Thursday, December 27, 2007

Hitching a Ride on the Straight Talk Express


I've finally made a decision about who I'm going to support for President. After hemming and hawing, going to Rudy Giuliani, possibly changing my mind, looking at Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, Fred Thompson's charismaless outer shell, and Huckabee the Baptist Preacher, I've decided on John McCain. There are several things that I really like about him despite his not having much of a chance. Of course, that could change with Rudy's sudden plummet, but who knows. One thing I do know is that I agree with him on issues the most of all the candidates.
I disqualified Ron Paul for a lot of reasons. One is his stance on immigration. Another is his stance on war. Don't get me wrong, I don't like war. Nevertheless his no war ever stance is a bit perplexing. Consider this exchange from Meet the Press:
Russert: I was intrigued by your comments about Abe Lincoln. "According to Paul, Abe Lincoln should never have gone to war; there were better ways of getting rid of slavery."

Paul: Absolutely. Six hundred thousand Americans died in a senseless civil war. No, he shouldn't have gone, gone to war. He did this just to enhance and get rid of the original intent of the republic. I mean, it was the--that iron, iron fist--

Russert: We'd still have slavery.

Paul: Oh, come on, Tim. Slavery was phased out in every other country of the world. And the way I'm advising that it should have been done is do like the British empire did. You, you buy the slaves and release them. How much would that cost compared to killing 600,000 Americans and where it lingered for 100 years? I mean, the hatred and all that existed. So every other major country in the world got rid of slavery without a civil war. I mean, that doesn't sound too radical to me. That sounds like a pretty reasonable approach.

The thing about this is that the Confederacy seceded before the Civil War started. It wasn't that Lincoln was knocking around saying "let's start a war." He prosecuted a war to keep the country together when the Confederacy had left because a Republican was president. If Lincoln didn't fight, the US wouldn't be the US we know. The fact of the matter is that Paul is engaging in the absolute worst kind of historical hindsight - taking something that is unquestionably known to have been the right decision (indeed, it is the single biggest reason why Lincoln is considered the 2nd greatest president) and saying that it wasn't because 600,000 men died. I suppose that he also believes we shouldn't have fought World War II.
Anyway, enough of Ron Paul, back to McCain. The first reason I like him is his immigration position. Every Republican to one degree or another has to say they hate immigration to get anywhere in the primaries, but McCain is the least vocal about it. I like his position on military intervention and the current war - get out on our terms. I like his position on government waste. He's been a one man show in the Senate for a lot of years on earmarks and other spending and that should count for something. Normally I wouldn't be as big a proponent of his former POW status, but it shows his toughness and his commitment to the nation. After all, he didn't just spend a weekend in the Hanoi Hilton, he was there for over 5 years. That's dedication. Like I said, I don't think he'll end up winning the nomination, but he's certainly a candidate I feel like I can be proud to support.

Christmas

I'm telling you what, Christmas is hands down better with kids. It's so much fun to see them opening presents and enjoying all the stuff that Santa got for them. I'm not saying that it's not fun with just adults, as a matter of fact it can be quite fun. Case in point is how we got our presents from my dad this year. They just moved and so they didn't buy anything or have anything wrapped, so they played Deal or No Deal with us for us to earn our cash. Nevertheless, while that was fun, seeing my little girl so excited over a couple of My Little Ponies or Hot Wheels was still funner. I can't wait until she gets just a tic older so she can be more excited during the entire season instead of just during the actual unwrapping of the presents

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas!

No real posting today or tomorrow, but I do hope that you have a great holiday!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

It Took Me Long Enough



4 Guys, 1 Plate

Okay, so I'm not quite up on all my internet phenomena...I was busy reading The Sports Guy the other day and came across a mention of something called Two Girls, One Cup. Knowing the damage that can be done to a person's psyche by blindly looking at something without second thought (for example, the prior gross out phenomena that scars you in a very disturbing and profound way, Tubgirl), I went to that bastion of all electronic knowledge, Wikipedia. There I discovered precisely what it was (if you really want to know, and let's face it, there's a good reason that curiosity killed the cat and it's because you just can't resist knowing stuff; the link to the Wikipedia article is right here) and some parodies of it. (The most notable, Two Guys, One Cup, is available here and is pretty funny, imagining perhaps what the other must entail. Thank you John Mayer, you've made up for that crappy song "Your Body Is A Wonderland.") Anyway, for several weeks my post here has been getting quite a few hits from people looking for that parody, or something like it called Two Guys One Plate. I had no idea what it was until now. Now you too know!

A Whopper of a Lie

I can understand companies wanting to do the whole guerrilla marketing thing, after all it creates buzz. This campaign from Burger King, Whopper Freakout, might not be the best way to do it. You'll have to take a look to decide for yourself and it is getting buzz, but what is it really accomplishing? Annoying their customers? Now that's a place I would like to frequent!




Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Come Sail Away

One of the things that I love about the internet is having information at my fingertips. You can see just about anything you want, from the weather outside (current conditions: frightful) to what caused the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917. One of the more useful websites I've found (thanks to it being featured at BzzAgent) is called FlightStats. It's one of the most useful travel sites I've been to. They have a Facebook app too which is nice. Anyway, It tells me what the current and historical trends are for whatever flight I want. What's better than seeing this and knowing beforehand that you ought to pack a tent and sack lunch because you won't be headed anywhere anytime soon. What makes it even more useful is the on-the-go features they built into it so that you could get the info on the go. Take a look at it if you're into flying, it's well worth the few minutes it will take you.

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Dark Knight Returns


One of the movies I'm looking forward to most this next year is Christopher Nolan's sequel to Batman Begins, The Dark Knight. Take a look at the new trailer here...as much as I liked the original Batman (by original I mean the Tim Burton remake with Jack Nicholson and Michael Keaton), I think this has the potential to turn the whole thing around and make Heath Ledger's portrayal the definitive version.
One thing about Batman movies is that, in accordance with the Batman Theorem, the goodness of the movie has an inverse relationship with the number of heroes and villains. For example, the most recent (until the Nolan Batman movies) remake started off good with 1 hero and 1 villain, but finally swirled down the toilet with the last installment with 3 heroes and 2 villains. You can see this as well in the campy 1960s Batman movie with 4 villains and 2 heroes. Take a look at this trailer if you've never seen it before. I think you'll agree that the Batman Theorem is one to consider. The only question is if it applies to other movies as well.

Faithless in America

There’s an op-ed in the New York Times yesterday that aims to infuriate everybody in the LDS church. In it, Frank Rich takes Mitt Romney to task for not denouncing his church as racist before 1978. If he realizes the implication for this then he knows he’s asking for something impossible, if he doesn’t then he needs to do some research. If Mitt was to say that he believed the church was racist in 1978 he would be saying one of two things: the church doesn’t operate on revelation but on the ideas of a bunch of old men and therefore it isn’t true or God is a racist. Either way it’s a pretty earth shattering thing to say for political points. It would be the equivalent of Joe Lieberman criticizing Moses for drowning all those Egyptians or engaging in ethnic cleansing during the conquest of Palestine. It’s not going to happen, nor should it be asked. What I would say (and actually do) is that it’s unfortunate that blacks didn’t have the priesthood before 1978. That doesn’t mean it’s a racist policy, it’s just what the Lord wanted for one reason or another and I’m not about to question His reasons. It's the same with polygamy, and I'm sure that from the outside looking in those are calculated decisions made by a group of conniving old men in Salt Lake, but for those of us in the LDS Church that's not the case. Instead of sitting in your Ivory Tower and making observations from afar, get out and go to Africa. Ask those Saints who waited decades to become official members of the church despite there being a "racist policy" in the Church and no missionaries to speak of to baptize them. They organized, led meetings, and prayed and waited for the day when the Lord would open the priesthood to them and allow missionaries to come to Africa. A fantastic overview is in this talk right here. Tell the hundreds of thousands of Pacific Islanders, Asians, and even African Americans who were members of the church and took advantage of what it had to offer all the way back to the time of Joseph Smith that they are being disenfranchised. I am surprised he didn't level a sexist charge at us as well for not allowing women to have the priesthood. The bottom line is that he ought to do some research, interviewing some actual church members about their opinions before bashing Romney for not condemning God for being racist.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

What's Bad is Good Again

MSNBC had a fascinating article a few days ago that scrolled by on my Vista sidebar this morning and I had to share it. Apparently there's not really much evidence other than the conventional wisdom (a guy from 50 years ago said it and everyone lined up behind him) that saturated fat is the worst kind of fat for you. This is great news for my upcoming (well, April) trip to The Prime Rib in DC. I'm not going to lie to you...I'd almost eat the prime rib there even if I knew that as a result on my way out the door I would keel over and die.

