Sunday, March 14, 2010

Glimm 2010: Bigger and Better

OK, boys and girls. The brackets have been released, which means it's time to fill out your bracket for the 19th annual Glimm Memorial NCAA Basketball Tournament Pool, the only NCAA Tournament pool named for Alma Glimm.

If you've participated in the Glimm before, then you know that the Glimm Memorial is the best NCAA pool out there, where the low fee of $5 guarantees three weeks of entertainment. Click here to fill out your bracket.

Some nuts-and-bolts:

To enter, you must fill out a bracket by tipoff of the first game at noon ET Thursday. Remember that servers for these things tend to get bogged down at the last minute, so the sooner you fill out a bracket, the better. You can fill out a bracket here:

The Glimm follows a fairly standard NCAA tourney pool format. It uses a 1-2-4-8-12-16 scoring format with upset points. That means you get one point for picking a game correctly in the first round, two points in the second round, etc. Any time you correctly pick a team seeded 9 through 16 to win a game, you get bonus points (1 point for 9 seeds, 2 for 10, all the way up to 8 for a 16 seed). So remember, it pays to take risks.

The entry fee is $5 per bracket -- much less than a cost of a movie these days, and it'll bring much more entertainment value. Yes, you can submit multiple brackets. You can pay via cash or paypal (if paypaling, please send $5.50 to cover paypal fees).

The winner gets 70% of the pot, runner-up 20% and third place 10%. The last-place finisher gets their five bucks back as pity money (mom, try to stay out of the cellar this year). Thirty bucks comes out of the pot for the software I use (trust me, it's worth it), and I give myself two free entries.

I know some Glimm neophytes will be asking: Who is Alma Glimm? Mrs. Glimm was my 11th grade math teacher. She represents all that is good about NCAA basketball pools: She proved that anybody can win these things. Knowledge of college basketball means little. Everyone has a chance.

The story: Before math class one March day when I was in 11th grade, I was distributing brackets to fellow students (yes, back in the paper bracket days). Mrs. Glimm, ever the vigilant teacher, saw this and swooped in. "Gambling in school?" she said. "You can't do that." So I quickly explained to her that the pool was just for fun, and no money was involved. My lie must have been convincing, because Mrs. Glimm quickly changed her tune. "Can I try?" she asked. I handed her a bracket. Despite professing to knowing nothing about college basketball, three weeks later, she stood atop the pool standings. Since she thought it was just for fun, I couldn't give her the prize money -- the runner-up got the winner's share. But I did feel it necessary to honor her somehow. So I named the pool after her.

I don't know if her first name is actually Alma (in fact, I'm fairly certain it's something like Marion, now that I think about it), but it seems to fit. And I don't know that she's actually dead, so maybe it shouldn't be 'Memorial.' But she was pretty old back then, so I'm going with the odds.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

It's Back: The 18th Annual Glimm Memorial NCAA Basketball Pool

Welcome to the 18th Annual Glimm Memorial NCAA Basketball Pool! The
games begin in just 4 days, so don't wait - fill out your bracket now.
As you know, the Glimm Memorial is the premiere NCAA Tournament Pool,
and the only pool named for Alma Glimm. For $5, the Glimm Memorial
guarantees three weeks of entertainment. So hurry up -- click here to fill out your bracket. 

More details on The Glimm:

WHAT: The 18th Annual Glimm Memorial NCAA Basketball Tournament

HOW: Go to and fill out a bracket, then either give me $5 cash, or paypal me the
money (if paypaling, send $5.50 to cover Paypal's charges).

HOW MUCH: Five bucks per entry. I just said that. Pay attention. And yes, you can enter more than once.

THE PAYOUT: The winner gets
70% of the
pot, runner-up 20% and third-place person 10%.  And if you finish dead
last, you get your five bucks back.  Twenty books is coming out of the
pot to pay for the software that I use (it's worth it, trust me), and I give myself 2 free entries.

SCORING: It's a 1-2-4-8-12-16
scoring system with upset points. So that means that you get one point
for picking a game correctly in the first round, two points in the
second round, etc.  Any time you correctly pick a team seeded 9 through
16 to win a game, you get bonus points (1 point for a nine seed, 2 for
a 10, all the way up to 8 for a 16 seed) - so it pays to take risks.

WHY GLIMM? The pool is named for Alma Glimm, my 11th grade math teacher.

AGAIN, WHY GLIMM? Because Mrs. Glimm represents everything that is good about
an NCAA tournament pool - she proved that anybody can win these
office pools. Knowledge of college basketball is irrelevant, and we all
have a chance. 

