March 22, 2008

Test Driving a 'Webb' of 'Madness'

First Test Drive
Its that time in life in which I need to upgrade the car. The current baby is starting to nickle and dime me every now and then and I should move to something a little more reliable before I am stranded with an expensive hunk of metal.

My tastes are for somethingthat has good gas mileage small, somewhat sporty, and has a nice look. Features are not all that important, but , sunroof, and a manual are a must. These criteria, I have found, limits me drastically in the types of car that appeal to me and are within my price range. All of the cars in my top 5 list are European, which is sad. Our "Big 3" just make ugly small cars that look and (probably) feel cheap, something I do not want. The one car that is "American" on my list is the Saturn Astra, and its even made in Europe. Oh well, its a global economy out there anyway.

I have been walking car lots on Sundays to try and get a feel for what is available, price ranges, and overall physical look. You can only learn so much by doing research online. I have not, however, had the guts to go and test drive a new car. This whole process is new, uncharted territory, but you just got to do it. So today, I drove the Mini pictured above ( and had a blast. I was afraid the Mini would feel small, but it was a lot better ride than I had hoped. I'm hooked. Now, all I need to do is find the one I really want. Wish me luck. If you have a Mini for sale, let me know, I might just be interested!

Webb Struggles In NYC
Last weekend was the United States 8k Championship that took place in New York City's Central Park. In the men's division, the race was stacked with the likes of Olympic hopefuls Alan Webb, Jorge Torres, and Andrew Carlson. It was supposed to be a battle between the distance guy (Torres) and the miler (Webb). Unfortunately Webb had to battle food poisoning and ended up finishing a dismal 15th.

This will come across as critical of someone with far superior talent than I have, but Webb always seems to come up short when the moment counts. Its hard to be the next mile/1500 superstar when you start at the age of 18, but when the moments of opportunity has arisen, Webb has run poorly. He is the American record holder in the mile (see pic), breaking Steve Scott's decades old record last year. He had the fastest time in the world going into the world championships in Oska, but ran a poor strategy in the finals and got blown out of the water, much like he did in Athens. I just hope that he will get some luck on his side and runs smart and helps end our drought of medals in the distance events this year in Beijing. That's my rant, stickin to it.

March Madness
The Madness continued today in the second round of 'The' Tournament. Kansas is in the Sweet 16, again, after a closer than expected (in my opinion) game against UNLV. In the end, it wasn't much of a game, but with so many stops in play because of fouls, the 'Hawks just could not get into a rhythm. But a win is a win and now its a game against either Villanova or Siena (12 and 13 seeds) I feel the road to Elite 8 is a little easier...hopefully.

The real madness of the day was over in the game with Stanford against Marquette. All you really need to know is that the game went into overtime. Just watch the clip below to get the recap.

Stanford vs Villanova

March 21, 2008

Good 'Crawfish' Friday

MudBug Gold
Happy Good Friday to all! Good Friday in Louisiana and "The Rouge" is one of, if not the biggest, day for crawfish boils. This Good Friday, the Cajun staple is in short supply. Faced with a trifecta of problems, an unusually early Easter, recent drastic temperature changes, and near tropical force winds that toppled traps earlier this week, supplies of live crawfish were in strong in demand, but light on supply.

Many seafood providers were sold out by early morning and many people were sent away empty handed. Hopefully crawfish farmers, faced with falling prices amid rising costs, made a happy little profit. Earlier this month, many crawfish farmers were making their voices heard as the price of wholesale crawfish has dropped from around $2 per pound to $1 or less. The Louisiana Crawfish Association agreed to try and limit supplies to prop up prices amid price fixing allegations by large seafood buyers.

The allegations state that over the past month, prices have dropped sharply across the state by the same amount on the same day, upsetting many farmers, who are struggling to make ends meet amid rising costs of production. Most farmers state that roughly $1 is invested for every pound of crawfish produced. Some small scale seafood operations are worried that the artificially low prices for crawfish will lead many farmers to dry up their ponds and convert them to grain, limiting future supplies of crawfish.

March Madness
'The' Tournament started yesterday with little fanfare in terms of big time shots or big time upsets. Today, now that is a different story. It started with Western Kentucky upsetting Drake with a buzzer beater three from the wing. The second was a game winning shot by San Diego to stun UCONN. Below is a recap of the two shots. No wonder March Madness is a "Billion Dollar Drain" on worker productivity...wait, we are the most overworked nation in the world anyways, right?

Western Kentucky vs Drake

>Courtesy of austinmoore97

San Diego vs UCONN Game Winner

>Courtesy of austinmoore97

March 20, 2008

'Stop'... in the Name of Blog

Stopping the Stoplight Camera
A few weeks back in a round-up of "The Rouge's" recent activity, I documented that the city was installing red light cameras in a few intersections to decrease the number of accidents. After reading a recent post on I felt that I should explore the 'real' purpose behind "The Rouges" camera system.