Too Little is Too Much

I was driving home from the gym this morning, sitting at a stoplight and playing with my iPhone when I started thinking that I could blog from it if I'm not at a computer. Now that's nice! What that got me thinking of though was the Twitter service. Has anyone else heard of this and/or used it? The concept is that you can essentially SMS updates of your boring, everyday life to the internet where it will somehow become interesting. Here would be a set of Twitter updates if I was there (each line would be its own post)

Got up, made Boudin Sourdough French toast for my wife and I

Got Alyssa ready

Went to the gym

Came home

Blogged on Blogger

How boring is that? Eating pancakes doesn't get more exciting because it's written down than it did if you just did it. I have to say that if regular blogging is boring, this is the literary equivalent of watching paint dry. I know that it's not anything I'll ever look into, but what do you think?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

This Song For Rent

The RIAA has long been one of my least favorite groups, but just when I think they can't get worse they do. Now they're trying to sell the idea that we can't time shift music to a judge. This doesn't just mean that we can't download songs off of sites like Kazaa, it means that in their legal opinion we can't burn CDs to our computers. Honestly, what is going on here? They opined back when they were fighting Grokster that we could do that and now because record sales are in the toilet (which I would say is because there's not as many good albums released now as there used to be) and they want to be known as more ham-fisted than the MPAA we can't copy our CDs without being criminals. It's clear that they believe that we have no ownership at all of the products we buy, we're merely renting the intellectual property until such a time that the CD breaks or technology moves on and then we should have to re-rent that.
Last time I checked, these products are made available for sale, not out of the goodness of the record labels' hearts for rent to anyone who wants them. If they want people to not be criminals, why don't they try not criminalizing our behaviors? While I have moral issues with stealing songs and whatnot, I think the more they treat their customers like criminals, the more they will become criminals. I have no problem sticking it to the man, in as moral a way as possible, because the man needs to be knocked down a few pegs. I'd love to see artists split from the RIAA and self-release music like the Eagles and Radiohead have done. Merely not buying music isn't going to stop the problem, it will only lead to them blaming us for their problems. If the artists, especially the big ones (U2, Coldplay, Justin Timberlake, 50 Cent, Kanye West, etc) jump ship, the labels will fail because their meal ticket is gone. I have no problem paying U2 for their music and the digital revolution, with iTunes and other digital middlemen mean that you still need promotion, but it's much easier and cheaper than it used to be. Touring will still be the backbone of support, but you don't need Columbia Records to make some marketing materials for you. Let's turn the system on its head and see what it does for everyone.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

iEnvy 5 and Other Miscellania

I finally did it. After quite a while of desperately wanting an iPhone (for instance, see here, here, here, and here), I decided to take the plunge. Honestly, Steve had me at hello. The one thing that Apple does better than anyone else is make opening the product an experience. Everything is put together in a way that makes it quite exciting. It came almost fully charged right out of the box, I connected it to my computer, and a few minutes later I was ready to go with everything squared away. It's been absolutely delightful, even though I know it's been less than a day since I got it. Nevertheless, what a great purchase, even though I know it'll be obsolete come 6 months after this MacWorld.

CompUSA is officially going out of business
. I can't say I'm surprised, nor can I say I'm sad. Good riddance to a company that was forever stuck 10 years behind what they were selling.

I hurt my back a week ago tonight and couldn't get off the ground for nearly an hour. I'm telling you what, a back injury is the worst thing in the world. Women can say it's pregnancy, but I'd have to disagree. Unless you're on bed rest or that pregnancy gives you a back injury. Then I'd probably agree. After suffering through 2 days of pain and not being able to put on my own pants (because muscle relaxers didn't do jack squat and neither did any pain meds - not that I wanted vicodin or anything like that, because I didn't want to do more damage because I couldn't feel pain), I went to a guy who practiced something called "Advanced Bio Mechanics." Look it up on the internet, I dare you. You won't find a thing. Perhaps you could Google "voodoo" instead, because that's essentially what it was. It was voodoo that completely healed my back! My pain went away and after the hour session I could actually put on my shoes and socks again. My wife noticed a huge difference too. We've referred like 10 people to this guy because for all the it shouldn't work that there is about it, it works.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Compudaisy?

I sure hope that this story from Engadget is accurate. CompUSA has officially made it to my dead to me list after thinking about doing it with my last trip there, and for it to not only be dead to me, but dead to the rest of the world is an encouraging development. Even Gordon Ramsay couldn't turn this place around, although if it were a restaurant he might have a fighting chance.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

A Peculiar People


There are definite reasons that Mormons are referred to as a peculiar people, perhaps no more so than our proclivity for "deep doctrine" - those things that aren't readily explained in the scriptures. This unfortunately gives some of us a tendency to go into deeper doctrine - things that aren't really explained anywhere, except in our heads. In other words, total bull crap. I've had a couple of experiences with it in these past few weeks. My first brush with bull was in a gospel doctrine class (for those not in the know, that's essentially a class where we get together and discuss the scriptures). We were talking about 1 and 2 Peter and the teacher had our self-proclaimed gospel expert get up and explain "Calling and Election Made Sure."
Again, a definition. According to Joseph Smith, having your calling and election made sure is when you recieve the second comforter, i.e. see Jesus Christ. It's something that seems to be pretty rare, indeed, if you weren't ready for that, you're damned to an eternity in purgatory. That's why you have to be at a certain point in your progression to have it happen and why it is exceedingly rare (I would posit that there are perhaps 15 people on the planet who have had this happen at any given time). Despite this being the official position as explained in commentaries and the like, our resident expert proceeded to say that this was something that happened in our temples. There are many ceremonies performed in our temples, including marriages, but this caused me to perk up because I had never heard of anything like this, and I consider myself pretty learned in all things Mormon. He said that people would go into a room in the temple, hear "This is my beloved son, hear Him!" and then see Christ. It was really starting to sound like bull at this point, but then 3 other people in my class backed him up. I was open to the fact that perhaps this was something I'd never heard of before, but it seemed awfully strange. It didn't sound like an ordinance, it was very, very exclusive, but not in the "you have gotten to a point where this is possible" sense, just in the "you're getting a call from the office of the First Presidency" sense. I asked a few people whom I consider actual gospel scholars about it and who have been around quite a bit longer than me and they told me it was a load of crap that was going around a few decades ago and it's been passed on to our generation now. While I do believe that there is something that may occur with regards to seeing the Savior, I think it's pretty restricted, i.e. if you aren't a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, you're not going to be getting that opportunity any time soon.
The second instance is one where my aunt, who I think has gone a bit beyond the bounds of normal channels. She has prophesied the following things: an earthquake in Salt Lake Valley next year and a worldwide famine that would start in April 2008 and be announced by President Hinckley in January. While I know that famine is one of the tools in the "punish the wicked" arsenal, it's a more local tool. I could see pestilence or disease or a mondo earthquake before that. I also am a firm believer in the priesthood line of authority, where this particular revelation, if it was indeed to be spread by anybody, would have been given through the head of the church. Instead, she has chosen not to observe the council of Boyd K. Packer when he said that (and I'm paraphrasing here) the members of the church would receive more revelation if they would keep quiet about what they got. She definitely isn't in the keep quiet category, so I find this highly dubious that suddenly she's getting revelation for all these people. You might as well put her in the same category as Bishop John Koyle and the Salem Dream Mine. Will I make sure I have a year of food storage? Sure, that's the prudent thing to do anyway. Will I also take what she has said with one of my 25 lb bags of salt too? Indeed I will.

Monday, December 03, 2007

IT Pet Peeve of the Day

Can I say how annoying it is that people don't know their user names? They log on to these computers and/or programs every day and yet they have a coronary when I log on as the administrator because they don't remember their login names. Not only that, they don't know they don't know their login names. They come to me and say that they can't log in. The only reason for this is because they don't have the right login name. Ugh.

