Ben Wilson

Ben Wilson

ben wilson This is the blog of a one Ben Wilson, a Louisville, Kentucky native who enjoys baseball, beer, music, bikes, things that fly and good food. By day he pushes pixels and makes the Internet happen for a local advertising agency. His wife, Kelly is an Ironman, and his baby Amelia is the cutest thing ever.

Ben, Grandma and Nick

Kelly and I had a wonderful Christmas this year and we visited with every remaining segment of our respective families and even had time for friends. Kelly and I stayed the night with my mother on Christmas Eve and woke up Christmas morning and opened our presents. I haven’t done that in quite a while and I was glad to be able to do it again. Mom sent me some photos she took on Christmas morning, and you can find them in the 2006.12.25 – Chrimbo Morning gallery. My personal favorite? Grandma with the Santa hat!

Finally, Christmas is finished for another year, and I’m kind of glad it is. The run-up is long and joy-filled with parties, get-togethers, family and friends. I do love the holidays, but in the same way that I love, say, a tornado. They are awesome things of nature that happen every year with consistency that inspire wonder and amazement, but at the same time a certain level of stress.


The big news is that Kelly’s sister Cherie gave birth her second child Katie on Tuesday, the day after Christmas! Kelly and I took care of our nephew Andy while mommy had a planned C-section in the morning. Little Katie “looks just like Kelly” and was 8lbs 2oz with dark curly hair. Kelly and I visited with the happy family later in the day, and we snapped some photos of the blushing baby girl.

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Dec 27 2006 ~ 10:59 am ~ Comments Off ~

Avoid the loony Zune: A just vicious destruction of Microsoft’s “Zune” media player, by Chicago Sun-Times writer Andy Ihnatko. (Update: cholly tells me he is a Mac fanboy from way-back. This has not been double-sourced.)

The Zune, for those who could give a flivver, is Microsoft’s new iPod Killer. It’s got a few things going for it, but having fiddled with a number of MP3 players, from the iPod to the Creative Nomad series to the Zune (they had one at Target), I’ve got to agree with Andy – it’s not good.

The Zune has some really intriguing ideas – like transferring music between two Zunes via Wifi and some neat interface tricks that are things that A) users want and B) the iPod doesn’t do. But when you take those innovations like the Wifi transfer and completely cock them up by crippling that innovation (in this case by wrapping WHATEVER you send to your Zune buddy in a 3-play or 3-day timebomb of deletion) you get an unnovation. Why even put that in your device if it’s so crippled? The Zune is also large, expensive, and no doubt will suck down the battery juice because it’s constantly showing album art on its screen. Nice and showy, but I rarely see my MP3 player when it’s playing.


You can temper Andy’s reaming of the Zune with this more positive review from Ars Technica, if you should wish: Microsoft Zune: Welcome to the social.

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Nov 27 2006 ~ 3:21 pm ~ Comments (2) ~
…It’s me you see with the funk in my walk.

Kelly and I ran the Northeast YMCA Thanksgiving Day Fun Run on Thursday. It’s a 10K (6.2 miles), but they have you guess at the distance at the end, so it’s never exactly 6.2 miles. It was the longest I’ve ever run in my entire life, and I was not being chased by a bear.

You gotta keep movin’ and you can’t say nothing

I’m a keep bouncin’ and bumpin’ and stuffin’

So, what then is the reason for the lyrics to the Beastie Boys’ The Maestro sprinkled about here? That was the song that came over the iPod strapped to my arm exactly halfway through the race. Never let the power of music to compel be a mystery to you. I’ve got this thing, you see, wherein I defeat myself the first half of the run, wondering just what the hell I am doing out there in the cold, nose all running and snotty. I beat myself down and consider stopping many times.

But then the yelling starts. In my brain. I am yelling at myself that I am weak and it is evident I will never finish. I think this is some sort of reverse-psychology play being acted out (or perhaps just directed or produced) by my hypothalamus as a survival instinct. In any case, this rarely works to much satisfaction. So then the only thing can save me is a good song with a beat to which I can pound pavement. Enter The Maestro.

Yeeeeaaaaaaaah you mother fuckers I am all that.

I see you looking at me saying “How can he be so skinny but live so phat?”

You know why?

…cause I’m The Maestro.

