Basically its a place where i can auto-upload pictures to a website straight from my phone. Don't worry, i'll make sure to post on here if there is ever anything really interesting. The best reason for me to use it though will be to avoid all the issues of cost and incompatibility when trying to take a picture and send it to someone. Now if i see something really cool and want someone to see it, i just have to take the picture or shoot video, "send to MyAlbum", then call and tell them to go to this site. They can view it for free and so can lots of others, all for no extra cost to me or them. Oh - and i can upload pictures from my desktop and add captions, etc too.

Its not as cool as i'm making it sound (i do sound like a commercial right now i know), but it is neat.

Enjoy.

oops

You remember that DVD i was putting together for my cousin?
Well, the release date just got pushed back a bit.

I was installing another new hard drive in my machine (because 3 drives and over 500GB is not enough, you understand) and was having problems with it. It was an older drive and i was having issues with the partition on the drive. Well, i was moving too fast and accidentally nuked the partition of my video project drive. 117GB and a couple of months of work - poof!

I tried restoring the partition with PartionMagic and some other tools but no luck. Fortunately i have the raw footage backed up on another drive, so i can start all over again. This also isn't all bad, since i was probably going to go back and re-do a lot of it anyway. I had gotten some new ideas and was going to re-cut most of what i had already done.

Sorry Kelly!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

cuteness

Those who need a dose of cute, i just updated www.anniehilscher.com

Annie got to go home yesterday. Which just amazes me. She was born 7 weeks early, spent two weeks in the hospital, most of it just for observation, and is now home. She barely weighs 4 lbs, but is just fine. One tough little cookie!

Oh, and if you go to the shower pictures on the site, you can see shots of our living room and the awesome cupcakes Christy made :-)

(If any of you are confused...check here.)

Thursday, December 14, 2006

sharper Pixar

Another thing i am excited about...

iTunes may offer Disney movies in HD next year! While i am not in a hurry to watch the Hunchback of Notre Dame, i am dying to watch Cars and other Pixar movies.

I have the Cars trailer in HD (1080p) thanks to Apple's movie trailer site. I still pull it up about once a week and just drool over it. But to go from 1920x1080 on that trailer to 720x480 on the DVD...you can really start to see a difference (Don't get me wrong - i still want the DVD for Christmas!). But i can't wait to watch the whole thing in HD.

And yes, i think i could even get over having to buy it from Apple.

just having fun

I got to see Alexander Radulov at the Darcy Hordichuck Show last night.

He is so fun. His english is coming along well, but is still bad - but he is so enthusiastic.

Scott Hartnell: "It's like every goal is his first goal. His arms are going wild and even when he's by himself, it seems like he's giving high-fives to everyone because his hands are going crazy. His facial expression is priceless, too. It's like he's a kid in a candy store. It's a lot of fun to watch and be around. I feed off that. I love watching him. You get a smile, you get a kick out of it and it makes you want to play harder for him and for the team.''

Alexander Radulov: "That's just the way I play. I feel better that way. I'm excited and I can't hold it inside. I need to let it out."
Apparently Steve Sullivan encouraged him to calm it down a little...
Alexander Radulov: "You have to respect the other team, so you have to be more quiet,'' Radulov said. "When I first came (to the NHL), I didn't know that. But now I understand. I need to take it easy.''
Coach Barry Trotz: "The old school of thinking is sometimes just that — old. It's the new NHL, baby. We have an exciting product and he's an exciting player. If it wasn't genuine, then I'd have a problem with it. It would be showmanship. But he just loves to score. He gets a real rush from it.''
I'd say keep it up A-Rad.

You're making the game fun. Not to mention, helping NHL 07 look more realistic. The characters always have huge celebrations for every goal - even when you score 12 a game. And apparently Radulov actually did the whole 'stick-is-a-sword' thing while he was in the juniors. I'd pay money to see him do that in the NHL.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

shameful, wrong, and other bad things

I realize i probably scare away visitors from this site because i am often just complaining and whining, or talking about how bad something is and how i would do it differently. I probably come across as pretty arrogant or annoying myself. However, this takes it up another notch.