I'm Jazzed


I'm quite excited about the first month of NBA basketball. I'm even more excited about the play of the Utah Jazz. I thought that they had potential for sure, but I didn't know they would be off for a (at their current pace) 56 win season this year. I've been impressed by a couple of things:
1. How wrong I was about Andrei Kirelinko. After his comments in Russian about how disgruntled he was with Coach Sloan and the Jazz system, combined with the disparaging comments from Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer about his work ethic and I thought that if we didn't deal him we'd end up with another one of those Greg Ostertag situations where nobody wins, except for the player's bank account. Instead AK-47 has stepped up and returned to his All-Star form, making both fantasy owners and me delighted.
2. The emergence of Ronnie Brewer. I don't understand why Jazz fans booed Derek Fisher when he came back to the Delta Center this year. It's completely mental. Sure, this wasn't his destination of choice for a variety of reasons, but he gave us what we needed: a one year leadership training seminar for Booz and D-Will. Why would we want to be yoked to his mega contract when we're getting more production out of Brewer at a fraction of the price? The Jazz came out of that deal as good as I could have imagined.
3. Coach Sloan's evolution. Who knew that Sloan could be somewhat warm and fuzzy? I have always appreciated his hard-nosed approach with his players, although that has led to some problems at times (see: Milt Palacio/Keith McLeod/Carlos Arroyo), it's something that has brought his teams up a notch. While I'm sure Williams hated the first part of his rookie year, I think that it has helped him become a better leader. It's certainly helped the Jazz' work ethic all around. I think that Sloan has gotten the most out of his players, but when he found out that he wasn't doing that with AK, he did a Malonesque 360 and gave him what he needed.
4. D-Will's emergence as the leader. Booz is right there with him, but Williams is a presence to behold and he's taking that role and running with it. On top of that, they've become a spectacular team. With AK out of his funk, the Jazz have 4 All-Star caliber players in their starting lineup with Brewer a valuable role player (although Okur has not played nearly as well as he did last year). It's certainly the best lineup the Jazz have had since Hornacek retired, if not ever.
5. Fess. He's going to be good. I'd love to see him step up to the NBA permanently and replace Collins, who is not worth what we're paying him to flop.

Some disappointments:
1. Okur. Yeah, he's had a bad back, but that's tough. We could really use him spreading the floor and creating mismatches for his opponents. If he can return to last year's form, that'd really be a great development.
2. Gordan Giricek's Expiring Contract. Why don't we use this for something? It's 4.4 million that we could package to somebody for something and it comes off the books at the end of the year. Put him and Collins together with a draft pick or something and get us a return on that investment!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Compuganda


I will do almost anything in this world to avoid going to CompUSA, including and perhaps even beyond sacrificing a virgin to Ba'al. For a store that should be cutting edge they certainly don't act like it. I had to go there to get a Tungsten E2 and even though they use a commission system to compensate their floor reps it took 10 minutes of me standing there and trying to look perplexedly at the locked cabinet and at all the people who didn't want an easy sale. Finally someone came over, asked if I needed help. I said that I'd like to buy an E2. He didn't have the keys for the cabinet, so he had to go get them from somewhere. I won't fault the guy for that. He comes back, unlocks the cabinet, and gets the Palm. He then escorts me to the cash registers, none of which look like they're open, and asks if someone can help me. They come to the registers, and that's where the fun starts. Before she even can scan my device she needs some information. I'm not talking about a zip code. She asks me what the phone number is. I give our company phone number. She asks what name I want it under. I give our company name. Apparently that's not enough. She asks for my name. She then asks for my address and my phone number (again). After I give her a blood and stool sample to actually buy something, she has to scan the E2 about 5 times in order for it to come up on the register. I really think this might have been her first day. She manages to get that part of the transaction taken care of when the real fun begins. They have a promotion in their circular where you get a $10 gift card for every $100 spent in a single transaction. This is certainly the most perplexing promotion in the history of the world to these rocket scientists. They don't know how to apply the promo. The circular for CompUSA came out over the past weekend (it's now Thursday), it's on the front page and there isn't anybody in the store who knows how to do it. My cashier goes and asks her manager. The manager doesn't know, so they go up the food chain. She asks her supervisor and there's a whole conference going on up front. Every single person, except for the person in charge of business services...the only person in the whole store whos job it is to make checking out even more difficult than regular checkout (after all, nothing says service like a half hour checkout!), is conferring with each other. They finally decide they can't do much about it, so they go into the general manager's office. Unlike a typical day at CompUSA, there's actually 4 people in line behind me waiting. They've been sitting there for at least 5 minutes at the only open cash register. Finally one of the salespeople decides that they should probably help the other people because chances are they will all be checked out by the time my conundrum is figured out. My saleswoman comes back and it looks like we might have some success. My Palm is $199.99, so I ask if that counts for one $10 gift card or two. This throws her for a loop and she looks at me as though I had just landed from Mars. I ask again...I'm not speaking Chinese here. She says "just one" so I look right around the register for the cheap crap that can add a penny to my price. She again gives me that "now...waaaa?" look. I don't think anybody's tried to add an extra penny to their order to get a cool Hamilton. She backs away from the register and runs back to the GM. Meanwhile I look for something as close to $.01 as possible. She comes back after I scour the front of the store and tells me the first good news of this trip: I can get me another $10 without padding my reciept by a penny. She pulls out over 100 gift cards and asks me "which ones do you want?" I point at 2 random ones that are the same design. "Are you sure you want those? They're the same design." I say yes. Now comes another difficult part: applying those to the reciept. She only has to ask for help twice and get the regular manager to come back over to the register once. She gets them taken care of and I swipe my credit card. CompUSA finally has stopped needing an imprint of your credit card (thank heaven for small miracles), but instead of that she had to go over to a copy machine and (no joke) make a copy of my reciept. They have a copy machine set up in front of the store for occasions just like this where people buy something instead of looking and leaving. She copies my reciept, brings it back over and gives it to me. She then asks if I want a holder for my cards. I said no and finally left the store, a little under an hour after I got there.
They've been in serious financial trouble for a while now and it's not hard to see why. They've managed to turn one of the most simple concepts in retailing into a song and dance that is like nothing I have ever seen. While it's been bad before, it's never quite been like this. We'll see if I decide to make them dead for me because it's not worth an hour of my time to shop at an overpriced retailer when I can go to Newegg.com and get good service and better prices.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Building a Thicker Skin

Maybe those in the Muslim world should chill out for just half a minute. Now they're all up in arms because a teacher allowed a class to name a teddy bear Mohammed. Heaven forbid somebody names something after someone. I understand respect for deity and all, but Mohammed isn't deity. It's like the Jews getting mad someone named a bear Abraham or the Catholics that someone named a stuffed elephant Pope or us Mormons getting mad that someone named an alligator Joseph Smith. Whoop-de-doo. Chill out and then wonder why everyone thinks you're a little too fatwah crazy...maybe it's because every time someone even remotely thinks about doing something related to your religion that might not go with what you like then you call for one. Of course, it's generally the Wahabbi Muslims who give them all a bad name...I shouldn't generalize like that because there are moderates out there, and a lot of them. They just don't have the same voice that the extremists do.

Not A Fan

This is perhaps more of a set of posts in one (that's value creation), but here are some things that are on notice that I've never explained here that I will explain now.

Bill Walton

I'm not quite sure why I dislike him as much as I do. I know some of it is because he's a meatball. He might have been a great college center, and he might have even been a good NBA center. Nevertheless, he's not a great commentator and his voice just bugs me to death. He has his biases that completely cloud his judgment. I remember several games during the 1998 playoffs between the Utah Jazz and Portland Trail Blazers where he would talk about how bad the Jazz were or how poorly Karl Malone was playing, even though he was doing good. I wish that examples were on YouTube, and here's at least a sample of his announcing. I loved it when Steve "Snapper" Jones would totally bring the hammer down on him and Walton would just stammer and then list off his "5 Greatest Players who did X." The list would inevitably be the following:
1. Shaq
2. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
3. Bill Russell
4. Oscar Robinson
5. and Me (i.e. old Bill Walton himself)
Those lists were always the same guys and they always involved how darn great Shaq was. He could have put the same group in the "5 Greatest Free Throw Shooters of All Time" and it wouldn't have changed things despite Shaq's penchant for shooting south of 50% at the line.

Orem City Traffic Lights

If I was elected to any position in Orem City, this would be my first thing I would do. Seriously, the guys in their traffic management office are the worst in the world. When I start from a red light I always hit every single light unless I'm blazing along at 65-70 MPH. This ensures that we have maximum gridlock, minimum MPG, and maximum pollution. Call me crazy, but I think that what would be better for the whole city would be to let the traffic flow. Granted, if they were sensor lights, I could see things being that way due to the other streets. The issue is that they are on timers and they still can't get them timed right. Maybe those traffic engineers should drive along the streets themselves and see what they have caused?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

What Kind of Traveler Are You?

