More Angels & Demons & Hans!

An extended preview of the upcoming film Angels & Demons featuring music by Hans Zimmer with violin solos by Joshua Bell.   The soundtrack is released on Tuesday!

(Nod: Cinemusic)

The Flavia Water Cooler

Last month after I wrote about the Flavia coffee redesign, I received an email from a representative of Mars Drinks commenting on my post. The representative also sent me some marketing information about a study they conducted “on the affect of Flavia on workplace productivity.” A couple points in the study jumped out at me. The first (reprinted with permission):

Workers Who Have FLAVIA Feel More Valued: when FLAVIA was added to the workplace, 50% of respondents said it made them feel more valued and appreciated.

I don’t drink coffee, but I find this statement accurate. When I worked at Kodak, the coffee drinkers had to pool their money together to buy their own office coffee because Kodak did not provide coffee. At ESPN, though, we are provided with complimentary coffee and tea, and even though I don’t drink the coffee, having my employer provide this seemingly small amenity does indeed make me feel more valued and appreciated.

Even more, though, I agree with this statement from the study:

FLAVIA: The New Watercooler: The FLAVIA machine has become the new face-to-face touch point in the office, with 54% of respondents saying that FLAVIA had a positive impact on how often they interacted with their colleagues.

I can’t count the number of times that coworkers and I met in the break room at the Flavia machine to talk either business or pleasure while they were making coffee. Either we deliberately say let’s go take a walk, which means let’s go get a coffee (or water for me), or I run into coworkers in the break room because they’re getting their coffee fix, but the break room and the Flavia machine in our office indeed is a casual and oft-used gathering place for us.

And here it is, our Flavia machine:

flavia machine

MLB Steps Up to the Plate

I saw this Business Insider article linked by The Unofficial Apple Weblog: “MLB Nearing $1 Million In iPhone Revenue.”

[Major League Baseball] tells us it’s sold 130,000 copies of the $10 app so far this year. That translates to about $1.3 million in gross revenue. After Apple’s 30% cut, MLB’s take is about $910,000 so far with five months left in the season.

The app is a bit pricey, but if you’re a baseball fan, the app is definitely worth it. I’m not much of a sports fan (even though I work at the worldwide leader in sports), but I grew up watching, listening to, and attending Cleveland Indians baseball games. After not following the team for the last few years, I decided this year, I would. In order to stay in touch with their games, I decided to invest in the MLB At Bat app (iTunes link) for my iPhone.

For a baseball fan, this app has a large amount of stats and other information. For instance, you see a lineup of the games being played for any given day.

For any in-play game, you can see detailed information about the game, like pitch-by-pitch recaps:

Or on-field lineups:

You can also see the box score of the game:

And view video highlights of the game:

Finally, you can see stats for a particular player:

And view standings:

None of these features, however, were the selling point for me. Instead, my selling point was the ability to listen to a live radio broadcast of either the home or away team for any game. When I learned I could listen to Indians radio broadcaster Tom Hamilton via my iPhone, I had to have this app (if you’re from Cleveland and know Tom’s talent for calling a game and his animated excitement on those long fly balls, you’ll understand my nostalgia for listening to him on the radio).

Again, solid app, and definitely worth the purchase if you’re a baseball fan. If you’re like me, though, perhaps being able to listen to your hometown radio broadcaster is worth the purchase. In fact, as I write this, I’m listening to Tom Hamilton call the Red-Sox/Indians game live. Terrific!

“The Lost Symbol”

The title of the upcoming Dan Brown book featuring Robert Langdon.   From The New York Times:

The publisher remained cryptic about the plot or subject of the new novel, but in an author’s FAQ on Mr. Brown’s Web site, he answers the question “What are you working on now?” by saying that the work in progress finds Langdon “embroiled in a mystery on U.S. soil. The new novel explores the hidden history of our nation’s capital.” And on another page on the Web site, he notes that “the next Robert Langdon novel” is “set deep within the oldest fraternity in history … the enigmatic brotherhood of the Masons.”

Masons and the nation’s capital?   Sounds a little like National Treasure.   Still, I will be purchasing this book when it arrives!

And I’ll be seeing this movie when it arrives:

Controlling the NFL Draft

View from inside the NFL Draft control room at ESPN:

nfl draft control room


Back in March, SportsCenter aired an on-going segment titled “Barack-etology” that featured President Obama’s bracket for the men’s NCAA basketball tournament.   Here’s the initial segment with Andy Katz and Obama as he filled out his bracket:

That bracket board now has a home in the ESPN cafeteria:

obama bracket

obama signature

“Nobody Messes With Joe!”