I can't tell you how wrong and just stupid i think this is.

Quotes from the article from the Tennessean:

“When I look at my grandfather, I see a man that didn’t compromise,” Will Graham said today. “He sets an example for all of us.”
...until now.
“He wanted people to come to Christ,” Graham’s friend Cliff Barrows said. “That was the driving, motivating force in his life. He was an evangelist.”
...um, he's not dead, yet. (Though his family is in a fight on where to put him in the ground) Hise legacy and integrity is history though.

Up until now, i considered Billy Graham a rarity: a balanced figurehead of Christianity. He recognized the benefit of the large-scale, pop-culture draw that a famous personality can provide. But he was always fairly modest and never grabbed as much fame as he could have. He is just the representative when the president needs someone to pray at inaugurations, but (until now apparently) he never claimed to be anything special. He isn't perfect, but that is it - he is just this guy who people like to point to as an example, and he humbly permitted it. But a massive statue parked in front of the company that, to me, symbolizes making money in the name of Christ? (And yes, my dad and wife both work there.)

Yeah, i'm gonna start offending people so i'll stop now.

I'm just trying to figure out if i should protest in a more formal capacity, or just skip straight to vandalism in the form of spray-painting "WWJD?" on it.



(Someone just posted a comment and i wanted to respond here because i think it clarifies my point a little)

I agree the statue isn't a great work of art, but its good enough. I agree that Billy Graham is a good guy and did some great things and deserves to be honored as such. But it is the very thing(s) he stood for that make a statue seem wrong.

I think the Nathan Forrest statue is hideous and wrong too. He shouldn't be honored with a statue. There are others that a statue better fits, even in downtown Nashville. People who were pop entertainers or civic leaders...that is their whole gig. Being bigger than life and drawing attention to themselves. A statue is a continuation of that and so it works. Sometimes i agree with honoring the person, sometimes i don't. But a statue for those people isn't a surprise.

I wouldn't even be this surprised/upset if there was (and I'm sure there is) a statue of Jerry Falwell around somewhere. I wouldn't like it, but it fits. He is much more about drawing attention to himself.

I have to say too, if this was just a piece of art (like the one at Music Circle) symbolically showing anonymous people bowing at the cross or something like that - even if it was dedicated to Billy Graham - i might think it was tacky, but ok. I just don't think that a huge statue of the man himself fits with Billy Graham and his message or his ministry that he had presented his whole life.

That is what upset me. I don't think this statue is what Billy Graham was/is or stood for. To me, he always managed to appear as a small-town non-denominational pastor who had his head screwed on straight and just so happened to preach to 100,000 people at a time on occasion. I fully imagined in my mind that every other day of the week he was back preaching at a church of 600 in the Carolina's somewhere. I don't think he ever appeared on CNN or anything like that (though his i know son has). He stood for one thing, and that was pointing people to God. He never allowed his name to be used for self-promotion or boasting beyond what was useful in bringing people to Christ. Forgive me, but i don't believe that a statue in front of Lifeway is going to spontaneously bring anyone to their knees, or even suddenly encourage them to darken the door of a church. Maybe i'm wrong.

Billy Graham is/was the kind of guy that deserves to be honored, but shouldn't be. He should be one of those "saints" that does great things, and who's legacy is the people walking around that were changed or the writings/teachings he left behind. He is/was always clear that he never did anything, it was always God.

But, i also understand that there are a lot of people out there that may feel differently. That were personally changed through things he did, etc. who want to show appreciation. And i agree whole-heartedly that he is a man who by any objective standard, deserves to be honored. I'm just not sure that this is the way to do that.

iTunes failure?

Apparently people are not as dumb as i thought. Not in the long term anyway.

Forrester Research just announced that the number of monthly iTunes transactions has dipped 58% since Jan '06, and average purchase size has declined by 17% - an overall revenue decline of 65%.