For those of you who know the song, that first line in all it’s filthy glory is the call-out in an album filled with awesome call-outs. It’s a rallying cry heard the world round. The Beastie Boys are back and are not to be meddled with. In short: damn. I then proceed to sprint (or at least what constitutes a sprint) the next mile or so, buoyed with that sort of hell yeah spirit so embodied in the song.

The problem, however, is that The Maestro is only three minute long. At this point in the race, I’m at something like 28 minutes in, with another 28 to go. Luckily, the iPod knows this all too well and kicks in another excellent brainpan-shattering song, the all-to-undervalued and under-played Black Sabbath tune Supernaut. All alone on the course, between the masses that seem to form during a race, it’s all too fitting:

Got no religion, dont need no friends

Got all I want and I dont need to pretend

Dont try to reach me, cause I’d tear up your mind

I’ve seen the future and Ive left it behind

Couple that with a certifiably fierce hook and the acoustic bad-assery that occurs near the end of the song and you’ve got metal brilliance. When my ashes are fired into space, this song will be played. (Followed shortly by The Wizard).

In the end, I managed to keep my time under an hour (56 minutes and change) and I felt good. Kelly was proud of me, and I was proud of me as well. All thanks to The Maestro.

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~ 8:07 am ~ Comments (1) ~

And as loath as I am to say it – chalk one up for the cable company. I received in the mail a printed piece from my broadband provider saying that they were upping the download speeds 250%, now allowing me to download a 650 megabyte CD image in a little over 10 minutes. (They also quadrupled the outgoing speed, which is nice for when I pull my music from my house to work).

Kudos, Insight. Now can we work on the ala-carte cable television lineup? Please?

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Nov 15 2006 ~ 12:20 pm ~ Comments (2) ~

Election day (November 7th) is five days away, and the House race for the 3rd District (Louisville) of Kentucky is still in contention, though it is leaning more to the left than it was even 2 weeks ago.

On Sunday, the Louisville Courier-Journal reversed their endorsement from two years ago (when they went for Northup) and endorsed John Yarmuth.

Today, SurveyUSA has released the results of a poll showing Yarmuth ahead of Northup by 8 points. Compared to the neck-and-neck poll results from 2 weeks ago, you’ve got to assume that Yarmuth is pulling ahead.

Why? Hard to say. Northup is still leading in the media-saturation column. Kelly and I have received at least one printed piece of mail from or supporting Northup every day for the last two weeks (sometimes more!) and her commercials are running at every blink. Could it be that her sour tone and base-thumping ways have turned away voters? Maybe. Yarmuth has been getting support late in the race in the way of money for ads, too.

I won’t be happy until there is at least a 10 point lead over Northup. Knowing how the Democrat base stays away from the polls and how reliable the right is in the same regard, we need a good head of steam to win it on Tuesday.

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Nov 2 2006 ~ 12:32 pm ~ Comments Off ~

Fall is officially here, and Kelly couldn’t be happier. She’s bona-fide nutty for fall, and specifically Halloween. We’ve done all the requisite fall things — we went to Huber’s, we enjoyed Jackson and Medina’s wedding, Kelly made a gingerbread house, carved pumpkins, and we visited Louisville most-decorated-for-Halloween street, Hillcrest Avenue.

Kelly also ran the Chicago Marathon, and beat last year’s time with a 4:28:00!

We also picked up another el-cheapo bike ($15) from Goodwill, a snappy old cruiser – a Columbia Sports III. It’s a 3-speed cruiser from the late 70′s, red with fenders and curved handlebars. Kelly and I spent Saturday fetching new tires and tubes for it, and getting it into shape for riding.

The clocks rolled back last night, and so that small window of time when it’s cold, but we’re still in daylight until 7:30 has closed. Fall might hang around until November 22nd, but for all intents it might as well be winter. We had a good fall, though!

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Oct 29 2006 ~ 9:20 pm ~ Comments Off ~

World Soaring Masters

You know I really don’t have enough soaring-related content on this blog. If it were in relation to how often I think about it or how much it consumes my free time, we might look into creating a more exciting (to soaring nerds) side-blog. But that is not why we are gathered here to-day, oh no!

