Sunday, March 30, 2008

Our Own Brotherhood, So Carefree and Good

The University of Michigan Men's Glee Club came into town this weekend to sing at the National Cathedral and at a national choral convention. Afterward, I got to hang out with several old friends who used to sing with me in Club, and several new friends who are the current generation of extraordinary glee clubbers.

On Friday night, we all went out to Cactus Cantina and relived one of my favorite traditions from college -- drunken sing-alongs with my brothers in song! Together, glee clubbers new and old raised our voices in song, and the result was a night to remember for years to come.

Here is a video of us all singing the Yellow and Blue. For lots more videos, click here!



On Saturday night, I got to know the incoming president of the Men's Glee Club, one of the current Friars, and several other talented young men. I am proud to say that the Glee Club is in good hands. I am also proud to say that, despite my relative old age and 50 extra pounds of body fat compared to the current younguns', I was able to trounce each of my challengers in Dance Dance Revolution, ending the night as the undisputed champion of the game, with something like a 10-0 record. Hail to the Victor, indeed!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Jew in da House!

Rehearsing before the Eastern Sunday service...


Looking surprisingly happy for so early in the morning...


Yeah, that's more like it... PISSED. (Granted, I was portraying Death in the Brahms German Requiem, but I can assure you I felt like Death as well, that early in the morning on a Sunday!)

Monday, March 24, 2008

Matt as a South Park Character

Scenes from My Life

Scene 1: Matt's apartment. Matt is starving, and then he receives a phone call.

Delivery Man: I'm outside, can you come down?
Matt: I'll be right down!

Matt comes downstairs but there is no sign of the delivery man. A minute later, he shows up in his car.

Matt: You said you were outside!
Delivery Man: Well, technically I was "outside."
Matt: You know, you should be a lawyer.
Delivery Man: I am a lawyer! I practiced law in Tunisia before I came to America!

*

Scene 2: Choir rehearsal. Conductor asks where all the second tenors are sitting. They raise their hands on the other side of the room. Matt, a first tenor, hisses at them.

Second #1: Did you just hiss?!
Matt: Second tenors are second-class citizens.
Second #2: And you're a first-class asshole!

*

Scene 3: Church, before the service. The pastor is harried and not looking where she's going. She slams open a door, almost running into Matt, who has to jump back to avoid a collision. Pastor just stands there, staring, not knowing what to say.

Matt (serene and smiling): You are Forgiven.
Pastor (pleasantly surprised): You are also Forgiven. Grace be to God!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

A Sad Day


A Sad Day, originally uploaded by CaseWriter21.

I didn't care for Easter before, and I HATE Easter now. Why must my favorite restaurant close on Easter! That's no way to celebrate rebirth! I mean, come on, Jebus must have been hungry after 3 days underground with no food. Surely the thing he would want most on Easter is a chicken burrito with guacamole from Chipotle.

W. T. F.

New Rudy Video!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Is Senator Obama a pigheaded hypocrite?

I have now had several days to ruminate over the speech on race relations that Senator Obama gave to much acclaim on Tuesday. Several of the commentators who discussed the senator's speech compared him to John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., and Abraham Lincoln. I must admit, I was one of them, complimenting his speech as "Lincolnesque." It was brilliant. It contained a healthy dose of truth, and an incredible amount of introspection. It changed my mind about Obama's association with his church, and with Reverend Jeremiah "God damn America" Wright.

And yet, my friends, I am concerned. You see, Senator Obama paints himself as a man who wants to work with the other side to find a middle position that we can all agree on. He wants us to believe that he is a man of compromise. But his record drastically undermines his message. And his record is the one thing that I cannot overlook, and that all the amazing speeches in the world will not obscure.

I greatly admire Senator Obama. He has accomplished more than I could ever hope to in terms of political power and prestige. He is an intelligent and eloquent man, thoughtful and introspective and able to rally Americans of all colors and creeds. However, I cannot get over the unsettling feeling that Senator Obama is a massive hypocrite.

You see, Senator Obama touts his ability to compromise, and yet he has the most liberal record in the United States Senate. Senator Obama claims to be a man of all the people, and yet he falls to the left of Ted Kennedy on the political spectrum. That is not hyperbole; that is a fact. during his first year in the Senate, The National Journal ranked him the 16th most liberal senator; during his second year, the 10th most liberal; and in 2007, the most liberal.

For all his talk about compromise, Senator Obama never has. Where Senator John McCain earned the respect of his political opponents and the ire of his so-called allies by routinely stepping across the aisle and sponsoring or backing bipartisan legislation, Senator Obama has remained firmly entrenched on the extreme left of the left wing of the Democratic Party.

So, as amazing as Senator Obama's speech was, it cannot erase the years of ultraliberal voting patterns. As enlightened as he wants us to believe he is, the fact remains that his political beliefs have been completely one-sided.

I would love to believe that the brilliant and eloquent Senator Obama can unite the country, but I am afraid his unwillingness to truly understand the other side will make him more of a divider than a uniter.