I came across an interesting website this morning (you might have trouble accessing it - the WSJ did a piece on it today and it's getting hammered) that uses a variety of questions to let you know what kind of traveler you are. I think it has me pegged pretty good. It calls me a "Mid-venturer" - someone who "[likes] to travel, especially to foreign destinations and you seek new experiences and new destinations for almost all trips you take. You are also physically active at home and on trips. But, unlike your pure venturer friends, you don't want to take such extreme vacations and are more likely to plan your trips-set an itinerary of places you want to visit and schedules when you will be there."
That sounds like me - I love me some foreign travel and want to see a bunch of stuff while I'm gone. It's why I'm not a huge fan of beaches, because there's just not a lot to do on them. They're fine for a few hours, but I'd much rather walk through the British Museum, hike along the Na Pali coast, or explore some obscure part of Tokyo. The questions that peg your travel style aren't the typical ones "do you like to sit on a beach" or whatever, so it's pretty interesting how it uses your other interests to peg your travel. Take a look at the test and see your perfect travel type.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

That's Not What The Law Said

The Salt Lake Tribune had an interesting story today about a motorist out on US-40 by Vernal who had the misfortune to run into a Utah Highway Patrol cop with an inferiority complex and a very, very short fuse. Like all smart motorists who have been mistreated, he filed a Freedom of Information Act query and got the dashcam to put it up on YouTube to let the world decide. I'd love to see this officer fired for what he did.



Update: The Deseret News has a much better article on it. They're right - YouTube posters have universally vilified the cop. I hope the very public pressure will get UHP to act quickly and decisively and nail this guy to the wall, lest they get sued by the defendant.

Monday, November 19, 2007

I Might <3 Huckabee

I don't know if I should find this awesome or appalling. While I like humor in my politicians, the usage of Chuck Norris is a bit disconcerting in the sense that he's Chuck Norris. It'd be like Barak Obama using Sylvester Stallone to show that he's tough on crime.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Jargonistic

One of the things that I hate more than just about anything is lame business jargon. I'll list a couple of my least favorite later on, but it's like kudzu. It's a weed that was introduced by somebody who thought he was clever or doing a good thing but that has long since destroyed creativity and direct speech. Instead of writing and/or saying what you mean, you run it into a translator that chops it up and adds a bunch of padding that destroys all semblance of a good idea. We're going over our Purpose/Vision/Mission here in our management meeting today and that's what got me thinking about it. A-Rod is the king of business jargon and to try to combat that, I did a google search for business jargon, which led me to here. Take a look, it's awesome. As for my least favorite terms:
Quick and Dirty: What would be a better term? Rough draft, something that's been around for ages. Instead, we end up with a deviant sex act in the boardroom.
Interface/Download/Upload: How about "let's talk?" Instead you make me rue the day computers were invented because you're talking like we're a machine and we're just sending data bits back and forth.
Benchmark: What the crap. How about you just say standard like a normal human being. Instead you have to try to adjectify a noun that has no business being adjectified. I know I just made up that word, but that's just too bad.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Signs You've Just Wasted $10 and 3 Hours of Your Life

There are few things worse than a bad movie. You spent the $10 to go see the movie (more than that if you took a date and/or bought concessions) and you are committing a chunk of your life to see something that you hope is good. Fortunately the movie trailer can be a good guide of how good or bad a movie is. Here is a handy guide on how you can tell if a movie sucks merely by watching the trailer.

The Too-Serious Comedy
You know these trailers. They use several tricks to make themselves appear to be far more earth-shattering than they actually are. The first is the big voice guy. You know him from every dramatic movie ever. Here's a good trailer for an interesting movie that features him in the only way he should be featured in a comedy:

The second is music. If a comedy is using anything dramatic for its trailer cues, you know you're in trouble. The most notable music, of course, is "O Fortuna" from Carmina Burana. It's a classic piece of music from a Carl Orff opera, but it has no place being in a comedy. Movies that have used it in their intros include such bombs as Jingle All The Way and Bushwhacked. Alas, most of these movies are too old for me to find a trailer online, but if you can find it, take a look.

The Terrible Action Movie
Here's one that's a bit harder. You can get away with "O Fortuna" and the big voice guy in an action movie. On the other hand there are a few tricks that they generally pull if the movie is junk. The most notable that is specific to action movies is the quick cut. They cut between scenes like a stuck remote control so you can't tell that the movie is terrible. Take the trailer for this Bruce Willis bomb The Jackal. Now that's a terrible movie and a classic example of an actor slumming it for a paycheck. It brings me to my general rules of thumb for any bad movie.

In General
Any movie that declares the pedigree of the actors has definite bad movie potential. I can't find a specific example because I don't go to the theatre as much as I used to but you've seen them before. Imagine each of the following lines as white letters on a dark background.
Starring
Academy Award winner Dustin Hoffman
Academy Award winner Kate Winslet
Directed by Academy Award winner Ridley Scott
Pants on Fire
Unless it's a drama (the only exception to this rule) if it says how darn great the actors are then it's a piece of junk. The actors' names should stand for themselves instead of wanting a globe or a man to speak for them. If they don't and they have to lard it up with kudos, you're in trouble.
If the trailer for the movie itself isn't good, you know the movie won't redeem that. A trailer is the best 2 minutes of a movie and if it doesn't leave you saying that you want to watch it, the movie is best left unwatched.
Hopefully these tips will leave your pockets fuller and your lives less like my mom's DVD cabinet, where Blockbuster goes to get its rentals and you can't trust anything she has because there are no gems.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Children's Wasteland

Kids cartoons are absolutely pathetic these days. I remember the good old days when cartoons were epic…I would wake up early every Saturday morning to watch shows like Captain N The Game Master and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. As a matter of fact, I remember quite well when the Chinese government crushed the demonstration in Tiananmen Square for one reason: it interrupted my cartoons. I kept watching it to see if it would go back to cartoons, to no avail. I rued the day that the Chinese government decided to crush feeble Democracy. It ruined my TMNT episode that morning.
Anyway, in St Thomas there wasn’t much to do relatively speaking and one thing my daughter kept asking for whenever we were in the hotel room was TV. We’d turn it on in the background and the only kids channel was Cartoon Network. Now in my day cartoons were successful and then spawned action figures to sell, except for the aforementioned Captain N, which was a 30 minute Nintendo commercial, but it didn’t beat you over the head with it, in the sense that they didn’t stop the show to extol the virtues of Mario Paint. The cartoons I had the misfortune to see were completely different. There’s Pokemon where there is at least some kind of coherent plot, so it’s not as bad. It’s still a lousy cartoon, but it could be worse. It could be like the one cartoon that I forgot the name of where you had two characters fighting back and forth. This action though was in completely lame “let’s play cards” form. They pulled out the cards from whatever game the cartoon was based on and talked about all the different things that their cards did. They explained the rules of the game and everything. I’m just glad that I was a kid during the golden age of Saturday morning cartoons when we could watch Voltron, Transformers, Thundercats, and Ducktales and not have it turned into a boring card game.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Kicking You While You're Down


This insane bill right here is for the ambulance service for my wife when she was taken 4 miles to the hospital after her accident. If you can't read the tiny type, that's over $1000 for an hour of work. For the record, that's more than what the hospital charged by a few hundred dollars. That included an ER stay and a few hours up at labor and delivery. For the ambulance to be that much (over $800 for the base fee and $30+/mile) is ridiculous. I can see it being a few hundred dollars, but with fees like this I wonder if Orem is subsidizing the fire department with these costs because there is no way an ambulance should cost this much.

Friday, November 09, 2007

24 in '94

Here's a hilarious (to me anyway as I am the perfect combination of tech lover/24 fan for this kind of humor) parody of what 24 would have been like had they started it back in the mid-90s. Enjoy!