I don’t know where I found this website, but the satire and good-dental-hygiene message is terrific:

joe biden's teeth

I assume Trident gum has something to do with the site as they (for a limited time only) sent people a pack of gum for submitting to the site a photo of a smile.   The site is designed by and the domain registered to Eight Bit Studios.

All around the site are funny (haha) tidbits like this one:

Joe knew Scranton high would not be easy on his teeth. With all the vending machines, cafeteria food and bake sales, high school wasn’t going to get him a plaque on the wall but plaque on his teeth. Joe extended his reach across lunch room tables, shook hands with the cavity ridden and vowed to change America.

And this:

Joe Biden is not affiliated with, but we bet his teeth love it.

Angels & Demons & Hans

Oh my indeed!   Cinema Musica has posted snippets of Hans Zimmer’s upcoming score to Angels & Demons.   Sounds like Zimmer has expanded the use of his motif heard in “Chevaliers de Sangreal” from The Da Vinci Code.   And that makes me a happy listener.


pirate lifeboat

(Above: the lifeboat in which the Somali pirates held Captain Phillips.   Image source: U.S. Navy)

I was in awe yesterday at the news of the rescue of Captain Richard Phillips by U.S. Navy SEAL snipers off the coast of Somalia.   At work, a coworker and I discussed how this story could have been from a Hollywood film or a war-themed video game: pirates commandeer a ship, take the captain hostage, hold him for ransom, SEALs parachute in, and under the cover of darkness and on choppy seas, snipe the three pirates and rescue the captain.   Amazing.   Both the USS Bainbridge where the SEALs were shooting from and the pirates’ lifeboat were undulating in the water.   The SEALs had to shoot from a moving target at a moving target into an enclosed lifeboat.

From The New York Times:

The hard part was not the distance, 75 feet, an easy range for an experienced sniper. Far more difficult were all the moving parts: the bobbing lifeboat, the rolling ship, hitting three targets simultaneously in darkness and all without harming the hostage, Capt. Richard Phillips.

That was the consensus on Monday from former members of the Navy Seals who said they were impressed by the skills of three Seal snipers who aimed from the fantail of the destroyer Bainbridge and picked off three Somali pirates holding Captain Phillips in a small lifeboat that was being towed about 75 feet behind the destroyer.

Incredible.   Of course, though, larger questions loom:

Despite the operational precision of the rescue, however, the question of how to deal with the broader issue of piracy still looms large, with 111 incidents reported last year on the east coast of Somalia and the Gulf of Aden, according to the International Chamer [sic] of Commerce.

“Is there a way to deal with this in a systemic way that reduces the risk and brings the international community together in a productive way to deal with the problem?” [Secretary of Defense Robert] Gates said. “I think we’re going to end up spending a fair amount of time on this in the administration, seeing if there is a way to try and mitigate this problem of piracy.”

But for now, we can all say with the SEALs, “Hooyah!”

Stocked and Loaded

Listing to NPR on my drive home yesterday, I heard an interview with Johnny Durry, a gun shop owner in San Antonio.   In the interview, Durry talked about gun ammunition shortages since the election of President Obama last November.   People, he said, have been stocking up on half-lifetime- to lifetime-supplies of ammunition at one time.

The thing those anti-gun people don’t understand is the people are buying it to protect themselves.   They’re so scared of the socialist type of let’s take over the banks, let’s talk about take over the oil companies, let’s give all of this money to people without jobs, let’s reward all these people who are not working hard, and they said, “Well if the government is going that way, what are they going to try to take away from us now?”   And you know what the big concern is?   They’re worried about not being able to get any ammo and not being able to protect themselves.

This is only one shop owner’s story, but still, the message both frightened me and angered me.   What the hell do people need a lifetime-supply of ammunition for?   To protect themselves?   From whom or what?   Are they planning on a Canadian invasion?

Is it not reasonable to believe, if the government really were aiming to take away people’s guns as in coming to their homes and confiscating them, they’d take away the ammunition from them also?   So if an ATF agent knocks on their doors tomorrow, he’d be confiscating their ammo, too, no?   Unless they plan on using the lifetime-supply of bullets on the ATF agent?