I'm not sure if Senator Obama could deliver a speech that would assuage my concerns about his unwavering liberalness. As eloquent as the man is, his voting record and actions in the Senate show him to be an unabashed liberal, unwilling to see the wisdom in the other side.And before you go calling me a "Monkey Republican" again, note that I would say exactly the same thing about someone who always voted Republican. Make no mistakes, my friends, there is always wisdom in the other side. Show me someone who always believes a certain way, who always votes with one party, and I will show you someone who is pigheaded and stubborn in his unwillingness to examine an issue from all sides.

Only a fool would think that his side is always correct.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Does Barack Obama hate America?

I feel compelled to offer my voice in the ongoing cacophony that is the 2008 election discussion. This may become an ongoing feature. I'm not sure. All I know is that today, I want to talk about Senator Barack Obama.

I like the man. He is inspirational, he knows how to give a good speech, and he is intelligent. As Joe Biden put it, he is "clean-cut." At the risk of derailing my one-day presidential campaign, I must say that I agree with Senator Biden. Senator Obama appears to be an intelligent, charismatic John Kennedy for the current generation.

However, I am very disturbed by the recent revelations that have come to light concerning the people with whom he surrounds himself. Senator Obama thanked the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Jr., when he won his Senate campaign, and he titled his second book, the Audacity of Hope, after the name of one of the reverend's sermons. Of course, Senator Obama married his wife -- selected her among all the women in the world as the person he wanted to spend his life with. He calls her his "rock." He depends on her for guidance.

This is disturbing because of what these individuals have said. The Reverend has been in the news lately because of some very incendiary remarks he made about America in several of his sermons. The wife was in the news recently for her comments that, until her husband had won the support of certain states, she had never before been proud of America.

I know that Senator Barock Obama is thankful to this country for the opportunities it has provided him. And I know that he regrets the things that his close allies have said publicly. He has called some of the remarks shameful and despicable. But the fact remains that he has chosen to surround himself with these people. This shows, to me, that he agrees with these sentiments -- at least privately. And, even if he does not consciously agree with these statements, it is a fact that, when surrounding yourself with certain viewpoints for so long, those viewpoints will begin to seep in.

An intelligent, impressionable individual who surrounds himself with America-haters for so many years is bound to pick up some of those beliefs. Even if he does not actively hate America, I am positive that at least some small part of him, spurred by the outright disgust of his compatriots, resents America.

None of this really matters to me; I am a John McCain supporter, as I have been for the past eight years or so. But I think it is important that my friends, who are so impressed by Senator Obama's idealism and intelligence and seeming integrity, listen to the words of Obama's preacher and Obama's wife. Don't just dismiss those anti-American ramblings as insignificant words of people who are not running for the presidency. Because, the fact is, those people, and those views, exist somewhere in the heart and mind of the man who is running for the presidency.

You cannot live for so many years with people who distrust America, and not start to develop some of the same views yourself.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Initial Test of MacSpeech Dictate -- This program is the new Messiah

This is a test. I am one of the only people I know who owns a bird. I am a 2006 graduate of Georgetown University Law Center, and I hold a bachelor of arts from the University of Michigan. I am a very striking redhead who sings in a powerful tenor.

The preceding paragraph was my first test of the new MacSpeech Dictate software. The program made zero mistakes. I did not have to correct anything. The accuracy of the software is leaps and bounds ahead of iListen, it frustrated me to no end.

In the past two paragraphs, the only mistake the program made was inserting the word "it" instead of the word "which" in the last sentence. I have been speaking at a perfectly normal conversational pace, the same way I would to a friend. I have not overly enunciated anything. This program is, without a doubt, miraculous.

I want to make it very clear that the only training I have completed was the initial five-minute training session in which I read 10 or so paragraphs. I am already achieving near 100% accuracy, with essentially no training whatsoever. This is in comparison to iListen, which, after several months of training, was never able to afford any more than 90% accuracy at best.

In the past several paragraphs, the voice recognition software has made only two minor errors which did not actually affect the meaning of the sentence. (The second error was the word "any" at the end of the last paragraph.) I will play around with the software a lot more over the next couple of days, and post a full review at that point, but I can already say that this is absolutely amazing. I am simply blown away. I had high hopes, but I never dreamed that the program would work this well right out of the box.

Let the next Great American Novel begin!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Voice Recognition, Take Two

I broke down and ordered an upgrade to my iListen voice recognition software. It is called MacSpeech Dictate, and it received the award for "Best in Show" at the most recent MacWorld Expo. It uses the speech recognition engine of Dragon's "Naturally Speaking," which has long been the undisputed champion of the transcription world. Next to that heavyweight, iListen is, to many people, a joke.

That's why I am so excited about the impending arrival of the upgraded dictation program. When it is quiet and when I am speaking clearly, I already achieve a very high accuracy rate with the current program. I can only imagine how successful the new program will be!

The only problem I can see now is that it is so obvious when someone has spoken a document rather than typed it. The sentences are far lengthier, more formal. At first that doesn't make a lot of sense -- most people speak so informally! -- and yet it actually makes perfect sense:

People are taught to write in short sentences, but they tend to speak in run-on sentences. The end result? A document full of telltale thirty-word sentences, strung together with commas and dashes.