Jon Huntsman is a Colossal Wuss


Why do I say this? Because our state's Governor decided that the definitive issue of his governorship back in 2004 was getting school vouchers passed. He was elected and vouchers did get looked at by the Utah State Legislature. They were passed, he signed them to much fanfare, and then people started opposing it. By people I mean of course teachers and teachers' unions. Anything that would inject some sort of competition into an archaic, Soviet-style school system and force some change is just wrong. I am over-generalizing, I know, but the fact does remain that the legislature passed it. The people spoke in favor of a referendum, as is our right to do so. I'm not angry at that. What does annoy me, however, is the Governor suddenly kicking back and saying "well, whatever." After pushing them and using that as a lever to get him elected, he decided that it didn't matter anymore. He became a man without principles because it was politically expedient to do so. I don't know if he cared about vouchers and was afraid of what the UEA would do to him in 2008 or if he didn't care about vouchers and was afraid of what the Republicans would do to him in 2004. Either way, I'm about yea close to voting for whoever runs against him next year. That includes Matheson, Jr. He has acres of political capital and he chose not to use it at all even though this was supposedly his top priority. That's like President Bush saying that prosecuting the war in Iraq is his top priority, followed by withdrawing all the troops from the country. He's a lot of things, but he actually does stand by his beliefs, for better or worse. What really made it bad was that Huntsman voted for the vouchers. He showed he still backed them, but chose not to use his influence to get something that he cared about passed. He makes other politicians look like ametures because he is just that skilled and practiced at being entirely inoffensive.

Again, I'm not mad at the voucher opponents. I think they're wrong, but they won fair and square. I didn't see nearly as many ads from voucher proponents, nor did I see as much mail from them. I think that some of that is because there were more national groups pumping money into the anti-voucher side instead of the one man Overstock.com wrecking crew that was the pro-voucher group. The other reason is because the most influential man in Utah politics decided to sit this one out because it was just too hot to handle.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Handicapping 2008

I'm going to go ahead and start my Election 2008 coverage early as a result of me wanting to talk about it and The Wall Street Journal listing Hillary and Rudy in a dead heat, even though voters would prefer an unnamed Democrat to an unnamed Republican for president.
Who would you vote for? Comment below.
In this hypothetical matchup, I'd have to vote Rudy. There simply is no other choice. Hillary is so diametrically opposed to my beliefs (and I have a story about that too!) that it leaves me with no other option. While I'm not decided on any candidate yet, I am decided on the candidate(s) that I don't want to win, and Hillary is at the top of that list. I wish the Democrats would pick Obama and give me an actual choice. I really like him, despite Oprah's endorsement and the love of Oprah Nation for him. He's one of the few Democrats that I would consider voting for, despite our differences of opinion, in large part because I believe he is a genuine thoughtful human being who cares about the issues and about the opposition.

St.Thomas: The Island Review

Here are the good things and bad things that I've experienced here on my trip. One thing to keep in mind is that I am, by nature, an explorer, not a knock-abouter. I want to see things that I haven't seen before, not lounge on a beach.


Why I don't like beaches:

I used to, I really did. I remember them being a highlight of my family's frequent trips to Southern California, even though SoCal beaches are the equivalent of a meal at Chili's. You could do worse, but you could do a lot better too. St. Thomas' beaches are definitely like a trip to Gordon Ramsey's restaurants. They are incredible, no question about it. At the same time, I am not a fan of salt water. It's just plain nasty tasting, and you taste too much of it at the ocean. I think that's my biggest problem with it, is the salt. Give me some chlorine and a pool instead. That's the great thing about where we are - the pool is right by the ocean.

Back to St Thomas:
The Good - Warm weather, friendly people, no hurricanes, amazing scenery
The Bad - Driving on the wrong side of the road, nobody obeys traffic laws, mosquitos that have made me a buffet line, high prices.

Overall it's been a ton of fun. I'm going to begin on an election thoughts post here and we'll see if I can make it through before my daughter wakes up and we're back out in the sun

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Working Vacation

This is the view off my balcony. I'm currently at a conference in St. Thomas that is really more play than work. It's only half days so you can hang out and do whatever you want. For all the griping I've done, this really is one of the very nice perks.

Friday, November 02, 2007

IT Pet Peeve O' The Day

I've gotten this enough that it's now an official pet peeve: people think I'm their password manager. I've gotten this from three or four people over the past two weeks on our color copier. We've set up password protection on color copies because of the penchant for abuse inherent in a color copying machine. Because of the numerical keypad, it's a number based system and so people's user names are things like 10, 11, etc. The password is always some variant on what an idiot would have on their luggage, but the user name is something I would expect people to remember. I certainly haven't. Nevertheless, they don't remember their user name and they expect me to. I then have to set them up with a new user name and the same idiot password. Maybe I shouldn't be annoyed by this, but is it really too much to ask someone to know their own user names and passwords?

The All-Americans

Take a look at The American Spectator's cover story this month...it's an incredible story of a battle the 82nd Airborne had in Iraq a few months ago:
According to the available evidence, nearly 40 al Qaeda were directly involved in the assault on Reaper's position (they believed the team on the roof comprised nearly a dozen American soldiers [there were actually only 4] - ed]). During the firefight, which lasted less than ten total minutes, Corriveau and Moser had killed at least ten enemy fighters -- possibly as many as fifteen -- and had not only kept themselves alive, but, against all odds, had prevented al Qaeda from succeeding in their real goal: to kidnap the soldiers on the rooftop, and to make a public spectacle of their imprisonment and murder, just two weeks before General Petraeus's internationally viewed testimony on Iraq before the U.S. Congress.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Online Karaoke

Here's an idea who's idea is long overdue: singing terribly in front of the whole world. If you don't think this is the best version of Whitney Houston's syllable-elongating "classic" (by which I mean "lousy song that I don't like"), you've got some sort of problem.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Not Enough WUB In The World

So my wife's car is dead. Here's an obituary.
1995 Nissan Altima, you died last week in an accident that was as tragic as it was unavoidable. My wife liked you, even though I thought you were a weak car. That was further cemented by the repairs that were done after your engine had some problems. You had a wimpy little engine that did pretty well in the middle gears but had some problems in the first couple of gears. Nevertheless my wife did like you, and part of that could be because of your license plate and the easy association between WUB and love that it did provide. You deserved better, perhaps getting sold for pennies on the dollar to some immigrant family who couldn't afford a good car or getting sold on trade in. Instead you will become a kidney car and Greg Ostertag, somewhere, is smiling because of it. May your tires pay for a couple of drugs that help somebody who has to have dialysis.

You can see that the SUV really hammered the corner of the car. As the towing guy said "that's not going to be driveable again." He could be wrong of course...if we wanted to pay that kind of money. Since we don't, he's right.
Another look at the damage from another angle. Let me just say that car+SUV doesn't turn out well for the car.

My wife, sad that her car has met an untimely demise.

Monday, October 29, 2007

When Mormon Marketers Attack

I know that I've been annoyed by this before, but here's another group of stuff that bugs me. Everybody does it, but I think that your typical "I'm going after Mormons, and they'll buy anything tangentially related to their religion" products are pretty much the worst things out there.
Example 1: The Blatant Rip-offYou are reading that right...The Moroni Code. If I were Dan Brown, I'd be filing something in court right now. Replace Da Vinci with Moroni and a good book with unreadable schlock and you have yourself a surefire "bestseller" in the sense that they'll plop it on the cover of the next edition even though it's only the bestselling book at the Salt Lake City Deseret Book and not with anybody who matters. I've heard that Dan Brown's next book (if it is ever released) The Solomon Key will talk about the symbolism in the construction of the Salt Lake Temple. I'll wait for that rather than translating code that somebody put on a piece of paper that happens to be a family heirloom that an FBI agent is using for one purpose or another.

Example 2: The "We Can't Even Get a Slumming Actor" F-List film
Ah these gems of Mormon Cinema. I liked The Singles Ward all right and all, but I curse it for unleashing a torrent of garbage my way. Here's a movie that is certainly for LDS consumption, what with the use of a common LDS phraseology, but the guy who looks like he's constipated in the center is supposed to be a returned missionary (RM). This isn't an RM in the sense that he once went on a mission, this is straight from the mission field. Judging by the age of the characters, the age of missionaries has been raised from 19-26 to somewhere around 29-36, possibly even older. I would also like to mention how unattractive all 3 of the main characters are, aside from the main character bearing down, you've got the weathered "I hate men" lady with the scarf who looks like she'd like to kill someone and the spinster on the other side of him with the disapproving look. Of course, if someone was bearing down in front of me, I'd have that same look.

Example 3: The Disapproving Crap On The WallHere's what guilty people and/or haughty people put on their walls. "Oh, you like Christmas presents, do you? You're no better than the pharisees!" Apparently love and presents can't coexist at Christmas time. I could be mistaken, but love was indeed present as I unwrapped my presents from everyone. They did give them to me, didn't they? That cost money, right? Who gives money to those they don't love (excepting perhaps tax writeoffs and charitable causes, but that's beside the point)? Thanks for trying to bludgeon me with your too stringent application of gospel principles that aren't even really principles in the first place. I appreciate it.