Seriously, I fail to see the logic here.   This isn’t a decision by the Obama Administration.   Congress has to pass the law to ban guns, which seems unlikely, but Congress would first have to get around that pesky thing called the Constitution and repeal the Second Amendment.   Amending the Constitution would take 2/3 of both houses of Congress AND 3/4 of states.   Nearly impossible.   But for the sake of argument, let’s say Congress managed to outlaw personal possession of guns and had agents go door-to-door to seize them as these paranoid gun owners described in the NPR story seem to fear.   Why would they need a lifetime-supply of ammo?   First, they won’t have a gun to use the ammo with.   Second, the ammo would likely be seized along with the gun (unless they all formed a merry band of militia men and women and raised arms against the government then, of course, we have a bigger problem).

So I ask again, what the hell do people need a lifetime-supply of ammunition for?

I Got the Black Lung, Pops

I was flipping through Entertainment Weekly just now, and I came across something I hadn’t seen in I-can’t-even-remember-how-long long: a cigarette advertisement. Looking at the ad, I can’t believe how ridiculous the premise is. Here’s the ad:

newport pleasure?

I’m not a smoker, so maybe I don’t understand the supposed appeal of this ad. Is this happy couple celebrating a birthday and the pleasure of spending their lives together? Or are they celebrating the pleasure of surviving lung cancer caused by smoking?

To whom is this ad supposed to appeal? Smokers or non-smokers? I’m not jumping off the couch to go grab a pack of smokes and start-up smoking because of this ad. But would a smoker of Newport cigarettes be reminded of how much pleasure they get and the feeling they have when they’re turning their lungs black with these cancer sticks?

The message must be a subconscience trigger to smokers: ooo, I see people enjoying themselves, taking pleasure in life… I like to do that… and I see a little picture of cigarettes… I like to smoke them… cigarettes… pleasure… CIGARETTES!… PLEASURE!… MUST GO GET SOME!!!

Lost Podcasts

lost podcasts

Sometime a couple months ago, I started listening to these two Lost podcasts.   For any Lost fans interested in show recaps and talk about Lost theories (like Richard Alpert’s Egyptian connections), I highly suggest checking these two podcasts out, particularly Jay and Jack’s podcast (they have thought-provoking, mind-twisting “crackpot” theories).   Links will open the iTunes podcast feed:

The Lost Podcast with Jay and Jack

The Transmission

Public Service Announcement


Changing your clocks twice a year is also a good time to change the batteries in your smoke detectors.   From MSNBC:

Firefighters say 3,800 people lose their lives every year in house fires related to smoke detectors not working.

They are reminding you that by changing a few simple batteries, you’re greatly improving your chances of getting out of your home safely if a fire does break out.

I changed my battery.   Did you?

The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham

This evening, I watched the latest Lost episode, titled “The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham.”   Another fantastic episode this season.   Below are some questions and observations I had about the episode.   If you haven’t seen the episode, STOP READING!


I was pleased to see that Locke asked questions like any realistic person not in a mysterious TV show would ask, like why should he trust Widmore and what Abaddon really did for Widmore.   None of the Oceanic Six bothered to ask Eloise Hawking who she was or why she knew about the Lantern Dharma station; they just let her do her thing.   Why not ask some questions, Jack?!

Who was the specialist Widmore flew in to “properly” set Locke’s leg?

Ben talked Locke down from killing himself because Locke had so much work to do, but when Locke mentioned Eloise, Ben kills Locke.   Why?   Was Locke not supposed to know about her?   Were they never to meet in person?   Or was this Ben’s plan the whole time, and Ben killing Locke was another instance of Ben doing something Locke was supposed to do himself?

When will we see Walt again? His story that he was “special” still hasn’t been resolved.

Ben said Widmore wanted to get back to the island. But if his crew (Daniel, Miles, Charlotte, Frank, Naomi, and the Kahana crew) made it to the island, why doesn’t he already know how to get back to the island?

And as always, we had a few references to “the numbers”:

Helen died on April 8th; aka 4-8.

Widmore told Locke to dial 23 on the phone to reach him.

This season has been terrific so far, and I can’t wait for the next episode!

Frustratingly Good



Season 5 of the television show Lost began this week.   As expected, the opener was frustratingly good.   New questions posed, new curiosities raised all leaving viewers wanting more.

One particular scene from the two-part opener I most enjoyed was this scene between Hurley and his mother:

This scene is the perfect summation of the first four seasons of the show on two levels.   First, Hurley’s seemingly crazy explanation/recap of what happened to the passengers of Oceanic Flight 815.   Second, and I think more significant, the response of his mother at 1:54 in the clip: “I believe you. I don’t understand you.”   At this moment, viewers of the show are Hurley’s mother.   This isn’t his mother talking; this is the viewers of the show talking.   From the smoke monster to The Others to the polar bear to the time travel to the reappearance of dead people, we believe all these things are happening, but we don’t understand them, how they all fit together, or why they happen.   We believe them, but we don’t understand them.   This scene is the perfect representation of the relationship between the show and the viewers.