Many cities around the U.S. who have installed red light cameras have documented that the cameras are effective in preventing people from running red lights and reducing the number of accidents. Most of these cities were sold on the cameras with a two prong benefits package...1.) Saving lives and 2.) significant increase in traffic ticket revenues. But, as more people actually 'stop' at red lights, revenue from the cameras have fallen drastically, with many cities finding that the cameras no longer pay for themselves. And, to top it all off, some cities are finding increases in the number accidents at intersections with the cameras, but of the rear-end collision type. So what is "The Rouges" stance on this issue.

"The Rouge" claims on the programs website (here) that it is only a safety program aimed at reducing accidents. The tickets are not moving violations, but civil penalties, meaning that the tickets will not go on your driving record. But it is interesting that they only tout this as a safety program with little mention of revenue generation or cost of operation of the system. I also wonder if tickets that were handed out by officers before the system was operation were considered moving violations or civil penalty (i.e. like a parking ticket) or if they are classified as a moving violation. If so, how do they justify the red light camera tickets as civil and ticket given by an officer as a moving violation for the exact same offense? Something to ponder the next time you run the red lights here in "The Rouge."

"We are Bloggers..."
Mount-R sent me a reminder about this little article that I had read at work today. It makes up for her forgetting about my birthday:-) The NY Times explored a couple of high profile individuals and their blogs to get some opinions on how people should go about blogging. I applied their advice and examined my blog to see if I violated some of the 'blogging rules' according to the NY Times.
  1. Do not blog to make money. Check, there is no financial generation material on my blog, so I'm good here, that of course unless you want me to advertise for you;-)
  2. Write about what you want to write about in your own voice. I believe that I do this. I will confess that this blog has taken on a new life from which it was originally intended. Its become more of interesting stories that I find sprinkled with little excerpts about some of the daily happenings of my life. This metamorphosis is due in large part because not a lot of interesting things happen each day in my life...aka I'm boring. Ha ha
  3. Fit Blogging into the holes in your schedule. This is a little harder said than done. I need a mobile device that I can input stuff into. Plus, I only post one large posting per day taking time to write the particular articles. Also, Blogger has been very finicky lately, causing me to spend a lot of time cleaning up the formatting after the fact.
  4. Just Post it already! Guilty as charged. I will string out several posts that I prepare for different days on various topics I find interesting. As the past couple of weeks can attest to, when a hiccup in the schedule occurs, so do the posting...which feeds into number 5.
  5. Keep a Steady Rhythm. I try my hardest to keep the Daily Dose current as of the previous day, but life interrupts it sometimes. Hopefully when those occur you have such a desire to read your Daily Dose that you get giddy and get all caught back up!
  6. Join the Community, such as it is. I will admit, I have lifted some photos off of a couple of other blogs and I tried to give them credit. You may find one or two that are not my own, but 99% of all the photos are taken by me. I give props to those blogs who have given me inspiration for postings, so I believe I can improve on this one, but I'm better than least I think.
  7. Plug Yourself. I have only done this with friends and family. I express great gratitude to Dominican View, Living in a Toxic World, and Kmewalt for helping spread a little daily dose. So if you haven't yet checked them out, head on over to their blogs and check out what they have to say, and of course, check back 'daily' so you get your Dose of Zachawii!

March 19, 2008

Runners High

Running is one of my favorite things to do. With it comes the thrill of lacing up the flats and going racing, a good track workout, or a difficult long run in the heat and humidity of "The Rouge." Purchasing new shoes ranks up there with one of the great things a runner can experience. Its a fine edge that is hard to describe. There is something about lacing up a good worn in pair of shoes, the comfort, familiarity, and ride dependability.

A new shoe, however, offers a regenerated fresh, springy feel that is lost with an older shoe. I just bought another pair of training shoes. The Brooks Burn is now the ride in which I will be covering miles in for the next 3-5 months. Hopefully I'll cover the next 300 miles (483km) or so before repeating the process. If you ever happen to be in "The Rouge," check out Varsity Sports on Perkins Road. It is a quaint little store and the staff knows what they're talking about, they're friendly, and very reasonably priced, so check it out!

Olympic Sized Sack Lunch
I am clearly behind on my Olympic news, as I found out today. Back in February the NYTimes explored the issue of feeding the US Olympic team this summer in Beijing. I did not pick up this article until GreenDaily brought it to my attention and I just had to pass it along.

The U.S.O.C. will be faced with the gigantic task of feeding the nearly 600 strong delegation from the US for this years summer Olympics. In a trip to explore potential food possibilities for the athletes, a caterer discovered in a Chinese market a half chicken breast that measured 14 inches. The breast contained so many steroids that the committee were fearful of any athlete ingesting it and testing positive for a banned substance. Steroids are not the only worrisome food fear as the past year has attested to. Insecticides, pesticides, and other veterinary substances have been found in alarming rates in fruits, vegetables and meats.

The U.S.O.C. has teamed with Tyson and Kellogg's to ship 25,000 pounds (11,340kg) of lean protein to Beijing to be prepared and served to the American athletes. They are also looking at sources for western style cookware, and my favorite...the importation of standard measuring cups and spoons. Why? Because, we are one of a few countries still measuring in cups, tablespoons, and ounces, aka, the non-metric system. Food, who knew that it would have such an interesting journey for our Olympic athletes!