Example 4: The Nonsensical SayingI don't get this saying. Perhaps because I think that those ellipses hide something that might help it make sense. Also because there must not be many people in love as only insomniacs can't sleep. I guess they're the ones who are in love.

Friday, October 26, 2007

The Big Throwdown/(Tell Me Why) I Don't Like Fridays II

Can we never have a Friday again? Honestly, Fridays are terrible. Work wasn't bad today and Forro and I were in the middle of The Big Throwdown with A-Rod. It was going pretty well, and I would hope Forro will run a report on it because I never got to my part of The Throwdown because, for the second Friday in a row, there was a family emergency. My wife has been having kidney problems and we went to the hospital because of her pain last Friday and it's been difficult the past week because she's been hurting so much that she hasn't slept and she's been on pain meds. So she had a good night last night and it looked like things were moving on to something better. She was coming to see me in my office and it's only about 2 miles away from my office. She got in an accident. It wasn't just a fender bender...her car was wrapped around a traffic light. I got a call in the middle of the Throwdown with my wife saying "Come quickly, I've been in a serious accident." I went over there thinking the whole time "I hope that my wife, daughter, and unborn son are safe." I drove there, rather unsafely (which is perhaps a bit odd, but nonetheless) skirting through traffic in my G35 like i was on the Nürburgring. I got off northbound I-15 and turned towards the southbound onramp, where the accident was. It wasn't a pretty sight. There were 2 ambulances, a fire engine, about 5 cop cars, and a giant line of traffic that I had to wait through as I was contemplating what horrible fate may await me. As I got closer, I saw my wife's car wrapped around the aforementioned traffic signal, drivers' side on the pole. I was finally able to sneak through the intersection and park in a nearby parking lot. I ran across the street (traffic was pretty much at a standstill as 3 of 4 lanes were blocked, nevertheless it still wasn't my brightest moment) and saw that Alyssa was okay and being held by a random nice good samaritan lady. That was a relief, even though she was totally traumatized by what had happened. Rachelle was in a neck brace and on one of those backboards as they were pulling her out of the car from the passenger side. She ultimately was given the ticket and blamed herself from the get-go, although it's all fine. The car was a complete loss...it'll be an Abrams tank before too long. The police were actually quite nice and in an odd coincidence the officer who was the lead on the accident was a kid who was probably 10 years older than me who lived next door for a long time. That was unexpected. I went to the hospital, calling all the while, and after 4 hours split between the ER and Labor/Delivery, we went home, with some bruises and bad memories to show for it. It could definitely have been worse, so I'm glad it wasn't. At the same time we couldn't help feeling like this was a sign. What of? Well, there are really only 3 options
1) We haven't been doing what the Lord would have us do
2) This is just a random trial...our life's been great (even though I can still whinge with the best of them) and so here you go to learn.
3) 1 and 2.
I wish I knew what it was because it'd help out, but we're definitely going to work on being better because the last thing we need is for our house to burn down or one of us to get involved in a tragic blimp accident before we listen up. Anyway, all's as good as it can be right now, which is what matters the most.
Oh, and BTW expect some pictures of the car soonish. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon from the the great Detroit in the Sky, or to be more accurately, by the old Geneva Steel.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Big Throwdown

Today I think will be the day that Forro and I get to sit down with A-Rod and unload with both barrels on him. It's been scheduled for several weeks but as the result of a variety of things, most notably my wife being sick (which has also been responsible for the more sporadic blogging), it hasn't happened. Today we're hoping like the dickens that it actually will. I will absolutely let everyone know the results of this as soon as it happens

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

My Next Gun

Yes, I do have a bit of gun envy, just like every other male on the planet. Take a look at the object of my gun lust, courtesy of YouTube and Team Discovery Channel. I think my favorite quote is when the random guy with bad hair says "when you're hit by a large caliber like this, you're down." I would have thought getting hit with a .50 caliber round would be like a pinprick, it wouldn't knock you on your duff (among other things).

Lead to Believe

This is a little far-fetched to me. The New York Times has a whole article on the theory that violent crime decreased as a result of unleaded gasoline. Do I think that it has something to do with that? I really don't know. I'm glad it's gone, as there are certainly a lot of health hazards associated with lead, but that it was the cause of a crime wave? That doesn't sound right. On the other hand, the Roe effect (i.e. those who were more likely to be criminals started getting legally aborted in 1973) seems to be more the cause of that decrease. By pure coincidence lead began its phase-out in the same year that Roe v. Wade started phasing out unwanted children.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Where The Eagles Dare

One of the things that I used to do a lot more before I was married is listening to concerts on DVD. I am not much for watching the concert in general. It’s just not as exciting without 20,000+ screaming other people around you, although I do make an exception for U2 concerts because I find them fabulous spectacles. Nevertheless, the concert DVD that I keep going back to (and did tonight since my wife’s in bed trying to recuperate) is The Eagles’ Hell Freezes Over. I’m not quite sure why I like it as much as I do because while I do like The Eagles, there are several bands I like more. I think it’s a combination of a great setlist, a nice subtle crowd, and the definitive versions of some of their classics, including “Desperado,” “Hotel California,” and a couple of Don Henley hits – “Heart of the Matter” and “New York Minute.” It’s probably not in the best interests of me knowing what’s going on because I crank up the volume and really let it go with all 5.1 channels of DTS surround sound. Nevertheless, it’s what I’d consider one of my reference disks not because of the picture, but because the sound mixing is absolutely incredible. You sound like you’re actually in the crowd, and I love this disk for that. Here’s a little taste courtesy of YouTube. Give the whole disk a spin – it’s well worth it!

Meeting Diary 10/18

10:10 AM – I arrived late as I was busy doing other things and frankly didn’t care to be the only one here early. Unfortunately I was preceded both by Forro and by Jorge Posada. As a sidenote, if Alex Rodriguez leaves the Yankees, I’m going to have to change my baseball team names because A-Rod is the key to the whole thing, he’s the one with the nickname in the first place that matches our nickname for the main annoying person in this meeting. Of course, Alex Rodriguez’ nickname is more a term of endearment as opposed to annoyance and/or contempt.

10:14 AM – A-Rod arrives and slaps me in the face. It’s a metaphorical slap, but he just put down his management meeting sheet that has me as office manager. I really shouldn’t let this title thing bug me, but an office manager is a glorified secretary. They wouldn’t be part of your senior management team. I don't think it would bug me if he didn't update that lame sheet every week but keep me as office manager.

10:22 AM – Robinson Cano is here and Posada is up talking about stuff. A-Rod had some serious problems putting his hands around the concept of a wage index. I tried a number of different ways to explain what a wage index does and how it impacts us, but to no avail.

10:34 AM – Cano mentions the name of an employee of A-Rod’s as doing a great job. A-Rod says, “who?”

10:52 AM – I’ve been surfing the web and not updating my timelines, partly because I’ve not been paying much attention. However, a nice little note from the world of A-Rod is he asks me “how are things going with private pay insurances, are we billing them?” I say “what?” in large part because we’ve been billing them forever. I ask him to clarify what he’s asking, because he should know that. When I ask what he means he says, and keep in mind this is a direct quote, “that’s a good question.”

10:53 AM – Derek Jeter joins the game.

11:12 AM – I’m finishing up getting my costume for Halloween. God bless the internet.

11:13 AM – A-Rod’s putting together a binder. What will be in that binder for the leadership team? Who knows. The one thing I do know is that it will never be touched again.

11:18 AM – Another conversation with A-Rod:
Me: “you shouldn’t order any, it should be Giambi because he’s the one in charge of our clinical group,” A-Rod “Yeah. “
Me: “and he won’t be here until Tuesday.”
A-Rod “Well, I’ll not order any from a marketing standpoint”

11:22 AM – In the middle of a discussion where Derek Jeter doesn’t listen to anyone saying that electronic patient charts are actually better than paper, I get a call from my wife to pick her up from the doctor because she can’t drive home. This is followed by a trip to the hospital. Fortunately she’s back and doing okay. Fortunately also I wasn’t subjected to another 2 hours of the runaround on that subject.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

I'm Impressed

ESPN has a story today about Cleveland pitcher Paul Byrd. I'd never heard of him until he outpitched the Chen Ming Wang/Mike Mussina combination and then proceeded to do the same to Tim Wakefield yesterday. I have to say that I'm downright impressed with his beliefs. Sometimes it seems like sports stars "use" God in the "look at me, I'm pious!" sense. They get their reward, the attention, but then there are a group who actually try to practice what they preach. Byrd's one of them and he's written a manuscript about his beliefs and his struggles. Head over and give it a look. It's definitely worth 5 minutes or so.