"It is too soon to tell if this decline was seasonal or if buyers were reaching their saturation level for digital music"
...or people are finally realizing that iTunes and iPods are a rip-off. They are upset that more and more of their friends are purchasing MP3 players that will work with subscription services. For just $14.99 their friends can access unlimited amounts of music. While iTunes users can only add 15 songs per month for the same price.
"Only Apple knows just how much profit there is at the end of the day on a $1.98 credit card transaction for two songs, but with transaction costs, hosting costs, and the wholesale price of the songs, there's not much margin left"
In other words, Apple gets charged a certain amount per transaction, so when the purchase size goes down, it hurts profits. Overall sales going down obviously hurts too. Apple's cash cow is hurting.

I am not trying to revel in the failure of Apple, i am honestly happy that consumers may finally be realizing that iTunes is not a good deal.

(I have to get back to work, i'll probably right more on this later.)

Monday, December 11, 2006

a draft in the backdoor

See if you can follow me here...

  • A couple of years ago, after a mediocre freshman year at Kentucky, 6-11 Ralph Morris decided he'd be a hot shot and enter the NBA draft.
  • NBA scouts thought he was overweight, played poorly, and generally not NBA material
  • As a result he went undrafted.
  • The NCAA let him back in, since he had never (officially) talked with an agent or gotten paid anything by anyone.
Now, according the new NBA collective bargaining agreement from a few years back, players must enter the league through the draft. They declare themselves eligible, and wait around for that phone call telling them they are rich. However, if they go undrafted, they can never re-enter another draft. They instantly become free agents. Normally this means getting invited to training camp to work out with a few teams, maybe getting signed as a bench warmer if you're lucky, etc. Many great players enter the league in this fashion (defensive specialist Bruce Bowen of the Spurs comes to mind).

However, something very interesting is happening. Ralph Morris has gotten in shape and is playing really good ball (apparently). As a result, all he has to do is say he is interested, and he can sign with any NBA team and walk away from Kentucky - in the middle of both the NCAA and NBA seasons. Just switch. As the Yahoo article points out, "the kid just needs to say the word and he never has to wake up for another 8:30 am class."



In other news: Morris might come in just in time to play with a leather ball again. David Stern, just made an amazing announcement that I don't think anyone saw coming - they are going back to the leather ball, scraping the composite ball that everyone hates so much. You don't think it had anything to do with the players union filing suit over the ball do you? Just last week the players union filed two suits. One saying that the ball was a significant change to the game made without their consent. The other stated that the new standard for calling technical fouls (that i wrote about earlier) is so severe as to constitute a new rule change, which again, the NBA is not allowed to do without consulting the players union. No word on any changes there as of yet.

Many say that David Stern has done wonderful things for basketball. That the NBA's popularity has soured under his leadership. While that statement is an undeniable fact, i don't agreed with the implied causality. I more agree with Mark Cuban's observation in a recent post that the major sports leagues are largely benefiting from the increased value of sports programming. The revenue streams pouring in, and TV's need to justify those contracts by supporting the games and stars, is inflating the value of the sports leagues. Especially since sports are one of the few bits "Tivo-proof" programming left out there.

Good times.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

updates

Wow, for a while there i was on a pace of better than one post a day. It's been a crazy week though, so, not much lately. Hopefully i'll get to post more over the weekend.

BABY:
Quick update though on Annie Hilscher. She and mom Sarah (and dad Nick) are all doing fine. Last update i heard she is actually off oxygen and doesn't have to be under the anti-jaundice-lamp-thing anymore. She may actually get to come home relatively soon, which is amazing to me. I was assuming she'd be in the hospital for a month or more at least.

JOB:
In other news, my new job is going really well. It's a lot of fun and really hits my strengths and comfort spots. But don't get me wrong, it is definitely a challenge. My new group's numbers are very low by the standards of the group i came from, so there is a lot of room for improvement. It is great to feel like i might actually be in a position to do something about it though, as my last few jobs often felt like great places for ideas, but no resources for follow-through. It is also going to be very challenging in learning the new organization (i use that term very loosely). This group is BIG and complicated. I have about 30 names and faces i need to learn fast (managers) and several hundred people i support overall. I am certainly better at names/faces than i used to be, but it is still a challenge.