March 18, 2008

Quarter of a Century

Birthday Bash
Today is the big 2-5 for Zachawii and its hard to believe that I've already reached the quarter century mark. It seems like yesterday I as skiing down a slope in Breckenridge on my 13th birthday and smashing head first into the snow. Or when I got my latest car 5 years ago. Today's picture is from the ole 23rd birthday when I was on Dominica for the very first time. It seems like I was just there, but it has been two years since my first trip. I took this picture (this is a cropped version) on the night of my birthday. I found these volcanic rocks stacked as they were and thought it made a neat shot, turned out this was my favorite photo from the entire trip.
Finally I want to thank all of my friends that wished me happy birthday on Facebook and Communicator. Thanks the K&A Wags and Kmewalt for lunch and for putting up with me this past year! Hopefully many more birthdays will follow, but not too soon. I mean really, once you reach 25, what other birthday do you look forward to having...?

March 17, 2008

Monday Marriage (proposal) Mishaps

Happy St. Patrick's Day!
I'm doing a quick post of some older articles that I have been wanting to post about, but just never got around to doing it. As a guy, I know that more and more pressure is put marriage proposals. They seem to be getting more creative, more wild, harder to plan, and there always seems to be some sort of kink in the gears of perfecting that proposal. As Robert Burns once wrote (adapted) "The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry."

3 ounces or less, or 3 karats or less
One way that a good plan can get mucked up by the most unusual of people; in this case, a well trained, airport security screener that spotted something unusual in Aaron Tkachuk socks. Now I've never seen an IED that is shaped like an engagement ring wrapped in socks, but I guess they must, as the airport screener insisted on a closer inspection. I can see if it were a Wii-mote stuffed into a sock the justification of having a closer inspection, but a ring? Upon inspecting the Aaron Tkachuk belongings, the screener pulled out a white gold, diamond, and ruby ring. So as any good man does under pressure, Mr. Tkachuk improvised and popped the question to his soon to be fiance right on the spot. To the amusement of the other passengers and the screener she accepted to a rousing applause. Now if only all encounters with airport security ended in happy endings like this! Most people know that when you fill a balloon up with helium, a couple of possible outcomes can arise. 1.) Balloons will rise when filled with helium and 2.) when you suck in a breath of helium you can get a squeaky 'mouse' voice. Last week Lefkos Hajji (as most of you have probably already run) experienced both of these phenomenons of helium. In a 'great' plan in which he wanted to literally 'pop' the question to his girlfriend, Lefkos decided to stick his $12,000 (US) ring into a helium filled balloon. When it was time to pop the question, she would then pop the balloon. As he exited the balloon shop, a gust of wind grabbed the ring filled balloon and, as helium tends to do, climbed skyward. Lefkos gave chase for two hours before giving up, at which point he got his squeaky voice when he explained what happened to his girlfriend. As we were discussing at lunch yesterday, Kmewalt said that some bird in the English countryside is going to be having one blingin nest this spring. Maybe this was a sign Lefkos, maybe this was a sign! Happy St. Patrick's DAY!

March 16, 2008

Voodoo Selection Sunday Hex

Arena Football Experience
A few years back there was this horrible experiment here in America to have a summer professional level football league...the XFL. This was supposed to help hold over football fans till the NFL starts back up and also bridge the gap with those fans of 'professional' wrestling, like the WWF. Fortunately this "Xtreme," though the X officially did not stand extreme, league did not last more than one season, as it had dismal TV ratings and poor attendance.

There is a little known league that has been going steady now for 22 years and I think is the fix, or at least help hold over those who need some good football action: Arena Football. I attended my first game this weekend where the New Orleans Voodoo played the Tampa Bay Storm. I love the rules, the pace of the game and the high scoring that goes on. You realize that a 21 point lead is really nothing in this league and can evaporate in the matter of seconds! Tampa Bay committed 8 turnovers and the voodoo capitalized on many of these. If you ever get the chance, I highly recommend catching a game. if your in New Orleans in July, Arena Bowl 22 comes to town. Good times

Big XII Champions and a #1 Seed
While I was watching the Voodoo play this weekend, my other team of the day was playing in the Big XII tournament championship game against the Texas Longhorns. This match up is quickly becoming a great rivalry and from the recaps, this game did not disappoint either. KU hit a ridiculous amount of 3-pointers and had steady defense down the stretch to hold of the Longhorns and win their third consecutive Big XII Tournament title.

The win, in my opinion, helped lock KU into the Midwest regions #1 seed for the upcoming NCAA Tournament, aka, March Madness! They open against Portland State, and I'm really hoping that Bucknel Bison Fever doesn't hit Portland State. I have no worries, just minor concerns! I just hope that they keep up their mojo long enough to make it to at least the Elite 8. If they make it that far, I hope there is a showdown in the Final Four versus UNC, sweet redemption could be had, oh what a day that would be!