Getting Biblical

Last night I got thinking about Adam and Eve. This is a classic Biblical account that almost everybody has been told for millennia now. The real questions is how "real" is it? One of the LDS Articles of Faith states that "We...believe the Bible to be the word of God, as far as it is translated correctly." That being said and with the caveat that I do indeed believe a lot of the Bible to have been translated correctly and I especially believe that the antediluvian account as told in the Book of Moses to be translated correctly, how much of it is an actual, literal honest-to-goodness history and how much is allegorical and/or a parable.
There are some aspects that I think are definitely accurate - i.e. there was a man named Adam and a woman named Eve (or whatever their names were in their language). The question is were they the progenitors of the entire human race or perhaps just a subset of them. Perhaps Adam was the first prophet and the house of Israel descended through him? Perhaps he was the paterfamilias of some of the major groups in the Middle East but not of groups here on the American continent. We know, and the Hebrew backs it up, that the Earth wasn't created in 7 24 hour days, but rather 7 periods of time. Likewise, I think it's highly unlikely that Adam lived for nearly a millennium. It's more likely that that was exaggerated for some point or another. Since the Biblical account of the creation and ancient Earth history was from Moses' time period perhaps there was a more definitive account of what exactly happened and the Israelites knew more about the time of Adam and this was meant as a type for their lives or somesuch. I'll probably revisit this more because it's such a vast topic, but does anyone else have any thoughts? Post a comment!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Musicology

No, I'm not talking about Prince's album of the same name. There's an actual field of science that is interested in what music does. It's not just about a catchy beat or good lyrics, it is something that Dr. Sacks (best known as the guy Robin Williams' character was based on in the movie Awakenings) feels is a part of us. Take a look at this dry, but rather interesting interview he recently had with a blogger over at the Wall Street Journal.

Nobel Jumped the Shark

I'm not going to knock Al Gore. He's a legitimate smart, boring guy along the lines of a liberal Ben Stein and he's also a Level 10 Vice President. He's done, or rather, worked to do a lot of good in the world, but how has he gotten a Nobel Peace Prize? According to Alfred Nobel, the winner of the Peace prize should be someone who has "done the most or the best work for fraternity between the nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses."
I suppose that he might have gotten in under the "prevent global warming and you'll prevent a Waterworld-style conflict" provision, because that's the only way I can see it being even remotely connected. The annoying thing is that the Nobel committee overlooked so many other good candidates for the Peace prize. They could have given another to Aung San Suu Kyi or to the Buddhist monks who are peacefully trying to right their country in Burma. They could have given one to Rafik Hariri for giving his life to try and turn Lebanon into a perpetual battleground into a functioning country. What about even giving it to Gordon B Hinkley and/or the LDS Church for supplying millions of pounds of food, clothing, and water to people involved in humanitarian crises around the globe over the past decade? There's also my personal favorite, Bono, for trying to fix Africa by eliminating the poverty that breeds war. What about for those who are trying to stop the bloodshed in Darfur or trying to eliminate the poppy economy in Afghanistan?
There are so many good candidates that it is disappointing the Nobel committee decided to make a political statement by awarding Al Gore the prize essentially for making An Inconvenient Truth. Sure, he's done more and he's definitely pro-environment, but what does that really have to do with peace? I changed all the lightbulbs in my house to CFLs (in part because Rocky Mountain Power and Costco combined to get them to me for the low, low price of 8 bulbs for 3 bucks), reducing my carbon footprint, and I try to keep the heat down in the winter and the A/C a little high in the summer. Why wasn't I considered? The UN passed the Kyoto Protocol (which has to do more for global warming than Gore has) and they didn't get it.
Ultimately, while Al Gore is working to do good (even though I don't necessarily agree with him), just doing good isn't enough. It's got to be doing good that helps to reduce war and apparently that's where Alfred Nobel and I agree and where the committee disagrees with both of us.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Upgrade Your Marriage

The story I came across this morning on Fox News is a bit off the wall. At the same time, I can see something like this and it being put forth as a panacea for all that ails you. So that I'm not viewed as a total Big-Brotheresque prude, let me first say that what you want to do is your own business. I don't care who or what you have sex with. In that sense, I would see these robot sexbots as a natural extension of the sex toys industry and it's latest invention, the Serbian knob on a stick.
At the same time, David Levy's idea that human-robot marriages will be legal and performed in 2050 is a bit out there. I suppose that it's possible, but I think before people can go about marrying inanimate objects, there are all kinds of animate objects to marry. I would think that in order for human/robot marriages to happen, polygamy, reverse polygamy (polyandry), human-animal marriage, and probably some other stuff would have to happen first. The big question for me here is why? What's the point of it? I suppose you might want to get your robot's tune-ups on your health plan, but other than that it just seems silly. I wouldn't be surprised for people to say they fall in love with their robots because as Levy says, you can program that sucker to be the perfect companion. You want to sit around and have it wait on you? It'll do that. You want it to sit around while you wait on it? It'll do that too. There's really nothing that a robot can't do...except love you back. Isn't that really part of the equation? I don't care how good looking a robot is or how perfect it is. Part of marriage and part of love is that you have two flawed people, each with different thoughts and feelings putting those aside and working together on a relationship. If it was just one-sided, what kind of relationship would it be? Sure, that robot could look like a circa 1999 Britney Spears or George Clooney and it would look like that, unchanging, forever. You'd always have arm candy for your parties or whatever, but the problem with having a Clooneybot and going to a party is that you're going to be made fun of for the rest of your life. Beyond that, no matter how good looking it is and how "loving" it is, it wouldn't love you. You'd be just as empty as before, except perhaps moreso because your Britneybot set you back $100,000. You'd have wild crazy relations and you'd be at least as sad and depressed as before.
Again, I don't care if people choose to have sex with these things. I just don't see the point of marriage because there's no relationship there. It's like marrying my Dimension XPS 410, only in woman form. It can update my blog, check my email, and surf the web, but it cares just as much about me as the pen on my desk.
(Feel free to insert your own "What if this runs on Windows/Blue Screen of Death joke here.)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Blame the Boss


No, I'm not talking about the Cheeth's The Boss. I'm talking about the big daddy of the New York Yankees, George Steinbrenner. He's going to fire (or rather not re-hire) Joe Torre because of his boneheaded meddling with the Yankees. I was reading over at Bill Simmons' site last night (where the gloating was palpable) and he had a link to his 2001 World Series game 7 column. I remember this game. It was the first time that you really saw the Yankees fail for a while. They were up 2-1 with Mariano Rivera, the greatest closer in the history of baseball and the greatest postseason pitcher ever coming up. It was money in the bank and then the unhittable got hit. The Yankees lost an emotional series to the Diamondbacks and instead of sticking with the core, building from within, and moving forward, Steinbrenner started meddling. Over the course of the next 5 years he tossed scads of money at superstars - Jason Giambi, Gary Sheffield, Randy Johnson, Kenny Rogers, Carl Pavano, Johnny Damon, Bobby Abreu, Alex Rodriguez, Kei Igawa, and so on. What did this do? It wasted a lot of money, that's for sure. Of course, the Yankees have always had a couple of bought stars on the team all the way back to Babe Ruth. The difference is that they weren't "George Steinbrenner's Fantasy All-Stars." They'd get a superstar or two and use them to compliment the rest of their team. As a result, the core of the team died. Sure, they have had a core - Rivera, Posada, Williams - that has remained constant, but it killed the team dynamic they had and emptied out their farm system to get all their hired guns. Now, for the first time in several years, they turned back to their old strategy. Brian Cashman managed to completely refresh their pitching by bringing up Ian Kennedy, Phil Hughes, and Joba Chamberlain with Jeff Karstens, Tyler Clippard, and others waiting in the wings. They didn't win. Of course, that's to be expected to some degree. They've been rebuilding ever since The Boss messed things up in 2002. They've been fortunate that they made the playoffs this year. I would expect that they will do far better next year, especially if they can get rid of The Boss' meddling. Torre's going to end up being the fall guy for doing a better managing job than he has in his career (despite his penchant for riding relievers until their arms fall off) because Steinbrenner is too proud to blame himself. Fortunately Cashman isn't under the gun because if he was I think you'd see the Yankees return to their ineptitude of the 80s. Sure, there are some good options to replace him - Joe Girardi and (possibly) Donny Baseball, but I don't think he's going to know what he had until he's gone. It's like when he kept hiring and firing Billy Martin. Martin's teams didn't perform how he wanted them to, so he fired him and then the next guy was worse, so Martin came back. Torre's not going to be yanked around so easily, but what I'd do is secure him, bring back A-Rod (who is one of the mercs that is worth his weight in gold), Posada, Rivera, and Pettite and allow the team to get a little more seasoned - Cano, Cabrera, Andy Phillips, and Reggie Williams All-Star Shelley Duncan along with the pitchers are all young - and they'll be back and stronger than ever.
Of course, that's if the Boss actually cared about what I say, which he doesn't.