PREDATORS:
I think the NHL board of governors needs to not only fix the schedule back so we can play all the teams, but they need to change the game to just two halves. The whole three-period thing is quaint, but it is costing the Predators games. We have been ahead or tied at the second intermission in almost every game we've played lately - and in the last several have either given up a lead we've had to re-earn, or lost the game entirely. Even in the blow-out against the Ducks the other night, we were competitive until the 3rd, then gave up a lot. The thing that is odd is that i don't think it is a conditioning thing, which would be my first guess. We are a team built for speed and endurance and i haven't noticed us slowing down in the 3rd. Just getting sloppy.

Plenty more to post about later (my new phone, East Nashville happenings, computer issues, etc) but that is all for now.

later

Monday, December 04, 2006

movin' on...

Just a quick note updating everyone on my personal life.

Today i officially start my new position at Dell.
I am moving from working with Higher Education accounts selling software and peripherals, to working as a printer specialist in the Small Business group. Its a good move for me, but i am sad to leave my old group. We've been together a long time (especially some of us) and it's been a great time.

But hey, this new job is a definite promotion, and a great new job (no quota!).

And the best benefit of all will probably be that i am now on the 3rd floor: more stairs = more workout! I need it!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

cheap "technology"

Since i saw these in the stores a few weeks ago, i have been trying to decide if this is really cool, or really awful.

Walmart has LCD projectors with built in DVD-player for $248.

The catch: limited focal length (largest image it can pull off 60 inches diagonal). That's not so bad because the real catch is that the resolution is only 557 x 234. That's right. Good luck making-out the text on your video games - though, as the box points out - you can play them on your ceiling! I can't tell you how many nights i have lied awake and wanted to play video games on a small, blurry screen 7 feet above my head. Oh, and no lumens rating is given, but my guess is this thing uses a standard flashlight bulb. None of the pictures on the box are in anything but a darkened room.

I guess this really is kinda cool, simply because it is so cheap. If they were charging $500 for it, then it would be bad. But any LCD projector for $250 isn't all bad. At this point, people get what they pay for, and if they think it's awesome, them cool for them.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

best seats in the house

(Blogger is having some problems with its posting interface. Can't do any formatting or image inclusion through the normal methods...good thing i know HTML...)

I just got an awesome new phone (more about that later). With it, i took these pictures. First is the view from our seats, second is the view up the row of our seats.


Section 304, last row, seats 24, 25.

We are in the cheering section for the Preds (Cell Block 303) and the seats are great. You can see all the action and all the plays develop. Being on the back row has two major advantages too: 1) i can stand through the whole game if i want to (stiff back, exciting game, etc) 2) there is a concrete shelf behind us where we can put our coats, programs, etc. They are also cheap. Just $12 a game as season ticket holders (just a 13-game pack, not all 41 home games). Last best thing - they are on the aisle. Really quick to get up and down during the game if needed, and no one walking past us, etc...and we get to stretch our legs out.

Seriously, if anyone is considering getting season ticket seats to anything, back row, on the aisle is the only way to fly.

Friday, December 01, 2006

annie hilscher

Good friends of ours, Nick and Sarah (Sarah was Christy's roommate in college) just had their little girl a little earlier than planned.

Annie Hilscher was born last night, 12-01-06 at 8:18pm. She weighed 4 lbs, 1.25 oz. She's still in ICU, but is doing fine. Sarah's doing good too.

Pictures here: AnnieHilscher.com

More to come i am sure.

sequel to sequels

This is getting rough... The Star Wars prequels were one thing, and Hollywood has always loved remakes. But this latest fascination with doing sequels of movie franchises long abandoned is getting silly. If you want to read an article, read this one.

Otherwise, i think this list speaks for itself. This is all the sequels that have come out in the last year or are slated to be released in the near future (or known/planned movies in the more distant future). That's right, from 2005 forward, we will be or have been subjected to 54 sequels.