And now I eagerly await the next opportunity to be LOST once again.

Star Wars According to a Padawan

(Nod: The Daily Dish)

What Apple Learned from Kodak

apple kodak

I saw this article linked on Alex Bitterman’s blog: Helen Walters and Bill Buxton at BusinessWeek writes about what Apple learned from Kodak:

What Apple did was learn from history, and adopt, adapt, and assimilate past success to current context. That is simply good, intelligent design in action. It is also a very good lesson: an obsession with the new and original, without a deep literacy and appreciation for the past, leads to a path of missed opportunities.

Very interesting read.

Rockin’ Out with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra

While I was back home in Ohio over the holiday break, I had the privilege of attending a Trans-Siberian Orchestra concert.   Although the concert was nearly three hours long, one word sums it up: wow.

As long as you’re a fan of their music, or of rock music in general, the show is massively enjoyable.   Their energetic takes on traditional Christmas music as well as their own compositions rocked the arena I saw them at.   So much energy and excitement flowed through the audience.

Just as good as their music was the light, laser, and pyrotechnic show they put on, all synced to the music.   The constant flashes, floodlights, and flames strongly complemented the music and performance and added to the energy produced by the musicians.

Much to my delight, they played my favorite piece of theirs, made my favorite in part by this video:

If you enjoy the music of the TSO and have the opportunity to attend a concert, I highly recommend attending.   You won’t be disappointed.

The Count(down)

My favorite Sesame Street character when I was little.   And tonight, we can say, “Thrrrrrrrrrreeeee, twwwwoooooo, onnnnnne.   Happy New Year. Ah ah ah ah ah.”

Have a healthy, happy, and safe new year!

“Make It Last All Year”

From The Muppets Christmas Carol, “It Feels Like Christmas” by Paul Williams:

It’s in the singing of a street corner choir
It’s going home and getting warm by the fire
It’s true
Wherever you find love
It feels like Christmas
A cup of kindness that we share with another
A sweet reunion with a friend or a brother
In all the places you find love
It feels like Christmas
It is the season of the heart
A special time of caring
The ways of love made clear
It is the season of the sprit
The message if we hear it
Is make it last all year

Happy Holidays

Wishing you and yours a very joyous and safe holiday season and all the best in the new year!

From Shrek the Halls, here’s Puss in Boots’s tale of Santa Nicolas:


Watch this:

Seriously? I can (almost) understand a bid of $23,745 being an exact bid because it’s more of a round number (5s, 10s), but 43? It just seems too random to be real.   How does someone bid $23,743?   For the price to be that exactly right, seems pretty suspicious.   Thoughts?

Where Are All the Acorns?

Interesting article on CNN:

Up and down the East Coast, residents and naturalists alike have been scratching their heads this autumn over a simple question: Where are all the acorns?

Oak trees have shed their leaves, but the usual carpet of acorns is not crunching underfoot.

In far-flung pockets of northern Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and other states, scientists have found no acorns whatsoever.

The reason?

Virginia extension agent Adam Downing said acorn production runs in cycles, so a lean year is normal after a year with a big crop.

“It fits with the physiology of seed reproduction. The trees are exhausted, energy wise, from last year,” Downing said.

But even he is surprised at the complete absence of nuts in parts of Virginia.

“There are plenty of acorns in most of the state, but zero acorns in some pockets,” he said.

Downing said recovery from last year’s big crop, combined with a much wetter-than-usual spring, probably accounts for the acorn absence. Meteorologists say the Washington-Baltimore area saw about twice as much precipitation last May as normal.

Where are all the acorns? Perhaps in Nevada.

Mac Date Hack

If you own a Mac and are tired of clicking the time in the menu bar to see the date, LifeHacker explains how to edit the menu bar to always show the date.   No more clicking!


Giving Thanks

On this day of thanks, here are just a few things I’m thankful for:

  • Family and friends: they’re always there for me when I need them
  • A decent job and a roof over my head
  • Electricity and clean water at the flick of a switch and the turn of a knob
  • 20 January 2009. Enough said.

I hope you had a safe and happy holiday and were able to give thanks for the things and the people you may be thankful for.