Color Me Unimpressed


I'm supposed to be going to a conference in St. Thomas here in a month and I'll tell you what, the hotel it's at, the Wyndham Sugar Bay, is doing everything they can to not get my money. I think their reservations department is run by a monkey on a typewriter because so far I still don't have a reservation. I have done the following: 2 calls with messages left because nobody was there to take my call. 1 call where they told me to send an email to make the reservation because apparently they can't take it over the phone. That's bizarre to me, but what can you expect when you've just got that monkey and typewriter? I haven't heard back from them, made all the more troubling by the fact that I have my credit card number in there. For all I know they're busy racking up a sizeable bill at Bluefly.com right now. I just called and had a momentary hiccup in my phone service because AT&T and the Hyatt Regency Denver don't like each other too much. I'll try again on my way to the airport and hopefully they'll take it that time. The only reason I'm not going elsewhere is because of the conference rate I'm getting and it's a far sight below the price at a place like the Ritz-Carlton there, although I would go elsewhere in a heartbeat because this is the worst hotel service I've ever seen. The sad thing for Wyndham is that this is coloring every other travel decision I will make. Instead of taking my money there, I'd prefer going to a Hampton Inn which, while not luxurious, is a nice product at a good price and a money back guarantee. If the Wyndham had that, I'd have some free rooms for this stay coming up already

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Playing To Your Strengths

After that incredibly annoying diatribe from the head of my organization (national lobbying organization, not the head of our company), we got an awesome speech from Marcus Buckingham. In case you don’t know who he is, he’s the co-author of two of the most influential business books of the past decade, First Break All the Rules and Now Discover Your Strengths. He’s got a new book out called Go Put Your Strengths to Work. I love listening to the major consultants – Jack Welch, Marcus Buckingham, Rudy Giuliani, Jim Collins, and even Stephen Covey. Why? For starters, they’re engaging. They do this for a living and it shows. They know how to use humor and everything in their bag of tricks for maximum play. Second, they have extraordinarily useful stuff. Buckingham talked about quite a few different ideas starting with working on your strengths instead of your weaknesses. Manage around your weaknesses and spend no more than 25% of your day doing things unrelated to your strengths. Essentially it’s almost an economic view on an individual level – if you’re the best at putting a widget in a car door and you love to do it, focus on that, don’t try to put a piston in a chamber. Put your widgets in and enjoy your life. There was so much more, but I would be remiss if I didn’t point you to his website and say take a look at all of that.

Thoughts on My Insanely Liberal Organization

I’m a conservative in a field that is dominated by liberals. I don’t just mean 60%, I mean that something like 90% of the people in this field are liberal. It leads to a lot of speeches by our national lobbying organization's leader and a lot of guest speakers who rail on anything that has to do with a Republican cause. Since I certainly can’t stand up and debate him here in front of a couple thousand other people, I figure that I’d rebut some of his arguments here in my blog.

  1. We’re not paying for this war because we’re not sacrificing. There’s a bit of yes and no to this. On one hand, we aren’t. The soldiers are and some Americans are, but just because we’re not paying higher taxes or using ration coupons doesn’t mean that we’re not doing our part. I suppose that the Democrats who pull out this old canard feel like we should torpedo our economy for the sake of the war. Nothing says sacrifice like a recession/depression!

  2. “We’re fighting the last great civil rights battle.” He always is saying this. He mentions that old people don’t have the right to assembly or freedom of speech or whatnot because they’re stuck in their homes. For some reason I don’t buy that. My primary example is AARP. AARP is the single most powerful lobby in Washington and if you touch Social Security or Medicare, you have to go through them to do it. I don’t see a lot of civil rights issues here.

  3. “If Congress was run by women, we wouldn’t have all these problems.” That’s rich. I’ll go completely the other way and say that there’d be fights all the time. Russia paints her nukes the same color as ours? Why this means war! Those olive camos are so ugly…let’s see if we can’t spruce them up with some color and lace. But seriously, the problems would be just the same. The reason why women aren’t represented as strongly as men is because they don’t care as much. Women tend to have motherly feelings at one point or another and it takes a chunk out of a career to have kids. You could be moving along in your company and then decide you want kids and the opportunity cost of leaving your job or not moving further up is worth it. Good for you! It’s an amazing sacrifice and one that my wife freely made. It’s incredibly impressive, but at the same time I don’t want to hear a bunch of whining about how women aren’t as powerful because they are, just in a different way because of different choices and that’s why society is still running.

A Note to the Off-Blue Thunderbird


You may think that you are entitled to get on to the freeway at any given point. You may also feel that even though there is a long line of cars that have been semi-patiently waiting to get moving down the road that you are the exception to the rule and that you deserve to squeeze your way in front of that Dodge Nitro who is still riding the tail of the guy in front of him to stop you from cutting in line. Even though you no longer have a lane, said Nitro won’t let you in on principle. I don’t know if your history of lines is based on experiences in Italy or what, but the man in the Nitro just doesn’t give a crap. You want to get in line, get behind him. Now when you jump out of line at the next possible moment to then screw more people in that same line because you’re far too important to sit in traffic with everyone else, even though you could quite possibly be a gang banger and the Nitro is a rental car and you could still get sideswiped if you run in to each other again because it’s bollocks that you’re pulling that.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Sorro Selects His Candidate

This quiz didn't exactly state my positions, but it's somewhat useful in winnowing the choices. It looks like John McCain is my horse, unfortunately he's in the toilet. Fred Thompson is #2, so that's somewhat legit.

John McCain
Score: 36
Agree
Iraq
Immigration
Taxes
Stem-Cell Research
Health Care
Abortion
Social Security
Line-Item Veto
Energy
Death Penalty
Disagree
Marriage

-- Take the Quiz! --

Things to Do in Denver When You’re Not Dead


So I’m here at my conference in Denver (motto: we're twice the size of Salt Lake, other than that, it's the same thing!) and I have quite a few thoughts. One is that for the first time, our organization has decided to get “hip” and use introductory music for the speakers. The problem is that it’s just strange. The music choices thus far have included The Black Eyed Peas “Let’s Get It Started,” Coldplay’s “Clocks,” Tomoyasu Hotei’s “Battle for Honor or Humanity” (better known as the theme from Kill Bill), and Smashmouth’s “Hey Now, You’re an All-Star.” The intended audience is a group of people who are probably on average 20 years older than I am and the speakers include people like US Senators and people who go around the speaking circuit. It just seems out of place. Perhaps if they used something from the 70s or 80s – for example, when they introduced the guy who heads our PAC and asks for cash, I would have introduced him with Pink Floyd’s “Money” – or at least something that is tangentially related to what they do
Yesterday the city of Denver decided to shut down a seemingly random stretch of roads for the Race for the Cure. This included major thoroughfares and other side streets, leading me along a hedge maze of one way streets up and down and across LoDo. As a result I was stuck behind someone who was going 5-10 MPH because they didn’t have a clue and there wasn’t much option for me.
That brings me to my next thought: Denver’s got the slowest drivers in the nation. This is not a statistical sample, but it’s based on anecdotal evidence from my driving. I tell you what, I’ve gone along I-70 several times and nobody goes the speed limit. In Utah that means that if you are doing 65 you’re getting run down. In Denver it means that you’re passing everybody.
Note to Detroit: good design does not mean “make it quirky.” I’m renting a Dodge Nitro and it’s got quirks beyond belief. Give me my G35. It’s a straightforward car with clean lines and a very powerful and smooth engine.