It will take some time to alter my speaking style so that I talk more like I write. But I think in the long run it will be worth it. My current occupation is "legal editor." My job entails writing thousands of words every day. If I can actually speak my articles instead of type them, I think that can be a major time saver. It would help me get the first draft on screen far more easily than I could otherwise. Then, I could polish.

Seriously, voice recognition definitely has promise in my field of work. I routinely quote from legal documents. It is a pain to manually transcribe everything. If I could get into the practice of reading aloud the best quotes from judicial opinions and attorneys' motions, it is possible that I could complete my articles far more quickly.

Right now, the hardest part about writing legal newspaper articles is simply getting started. After reading opinions and motions, is far easier for me to speak aloud the basic gist of a story than it is to write down the basic gist of the story. And I am lucky in that I have a private office -- so it will not be too crazy for me to constantly be talking aloud into a microphone. :-)

We'll see how it goes. I will keep you posted.*

Related:
1. My Amazon review of iListen
2. My original BeforeISleep.net review of iListen

*Yes, this entire post was written using the first generation iListen voice recognition software. And it did a pretty damn good job!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Daily Recap

  • Feeling much better now that I've lifted some weights at the gym, and done a little cardio. Still not perfect, but definitely on the way...

Friday, March 7, 2008

Daily Recap

  • At Safeway, where some ASSHOLE has cleaned out all the Campbell's Italian Wedding soup, thereby securing a special place in Hell.
  • Bad: Still feeling crappy. My energy comes and goes. Woke up with it but right now it's gone. Good: My car got me to work this morning.
  • I wish I had energy so I could work out, but I don't so I can't. I'll also probably have to skip my trip to Richmond this weekend. :(
  • Heading home. Weak, can't concentrate. Want to lay down.
  • Eating Safeway's delicious Cajun Jambalaya soup in my car as the rain dances around me.
  • Hmm. My deposition Monday has been canceled. No word on rescheduling. Did they accept the settlement?
  • My floor is finally uncluttered enough for the Roomba to be able to work! This is a major milestone.
  • I have Swiffer mopped my living room. I can have friends over again!!!!!
  • I've had sustained energy for the past several hours. I think I can hit the gym tomorrow -- if I take it easy.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Daily Microsleep Recap

  • Well enough to return to work but still too sick to be at all productive. And don't even get me started on RUNNING! My body is weak :(
  • Dealership could find nothing wrong with my car, and it worked fine for them. DAMMIT. Going to pick it up now...
  • About to drive the car home... Wish me luck...
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Wednesday, March 5, 2008

The Daily Microsleep Recap

  • SICK.
  • Riding shotgun in a tow truck while my impotent car hangs limpless behind us.
  • i meant lifeless. Limp and lifeless. Not "limpless"
  • On shuttle to metro. The mechanics are all surprised that my nearly new Honda is having all these problems. Aren't we all!
  • @ Starbucks waiting for a very kind friend to give me a lift home.
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Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Daily Microsleep Recap

  • The results of my running-with-tunes poll are interesting -- it's neck and neck! Vote at tinyurl.com/2e9mk4
  • Still feel under the weather. Not sure I should run 3 miles on Tuesday...
  • I'm going to take my running gear to work and try to do it after work. We'll see.
  • I'm eating ice cream for lunch to sooth my scratchy throat. And I think I have a blister on my foot. Gah!
  • Good news: It's not a blister, it's just a callous forming. Bad news: Think it might be smarter to rest than run.
  • There's a STORM a-brewin! And I don't have my umbrella. Also, turns out others in the office have a scratchy throat. I'm not running today.
  • Just leaving work -- a 3-article day to make up for three 0-article days :-)
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Monday, March 3, 2008

The Daily Microsleep Recap

  • Hurt my left calf sprinting to the bus stop this morning from a cold start. What's better, aspirin, ibuprofen or acetaminophen?
  • I cleaned my apartment this weekend and I think I breathed in a lot of dust. I have an annoying cough now! Grrrr.
  • Had Chinese again last night out of habit. It wasn't as good as I remembered. Might be time for a new habit.
  • Interesting dinner date. Good Thai food! Throat still scratchy. :(
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Sunday, March 2, 2008

The Daily Microsleep Recap

  • Weight went down today even with the consumption of a whole pizza last night. Gotta love this running thing
  • Wanted to jog today -- felt fine -- but I'm supposed to "not overdo it." Which will be hard, since I overdo everything.
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Saturday, March 1, 2008

The Daily Microsleep Recap

  • OMG that was hard.
  • Cleaning my kitchen. This is disgusting. I don't know why I let it get like this. I am better than this. Blech.
  • Good news: Ran 3 miles. Bad news: Ate a whole pizza. Have to work on the whole "Balance" thing.....
  • Kitchen = CLEAN and DISINFECTED. (Well, 'cept for the floor.) Next... Bathroom?
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