I went to the first-ever World Soaring Masters held in Muncie, IN at the end of September. Being as excited as I might be at a world-class R/C soaring event, I decided that I’d keep my soaring chums on the RC Soaring Exchange (RCSE), a soaring mailing list, up-to-date for the course of the 4-day contest. I posted day-by-day accounts of the action, and thanks to the free Wifi coverage over the whole flying site, I was even able to give blow-by-blow, round-by-round accounts of the finals! I went into complete journo-mode with a pad of paper and pencil in teeth and the whole thing. It was a blast, and I received a lot of praise from my soaring brethren over my coverage.

While the emails of encouragement were nice, I was really “awe-shucked” when my coverage got picked up by the RC Soaring Digest (not affiliated with the RCSE), which is a classy monthly magazine for RC Soaring Enthusiasts. They’ve got 20 years of publishing experience behind them, so it was pretty neat to have my work accepted by something that I read religiously cover-to-cover.

Should you wish to read my report, which will be ungodly nerdy to the vast majority of you, you can – the RCSD is only published on the Internet anymore, and you can download the full-color November 2006 issue of the RCSD and read it at your leisure.

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Oct 27 2006 ~ 8:58 am ~ Comments (1) ~

Topatoco Catbank

Listening to a song just now from the great compilation I am the Resurrection – A Tribute to John Fahey, I was thinking that I’d really, really like to hear more music like what I heard in that song. But where do I start? How do I describe that music? How would I search teh intarwebs to find such things? If I put “acoustic jangly music” into Google, I doubt I’d get what I’m looking for. Further, I wondered what it’d be like to search for images with only basic cues, like “cat fuzzy” and be presented with images specifically of fuzzy cats and nothing more.

What I’m looking for is a more abstract search – which I think is something that humans do every day in their minds. The equivalent of asking the video-store clerk “You know that movie with that guy with that shiny thing on his head,” or like what Kelly refers to as “fall music” – music that somehow evokes the feelings of the season that is “fall”. Obviously this isn’t something that you can easily divine from a filename, and even the search terms like “fall music” mean different things to different people, so it’s a tough challenge.

As you might imagine, Google’s already pushing things in this direction. In a small step to make their image search better (it’s already fairly awesome), they introduced the Google Image Labeler a while back. It puts you head-to-head with someone else to help “tag” the images with words of what you see in the photo. If you see a cat in the image, you can put in the word “cat”. Your description doesn’t get accepted unless the anonymous person on the other end puts in the same word, thereby ensuring some level of quality.

The problem is that humans are intelligent, but not quite intelligent enough to transfer equivalent intelligence into machines. This is a whole branch of science, as you might imagine, and we are certainly pushing things forward every day. It’s only a matter of plumbing the depths of our own minds and learning just how we learn.

The mind, it boggles.

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~ 8:41 am ~ Comments (2) ~

It started off so innocently, a conversation between Yukon Charnelius and I:

So i thought for all these years that [so-and-so] was a man. Had no idea otherwise! But dang yeah there are some people I never seen around this place (work).

But then it (d)evovled into what has been termed by others as “an elaborate daymare”:

…Oh, he’s from the Poughkeepsie office. I hear once he fully dressed a buck deer in an airplane bathroom…

…The least of all questions is just how he got the deer on the plane! He choked it to death in the wild after a three year stint of burrowing into it’s community and lifestyle. A deer blind? Hell no – this was a LIFE BLIND. The deer assumed he was another buck…

…He never lost focus, though. He waited for a breech in deer etiquette, which is so assumed by all deer that it reaches the level of a virtual certainly – it is after all their nature, so perhaps they do not even know it as etiquette…

…But he knew and he waited for the chance to choke that deer to death that would be legal and right in his eyes, even if the deer weren’t conscious of such legalities…

…The circumstances of the faux pas have been lost to time, but as the light faded from that buck’s eyes, the larger world opened up to him. He realized then and there what our co-worker from Poughkeepsie knew. And then, croaked from deer’s gullet was one final word: “mother”. Much respect was learned that day…

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Oct 24 2006 ~ 3:44 pm ~ Comments Off ~

The ol’ gallery has been a little silent in the past few months, but I have been busy:

2006.08.18 – My 28th Birthday

2006.08.25 – Kentucky State Fair

2006.09.04 – Mayor Jerry’s Hike & Bike

2006.10.14 – Huber’s and Holly’s Birthday

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Oct 22 2006 ~ 9:15 pm ~ Comments Off ~
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