New SequelSince Last MovieSince First Movie
"Bond 22"2 years46 years
(Untitled "Pink Panther" Sequel)2 years45 years
Casino Royale4 years
44 years
The Pink Panther30 years43 years
Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning
3 years32 years
Superman: The Man of Steel3 years years31 years
Rocky Balboa16 years30 years
Superman Returns19 years28 years
Alien vs. Predator 23 years28 years
Indiana Jones 419 years27 years
Rambo 4: In the Serpent's Eye20 years26 years
Hannibal Rising5 years21 years
Live Free, Die Harder12 years19 years
The Dark Knight3 years19 years
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles14 years17 years
Batman Begins8 years16 years
Basic Instinct 214 years14 years
Clerks 212 years12 years
The Santa Clause 34 years12 years
Mr. Bean's Holiday10 years10 years
Mission Impossible 36 years10 years
Rush Hour 36 years9 years
Shrek 43 years9 years
Puss in Boots3 years9 years
The Hobbit6 years8 years
Scary Movie 52 years8 years
Wolverine1 year8 years
The Legend of Zorro7 years7 years
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Price
1 year7 years
Magneto1 year7 years
Big Momma's House 26 years6 years
Shrek the 3rd3 years6 years
Ocean's 133 years6 years
X-Men 3: The Last Stand3 years6 years
Scary Movie 43 years6 years
Final Destination 33 years6 years
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix2 years6 years
28 Weeks Later5 years5 years
Spider-man 33 years5 years
Resident Evil: Extinction3 years
5 years
The Bourne Ultimatum3 years5 years
Van Wilder 24 years4 years
Ice Age: The Meltdown4 years4 years
Evan Almighty4 years4 years
Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds End1 year4 years
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire1 year4 years
Saw 41 year4 years
Underworld: Evolution3 years3 years
Transporter 23 years3 years
The Grudge 22 years2 years
Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer2 years2 years
Cheaper by the Dozen 22 years2 years
Saw 31 year2 years
The Hills Have Eyes 21 year1 year
Saw 21 year1 year


(OK, i just found another page with many more listed. I will work to add those to the list in the near future)

Of course many of these actually reference TV shows, comic books, or novels that far pre-date even the first movie in the series. I also don't count movies that are straight remakes. It would have taken me forever to put that list together.

I guess there really is nothing new in Hollywood.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

geothermal projects

Just a quick note about a new project in the projects. A public housing project in East Nashville (our 'hood) has been selected to be a pilot for a new system for using geothermal energy to assist in heating/cooling the units.

However, I wouldn't look to the article about it on the Tennessean's website as a source of helpful information though. Among my favorite quotes: "Geothermal energy generates power by using the ground as an energy source." There are so many things wrong with that statement it's hard to break it down. If someone has figured out how to turn actual dirt into electricity, please, let me invest in that company now.

First, "geothermal energy" is just the heat energy that comes from radioactive and other processes deep within the Earth's core. Basically, the Earth is a big heated blanket.

Second, "geothermal power" refers to using geothermal energy to generate power. It takes the heat out of the ground (not the ground itself) and uses it to create steam to drive turbines which generate electricity. Unless the housing authority is going to build a small but very expensive geothermal power plant in East Nashville, i doubt very seriously this is what is going down in the 'hood.

I think what they are really doing is geothermal heating. That is, using the heat in the ground to make the normal, electric-powered heating and cooling of the building and water supply more efficient. It basically involves running pipes into the ground to heat water, and use that heated water to help pre-heat air and water before going through the normal air conditioning and water heaters.

Anyway, i don't want this to degenerate into another article bashing bad reporting and fact-checking. It is meant to be a post about the cool new project itself. It really is great that they are using these new technologies to make the projects more efficient. Saving taxpayers money, and helping show the viability of these "green" resources for use by others.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

chess blunder

A friend of mine at work just pointed this out. Vladimir Kramnik, currently the number one chess player in the world, is playing the current top chess-playing computer, Deep Fritz. During the second game of the match, Kramnik apparently has made a huge mistake. He had an opportunity to "mate in one", in other words, his next move could have been checkmate. Instead, he made the wrong play and allowed the computer to battle back and win. After drawing the first game that put him down 1.5-0.5. This was so big, it has already been documented on Wikipedia as a classic blunder.