When I was in 11th grade, this pool was in its fifth year. In
math class one day, I was passing out brackets, getting people to sign
up, when Mrs. Glimm swooped in. "Gambling in school?" she said
incredulously. "You can't gamble in school!"  Undeterred, I explained
to her that no money was changing hands, and it was just for fun - yes,
I lied.  All of the sudden, Mrs. Glimm perked up. "Really?" she said.
"Can I try?" So I handed her a bracket.

Mrs. Glimm, who had no knowledge of college basketball and had
never participated in a pool before, finished in first place. Of
course, because she didn't think there was money involved, she got a
nice pat on the back, and the runner-up took the cash.

I'm not certain that Mrs. Glimm is actually dead. But she was pretty
old when I was in 11th grade, so there's a good chance.  Actually, I
don't even know if her first name is Alma. But it sounds right.

You have 2 options: Give me cash in person, or send it via Paypal to
If you're paying via Paypal, you must pay $5.50 to cover Paypal's fees.
And if you don't pay, I send my goons after you to break your arm. Only
one arm. I may be nice and make it your weak arm, if I'm in a good mood.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

We're going to Spain!

Nicole and I both love Spain. We spent a week in Madrid on our honeymoon, and thought it was fantastic. We loved the food, the energy, the wine, the nightlife. Ever since, we talked about getting back to Spain.

So on Friday afternoon, when we found an amazing deal on fall airfare to Spain (one of those perks of working at Travelzoo), I called Nicole and asked her: "Want to go to Spain in November?" She said yes. And we're going.

We booked flights on Iberia, flying into Madrid on Nov. 8 and out of Barcelona on Nov. 16. I'm really excited because this time we're going to travel a bit and see more of the country, instead of just staying in Madrid. We're planning on spending 2 nights in Madrid, 1-2 in Valencia and then driving up the coast to Barcelona and staying there for 3-4 nights.

The best part? The airfare cost $550 total. For both of us. Roundtrip, with all taxes. We've paid more to get to California.

We've got 8 months to flesh out our itinerary, so if you have any suggestions, send them my way.

Resurrecting the blog

So a few days ago, I wrote a post about [. I had an ulterior motive: There was a piece of software I wanted (WebCamMax) to get AnnieCam working, and it cost $50. Being the cheapskate that I am, I wanted to find a way around that. And I did: The company gives you a free license for the software if you review it on your blog. Hence that post.

But I enjoyed writing it. So I'm inspired: It's time to bring back the blog.

There's a lot going on to write about in the next few weeks. Nicole and I just booked a trip to Spain in November (more about that in my next post). The Glimm NCAA Memorial Basketball Tournament begins one week from today, and it looks like Michigan will actually be in the 64-team field for the first time in over a decade. Baseball season kicks off in a few weeks, and the Mets will move to CitiField. We're in the middle of the biggest economic crisis since the Great Depression, and President Obama is attempting to use it to enact some pretty amazing liberal programs. All exciting stuff - and I will write about all of it.

The blog will touch on a bunch of things - our life, politics, sports. I'll even point out some great Travelzoo travel deals. So tune in.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Annie scales the gate, and AnnieCam is born

For the last seven months, we've had a pretty simple system with Annie,
our dog: When we go to work, we'd put her in the bathroom behind a baby
gate. We'd leave some toys, water and her bed, and she'd hang out in
there all day. We have a dog walker who comes once a day in the
afternoon to take her out. And it worked well.

Not anymore. For the last two days, Annie scaled the baby gate, roaming free in our apartment.

We've been considering giving her free reign of the apartment anyway. Now, she's taken the decision into her own paws.

brought me to my next project: AnnieCam. Since Annie's going to roam
free throughout the apartment, we'd like to be able to keep a bit of an
eye on her.  My laptop has a built-in webcam, and we have an older
external webcam, so I can actually create a two-cam setup.

In my past life as an online editor for newspapers, I've experimented with several live-streaming web sites. My favorite is So I created an AnnieCam channel on ustream.

I needed to decide what software I would use that would let me use 2
cameras. I've done some experimentation with this kind of thing before,
too, in my newspaper life, exploring what programs could be used to
join feeds from multiple cameras and make a feed look professional. I
wanted to use one called WebCamMax - but new there wasn't a 64-bit
Vista version of it.

But out of curiosity, I went to its site anyway, and discovered that there's an alpha of a 64-bit version of WebCamMax.

wasn't sure what to expect from an alpha, but was pleasantly surprised
- it seems to be a pretty full-featured program. It does all sorts of
things to manipulate a webcam feed. I can add text, graphics, photos, a
feed of my desktop, etc. And most importantly, I can take in feeds of
two programs.