Several chess experts are calling it the "blunder of the century". As my friend put it, this is the equivalent of Michael Jordan missing an unguarded layup to win game 2 of the finals.

At the very least, i guess Kramnik won't be accused of doping if he tries to go to the upcoming Asian games. They just announced they will be testing chess players in the new chess tournament, along with all other athletes.

Monday, November 27, 2006

root root root for the home team

Tonight my wife and i were talking about the clappers that the Predators just handed out at a home game last week. We weren't at the game, but from what i understand, it was insanely loud. Painfully, annoyingly loud.

Christy made some comment about the HOP (the corporate sponsor-less "Home Of the Predators") being the loudest arena in the league. I was a little harsh and kidded her that she is new to being a sports fan and didn't know that everyone makes that claim (i'm really sorry about that sweetheart). But that got me wondering just how many places do make that claim...

Here is but a small sampling:
Delta Center (Utah Jazz) "[The MCI Center] isn't nose-bleed steep like Delta Center in Utah, which, not coincidentally, is the loudest arena in the NBA..."

Arco Arena (Sacramento Kings) "Sacramento has a league-best streak of 317 sellouts at Arco Arena, which has been the loudest arena in the league..."

HP Pavilion (San Jose Sharks) "They say San Jose is the loudest arena in the NHL..."

Bell Center (Montreal Canadeans) "...in the Bell Center where Montreal could get a great boost from the noisiest crowd in the NHL..."

The RBC (Carolina Hurricanes) "...after Ray Whitney's second goal in game two the level was measured at 134 at the RBC even with all the millions of Sabre fans in the building. Say what you want but it is the loudest arena in the NHL..."

Cleveland Coliseum (Cleveland Cavs) "Michael Jordan has said that the Cleveland Coliseum is the loudest arena in the NBA"

So...that is obviously not a scientific sampling. But gives you some idea.

I can personally vouch that while you are there, the Spurs claim that the SBC Center is the loudest. Everyone still brags that the old Hemisfair Arena was louder still (no one said that the Alamo Dome was loudest, even though it had the largest seating capacity at the time...something about a massive velvet curtain tends to damping things a bit).

Point being, for the home team, home is always best. Those few souls who are impartial and actually get to visit multiple arenas (national broadcasters, etc) tend to play along and say that wherever they are, that it is the loudest they've ever heard. Of course, Bill Walton (apparently having an extremely short memory) always thinks everything he is experiencing at that moment is the best in history: "That dunk by bench player Ian McFarlin was the most amazing I've ever seen!". At the very least, he will compare to some historic figure before: "Ryan Hollins is the best rookie center to come into the league since Patrick Ewing"

Anyway...
We've got spirit, how 'bout you?

Sunday, November 26, 2006

better late than never...

Raking half an acre of leafs sucks.

Just an FYI.

blogging

I am beginning to understand why some bloggers do the "which LOTR character am i?" blog entries. They are filler. There are days (and days in a row) where i want to post, there are things to post about, but i am just too lazy.

But here's a quick synopsis:
1) I think this is stupid.
2) I think this is frustrating, but almost funny.
3) My fantasy basketball ("Spurs") and hockey ("Predators") teams are doing nearly as well as their real-world counterparts. It helps when i stock my fantasy teams with players from my real-world favorites. I'm in second place in basketball after two weeks, and have climbed from last (8th) to 4th over the past few weeks in hockey.

Of course, i'll also throw out there that one of the reasons i've been unmotivated to post, is that i'm doing tons of other things online and on the computer right now, so after a while i just have to get up. I've been moving all of my (and my customers) websites over to a new host, and creating a new websites. More on that later...

End of line.

Friday, November 24, 2006

soundtrack to the next 2 hours

My sister just did this on her blog. Normally i steer away from these things, but this one seemed fun. So here it goes...

SOUNDTRACK TO MY LIFE:
Here's how it works:
1. Open your library (iTunes, Rhapsody, Winamp, Media Player, etc)
2. Put it on shuffle
3. Press play
4. For every question, For the first 16 songs, type the song that's playing
5. When you go to a new question, press the next button Write them down.
6. Don't lie and try to pretend you're cool...
(note: My Rhapsody playlist has 983 songs at the moment and is 2.9 days long)
(note: If you want to see what the "stages of life" were supposed to be you can hit my sisters blog, but i just decided to make this what it really is - 16 random songs from my playlist. The correlations to "stages of life" just turned out boring anyway.)


The Sounds, Much Too Long, Dying To Say This to You
James Horner, Too Many Secrets, Sneakers (Score)
A-Ha, The Sun Always Shines on TV, Hunting High and Low
Ratatat, Cherry, Ratatat
The Golden Sounds, Up and Away, Wings or Horns
Relient K, Let It All Out, Mmhmm
Robbie Williams, Bongo Bong, Rudebox
Stevie Wonder, Higher Ground, Innervisions
The Beach Boys, Good Vibrations, Smiley Smile
The Mosquitos, Juju & Blue, Mosquitos
Telepopmusik, Breathe, Genetic World
Switchfoot, I Turn Everything Over, New Way To Be Human
Donald O'Conner, Make 'Em Laugh, Singin' In The Rain (Soundtrack)
Natasha Bedingfield, Unwritten, Unwritten
Death Cab For Cutie, Someday You Will Be Loved, Plans
Wax Poetic, Della, Nublu Sessions
Annie, No Easy Love, Anniemal

Thursday, November 23, 2006

game notes

A few random sports thoughts and notes on this Thanksgiving, the best of all American sports holidays.

1) I understand where the NBA is coming from with their new "low tolerance" policy on arguing with the refs. The referees had gotten so bad, and the players so whiny, that every single call (or no-call) was followed by 15-30 seconds of a player filling the refs ear. I can't imagine that was very much fun for the refs, and it certainly didn't enhance my enjoyment of the game. I think it also exacerbated foul trading. If a call was missed, the players would make sure to point it out, and the refs would whistle a "make-up call" within a few minutes. This of course perpetuated the problem. Then the league decided to put in a new rule that owners weren't allowed to complain to the refs from the sidelines either. The new policies, combined with what must be more scrutiny of the refs by the league, has meant less whining, and more basketball.

Here's the problem though. The refs still aren't perfect (shock!). In this great democracy of the USA, the players and fans (and owners) are used to being able to voice our grievances. It is the players right to collect $20,000 per night and complain about the injustice that is before him. Honestly, it really is. The players need a forum for bringing real issues up with the refs. There are legitimate times when a ref may not see something that another player is doing, and it needs to be pointed out ("Watch next time down, he's grabbing my jersey when I setup in the post"). Right now, the players are going to be afraid to do that.

I think the NBA needs to adopt a more NHL-like method of captaincy where one person (could be a player, could be an assistant coach, could be the ball-boy) has the right to calmly go up to the ref to talk something over. Right now this is turning into something of a dictatorship, which isn't fun for anybody, and just frustrates fans and players alike.

2) I found a cool site that does computer-based power rankings of teams in all major professional sports leagues (including NCAA football, my least favorite of the pro leagues). I like the fact that it simply uses win/loss records. No point differentials or other stats that discourage sportsmanship. Just pure numbers. It basically ranks all the teams and how they perform home vs. away, against top opponents vs. bottom, last 10 games, etc. Then uses formulas to rank everyone. I especially like it right now because it has the Predators 4th, ahead of teams with better records, and has the Spurs second only to the Jazz. I also love that they have Oregon State (6-4) and Arizona (5-5) in the top 25. I don't really care myself, but i know that's got to be driving some people nuts, and for me, the more chaos there is in college football rankings, the closer we are to a much needed playoff system.

3) While i'm on the topic of Spurs vs. Jazz...
I love that the Jazz are doing so well this year. I honestly hope they keep it up. Why? Because i hate them. I grew up hating them. Jerry Sloan and the combo of Malone, Stockton, and Hornacek were dirty and got away with murder and weren't nice and...yeah. I hated them. Everyone in San Antonio did. So i am thrilled to see them doing well again, hoping that the rivalry is brought back, even if they aren't in our divisional anymore.