Knowing that Annie loves to hang out on our couch,
I decided I'd set up the two cameras facing the couch, each covering a
different part of it (yes, it's a very big couch). I then used the
program's Picture-in-Picture functionality to display both feeds at

At first, the PiP was blocking a key part of the screen,
which was a little problematic. Then I realized I could just move the
PiP box around, so I put it in the upper left-hand corner of the
screen, and voila - perfecto!

The software isn't perfect.
There's one feature I'd really like -- the ability to rotate between
feeds every X seconds. So I can set it to show one camera full-screen
for 90 seconds, then switch to the other camera for 90 seconds, then
back, etc.  So WebCamMax people, if you're reading this, please add
that function!

Below is some video testing out AnnieCam. And
I'll probably have AnnieCam running pretty much 8-6 on weekdays, so
tune and see our cute cockapoo hanging out on the couch!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Brooklyn bound

It's all falling into place. Not only do a have a job (see previous post), but we have an apartment. Nicole and I just signed a lease for a great two-bedroom apartment in Boerum Hill, an up-and-coming neighborhood in Brooklyn. The apartment is in an amazing location, on Smith Street, right in the heart of the neighborhood, with lots of restaurants, specialty food stores and bars just out the door.

It's a little smaller than our LA apartment and rent is literally twice the price, but it does have two huge things that our old apartment didn't have: one and a half bathrooms (as opposed to one), and a washer/dryer in unit.  It also has a killer kitchen, which makes Nicole very, very happy.

I'm going to Tokyo

And no, I'm not driving a big yellow truck there. I'm flying. On a plane. I'm going for work.

travelzoo_logo[1].gifWhich means I have a job. Woo-hoo! I accepted a job earlier this week as editor of, the travel deals company best known for its weekly Top 20 deals newsletter. If you don't subscribe, you should. 

We've got lots of ideas for building out the site, and I'm really excited about the job. I start next Thursday.  But right off the bat, I'm going to Tokyo for a conference with the editors of the international versions of the site, as well as the newsletter publishers.  I'm looking forward to some amazing sushi, and hopefully getting to a baseball game while I'm there. I'll be there from July 23-27, so check back here for updates on the trip.

My job search was really interesting. At first, I looked at newspapers. When I was in New York in April, I interviewed with a handful of newspapers and magazines, but they were mostly informational interviews without actual open positions. The only paper with an open position was Newsday, and they offered me a job as a local news editor. It was a lower position and less money than I had in Los Angeles, and it would have been an ugly commute to Long Island, so I turned it down.

When I got back to LA, I expanded my search to companies that were in the web publishing business but not necessarily journalism.  I saw the Travelzoo listing on Craigslist, I believe, and had a few phone interviews with them before I got here. My first week back here, I had interviews lined up my first week with Travelzoo, Kickapps (a social networking software company) and NBC. All very different jobs.

Travelzoo and NBC were at the top of the list, and Travelzoo solidified that position when I interviewed with Ralph Bartel, their CEO.  We had a great conversation, and I was excited about his vision for where the company is heading. 

NBC had a few positions open. They at first considered me for an online news editor job in their Local Media division, and then Managing Editor of NBC is putting together a great team, and I love their digital strategy. Had they made a competitive offer against Travelzoo, I would've had to do some serious thinking. But the timing didn't work out - Travelzoo made the offer and needed an answer, and WNBC couldn't come back with an offer quickly enough.  That made the decision easy - the Travelzoo gig has so much potential, though, and I'm really, really excited about.

So two weeks of stress are over. I'm no longer unemployed.  And I'm going to have some damn good sushi..

Friday, June 20, 2008

This is just too good

Every now and then, you hear of something that is so good, so fantastic, that it amazes you that everybody's not talking about it. This is one of those situations

It's minor league baseball, Brooklyn Cyclones (Mets affliliate) vs. Staten Island Yankees. Ninth inning. The Yanks bring in a relief pitcher. But this isn't any relief pitcher. He's ambidextrous. That's right - the elusive switch-pitcher.

This guy was just drafted out of Creighton last week, so it must've been his first professional appearance. The Mets knew exactly what the situation called for - a switch-hitter

That's right - switch-pitcher versus switch-hitter. And hilarity ensues.

The pitcher puts the glove on his left hand.  The batter moves to the left-handed side of the plate. The pitcher then switches the glove to his right hand. The batter switches to the right-handed side of the plate. Repeat. The dance goes on.

And yes, we have video:

It only took a week...

... but I finally got the pics up from the third and fourth days of the trip.  Sorry for the delay - no good excuse, really.

Photos from June 10 can be found here, and photos from June 11 are here.

The highlights (note the last picture - I was worried we had driven in one 2500-mile circle):