4) Lastly, GooTube has made a deal with the NHL to carry games online for free. The whole game, online, free to watch. Wow. Just wow. The NBA has had games up for a bit, but they charge money for them. These are totally free. I've read different articles saying that the games are supposed to only be online and free for 24 hours and such, but right now there are 10 Predators games up and free to watch in their entirety. They also have some classic old games, like the 1989 or 1967 Stanley Cup Finals. Old School. Best of all - they ENCOURAGE users to make their own "fan clips" to be featured online. That is so cool.


I know this was a kinda whiny post for Thanksgiving, so here's what i'm thankful for: 1) A place where i can whine and think someone cares about it. 2) Spell check. Never could have used the word exacerbate without it :-)

coming soon...

For oh, the last many months i have been working on an off (mostly off) on a video for my cousin. More accurately, for my aunt. My cousin Kelly got married, and my aunt 'hired' me to come down and be the videographer. Well, unfortunately i can't say too much for my skills with the camera (or the camera itself), but i am pretty happy with what i am being able to do on the post-production side. (FYI: I use a great set of programs from Pure Motion)

Well, today i had the day off, so i decided to put together a teaser trailer for all my relatives down there to see over Thanksgiving. My goal is to have the full DVD in time for Christmas.

Without further ado...

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

where is my space?

I finally caved in.
I have a MySpace page.

http://www.myspace.com/pwnicholson
I personally agree with UserFriendly: MySpace is Geocities a la 1997 - only slower. It's such a horribly designed and executed site it baffles the mind. It is really painful as a former/amateur web designer to visit anyone's "MyStupid" page. But as some friends at work recently pointed out, it is fairly ubiquitous, and great for driving traffic and for social networking.

If you want to invite me as your friend, you can.
But all the page does is point you to this blog.

Enjoy.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

would i ever use it to talk?

This.
Phone.
Is.
Amazing.

The Nokia N93

The price range means i probably won't be getting one anytime soon. Although my T-Mobile contract is up at the end of Nov so I'll have a credit i can put toward a phone...but yeah, not $700 worth of credit. If T-mobile even offers this, which they probably won't for a few months.

Anyway, here's what makes this phone so amazing: think of everything you've ever heard about or wanted in a phone, mash them all into one, take away the QWERTY keyboard - and you have this phone, or its soon-to-be-released sibling, the N95.


Two hi-res color screens? Check.
Triband/EDGE? Check.
Bluetooth 2.0? Check.
MiniSD Slot? Check. Supports up to 2GB right now.
Digital music/video support? Check. Including most online music stores (sans iTunes)
Wifi (802.11b/g)? Check. Yes. 54MBps G wireless.
Opera bowser with Java/Flash support? Check. Hit more than the 'mobile' web.
FM Radio? Check.
Camera? Big time check. 3.2 megapixel stills, 640x480 (VGA) 30fps videos, 3X optical zoom lens...

If you think about all these features it really isn't a bad price. If I showed you a lass-than-palm sized camcorder that shot DVD-ish quality you'd easily expect to pay $250 for it, if not more. How much for a straight PDA with wifi...about $250 at least. An MP3 player that supports movies and online music stores...$175 for a 2GB version. Heck a portable FM radio would set you back $12. I'd say its a heck of a bargain with all that in mind. Oh yeah...and its a phone too.

The only thing the N93 doesn't have that i could think of would be the aforementioned QWERTY keyboard, and GPS. Well, the N95 (to be released next year) will have a bigger screen and GPS built-in. Just take away the 3X optical zoom lens. It has more of a PDA look to it too.


If they would just add the QWERTY keyboard...

Friday, November 17, 2006

introducing...

Tonight was the first performance of what could be many, by (what is now unofficially known as) the Nick Hilscher Trio.

My friends Nick and Jamie agreed to play with me for a friends birthday party Friday night. We just did a small jazz/swing combo. Lots of fun. We were all out of practice, but really did sound pretty good. We are probably going to keep playing together for fun at least, if not possibly more...

Anyone know a good jazz bass player?

The Trio

Nick Hilscher
vocals, piano

Jamie Tyson
guitar

Paul Nicholson
drums